Leasing Residence Halls to Municipalities and Hospitals for COVID-19 Relief

By: Jim Newberry, Joshua L. Stearns

Published: April 6, 2020

The spread of COVID-19 in the United States is causing hospital administrators and government officials to call upon their local colleges and universities to house surge patients and quarantine first responders. The Harvard Global Health Institute estimates that the number of COVID-19 patients needing hospital care could quickly exceed the number of available beds. Moreover, local government officials are looking for spaces where first responders and health care workers can either voluntarily isolate themselves from their families or quarantine after they have been exposed to others with known COVID-19 infections.

Many colleges and universities, such as NYU, Tufts University, and Middlebury College, have already begun making arrangements for their residence halls and other campus buildings to be used by local hospitals and municipalities in case of a surge in COVID-19 patients. One college drained the campus’s ice hockey rink so it could house a pop-up hospital if needed, while others prepared residence halls with overflow beds to accommodate the surge of hospital patients.

Institutions should start planning now for how they will manage a potential facility lease for COVID-19 related relief. The parties not only need to consider traditional lease terms such as rent and duration but will also need to think about the impact that COVID-19 has on terms such as maintenance of the facility, insurance, and indemnity.

The Higher Education Team at Steptoe & Johnson is fully prepared to assist you in drafting and reviewing COVID-19 related facility lease agreements. Please contact any member of our team for immediate assistance in negotiating these unique facility lease agreements.

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