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Rep. Grijalva Urges Relief for Students Trapped in Leases During COVID-19 in Letter to FHFA

WASHINGTON Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva sent a letter to Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark A. Calabria urging him to provide federal relief to students currently trapped in leases in FHFA-backed properties for housing they are unable to use during the COVID-19 pandemic. As in-person classes at colleges and universities across the country are cancelled and moved online, many students are being forced to pay for housing even though they are not living there. In the letter, Rep. Grijalva wrote:

“I have been informed of instances of housing entities forcing students to pay for student housing despite in-person classes being canceled and the student not living in the property. The students are unable to meet conditions of early termination, such as finding a replacement tenant. While this situation raises legal questions regarding a ‘frustration of purpose’ of the contracts, I believe it will be most expedient for FHFA to act now to offer forbearance or other appropriate incentives to these properties on the condition of canceling untenable student lease agreements.

“It is an urgent public health matter to ensure that students can live safely without experiencing added economic harm from taking appropriate actions to protect themselves. Forcing students to continue leases in shared housing facilities creates a dangerous incentive that could have the unintended consequence of furthering outbreaks of COVID-19.”

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