Summer apartment turnover means headaches for students, flurry of work for managers

Some local college students are dissatisfied with the move-in and move-out practices of local apartment complexes. Every year, college students who sign 12 month leases that begin in August are subject to a July move-out date, typically July 31. However, most new leases don’t begin until mid-August leaving students to fend for themselves for as long as two weeks after their old lease expires.

Sarah Wallis

“I’m currently changing apartments and have to deal with the process of moving everything I have by July 31, but I won’t be able to move into my new home until Aug. 11,” said Sarah Wallis, an East Mississippi Community College student and former Mississippi State University student.

Residents are forced to find a place to store furniture and other belongings as well as a place to sleep at night. For some students, this means going home, which can be particularly tedious, especially for out-of-state students. For others, it can mean crashing on another friend’s couch.

“I’m from a town that’s two hours away so I don’t have a way to store my things other than a storage unit. They’ve given us the option to move in five days earlier but won’t fix anything the previous tenant left when they moved, so I have to wait. Thankfully, I have a friend who’s agreed to let me stay with her,” she said.

Some apartment complexes offer early move-in where for a fee, usually anywhere between $100 and $300, residents can move-in early.

Jakob Farmer, a rising Mississippi State University junior is paying for early move-in for the second year in a row. While it’s an option that fits his needs, the tradeoff is usually a unit that is less pristine.

“I had the two week gap between Aug. 1 and Aug. 13 that I needed to be in Starkville for. They offered an early move-in option which I took but it cost more. I’ll be doing the same this year,” he said. “My apartment wasn’t the cleanest when I moved in since I signed an as-is addendum.”

Farmer’s housing complex prorated his rent for the extra days that he stayed in the unit. He expressed that if he had the choice, a clean apartment would be worth the wait.

“I can see how it can be aggravating, but moving into a clean apartment is kinda worth the wait,” he said.

Cleaning time
Apartment managers say those two weeks with few to no tenants on their property is the time that they use to clean and restore the apartments for future resident use.

“That gap exists because we have to, during those two weeks, go in and completely clean and basically renovate the apartments. A lot of times, we’re able to do that very quickly and offer early move-in. It just depends on the way that the last person left the apartment,” Natasha Lee Ling, leasing manager at The Vista in Starkville, said.

Lee Ling explained that sometimes, former tenants leave units in a state of disrepair. Holes in the walls, damage to the floors and general griminess are all issues the complex sometimes has to clean and correct before allowing new residents to take possession of the unit.

“Next year, we’re trying to push it so that there’s less of a gap because it is an inconvenience,” she said. “But for our apartments, for example, we’re probably going to have about 300 people move out on one day. So that’s a lot of apartments to go in and redo at one time in two weeks before the next 800 people move in. So that’s why that gap is there.”

Unlike The Vista, Aspen Heights does not offer early move-in. But their reasoning for the break between moving old tenants out and moving new tenants in is the same.

“It’s just to walk every unit that was occupied and to make sure everything is clean and painted, making sure any maintenance is done,” Chasity Heard, assistant property manager, said. “And then we also go through the whole property and do trash because people will leave trash out by their doors when they move out. And making sure things get pressure washed.”

These two apartment complexes, as well as The Helix, agreed that while inconvenient, the system in place is the best that it can be.

“I noticed that leases always start in the middle of August. I found that odd because the agencies that lease to a mostly university population here are giving students a very small period of time to move, settle in, and get acquainted with the city,” said Wallis. “I remember moving to Starkville and having all of four days to settle and adjust before starting a full schedule of classes.”