Student Rental Report & Survey
The Area Plan Commission of Tippecanoe County
This report update could not have been produced without the kind assistance of the
• Purdue University: Off-Campus Student Services, Housing & Food Services,
Office of Enrollment Management Analysis and Reporting, Parking &
Transportation Services, Fire Department, Physical Facilities, Office of Fraternity,
Sorority, and Cooperative Life
• City of West Lafayette: Department of Engineering, Department of Development,
Department of Information Technology (with special thanks to Department of
Development intern Mackenzie Mills for her assistance in conducting the landlord
• The many landlords and management companies who participated in our survey
This update to our November 2013 report serves to extend the reach of our original
report by collecting the latest data from our previously referenced sources and to
conduct an expanded follow-up landlord survey. As before, our objective is to identify
emerging trends in the state of our community’s student housing market so as to better
inform our elected and appointed officials as they make decisions on future
developments both near-campus and countywide.
This report contains four parts:
1. An analysis of existing data and other relevant public information.
2. An analysis of vacancy data and survey results.
3. Conclusions and recommendations.
The first part involves a review of a variety of data sources containing historical and
current information regarding population and housing. The second part involves an
analysis of survey results acquired from a landlord survey conducted by the Area Plan
Commission over the summer months of 2014. A host of questions were put to
landlords in the near-campus area concerning such issues as occupancy rates, vacancy
rates, and demographics. The third part attempts to draw conclusions from the data sets
and survey results and to identify any patterns or trends that the data may reveal.
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 2
PART 1: DATA & INVENTORY
Multiple sources were used to capture as much relevant public information as possible
pertaining to the status of student-oriented housing. The entities that provided data
1. US Bureau of the Census
2. US Department of Housing and Urban Development & US Postal Service
3. Purdue University
4. Tippecanoe County Assessor
5. City of West Lafayette Rental Inspection Program
The 2010 Census and Census Projections
According to the Census, the total population of Tippecanoe County in 2010 was
172,780 persons. Population growth county-wide is projected to remain steady as
reflected in the Census projections for 2011 (173,186), 2012 (175,204) and 2013
(180,174). This projected growth represents an approximate 4% increase between 2010
and 2013. The most significant shift in population totals within Tippecanoe County
occurred with the City of West Lafayette annexation in 2013, in which approximately
5,000 acres of unincorporated Tippecanoe County were added to the city. The resulting
shift in city limits boundaries, which included the annexation of Purdue University,
increased the City of West Lafayette’s population from 29,596 (2010 Census amount) to
42,010 for 2013.
Figure 1 – Tippecanoe County Population 1950-2013
Tippecanoe County Population
Source: US Bureau of the Census (* indicates projection only)
Page | 3 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014
Purdue University Student Population
At the start of the fall 2013 semester, the total student population (both undergraduate
and graduate students) of the West Lafayette campus of Purdue University was 38,788
students, a 1.2% drop from the previous fall and a 3.25% drop from the all-time high
reached in the fall of 2008. As shown in Figure 2 below, the fall 2013 population has
essentially returned to, though dipping slightly under, the fall 2003 population of 38,847
students after reaching the all-time high of 40,090 students in the fall of 2008.
Figure 2 – Purdue Student Population 2004-2014
Purdue Student Population Over 10 Years
Source: Purdue University – Office of Enrollment Management Analysis and Reporting
Purdue University Housing
In the fall of 2013, Purdue University’s on-campus housing totaled 11,738 bedspaces
housed in 7,179 units (all figures unchanged from 2012). Of the 38,847 students
enrolled at the West Lafayette campus beginning in the fall of 2013 11,239 students
lived in on-campus housing leaving 499 bedspaces empty and 27,608 students living
Purdue University Fraternities, Sororities and Cooperatives
Of the 27,608 students living off-campus during the fall 2013 semester, 3,148 lived in a
fraternity, sorority or cooperative. At that time there were 63 houses with a total capacity
of 4,072 residents.
