The Housing Program

Amherst College (the “college”) assists employees with housing costs by providing three programs: (A) The Rental Housing Program, (B) The House Purchase and Matching Grant Program, and (C) the House Purchase Subsidy Program. 

Each plan is described in more detail below.  Eligibility is as follows:
* Only under certain circumstances and with the approval of the president or provost and dean of the faculty

 

Rental Housing Program

House Purchase and Matching Grant Program

House Purchase Subsidy Program

Lecturers

X

X

X

Senior Lecturers

*

X

X

Visiting Faculty

X

 

 

Tenure-Track Faculty

X

X

X

Tenured Faculty

*

X

X

[Contract] Coaches

X

X

X

Senior-Contract Coaches

*

X

X

Staff

*

X

 

Senior Administrators

*

X

X

The Housing Program is administered by the rental housing management department, with the advice of the Faculty Housing Committee. This committee is composed of four faculty members appointed by the president, upon the recommendation of the Committee of Six, and the following ex officio non-voting members: the chief financial and administrative officer (or that individual’s designee), the chief human resources officer, the director of housing management, an associate provost and associate dean of the faculty, and the chief of campus operations.

The House Purchase Subsidy program is administered by the Office of the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer.

The Housing Program is administered on an equal opportunity basis regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex or gender (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity), age, disability, genetic information, military service, or any other characteristic or class protected under applicable federal, state or local law. 

After consultation with the Faculty Housing Committee, a house or unit is designated as either a rental unit or available for purchase. Once a house or unit has been designated as available for rent or purchase, eligible employees will have the opportunity to rent or buy such house or unit under the Rental Housing Plan or the House Purchase Plan, with priority determined by the point systems described below. In either case, the employee will be able to either rent or purchase the available unit [for an amount that is below the fair market value].  As a result, such benefit could have certain federal income tax implications discussed in more detail below.

A. The Rental Housing Program
The housing assignment period for rental units is from mid-April through early July. Eligible employees are advised of housing units that are expected to be available during the next academic year.  Employees who want to be considered for rental vacancies during the housing assignment period must submit a housing request form to the rental housing management department by a date specified in the annual mailing.  Failure to submit a timely Housing Request may result in removal from consideration.

Rental units are assigned on the basis of a point system based on (1) number of years of service, (2) number of children, and (3) rank when appointed to Amherst. The points associated with each of these categories are described below.

For eligible renters who cannot be accommodated by the rental housing program because of insufficient inventory, the college makes available a market subsidy that allows the employee to rent a property on the local open market at a rate that approximates the cost of leasing a college-owned house. 
           
(1) Points for Each Year of Service. One point is given for each year's continuous service effective with the date of original appointment. For example, if the date of appointment is July 1, the appointee would be given one point for the spring housing assignment period of that academic year.

(2) Points for Each Child. One point is given for each dependent child as defined by Internal Revenue Service regulations. An exception is made for a child in utero. If at the start of the housing assignment period, a pregnancy is known to exist, an additional one point is given.

(3) Points for Rank at time of Appointment to Amherst. This category reflects credit for rank at the time of original appointment to the college. These points assist faculty who may have been in academia prior to appointment to Amherst. The points associated with rank are given in the table below.  They partially offset the greater credits for years of service accrued by faculty members who have spent their entire careers at Amherst. For example, a faculty member who is appointed (without tenure) to Amherst at the rank of associate professor would be entitled to six points under this category. A professor who was originally appointed as an assistant professor would receive two points.

Please note: In cases in which two individuals working for the college are partners who are both eligible for college housing points, the first individual will receive points based on rank, length of service, as well as children, if applicable. The second individual will receive the rank points only, which will be added to the first individual's total points.

Rank

Points for Rank when
Appointed to Amherst

Assistant Professor

Lecturer

Contract coach

2

Associate Professor
(typically visiting appointments or other appointments without tenure)

6  

Professor

(typically visiting appointments)

       10              

Information regarding how a particular title correlates to the point system ranking is available from the Office of Human Resources.

The president can make special housing assignments that serve the interest of the college at the president’s discretion. 

