COVID-19 Housing FAQs

UPDATED: May 15, 2020 (2:30 p.m.)

In order to respond to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia University must significantly reduce the number of students in our residential buildings across all of our campuses, including the medical center. We understand that students may have questions about what it means for them now that classes will be online for the remainder of the semester. Please take a moment to review the FAQ below for some important information about next steps and your options.

For additional questions not listed below, please contact the Office of Housing Services at

For students in CUIMC housing (all areas of campus) who are considering leaving campus and moving out of CUIMC housing:

Updated May 15, 2020

I don’t have to be on campus anymore. What are my options regarding housing?

You have several options available to you:

  • Keep your unit and continue paying rent:

    • If you want to store your belongings in your current housing assignment and return to the same unit when you are able to return to campus, you may do so as long as you're eligible for a lease renewal and more time in your current unit. You'd continue to be responsible for any remaining rent payments while you're away. If you are eligible for a lease renewal beyond May 31, you can renew your rental agreement with the Office of Housing Services.

    • Any students who voluntarily cancels housing during the June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021 lease term may do so without a cancellation fee, up to August 15, 2020, and your rent will be prorated based on your move-out date.

  • Move out completely and stop paying rent:

    • If you choose to leave now, give up your housing and stop paying rent, you'll need to officially move out -- remove your belongings from the unit and return keys by May 31, 2020. If you plan to return in the summer or fall, you may apply for housing after you move out of your current housing assignment. Review the Application Process webpage for more information. Keep in mind we cannot guarantee housing availability; if you are approved for housing, we cannot guarantee you will be able to select the same unit.    

    • If you would like to move out but aren’t currently in the NYC area, you can arrange for a friend or hire movers to move your belongings via proxy and return your keys to the Tower 1 Door Attendant.

Can I cancel housing and move out without a cancellation fee? Will my rent be prorated?

If you renewed your lease for the June 1, 2020 - May 31, 2021 lease term, and would like to cancel your lease you may do so without a cancellation fee up to August 15, 2020, and your rent will be prorated based on your move-out date (belongings removed and key returned to OHS).  After August 15, 2020 all lease terms are binding to the terms and conditions in academic year lease.   

If I decide to leave on-campus housing completely, what do I need to do to officially move out?

All the information you need to prepare for your move can be found on the Move-out Information webpage. Please review carefully and contact us with any questions.

I'm moving out but will apply to come back to housing in Fall 2020. Do I have priority for housing? Can I move back to the same apartment?

Due to the high demand for on campus housing, the Office of Housing Services cannot guarantee you housing when your resubmit your housing application. If you reapply for housing and are offered an assignment we cannot offer you the same apartment as we will have assigned that unit to another resident.  

After you move out, please review the Application Process information and submit a new application for Fall 2020 housing. Students approved to return to housing will be assigned a new unit based on availability. We cannot guarantee that the same unit will be available during the housing assignment process, but if it is, you will receive an offer via email.

I'm moving out of housing. How will my rent be prorated for the rest of the month?

Students have up to August 15, 2020 to cancel their lease without penalty if you renewed your lease for the June 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021 term.  The rent will be prorated based on your move-out date (personal items removed from your room and apartment keys returned). Please review the Move-out Information for details on moving out and receiving your security deposit and prorated rent for the month. 

For students who want to move out, but are not in NYC and are hiring someone for packing, storage, and/or shipping of personal belongings:

Updated May 15, 2020

I want to have my belongings packed and stored or shipped. What should I do?

  • For room packing, storage or shipping, Columbia University recommends the following vendors:  

The Office of Housing Services can assist with providing access to your apartment via your proxy as long as you move out by May 31, 2020.  

