OTTAWA -- Carleton University says a “normal” fall term is extremely unlikely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While in-person learning could still be possible, a report done by the school found that given the uncertainty it recommends Carleton “intensively prepare” for the likelihood that courses and programs for fall 2020 will be delivered online.

The University of Ottawa said even if restrictions loosen, students - both Canadian and International - will have the option to learn virtually during the fall.

The news has caused some concern for those renting out rooms to students in Ottawa.

“It definitely would impact us because the students are our backbone. Students rentals is great cash flow, high income because you’re renting per room and putting them all in one lease,” said Sorin Vaduva, an Ottawa realtor and investor.

Sleepwell Management’s Sandy Hill units are still being rented out, but the process is taking longer.

“[Before] you would rent something within hours or the day of a listing. You’re seeing maybe a week or two weeks to rent that same unit,” Adam Pearce said.  

Landlords may have to get competitive by lowering their rent.

John Dickie, chair of the Eastern Ontario Landlord Organization, said one factor for more supply is many international students are going home.

“Another factor is because of the city’s move against Airbnb, some of the owners who were operating Airbnb units are now bringing them back into the rental market.”

Dickie said a decline in the student market would have a ripple effect on the entire market.

He gave the example if rent drops in Sandy Hill, tenants from Westboro may decide to move there. The shifting of tenants would moderate the rent drop in Sandy Hill, but would reduce demand in Westboro.

Despite the possibility of many Ottawa students learning from out of town this upcoming school year, many landlords say it is too early to panic.