Amanda Darish, Jessica Ke and Amanda Lee weren’t taking any chances on their housing for next year.
On Wednesday night, the eve of the first day they could sign a lease for a coveted house on Walnut Street, the three Business School sophomores camped out near the office of Campus Management on Huron Street in hopes of cementing their housing plans.
The students said they expected fierce competition for the house because a representative from Campus Management had told them it was the most sought-after house for this fall.
In past years, they might have signed a lease as soon as they knew they wanted to live together. In some cases, this happened as early as September or October.
But in March, the Ann Arbor City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the signing of leases until 90 days of the current lease period had expired. Proponents of the ordinance hoped it would help alleviate the pressure many incoming students felt to find housing during their first weeks at the University. Because of the ordinance, yesterday was the first day new tenants could sign agreements for leases that began on Sept. 1. Most leases run from September to September.
Darish, Ke and Lee didn’t wait in vain.
“It was definitely worth it,” Darish said. “I mean, we’re happy right now because we were able to sign our lease.”
The roommates-to-be waited in the car for eleven hours.
The morning rush, however, never materialized. When Campus Management opened yesterday, the girls were only one of three groups standing outside the company’s East Huron Street office.
“It was actually really anticlimactic,” Ke said. “We could have shown up at 8 o’clock this morning and signed our lease.”
She wasn’t the only one who noticed the absence of stampeding would-be renters. Colin Khan, manager of CMB Property Management, said this year’s rush hasn’t been much different from past years.
“I was surprised to hear that students were camping out, because there wasn’t a mad rush,” Khan said. “I think that there was some hype that came from a lack of students understanding the leasing ordinance.”
University officials and city leaders have noted on the high levels of confusion regarding housing for this year.
Stephanie Chang, an attorney for Student Legal Services, said many students she has met with aren’t sure about their housing rights.
“We want to make sure that students know what they can and cannot do with respect to housing,” she said.
Not many students seem to be aware of the ordinance’s details. Many said they thought today was the first day for lease signing.
“The landlords did mention that they couldn’t show places until Dec. 1st,” LSA sophomore Liz Parker said. She said she didn’t know many other details.
Ke and Lee said they thought this confusion might have prevented a rush.
“What surprised me is that it was supposed to be the most-sought-after house, but no one came for it until 8,” Lee said. “Maybe people were confused about the Dec. 1 date.”
The Off-Campus Housing Office has been holding informational sessions to inform students about the ordinance, but many are still in the dark.
“I feel like a freshman again, trying to figure out housing,” LSA junior Jenny Lohner said. “I just feel like I should know more information by now.”
The Michigan Student Assembly’s External Relations Committee has been working with the office to hold the sessions. Mohammad Dar, chair of the committee, said it will expand its efforts to educate students next semester.
Some students said the confusion of figuring out the new ordinance is one more worry they don’t need.
“Around this time of year especially, housing is the last thing on my mind,” said LSA sophomore Alayna Corden. “I think this adds a lot of anxiety to students at this time of year.”