Rental housing is generally intended for use by tenure-track faculty members, lecturers, contract coaches, and visiting faculty.  Upon receiving tenure or senior lecturer or senior-contract coach status, a renter may only remain in rental housing for two years following such change in status. Any occupants who were tenured members of the faculty, senior lecturers, senior-contract coaches, tenure-track faculty members who later received tenure, or administrators who were eligible for rental housing as of March 2, 1998, and who did not wish to or were not qualified to purchase their homes at that time, are grandfathered from the requirement to vacate the rental unit within two years following such status change and may remain in their assigned unit until pre-retirement separation from the college or for up to two years following retirement from the college.

The following categories of employees are eligible for college rental housing:

Current Employees (assistant professors, associate professors without tenure, contract coaches, and lecturers). These individuals are eligible either to move within the housing system or move from off-campus into rental housing. 

New Employees to the College (assistant professors, associate professors without tenure, contract coaches, lecturers, full-time visiting professors of all ranks, and eligible visiting lecturers)

The procedure for the assignment of rental housing units is as follows:

Current Employees Points will be assigned as described above and employees with the highest number of points will be offered housing first.  In the case of a tie in points, assistant professors and lecturers will be assigned units first, followed by coaches. A game of chance (such as a coin toss) will be used to break ties within the two groupings.

Once all eligible current employees have been given the opportunity to select housing, eligible new employees will be offered housing as delineated below.

New Employees to the College The assignments to new employees will proceed in a two-step process. Rental housing will be assigned first to new assistant professors, new coaches, and new lecturers. Points will be assigned according to the system described above. In the case of a tie in points, assistant professors and lecturers will be assigned units first, followed by coaches. A game of chance (such as a coin toss) will be used to break ties within the two groupings.

Once all eligible new tenure-line assistant professors, associate professors, and professors, new lecturers, contract coaches have been given the opportunity to select housing, the assignment of rental housing units to all other qualifying new employees (visiting faculty and visiting lecturers) will be made in accordance with the point system. 

Assignment to rental housing typically follows the fiscal year pattern of appointments, July 1 through June 30.  Assignments for rentals are automatically renewed except when the terms of the assignment period are limited or a transfer to another housing unit occurs as a result of the spring assignment procedure. Letters of assignment will be sent to the new occupants by the director of the rental housing management department. Occupants of college rental housing are required to sign a lease defining the terms and conditions of the rental. Conditions of maintenance and terms of payment are detailed in the letter of assignment and lease.  Annual rent increases are determined by the rental housing management department, in consultation with the chief financial and administrative officer. Renter's insurance covering personal belongings and liability must be secured by all renters of college housing.

In the case of vacancies occurring after the end of the housing assignment period and through the following June, the director of the rental housing management department, in consultation with the provost and dean of the faculty, may make temporary assignments to eligible employees until the end of that fiscal year, normally June 30, as circumstances dictate.

Separating faculty must be prepared to vacate rental college housing at the time of separation. Retiring faculty must vacate rental college housing within two years after retirement. The family of a faculty member who dies during the year may reside in college housing through the end of the fiscal year immediately following the fiscal year of  the faculty member’s death.

Maintenance  Residents of college rental housing must take reasonable care of the premises and advise the rental housing management department of conditions needing attention.  It is expected that if a tenant is moving, the premises will be left in good order, within reasonable standards of cleanliness and repair.  All alterations or improvements must be done by or approved by the college. Details about maintenance practices, interior decorating requests, alterations and improvements, and procedures for service and repair calls are available from the rental housing management department.

Subletting  The college requires that a rental unit be occupied as a primary residence by the individual to whom it is assigned. Subletting of a college housing unit is limited to periods of sabbatical leaves or other authorized leaves of absence. Written notification to the rental housing management department of a subletting arrangement is required and must include the name(s) of the sublessee(s) and the dates the house or unit is to be sublet. Subletting is subject to the approval of the director of the rental housing management department.

Federal Taxes As mentioned above, when an employer provides rental housing to its employees at a rate that is less than the fair rental value, the difference in value is considered imputed income to the employee who rents the property and is reported on the employee’s Form W-2 as part of their taxable income.  

