ORLANDO, Fla. — As Florida universities prepare for the upcoming fall semester, some students who will be learning remotely are struggling to figure out what to do with their apartment leases. 

Many university students have moved back home amidst the coronavirus pandemic and are now stuck paying rent for units they no longer have a need for.

What You Need To Know

  • Many university students went back home amid the pandemic

  • Some are stuck still paying on housing they no longer use or need

  • UCF student Taylor Devereaux dealing with yearlong lease issue

Taylor Devereaux, 23, is one of those students. 

A doctoral student in sociology at the University of Central Florida, she moved back in with her family in Boca Raton after the pandemic took hold. 

But she’s still responsible for a yearlong lease renewal at her off-campus apartment, which she signed back in October.

“They are not letting us out of the lease renewals at all; they're not helping us find people to sublet to,” Devereaux said of her apartment complex, Mercury 3100. “They're not helping us with anything.”

Local real estate attorney Mark Lippman said he thinks the pandemic could prompt an increased use of a legal term known as force majeure. In some situations, a force majeure clause can protect tenants from fulfilling legal obligations when forces outside their control arise. 

 For now, students like Devereaux must either pay full rent, find someone to sublet, or risk facing a disastrous effect on their credit scores.

 “We [students] were hit just as bad, and no one cares that we’re being stuck with this bill that could affect us for the rest of our lives,” Devereaux said.

 Molly Duerig is a Report For America corps member reporting on affordable housing for Spectrum News 13. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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