Austin, Texas — American Campus Communities (ACC) has provided a COVID-19 interim update on universities’ planned delivery of curriculum for the fall, leasing for the 2020-2021 academic year and progress on rent collections.
Forty-seven of the 68 universities served by ACC’s portfolio are planning to return to in-person classes for fall 2020, while 12 are still considering a range of possible scenarios including a hybrid in-person and virtual class model, according to reports by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Three universities that the company serves — which are part of the California State University System — have announced that they will primarily be holding classes online for the fall semester.
Fall Semester Leasing
As of May 31, the company’s same-store owned portfolio was 82.6 percent pre-leased compared to 84.9 percent pre-leased for the same date last year. “We are very pleased that since our earnings call on April 21, we have signed more than 5,500 additional leases bringing us to a total of over 10,000 leases signed for fall 2020 since COVID-19 was designated a pandemic in mid-March,” says Jennifer Beese, COO of the Austin, Texas-based company. “At universities planning for in-person classes, we are currently 83.1 percent pre-leased as compared to 83.8 percent pre-leased in the prior year, while the remainder of our portfolio is 81 percent pre-leased as compared to 88.6 percent in the prior year.”
COVID-19 Monthly Delinquency and Resident Hardship Program Update
Approximately 94.8 percent of the company’s off-campus residents made their April rent payments, representing April rent delinquency of approximately $3 million. Through May 31, the company estimates that approximately 93.3 percent of residents have made their May rent payments, which would represent a May rent delinquency of $3.8 million.
The company has formed a resident hardship program to provide relief on a case-by-case basis to residents and families who have endured financial hardship due to COVID-19. For the months of April and May, the company granted $4.3 million in rent relief to over 4,800 qualified residents.
“We continue to be encouraged by our pre-leasing and rent payment activity over the last two months,” says Bill Bayless, CEO of ACC. “As the majority of universities plan to return to in-person classes in the fall, they are making those plans under the assumption that some degree of social distancing and limitations on group gathering size will likely continue to exist. Shrinking in-person class sizes, holding larger lecture hall classes online, alternating in-person lectures with online lectures and other creative solutions are being incorporated into their operational plans.”
“As universities seek to de-densify their older, traditional community bath residence halls, American Campus has put in place an extensive outreach program to make sure universities in all of our markets are aware of the amount and availability of private modern off-campus housing that is well-suited to achieve CDC guidelines and to facilitate students’ desire to control their own environment and sanitization,” continues Bayless. “We hope this outreach and information will aid universities in achieving their goals of safely bringing students back on-campus this fall.”