  • Contact moving/storage companies directly to contract services.
  • Submit your notice of vacancy form.  
  • Email Rocio Calixto at with the following information:
    • Move-out date
    • Proxy full name (can be moving company)
    • Proxy email address
    • Proxy phone number
    • Certificate of Insurance is required when using a moving company 
    • Preferred key return option:
      • We can replace the locks at your apartment for a $150 fee. You won’t be required to return keys if you choose this option.
      • You can mail your keys to the Office of Housing Services. Please provide tracking information so that we can confirm when the keys were sent and bill you appropriately. *INCLUDE your name, CUIMC address and apartment number inside the envelope with all of your keys. Keep in mind you will be billed until keys are received and for any keys not returned.
        Office of Housing Services
        50 Haven Ave
        New York, NY 10032

Do I pay the moving company directly or will CUIMC pay for services?

We recommend that students contract and provide payment to the moving and storage companies directly. Columbia University will not be responsible for paying for your shipping/moving arrangements. 

For students with financial concerns regarding remaining in housing:

Updated May 15, 2020

If I renew my housing agreement beyond May 31, when will I need to pay summer rent?

Summer rent will still be required by residents who are occupying apartments on campus. You will receive your June 1, 2020 rent during the last week in May 2020. Any students who voluntarily cancels housing during the June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021 lease term may do so without a cancellation fee up to August 15, 2020, and rent will be prorated based on your move-out date.

I can't afford to pay summer rent by the due date. What should I do?

You may contact the Controller’s Office to discuss payment plan options for your summer or academic year rent. Please reach out to Jeffrey Schnepf at to discuss options for those holding leases. Students who are on contract billing should contact the Student Financial Services Office.  

For students who will remain in CUIMC housing:

Updated May 15, 2020

Can I transfer to another unit?

The Transfer Process will resume on October 1, 2020. All students interested in transferring within their units or to another on-campus room/location must submit an on-line housing application.  Your on-campus address must be used on the application. Notifications will be sent in the months of November and/or December if units are available.

How long will I be allowed to stay in my unit? Will I be charged for remaining in housing?

You’re welcome to stay until the end of your current housing lease term (typically May 31), or longer if you are eligible to renew your agreement. You’re responsible for rent until you officially move out and return keys. Any students who voluntarily cancels housing during the June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021 lease term may do so without a cancellation penalty up to August 15, 2020, and rent will be prorated based on your move-out date.

When will graduating students be required to move out?

You can stay until the end of your current housing lease term (typically May 31). You’re responsible for rent until you officially move out and return keys.

Is Office of Housing Services making any changes to the guest policy?

We understand that these recent developments may cause anxiety and concern. As of March 17, 2020, guests are restricted in University housing until further notice. 

How does the current situation with COVID-19 change the building services? How should I report maintenance concerns?

Our custodial team is taking preventive measures by sanitizing frequently-touched surfaces in building common areas and will continue to provide routine cleaning of those spaces. Staff continue to be on-duty to respond to essential maintenance requests and issues, but changes to building operations have been made:

  • Per the guidance of health officials, building amenities have been shut down until further notice (gyms, lounges, etc.) Garages and laundry rooms will remain open unless we are advised otherwise.
  • Move-outs may continue as long as residents follow the move-out guidelines.
  • Viewing appointments will be discontinued.

We encourage residents to submit all non-emergency maintenance requests online; the reduced phone and email traffic will allow us to allocate staff more efficiently to essential tasks. Emergency maintenance concerns can continue to be reported to us at 212-305-4357, option #2

Can I still sublet my apartment?

Housing Services will only consider sublets to CUIMC affiliates. For more information on listing your unit and applying to sublet, review our subletting information and email your room/apartment information to Rocio Calixto at Students who wish to sublet in an apartment share are advised to speak with their roommates/suitemates to make sure all are aware of their subletting plans.

How long will this last?

We are continuing to monitor this situation. Please continue to reference the CUIMC Coronavirus Resource Center and the University’s COVID-19 site, where updates will be posted as they become available.

Is the No-Guest Policy still in place in the residential buildings?

No. In the wake of COVID-19, a new guest policy is being implemented.  Residents will only be able to host up to two guests for no more than five consecutive nights within a 30-day period. Please refer to the guest policy to review it in its entirety.