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 4
Purdue University Parking
The “C” parking permit is required for all commuter students who seek to park their
vehicle on campus and reside outside the University-imposed 1.5 mile near-campus
boundary. Those students living within the boundary but not on-campus are not eligible
for a parking permit. As illustrated in Figure 3, the boundary (unchanged from last year)
is roughly rectangular in shape and generally bordered by McCormick Road, Airport
Road, KB&S Railroad and the Wabash River.
Figure 3 – Parking Permit C Boundary
Source: Purdue University Parking & Transportation Services
In the fall of 2013, Purdue University’s Parking Services issued 4,178 “C” permits for
those commuter students who resided beyond this 1.5 mile boundary surrounding
campus. This number is higher than last year’s reported 3,679 permits since last year
Purdue did not supply the number of “garage C-permits” issued. For this year’s analysis,
we did obtain both “C-lot” and “C-garage” permit numbers:
Purdue Commuter Student Parking Facility Number of C-permits issued
C Parking Lots 3,472
Northwestern Garage 191
Marsteller Garage 135
Wood Street Garage 191
Grant Street Garage 189
Page | 5 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014
As for the composition of this commuter group, Purdue does not track the number of “C”
permit holders who commute from outside Tippecanoe County, however, given
Purdue’s distance from major regional population centers like the Chicago and
Indianapolis Metropolitan Areas, it can be assumed such long-distance commuter
students are a minority group and likely commute from the smaller communities that
surround Tippecanoe County. For the purposes of this report, it will be assumed that the
vast majority of the 23,430 remaining off-campus students who have not applied for “C”
permits likely lived within the C-permit boundary.
Tippecanoe County Assessor and City of West Lafayette Data
The Tippecanoe County Assessor and the City of West Lafayette both maintain data
sets of residential rental units. In addition the City of West Lafayette, through its rental
inspection program, keeps data on the number of bedrooms per dwelling unit. By
utilizing both data sets and excluding Purdue’s 7,179 on-campus units, the following
inventory has been created:
As of March 1, 2014 there were in Tippecanoe County:
• 34,305 owner-occupied units, a decrease of 1,480 from last year’s report.
• 34,199 rental units, an increase of 1,692 from last year’s report.
The rental units comprise all housing types including, single, two, and multi-family units
as well as mobile homes and house trailers.
As with the last year’s report, the geographic distribution of the rental units are more
concentrated near the densely urbanized areas in Lafayette (west of Sagamore
Parkway and north of Brady Lane) and West Lafayette (east of Northwestern Avenue,
south of Sagamore Parkway West and south of State Street).
City of West Lafayette Rental Inspection Program Data
Relative to the City of West Lafayette’s Rental Inspection Program data for 2013, out of
the 34,199 rental units in Tippecanoe County approximately 26% or 8,779 units
containing 18,678 bedrooms were within the city limits of West Lafayette. These figures
represent a 5% increase in units and a 21% increase in bedrooms from last year’s
report. Post-annexation data was unavailable.
Of these West Lafayette rental units, there were:
• 744 single-family units containing 2,477 bedrooms
• 242 two-family units containing 583 bedrooms
• 171 three-family units containing 356 bedrooms
• 7,622 multi-family units containing 15,262 bedrooms
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 6
PART 2: VACANY DATA & SURVEY RESULTS
To better understand occupancy issues related to our community’s rental housing stock,
we have employed the use of two data sources:
1. US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Postal
Service (USPS) residential vacancy data
2. 2014 Campus-Area Landlord Survey
US Department of Housing and Urban Development and US Postal Service Data
Since 2005 HUD and the USPS have maintained quarterly reports of mailing address
vacancies by census tract for residential and non-residential properties. This data is
made available to local governments by request and does not discriminate between
owner-occupied and rental. The USPS mail carriers that collected the data, while not
capturing vacancy data for all units in a tract, have collected a large enough sample of
units in each tract that the results can reasonably be relied upon to identify trends or
patterns for the entire tract. For this analysis we have only made use of the residential
unit vacancy data for the years 2009 through the second quarter of 2014. Our study
area includes all the census tracts shown in Figure 4, including Tracts 106 and 108
which are found south of Tract 102.04 and north of Tract 1 respectively.
