Baller: Lease gaps harm Iowa City renters

The perennial problem of college students left homeless for multiple days during gaps between leases is an unnecessary burden and an unacceptable situation.

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Baller: Lease gaps harm Iowa City renters

Boxes are seen at students’ house in Coralville on July 29.

Boxes are seen at students’ house in Coralville on July 29.

Tian Liu

Boxes are seen at students’ house in Coralville on July 29.

Tian Liu

Tian Liu

Boxes are seen at students’ house in Coralville on July 29.

Kasey Baller, Columnist

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Moving to and from apartments in Iowa City is much less than ideal. As if transporting furniture from place to place and finding somewhere to live every year is not enough, now add to the equation having a three-day gap period between leases. Moving into a new living space is exciting, but just like any major life decision, there are challenges. But this sort of ubiquitous challenge in our town — not-so-affectionately known as “homeless week” — is an unnecessary burden.

According to data from the University of Iowa, more than 32,000 students are enrolled and 72 percent of them live in apartments and houses near campus that is not university property. Most Iowa City leases have different start and end dates, which leaves individuals homeless while they wait for their next lease to start. Most rental companies are not willing to negotiate move-in dates because maintenance tasks are performed during the three-day-or-longer span.

It is unacceptable to leave many without an option for living situations between leases. This is especially true as many more issues come into play besides not having a place to sleep at night.

It is unacceptable to leave many without an option for living situations between leases. This is especially true as many more issues come into play besides not having a place to sleep at night.”

One of these issues is storage. Some pay for a rental storage pod, which are expensive and cause a lot more work than necessary. Students sometimes find themselves living out of their car because they have to keep all of their items in their car until their new leases start. There is the concern of burglary of cars when having this much stuff visible. It is also all around not ideal in order to have access to your belongings because they are stuffed in a car.

To avoid all of this, some students may simply go back home, but this requires sacrificing commitments in Iowa City until their next leases start. The students who choose to stay in Iowa City while their leases are not yet active have the expensive option of paying to stay in a hotel if no other options are available. Most young people cannot easily afford this even for a few days, let alone more than a week.

And it’s not as if those facing temporary homelessness can just stay with a friend since he aforementioned 72 percent of Iowa students are dealing with the same inconvenience.

At the end of the day, there is no one simple solution to this problem. Landlords could allow those who do not have overlapping leases to move in when needed but have their unit skip the company cleaning. Perhaps a more suitable option would be something available for on-campus residents: a daily fee to move into new housing early.

This is not an unsolvable problem. It’s simply a matter of will to make moving fair for all renters. But until a reasonable solution is reached, good luck to all those without places to stay for a week.