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The Radian’s housing agreement states that a lease cannot be broken due to financial changes or unforeseen circumstances. Credit: Joy Lee

The coronavirus pandemic has upended students’ housing plans for the summer and fall, forcing them to seek new housing arrangements. 

Students have broken their off-campus leases and signed new ones for the summer and upcoming academic year as the virus has brought health and financial concerns to many families.

Rising College sophomore Elena Miller said she originally signed a lease at The Radian apartment building from August 2020 to August 2021 for the next academic year. After the coronavirus pandemic broke out, however, she and her three roommates could no longer afford the rent costs. 

Though the Radian’s housing agreement states a lease cannot be broken due to financial changes or unforeseen circumstances, Miller said the apartment's management agreed to release her and her friends from their contract if they could find other tenants to take their place. She said they are currently in the process of finding tenants while they look for more affordable housing for the next academic year. 

A rising College senior, who said she plans to take summer classes at the University, leased an apartment in University City and also attempted to break her lease in March. She said she contacted management to terminate her lease after a case of coronavirus occurred in the building.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, she had planned on subletting her apartment this summer and moving into a house in West Philadelphia at the beginning of June. She said after a lack of communication from the apartment management about the building's virus case, however, she decided to terminate her lease instead.

“I tried to be as informed as possible about it, and then decided to break the lease because I figured that the benefits of me breaking it outweighed the potential risk,” she said.

She said she repeatedly emailed the management about her lease but never received a response. Although her lease has not been officially broken, she said she moved out and stopped paying rent at the end of April, and has not heard from the management since. She said she has been living at her family’s home in Virginia since.

Rising College junior Gillian Broome said she plans to move back to Philadelphia next month when her lease in an off-campus house begins.

Broome, who is currently living with her family in New York City, said she began searching for housing in Philadelphia after receiving an email encouraging students who applied to study abroad in the fall to defer their study abroad to a later time. After fearing her study abroad program in Athens would be canceled, Broome secured off-campus housing near Penn for the upcoming academic year, which she and her roommates will move into during June — since that is when the house's lease begins. 

The rising College senior said she hopes landlords and apartment management will understand the difficulty students face in light of the pandemic, both financially and logistically.

“I appreciate that landlords and apartment management companies are doing their best, but I think sometimes they need to understand that we're also doing our best, and you kind of have to adapt to that, because we are a student community,” she said.