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Notre Dame housing policy leads to glut of empty properties

August 25, 2019
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A now leasing sign in the neighborhood near Notre Dame Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 in South Bend, Ind. Some apartments near the University of Notre Dame are sitting vacant due to a school policy requiring some students to live on campus for six semesters. (AP Photo via Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune)/South Bend Tribune via AP)
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A now leasing sign in the neighborhood near Notre Dame Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 in South Bend, Ind. Some apartments near the University of Notre Dame are sitting vacant due to a school policy requiring some students to live on campus for six semesters. (AP Photo via Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune)/South Bend Tribune via AP)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The University of Notre Dame is surrounded with “now leasing” signs for privately owned apartment units due to a school policy that requires freshman students to live on campus for six semesters.

A couple of years ago, Notre Dame presented a variety of incentives — and disincentives — to keep upperclassmen on campus due to concerns about a lack of upper classman leadership on campus. The freshmen policy came into force with the incoming class of 2018.

Some undergraduates have complained about the loss of freedom and the higher living costs associated with living on campus, and the policy is a worry for area landlords too, the South Bend Tribune reported.

Many of the apartments “were built with the anticipation of leasing to undergraduate students,” said Bryan Bennett, a manager for Kramer Properties, which owns about 20 properties around campus. “They were built with the types of features students like.”

Mark Neal is the CEO of the Bradley Co., which manages a 100-unit apartment complex on the north side of campus. He said with the hundreds of additional units that have been added in recent years and the change in Notre Dame’s housing policy, there will be competitive pressure on complexes, especially those serving undergraduates.

Bennett agrees.

“We’re all competing for the same dollars,” Bennett said. “And the number has gone down.”

Of the roughly 8,500 undergraduate students, about 63% of seniors and 15% of juniors currently live off campus, according to the university. With this year’s sophomore class living on campus, the student housing market is losing about 50 student renters. Next year, the number could balloon to well over 300 when the junior class is included.

Bennett expressed doubt at the future estimates, but his company has a plan. If Kramer can’t rent properties to students, some will be converted back to single-family rental units, he said.

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

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