As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the worldwide situation only seems to become more unprecedented. A return to normal, desired by many, seems to only be getting put on hold.
For many Ohio University students, one thing that cannot be put on hold is moving in or out of rental housing. Old leases are now ending and new leases are starting this time of year.
Tenants now find themselves transitioning housing during a pandemic. For many, moving right now is a cause for concern. Lindsey Lukacs, a senior studying communication studies, found herself without employment and moving early due to the pandemic. One of Luckacs’ biggest concerns about moving out of Athens and into her parents home is staying safe from the virus.
“My dad has had a heart attack,” Lukacs said. “He has to help me move out. With him being an at-risk person, there's different precautions we have to take.”
In order to slow transmission, the CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces, such as tables or doorknobs. According to the CDC webpage on cleaning and disinfecting households, people should wear gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. The website also has a list of EPA-registered household disinfectants, as well as DIY disinfectant.
Lukacs knows that she’ll probably be OK if she catches COVID-19, but her parents won’t. For her, that’s the scariest part of the whole situation.
“If I catch something moving out (and) bring it back to my parents and they’re stuck with it and I have literally nowhere else to live,” Lukacs said.
Lukacs said her dad is her only family member who can assist her in moving out; her mom is also at-risk because she is over 60. She needs help lifting heavy items like her bed and desk.
“It is horrible that my dad has to help me move out in these conditions,” she said.
Lukacs is moving home for the first time in four years. She said she hasn’t received any specialized instructions from her landlord about moving out. She’s also concerned about borrowing a U-Haul. As of right now, Lukacs is relying on her own knowledge to keep herself and family safe.
“I do plan on wearing a mask and when we’re touching the U-Haul, (I) plan on wearing gloves and using hand sanitizer wipes,” Lukacs said. She added that her dad will probably use work gloves because the material is thicker and can be washed for reuse.
Lukacs also is taking the surface life span of the coronavirus into consideration. According to the National Institutes of Health, COVID-19 is detectable up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Bonni Stump, leasing agent at OU Apartments, 36 S. Court St., said one thing that will hopefully help delay the spread of the virus is staggering move in and move out dates. OU Apartment’s tenants move in and out throughout the summer, May through August.
Stump said she’s not sure what the summer is going to look like for Athens landlords and tenants.
“Nobody knows what's gonna happen ... nobody wants to make a big move until they have more info,” Stump said.
Stump said as for right now, OU Apartments is playing it by ear. She knows that the return to normal isn’t exactly certain on when and how, but for Stump, OU Apartments is doing its best given the circumstances.
Paul Eschenbacher, Athens City code officer, said that staggering move ins and outs is a good practice. It helps keep the city from getting so overwhelmed by traffic and people.
“(Moves outs) spread over the whole month (cuts) down (on traffic) and increases social distancing at apartment buildings like River Park,” Eschenbacher said. “(There’s) less bumping into people and all in general geared toward minimizing contact.”
According to a post on the City of Athens website, students are recommended to move out before or after the weekend of May 1-3. Trash should also be bagged and sealed. The city is additionally setting out more dumpsters across town. Eschenbacher said that a dumpster at 387 W. State St. is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Eschenbacher said that this year’s move out isn’t looking much different than years prior. This week is City of Athens Spring Cleanup Week as per usual. Through Friday, April 24, residents can set out an unlimited amount of trash bags on regular pickup days before 7 a.m. for no additional cost. Larger items, like mattresses, can be placed at the curb without arranged pickup, too.
For Eschenbacher, landlords, tenants and maintenance workers should use common sense during this time. He thinks cleaning crews will be extra cautious anyway, for example using additional PPE.