B. The House Purchase Plan
Some single-family houses are available for sale to tenured members of the Amherst faculty, senior administrators, Amherst faculty on the tenure track, Amherst senior lecturers, Amherst lecturers, Amherst senior-contract coaches, Amherst contract coaches, and other staff of the college.

Each house purchased under this program must be the employee’s primary residence and must be occupied by the employee to whom it is sold.  The house must be resold to the college upon certain events described below (see “Events Triggering Resale” below). 

Available houses are offered for purchase in up to three rounds.  They are initially offered to all tenured faculty, senior administrators, senior lecturers, senior contract coaches.  If the houses do not sell, they are subsequently offered for sale to tenure-track faculty, contract coaches, and lecturers.  If, after offering houses for purchase in these first two rounds, there is no interest in a house, it may be offered for purchase to other Amherst College staff.

Priority in purchasing a house is determined by a point system that is substantially similar to the one that governs the rental housing program, except that a faculty member’s rank on July 1 of that year’s purchase solicitation determines the following additional points.  If a house is offered to a third round to staff, all staff will have equal-point ranking, independent of position.

Please note: In cases in which two individuals working for the college are partners who are both eligible for college housing points, the first individual will receive points based on rank, length of service, as well as children, if applicable. The second individual will receive the rank points only, which will be added to the first individual's total points.

Rank

Points for Rank when

Appointed to Amherst

Assistant Professor 
Lecturer
Contract coach

 

2

Associate Professor 
Senior lecturer
Senior-contract coach

 

6

Professor 
Senior administrator 

10

10

Details regarding terms of sale under the House Purchase Plan, including purchase price, financing, and the college's repurchase rights, are outlined below.

Purchase Price  Beginning with house purchases that close on or after September 1, 2021,  eligible employees will be able to purchase a home through the purchase plan at 65 percent of the fair market value.

Financing Available  A House Purchase Subsidy Program is available for down payment assistance to buyers who meet the terms of the program outlined in section C below.

Events Triggering Resale of Houses to the College All houses sold to employees under this program are required to be resold to the college upon the earliest to occur of the events described below:

Ceasing to be primary residence

Within 30 days

Subletting in violation of rules

Within 30 days

Default on mortgage, insolvency, bankruptcy

Within 30 days

Terminated employees

Within 30 days

Retired employees

Within 6 years

Widowed spouses

Within 5 years following employee’s death

Divorced spouses

Within 2 years following divorce (if employee has moved out)

If the sale back to the college is at the owner’s discretion prior to a required resale event, the college is obligated to repurchase the house and will take reasonable efforts to do so in a timely manner to support the seller’s schedule, to the extent possible.

Resale Price (for Houses Purchased on or after September 1, 2021) The resale price will be determined as follows:

- upon the resale of a house to the college prior to the [sixth] anniversary of the date of purchase, the college will repurchase the property at 65 percent of the appraised value at the time of resale (see below). 

- upon the resale of a house to the college in the sixth year following the date of purchase, the college’s repurchase price will increase to 70 percent of the appraised value.

- For every year thereafter through the 16th anniversary of the date of purchase, the resale price will increased by 1 percent for each subsequent year up to a maximum resale price of 80 percent of appraised value. 

Percentage           Anniversary of Year of purchase
65%                         through 6th anniversary

70 -79%                  6th through 15th anniversary, 1% increase for each year

80%                        16th anniversary and beyond

Houses purchased from the college as part of the 1998 Housing Purchase Program are subject to the resale price stipulated in the repurchase agreement executed with the college at the time of the purchase, which is 80 percent of the appraised value. 

Federal Taxes The purchase of a house at a price that is below fair market value creates a taxable event for the employee.  The house purchase is considered a transfer of property in exchange for services under section 83 of the Internal Revenue Code. Employees will be required to file a Section 83(b) election with the Internal Revenue Service within 30 days of purchase and will be reported to include a copy with the employee’s tax return.  The Section 83(b) election will report as taxable income the value of the property transferred (80 percent of appraised value) less the amount paid by the employee (65 percent of appraised value), which will be treated as wages subject to federal income and employment tax, as well as Massachusetts state income tax.  At the time of purchase, the college will provide the employee with a tax gross-up in the amount of the applicable federal income tax withholding, which will itself be taxable income to the employee.