Figure 4 – Greater Lafayette Urban Area Census Tracts
Source: US Bureau of the Census
Page | 7 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014
For the purposes of this report, as shown in Figure 4, the “West Lafayette Area”
includes the following census tracts: 51.01, 51.02, 52, 53, 54, 55, 102.04, 103, 104, 105
and 106. The “Lafayette Area” includes these census tracts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12,
19, 108 and 111. Again, the data does not discriminate between a rental unit and an
owner-occupied unit. Through our agreement with HUD, we are able to present the
following findings on residential vacancies in our community’s urbanized area:
Figure 5 – West Lafayette Area Residential Vacancy Rates
West Lafayette Area Year Average
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014*
Figure 6 – Lafayette Area Residential Vacancy Rates
Lafayette Area Year Average
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014*
Sources for Figures 5 & 6: US Department of Housing & Urban Development
*Represents the first and second quarter of 2014 only
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 8
As shown in Figure 5, over the last five years the West Lafayette Area has experienced
on average an approximate 1.41% residential vacancy rate while in Figure 6 the
Lafayette Area experienced on average a 6.83% residential vacancy rate. These rates
are generally consistent with those reported in last year’s report (down from 1.51% for
West Lafayette and 7.04% for Lafayette) and were calculated by averaging the quarter
data into single years and averaging the years (including the first two quarters of 2014).
The average number of units surveyed each year for the West Lafayette Area was
21,557 containing an average of 304 vacancies while the number of units surveyed
each year in the Lafayette area was 17,926 containing an average of 1,224 vacancies.
As with last’s years reported data, there were no dramatic fluctuations in each area’s
vacancy rates over a five year period and, once again, the main difference between the
two cities’ areas are the vacancy percentages that surround both cities’ respective
central business districts.
In the older suburban parts of the West Lafayette Area tracts 51.02, 52 and 53 together
averaged 2.1% in residential vacancy (the highest for contiguous tracts for the West
Lafayette Area) while the tracts closest to campus (53, 55, 103, 104, and 105) had, on
average, a 0.7% vacancy rate. The newer, outlying residential areas remained largely
unchanged from last year’s reported 1.5% and 1.8%. So in summary, for the West
Lafayette area, the data again points to slight increases in vacancies in the older,
largely single-family suburban areas south of Sagamore Parkway south to the New
Chauncey Neighborhood while nearer to campus there were fewer vacancies, despite
this area having the highest concentrations of residential density and rental units.
In the Lafayette Area the tracts nearest to downtown (2, 4, 7, 10, and 111) have the
highest average vacancy rate of over 9% (a percentage point higher than last year’s
report) while the more suburban tracts of the Lafayette Area continued to have a
vacancy rate generally between 3% and 6%. This data points to increased vacancies in
the densely developed older parts of the city immediately surrounding downtown while
the older and newer suburban areas to the south and east are experiencing fewer
For both city analysis areas the vacancy rate quickly drops once you transition from
suburban to rural.
Page | 9 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014
2014 Campus Area Landlord Survey
Over the summer months of 2014 the Area Plan Commission staff, working with a City
of West Lafayette student intern, conducted a survey of off-campus landlords and
management companies of rental units near Purdue’s campus, those away from
campus but primarily in West Lafayette, and those in areas of Lafayette that have
traditionally housed the student population. The purpose was to augment the
HUD/USPS vacancy data with firsthand information about these rental units and
complexes directly from the landlords and management companies. The survey sought
to verify total units and bedrooms, vacancy rates by unit and, if possible, by bedroom for
the 2013-2014 school year (those units/bedrooms that remained vacant the entire
school year). As with last year’s report, we also sought simple demographic group
information about the tenants, specifically whether they were students, non-student
singles or families (which included both student and non-student family groups).
This year’s expanded survey reached out to just over 100 landlords and management
companies. Our efforts resulted in 62 landlord and management company respondents
participating, representing 134 properties; nearly double the number of participants from
last year’s report.
