Above: Listen to a version of this story that aired on WUFT-FM.
As the University of Florida makes education increasingly available in an online format, many students have chosen to not return to Gainesville.
Leasing and marketing manager at Cabana Beach Apartments, Marcus Hamilton, said it’s affected occupancy.
“Not only here but in all the other properties. It’s definitely something that I don’t think nobody ever planned for. We were budgeted to be at 95% and we only got to 85%.”
According to the database provided by the properties interviewed, most complexes are below 90% occupancy and the majority fall between 80% and 60% occupancy. Hamilton said incentives have become essential for these properties.
“We are doing $960 gift card or $80 off your monthly rent. So that has been kind of like a big game for us with potential prospects wanting to live here.”
Most complexes are offering specials like gift cards ranging from $100 to $1000, plus the removal of additional fees or a discount on their rent.
Some renters have been trying to get out of the contracts or simply never show up to pick up their keys. The Enclave complex had a 91% occupancy at pre-lease, but after move-in day and having many no-shows, the complex now stands at 78%.
Elijah Thompkins, who as lived at The Enclave for three years, said move-in day felt very different this year.
“Last year when I moved at The Enclave it took me about 45 minutes to get all my keys, whereas this year, it only took me about 15.”