Some student housing apartment complexes exempt from U+2

Erin Douglas

The City of Fort Collins provides exemptions to the unrelated housing occupancy ordinance “U+2” to 42 single-family dwellings and nine apartment complexes.

Apartment complexes that have an exemption from the housing ordinance are allowed to have units with four unrelated tenants. Complexes with such permission are:

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  • Heritage Park
  • Ram’s Crossing
  • Campus Crossing at Ram’s Point
  • Rams Village East
  • The Lofts at City Park
  • The Grove
  • The District
  • Summit at Choice Center
  • Aspen Heights

Dale Wood, the senior compliance inspector for the City of Fort Collins, said many of these apartment complexes were planned to be over-occupancy buildings before construction was completed.

“There’s a multitude of stipulations to get over-occupancy (status),” Wood said. “Apartments were developed with those (stipulations) in mind. So, for example, whatever the parking stipulation was for The Grove, The Grove built (parking) so they could meet that criteria.”

It is up to the property manager or owner to regulate how many people are allowed to rent in a certain amount of space. The city only regulates the number of people living in the residence, regardless of space or number of bedrooms, Wood said. 

Rental rates are highest in large buildings with 100 units or more, according to the most recent analysis of data in the Single Family Vacancy and Rent Survey by the Colorado Division of Housing.

According to the survey, average monthly rent in Fort Collins for a three-bedroom apartment was $1455.45 during the third quarter of 2015. Comparatively, rent for a three-bedroom apartment at Aspen Heights, an apartment complex north of campus, ranges from $1962 to $1992 and a four-bedroom unit from $2616 to $2676, according to their website.

Rates tend to be lowest at two- to eight-unit buildings, and mid-range at nine- to 99-unit buildings, according to the state-wide survey.

The Grove, an apartment complex south of campus, has around 65 four-bedroom units and 420 three-bedroom units, according to Marcus Stevens, the complex’s assistant manager. Three-bedroom units rent for $690 per bedroom, and four-bedroom units rent for $710 per bedroom. Some student-targeted apartment complexes, such as The Grove and Aspen Heights, include utilities and internet, amenities that were not included in the survey of rent prices.

“The majority of four-bedroom units are taken by people who know each other and want to live together,” Stevens said. “It’s like living in a house, in a sense, but it’s a separate lease, so not all four people are on one lease. (Tenants) pay by the room, so if someone moves out, they don’t have to worry about it. That’s a major advantage to living here instead of living in a house.”

Student-in-mind housing is one possible solution for people looking to rent with four unrelated adults, Wood said.

“I don’t know that the student body has a good understanding that these huge complexes are approved for extra occupancy,” Wood said. “For the students who want four roommates to live together, you can go to The Grove, you can go to The District, you can go to Aspen Heights. So the options are out there if you just know where to go.”

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According to the survey, areas near CSU had a near 0-percent vacancy rate in the third quarter of 2015. Northwest Fort Collins, defined as College Avenue on the east boundary and Prospect Road on the south boundary, had a vacancy rate of 0.3 percent. Northeast Fort Collins, defined as College Avenue on the west boundary and Prospect Road on the south boundary, had a vacancy rate of 0 percent. The state average was 4.8 percent vacancy.

In January, the City of Fort Collins started actively enforcing housing occupancy laws in Avery Park, a neighborhood west of CSU’s campus that receives a large amount of occupancy-related complaints each year. Wood said he has not yet noticed a significant increase in investigations since the program began.

Collegian Reporter Erin Douglas can be reached at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @erinmdouglas23.