Figure 7 – Campus Area Survey Extent
As shown in Figure 7, the
locations of the respondents’
properties generally correspond
with the census tracts shown in
Figure 4 and were primarily
found within and just outside
the C-permit boundary as well
as in the more suburban
locations of West Lafayette and
along the eastern edge of the
City of Lafayette nearer to the
In order to respect the
confidentiality of the
respondents, the precise
location of their properties is not
identified on the map.
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 10
The respondents’ properties contained rental units of every type, from single-family and
duplex units to large multi-family complexes. Of the properties surveyed, 79 are located
within the C-permit boundary, 30 are located outside the C-permit boundary in or near
the city limits of West Lafayette (west of the Wabash River) and 25 are located within or
near the city limits of Lafayette. Added together these properties contained 5,910 units
with 12,394 bedrooms.
Unlike last year’s report, a large majority of respondents provided both unit and
bedroom vacancy information. Additionally, a majority provided expanded information
about tenant type (undergraduate student, graduate student, single professionals and
We divided the results into four categories:
I. Of the 109 total West Lafayette Area properties surveyed:
• There were 4,835 units containing 10,639 bedrooms.
• On average, over the course of the 2013-2014 school year approximately 2.5%
of both the total units and total bedrooms remained vacant.
• 86% of the units were rented by undergraduate students.
• 9% of the units were rented by graduate students.
• 3% of the units were rented by families.
• 2% of the units were rented by non-student singles.
• The highest unit vacancy rate reported for a property was 47%. The unit type
was a large multi-family complex located outside the C-permit boundary. The
next highest unit vacancy rate reported was 22% for a small multi-family building
located inside the C-permit boundary.
• The highest bedroom vacancy rate for a property was 49%. The unit type was a
large multi-family complex located outside the C-permit boundary. The next
highest bedroom vacancy rate reported was 20% for a small multi-family building
located outside the C-permit boundary.
Of the 79 total West Lafayette Area properties surveyed inside the C-permit
• There were 1,694 units containing 3,417 bedrooms.
• On average, over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, approximately 2% of
the total units remained vacant.
• On average, over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, approximately 1% of
the total bedrooms remained vacant.
• 97% of the units were rented by undergraduate students.
• 1% of the units were rented by graduate students.
• 1.5% of the units were rented by families.
Page | 11 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014
• 0.5% of the units were rented by non-student singles.
• The highest unit vacancy rate reported for a property was 22%. The unit type
was a small multi-family building. The next highest unit vacancy rate reported
was 13% for a similar sized multi-family building.
• The highest bedroom vacancy rate for a property was 16%. The unit type was a
small multi-family building. The next highest bedroom vacancy rate reported was
13% for a slightly larger multi-family building.
Of the 30 total West Lafayette Area properties surveyed outside the C-permit
1. There were 3,141 units containing 7,222 bedrooms.
2. On average, over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, approximately 3.5%
of the total units remained vacant.
3. On average, over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, approximately 2.5%
of the total bedrooms remained vacant.
4. 52% of the units were rented by undergraduate students.
5. 36% of the units were rented by graduate students.
6. 6% of the units were rented by families.
7. 6% of the units were rented by non-student singles.
8. The highest unit vacancy rate reported for a property was 47%. The unit type
was a large multi-family complex. The next highest unit vacancy rate reported
was 10% for a similar sized large, multi-family complex.
9. The highest bedroom vacancy rate for a property was 49%. The unit type was a
large multi-family complex. The next highest bedroom vacancy rate reported was
20% for a small multi-family building.
Of the 25 total Lafayette area properties surveyed:
• There were 1,075 units containing 1,755 bedrooms.
• There were 3,141 units containing 7,222 bedrooms.
• On average, over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, approximately 3.5%
of the total units remained vacant.
• On average, over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, approximately 2.5%
of the total bedrooms remained vacant.
• 59% of the units were rented by undergraduate students.
• 2% of the units were rented by graduate students.
• 8% of the units were rented by families.
