The Annual Cycle of Choosing On and Off Grounds Housing

For Off Grounds Housing, you will, I’m sure, soon hear that the lease signing season begins on October 1st.  As hard as that is to believe, it’s a pretty common date for that in the market around most Universities.  Whatever you hear about the cause of that, at it’s root, the push is created by students and parents who believe that they have to be in a particular location or a specific house or apartment, or life just can’t be what it’s supposed to be.

The Property Owners and Managers in Charlottesville are in competition with each other and are in a market that currently has more rental space than we have students, so none of them can afford to get behind each other – this also fuels the rush in October.

When I came to UVa 12 years ago, the market was very different than it is now.  In the summer we had waiting lists of 6-800 students in on Grounds housing.   New students had difficulty finding any space in the off Grounds market.  This meant that landlords could count on renting pretty much anything – no matter how big a dump it was.

Over the past 6-7 years, there have been several thousand new bedrooms added to the rental market.  After the city rezoned areas around grounds for more intense development, there have been a steady stream of new rental properties coming into the market.  Many of these are at the top of the market and are expensive, but they have also upped the standard and forced the crummy landlords to upgrade their properties or get out of the student rental market.  That has been a good thing.

It also means that there is no reason to ever panic and feel that you have to sign a lease before you are ready.  There are always properties available to rent within a reasonable distance from grounds.  You can go out today and find a place to live immediately..  Life has also gotten much easier for you because you can go to several different web sites and look over pretty much everything available without leaving your room.

I think that they hardest part of the process – and the most critical – is deciding who you will live with.  Do you go with friends from home or do you go with people you’ve just met and and have only known for a month.  No one can answer those questions for you.  It is tragic though to commit to a lease now and find out later in the year that you are no longer friends with your future apartmentmates.  You have time.  If you aren’t sure, don’t rush it.

Don’t sign a lease anywhere until you know that that is where you want to live -and until it is with the people you are sure you want to live with.  Please don’t ever sign more than one lease, no matter what you want.  It is a legally binding contract…. more on that later.

The on Grounds deadline that matters for most people is December 1st.  If you are in upperclass housing you have until then to re-sign to stay in the same room.

If you are a first year student, that is the date for you to complete an application.  You will receive an offer before break in December and you have until you return in January to make a decision.

We will have all of the dates related to the process and a more complete description of the process out soon.


We hope you'll find helpful information on the Housing application and assignment process. Send us questions at and we'll answer them here.

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