We are not providing any refund language at this time, since there are so many directions it could go from both financial and contractual standpoints. Here is our rationale as of today:
Sorority housing is positioned in an interesting lane, being more connected to the university than a private apartment, but more private than a university dorm. As you said, everything is being handled on a case-by-case basis. Our recommendation (in general) has shifted to advising that sorority houses close (when they can) to limit liability at this point, whether or not the university has mandated it. This is due to the extent of social distancing measures coming from the CDC, along with state and federal guidelines, and with a big purpose of sorority housing (proximity to physical university classes) being diminished.
Unlike a private apartment, which would presumably stay open and leave it up to the tenants to stay or go, if the sorority house does close it might not have as much leverage to withhold refunds. Therefore, there is some risk that house corporations could be opening up breach of contract allegations. Breach of contract claims could include where a parent alleges “unjust enrichment” for a sorority house closing, more likely if no fee adjustment is eventually offered. It could be argued that unless the housing agreement specifically states tenants have to pay for housing regardless of unforeseen circumstances, tenants have a right to demand a refund for the time the facility was closed, or else risk breaching the contract.
We realize how this can be situational, and we will support you either way on refunds. This is ultimately your business decision, to be weighed with financial and legal obligations. Keep in mind the Sorority’s Directors & Officers policy offers $100,000 for defense cost only, so it may be able to handle some pushback, but perhaps not across the board.