• 30% of the units were rented by non-student singles.
• The highest unit vacancy rate reported for a property was 10%. The unit type
was a mid-size multi-family complex. The next highest unit vacancy rate reported
was 2% for a similar sized mid-size, multi-family complex.
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 12
• The highest bedroom vacancy rate for a property was 1%. The unit type was a
large multi-family complex. The remaining properties did not report any
significant bedroom vacancies. A small percentage of respondents chose not to
provide any vacancy data (unit or bedroom).
Page | 13 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014
PART 3: CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS
As stated in the beginning, this update to our November 2013 report serves to extend
the reach of the original report by collecting the latest data from our previously
referenced sources and to conduct an expanded follow-up landlord survey. To that end,
we have been successful by continuing to utilize all available federal, state and local
data while facilitating notable increases the number of survey participants. Together
with last year’s report, we are building an inventory of information that we hope will, over
time, move from merely pointing to emerging trends to identifying demonstrable patterns
that speak to the state of the student-rental housing market in our community.
US Census projections continue to show steady increases in the overall population of
Tippecanoe County. The projected 4% increase from 2010 to 2013 continues to
highlight the stability and economic vitality of the community and its ability to attract
newcomers. As for Purdue University’s student population growth, a notable decrease
in the overall student population was reported from the previous years. This fall from the
high of just over 40,000 students (2008-2009) has returned the university’s current
student population back to just under the number reported 10 years prior. While the
decreases over the last four years haven’t been dramatic (currently only a 1.2% drop
from the previous year), the fact that overall decreases are occurring (a nearly 3.5%
drop from the 2008-2009 high point) should be enough for all concerned with the
student housing market to keep an eye on what might be an emerging trend.
Residential Vacancies Overview
The trends identified in last year’s analysis of the vacancy data sets collected from
USPS/HUD and our own local survey have largely remain unchanged in a year’s time.
Generally, residential rental unit and bedroom vacancies are higher in both data sets
near Lafayette’s downtown and in the areas surrounding the C-permit boundary in West
Lafayette. Conversely, the lowest residential rental unit and bedroom vacancies in the
community are found within the C-permit boundary in West Lafayette and around the
outer parts of Lafayette.
Residential Vacancies in the West Lafayette Area
For the West Lafayette Area, both data sets agree that residential vacancies are
generally very low as evidenced by the 1.41% HUD/USPS five-year average (1.51%
was reported last year) and the approximate 2.47% vacancy rate found in the 2013-
2014 rental unit survey (2% was reported last year).
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 14
The negative trend identified last year concerning vacancy and the location and style of
the unit type continues to be a factor: Older rental properties are just as susceptible to
increased vacancies as newer rental properties if they are located outside of the C-
boundary area and fit the general template of a larger suburban-styled, multiple
building, multi-family, automobile-centric, low-rise apartment complex. As it did last
year, the HUD/USPS data points to the northern and northwestern areas in and outside
of West Lafayette’s city limits as the areas with the greater residential vacancies (2.5%,
a slight increase over the 2% reported last year). The survey places its highest reported
vacancy-beset properties generally in these same census tract areas with a few
properties reporting unit vacancies of 10-15% or more (slightly lower than the 20%
reported last year) and one aforementioned property reporting a unit vacancy of 47%.
The conclusion to draw from both the trend and data analysis remains the same as last
year: The community should continue to be wary of supporting dramatic increases in
large, multi-family housing developments in the outlying areas of West Lafayette that
aren’t adjacent and walkable to a major commercial activity center. Moreover, even if a
large, multi-family complex is proposed in the prescribed location, the developer should
be prepared to furnish solid evidence and verifiable data to the staff, APC, city council
and the public demonstrating a clear demand for such a project.
