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Ohio University student locked in lease despite all classes online

An Ohio University senior is trying to break free from her apartment lease after all her classes are moved online for the fall semester.
Published: Aug. 22, 2020 at 8:52 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) - An Ohio University senior is trying to break free from her off-campus apartment lease after all of her classes are moved online for the fall semester.

Sarah Dudziak, of Homerville, Ohio, said she signed the 12-month lease at River Gate Apartments in Athens shortly before finding out that all of her classes for the upcoming semester will be completely online. The university is set to return in phases beginning Monday, August 24, and as a screenwriting major, all of Dudziak’s classes are able to taken online, which she says gives her a clear indicator that she will not be returning to campus at all for the fall.

Dudziak and her mom, Angela, say they tried to negotiate a buyout with the apartment management company, but were denied and apartment officials told them their only option is to find someone to sublease.

The Dudziaks say the situation is frustrating because in these uncertain times, companies should be have some sort of COVID policy in place, especially for students. Additionally, Sarah has already faced several barriers due to the pandemic, such as being sent home from school in Mid-march to finish out the semester online and having both a study abroad trip to Ireland and an internship in Los Angeles canceled. Now, the senior OU student is stuck in an estimated $11,000 rental agreement coupled with utilities for an apartment she will not even occupy.

Leasing experts say especially in times such as these, companies do still have to keep their businesses afloat as well. Once a tenant signs a lease, whether they’re a student or not, they have to fulfill their end of the agreement. Local attorney George Cosenza also adds that it’s important that if students do not have experience entering agreements, to have someone with that experience look it over before they sign. Because, once you enter the agreement, you’re bound by those terms and conditions.

Sarah says she will still pay for the monthly rent and utilities until she finds a person to sublease the apartment. However, she says she will still push for the management company to allow her to buyout her lease.

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