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Students and rental agencies struggle as tenants leave Oxford

The streets of Oxford are quiet. Uptown no longer bustles on Friday nights. High Street businesses that stay open late are closing earlier and, in some cases, closing up shop all together until Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order is lifted.

But still, some Miami University upperclassmen remain in Oxford, living in the homes they rented through the end of the semester. For students living in apartment complexes, the stay-at-home order means restricted access to amenities they’ve already paid for.

In an email to tenants sent on March 18, the management of Oxford apartment complex Hawks Landing announced that amenity areas, except for shared laundry rooms, would be closed to tenants until national health officials indicated that coronavirus no longer posed a major public health threat. The email did not say if tenants would receive any refund for the temporarily closed amenities.

Yasamean Tadayon, a junior Hawks Landing resident, left Oxford for the semester but is still paying for her apartment. 

“I am still paying rent even though I don't live there,” Tadayon wrote in an email to The Miami Student. “It’s ridiculous and insensitive … I understand I have a lease, but these are special circumstances, and it's frustrating. [The coronavirus pandemic] makes me realize that some apartment complexes still don't care about students and their situations, and it's very sad.”

Representatives from Hawks Landing did not respond to requests for comment.

Pam Lindley, a real estate broker with CKC Rental Agency in Oxford, said students who lease on a semesterly basis from CKC would not be refunded. 

“A few people have requested refunds, however their lease has not ended – and we still have the same overhead that we are paying, such as the cost of the property, [including] mortgage, insurance, real estate taxes, and, general upkeep,” she wrote in an email to The Student. “We still have most of our properties occupied.”

Hugh Meyer, a senior marketing major currently living in an off-campus house, said his landlord asked that he leave campus before the end of his contract.

“[My landlord] reached out to [my housemates and me] and was like, ‘If you guys have plans and wanna get started moving out early, I have a bunch of work I’m coming to do,’ and we were like, ‘No, because we paid you our rent money. Even if we did all leave, you have no right to be there or do anything,’” Meyer said.

Meyer said, from his experience speaking with fellow student tenants, this situation was not uncommon.

“When he realized that I actually kinda knew what I was doing, he backed off,”  Meyer said. “He’s just a penny-pincher trying to screw over college kids because he knows most of us aren’t really gonna sit there and read leases.”

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Meyer’s landlord did not respond to requests for comment.

Some students are sympathetic to the situation of Oxford landlords. Elizabeth Fiocca, who lived in an off-campus rental property, left Oxford soon after it was suggested students return home. 

Fiocca said she understands the pandemic has created a difficult situation for both tenants and landlords.

“The rent is the rent,” Fiocca said. “That’s [my landlord’s] money, and [my roommates and I have] already paid. We signed off on that. It would be difficult on his part, too.”