Similar to last year’s report, both the latest HUD/USPS data and survey data generally
agree that the near-campus locations within and immediately adjacent to the C-permit
boundary contain the lowest residential unit vacancies. The HUD/USPS data five-year
average for residential vacancies places the New Chauncey Neighborhood, Chauncey
Village Central Business District and the south of State Street area at and just below 1%
(for Census tracts 54 and 55). The rental unit survey reported a slightly higher vacancy
rate of approximately 2.1% for the C-permit boundary area, compared with the 1% from
last year’s report. This may be due, in large part, to the expanded sample that was
taken for this year’s survey.
According to the survey, the vacancies that have occurred in the near-campus locations
and within the C-permit boundary have largely fallen on the larger mid-rise apartment
buildings and complexes. Being the second year this phenomenon has been observed,
the community should continue to carefully scrutinize larger-scale residential and mixeduse
redevelopment efforts that drift too far from the core of campus, specifically West
Lafayette’s downtown (Chauncey Village), the urban section of the Northwestern
Avenue corridor (from State Street to Meridian Street) and the area south of State
Street. While denser, mixed-use environments are desired in these areas, a saturation
point could arise if supply overtakes demand and new unit construction outpaces
student population growth. Given Purdue’s recent student population fluctuations,
developers focusing on these areas should be prepared to supply compelling evidence
Page | 15 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014
and verifiable data to the staff, APC, city council and the public demonstrating a clear
demand for additional residential density.
With compelling evidence in hand, what should guide the staffs’ deliberations and
ultimately the APC and city council’s decisions on future urban projects within and near
the C-permit boundary are the sustainable redevelopment strategies found in the New
Chauncey Neighborhood Plan:
• “Goal 2 – Neighborhood Redevelopment – Objective 1, Strategy 2 – Focus all
residential density along the Northwestern and Fowler corridors per the future
land use map.”
• “Goal 2 – Neighborhood Redevelopment – Objective 3, Strategy 2 – Direct urban
density residential projects to primarily rental neighborhoods like Chauncey
Village and the neighborhood south of State Street through land use planning,
reduced parking ratios, on-street permit parking for residents, and the
construction of public parking facilities.”
Residential Vacancies in the Lafayette Area
The two data sets, similar to last year’s report, continue to generally disagree with each
other relative to residential unit vacancies in the Lafayette area. In expanding the
number of units surveyed in Lafayette from 404 in last year’s report to 1,075 the unit
vacancy rate fell from 2% to 0.6% during the 2013-2014 school year. This can likely be
attributed to the inclusion of units located farther from the downtown area that house
fewer students and, historically, have suffered fewer unit vacancies.
The HUD/USPS data demonstrates, for a second year in a row, that vacancies in
Lafayette remain at their highest in and around the downtown central business district
and the older neighborhoods immediately surrounding downtown. In these census tracts
the five-year average residential vacancy rate fell from just over 8% in last year’s report
to 6.92%, a notable decrease. Just beyond this core area the more suburban tracts’
vacancy rate has remained similar to last year’s reported finding of between 3% and
6%, dropping off quickly the farther away you get from the core.
The assumption remains that the disparity in vacancy percentages between what was
reported in our survey and what was reported by HUD/USPS is further evidence that the
student rental market (and its ebbs & flows) plays a far lesser role in vacancy issues in
Lafayette as it does in West Lafayette.
Lafayette should continue to play to its strengths: It should continue to promote urban
living adjacent to a thriving downtown for all groups and adhere to the policies of the
Historic Centennial Neighborhood Plan which include marketing of “urban living” (Task 1
of Implementation Strategy 1) to non-student groups.
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 16
Looking to the Future
The City of West Lafayette and the near-campus neighborhoods continue to urbanize
as encouraged by both public policy and private market forces. And while significant
increases in vacancies in the near-campus neighborhoods are not substantially
demonstrated in this report update, there remain some items of concern that staff, APC,
the legislative bodies and the scrutinizing public should take note of in the months and
years ahead as new student residential projects are considered:
1. Purdue’s student population: It is worth noting that Purdue’s student population
has fallen for the third straight year. While it has not been a significant decrease,
it is notable and could be a sign of a stabilizing student population, not an
2. Purdue’s On-Campus Housing: While there were no increases to report for oncampus
units in this report’s analysis, Purdue has, of late, recommitted itself to
strengthening and expanding its on-campus residential base. Two projects are
fulfilling this commitment: Third Street Suites added 304 beds during the 2014-
2015 school year and the Purdue Honors College and Residences is slated to
bring 870 beds when it opens in the fall of 2017. The community as a whole
should continue to monitor Purdue’s student residential development activity as it
directly impacts the need and demand for student residential projects offcampus.
3. Recently completed and under construction high-density, near-campus
residential development: Chauncey Square (completed 2012, contains 158 units,
386 bedrooms), Grant Street Station (completed 2013, contains 125 units, 278
bedrooms), 720 Northwestern “Fuse Building” (completed 2014, contains 229
units, 489 bedrooms), 225 Northwestern (under construction, will open fall 2015
and contain 44 units, 56 bedrooms), South Street Station (under construction, will
open fall 2015 and contain 40 units, 75 bedrooms).
4. Landlord observations and comments: Along with the data our survey
participants provided, some offered further comment and observations of the
state of the rental market as it pertains to their business. To protect their identity,
their comments are summarized here anonymously:
a. A representative of a mid-sized management company indicated that while
their responses of properties being 100% leased is true, what is not reflected
is how long it took for the units to become leased over the 2013-2014 school
year and how much the rent had to be lowered to get the unit leased.
Page | 17 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014
. A representative of a larger management company noted that: generally,
speaking, supply is increasing while demand remains stagnant; new
developments are creating higher end residences, but the demand for higher
end residences isn't necessarily following; two-bedroom units remain the
hardest type to lease though the phenomenon of a single person leasing an
entire two-bedroom unit has increased slightly; individual bedroom leases are
generally necessary over the course of the year to fill unleased bedrooms;
new construction has forced owners of older complexes who haven’t
renovated to either invest in their properties and renovate or sell to someone
who will, as their old units are now obsolete compared to the newer stock;
owners who don’t invest in their properties or sell are now facing decreasing
rents and increased vacancies because of the new supply; one-bedroom
units lease the fastest.
c. A representative of a smaller management company noted that: rents and
revenues have declined as a result of the newer stock coming online, creating
very tight budgets; property taxes and insurance costs remain the two highest
expenses; uncollected rents for leased units remain a significant problem,
particularly with foreign students who leave for their home countries before
settling the rent; many students leave before the lease is over and by law the
landlords still have someone in a lease but no rent is collected; it takes
approximately 45 days to get a court date and then go through the normal
waiting period of 30 days to get possession of the unit, increasing all of our
costs by the end of a lease.
d. A representative of another mid-sized management company noted that: the
three and four bedroom units are the hardest to lease; to lease units we have
had to sacrifice our previous policies and standards and allow individual
leasing, short term leasing, roommate matching and price negotiations; the
phrase from our owners that is commonly heard is “something is better than
nothing”; our clients will face the largest percentage of vacancy this year for
2014-2015 than they ever have before due to the new construction; many
clients are adjusting from old experiences of always having 100% leased
apartments to accepting that if you get 90% then you should be happy on a
year to year basis from now on.
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 18
Guiding Policies & Recommendations
To best manage future growth and ensure that sound planning principles work in
concert with market forces, the following policies from the Housing Element of the
Tippecanoe County Comprehensive Plan (adopted in 2011) are represented here as
our community’s guiding policies:
• Policy 5 - In relation to established needs multi-family development should be
encouraged on lands located near major activity centers.
• Policy 14 - Create land use plans that emphasize vibrant neighborhoods and
support growth in Downtown Lafayette, the Levee area, and West Lafayette
• Policy 23 - Significant new residential construction, regardless of density and
configuration, is to be constructed only in the presence of, or in conjunction with,
sufficient levels of public services, facilities, and all modes of transportation.
• Policy 24 - Housing specifically intended to serve low and moderate income and
student populations is to be built within reasonable proximity to major shopping
facilities and established public transportation routes.
• Policy 27 - Zoning and land use decisions regarding housing development and
redevelopment shall be guided, in part, by adopted neighborhood plans. A
neighborhood plan found to be outdated relative to the neighborhood's current
situation shall be updated as APC staff resources allow. In developing
neighborhood plans, staff shall encourage the active participation of
neighborhood associations with all other property owners and residents.
Continued development of neighborhood associations and property owner
associations is strongly encouraged.
• Policy 28 - Zoning and land use decisions impacting neighborhoods rich in
diversity, including those near Purdue University, shall consider all competing
interests and promote an improved quality of life for all neighborhood residents.
In support of these policies and to create a more responsible and sustainable
development strategy that is sensitive to changing market forces, the following
recommendations are here presented:
1. Support the land use recommendations in the New Chauncey Neighborhood
Plan and create land use plans for West Lafayette’s downtown (Chauncey
Village), the Levee and area south of State Street.
2. Continue to support redevelopment efforts centered on West Lafayette’s
downtown (Chauncey Village) and that stretch along State Street (from the
campus boundary to the Wabash River), Northwestern Avenue (from State Street
to Meridian Street) and the area south of State Street. Require compelling data
Page | 19 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014
from developers that supports significant increases in student-oriented residential
3. Prepare for the adaptive re-use of multi-family rental units built for students
beyond the near-campus area.
4. Discourage the development of multi-family, residential developments on the
urban fringe that are not along a transit route and not adjacent to a major
commercial activity center.
5. Explore the creation of near-campus, municipal public parking facilities and
investigate creating a residential parking permit program for the area south of
State Street to increase parking efficiency and availability for residents while
discouraging commuter students, faculty and staff from parking there.
6. Continually monitor Purdue’s on-campus housing planning and construction
efforts to ensure proposed off-campus residential development is in fact needed.
7. Encourage Purdue to review annually the C-permit boundary limits so that they
keep up with urban expansion, with the first expansion area to be considered
being west of the campus to US 231.
It is of course impossible to secure data on the state of the local student housing market
that is 100% accurate. This report, as well as last year’s, has sought instead to provide
the best analysis by building and using independent data sets that, over a period of
time, begin to establish trends from which the most accurate conclusions can be made.
While the data sets from Purdue and other government entities that speak to existing
conditions are reliable, other sources have drawbacks. The HUD/USPS data is a
sample of the total units only and relies completely on the accuracy of the postal
workers’ observations. The landlord survey relies totally on the honesty of the
respondents’ answers which, truthful or not, are highly influenced by the demands of
business competition. To overcome these conditions, we broadened the geographic
scope and detail of our survey and drew HUD/USPS data from additional census tracts.
The results clearly demonstrate a “settling” of the student housing market as it adjusts
to the new realities of increases in newer, higher-density units constructed in the most
To guard against creating an over-supply problem as Purdue’s student population
continues to stabilize, the staffs, APC and the legislative bodies should be mindful of the
conclusions in this report update and respectively render recommendations and
decisions on new student-oriented projects that are well-informed. In so doing, our
community can continue to manage its growth responsibly while holding the
development community to the very highest standards.
Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014 Page | 20
PART 4: APPENDIX
The questions presented in our landlord survey are here included:
1. Please state the name of your apartment building/complex.
2. Who is the owner of the building/complex?
3. How many years has the building/complex been leasing?
4. How many total units and bedrooms are in the building/complex?
5. Please provide a breakdown of unit type by number of bedrooms (x number
of studios, x number of 1 bedrooms, x number 2 bedrooms, etc…)
6. How many units (or percentage of total units) were not leased during the
2013-2014 school year?
7. Of the unleased units, how many per unit type remained unleased during the
2013-2014 school year?
8. Of the leased units, how many bedrooms (or percentage of total bedrooms)
within those units were unleased (or unoccupied) during the 2013-2014
9. Approximately what percentage of your tenants are college students, families,
singles, other? If other, please name the group.
10. Of your rental unit inventory, which unit type leases up most quickly?
11. Any additional comments or personal opinions?
Page | 21 Tippecanoe County Student Rental Report & Survey – November 2014