Determining Fair Market Value  Fair market value will be the independently appraised value established by a firm appointed by the college. If an eligible employee wishes to contest an appraisal, either when purchasing or reselling the house, the employee may hire a licensed appraiser for another estimate of value. If the two estimates are within 5 percent of each other, the mean between the two will be taken as the final appraisal. If the two estimates are more than 5 percent apart, then a third appraiser, to be mutually agreed upon and paid by the college and the employee, will make a third estimate, which will be the agreed upon value. The current condition of the home, its deficiencies and necessities, will be reflected in the independent appraised value. Any reasonable environmental abatement (including lead paint arising from a qualifying condition related to young children or asbestos removal) requested by an employee will be performed, at the college’s expense, prior to the closing of any purchase.   Abatement work that results in an enhancement of the property condition and value will result in a reappraisal of the property and an adjustment of the purchase price.

Matching Grant Plan  For each house sold by the college, 20 percent of the purchase price will be made available to the purchaser to help pay for the cost of capital home improvements that will upgrade, modernize, or maintain the structure and/or the systems of the house or the property.  The amount of grant funds is adjusted, as necessary, based on the current appraised value of the house at the time that the improvements take place. The matching grant fund will pay for up to one-half of the cost of the approved project. These improvements must be in the nature of capital improvements such as roof repairs, or upgrades or repairs to the utility systems, driveway paving, insulation, kitchen and bathroom renovations, and painting.  All requests must be made to the chief of campus operations before any work is performed on the project. The chief of campus operations, in consultation with other members of the administration, will determine whether a project qualifies for a matching grant.  These grants will be taxable income to the homeowners at the time of receiving the grant.

Major exterior alterations to houses purchased from the college under the Housing Program are subject to review and approval under the architectural guidelines through the chief of campus operations.

C. House Purchase Subsidy Program
The purchase subsidy options are available to tenure-track and tenured members of the faculty, contract coaches and senior-contract coaches, lecturers and senior lecturers, and certain administrators who are first-time purchasers of a house while employed by Amherst College. Purchasers may take advantage of this program only once.  A maximum of $30,000 is available for this one-time-only benefit. If more than one eligible individual is applying for a subsidy to purchase a property, the combined subsidy payments cannot exceed the limits noted below.   

The subsidy options are available for use as a deposit to acquire the property. These options are not available for refinancing or renovating a home.  The house must be located within a thirty-mile radius of the center of Amherst and must be occupied at all times as the borrower’s principal residence.

Terms and conditions are effective February 1, 2014.

There are three different subsidy options. Only one may be selected.

Option One
Seven-year loan, interest free, up to $30,000

This is an unsecured loan and is intended to be down payment assistance. This loan may not be assumed by another person or entity.  Payments required under the terms of this loan will be made monthly by payroll deduction.  Should the borrower retire and payroll deductions are insufficient to meet the obligation, then arrangements satisfactory to the college will be made. In the event of the borrower’s retirement with the approval of the college, or death, the loan shall become payable ninety days after demand by the college. Such demand may be made at any time prior to maturity. Unless and until such demand is made: (a) if the borrower has at least ten years of service at the time of retirement or death, the loan shall be payable in accordance with its original terms; or (b) if the borrower has less than ten years of service at the time of retirement or death, the loan shall become payable two years after the date of the applicable event.

The loan shall also become due and payable: (a) upon demand at such time as the borrower ceases to occupy the house as a principal residence; or (b) within ninety days after the date the borrower’s employment at the college is terminated for reasons other than retirement.

The loan may be paid off before maturity without penalty.

Imputed income will be calculated based on the mid-term AFR in the month of the loan.

Option Two
Fifteen-year loan, below market interest, up to $30,000

The interest rate on the loan will be set at 1.5 percent below the federal rate for long-term loans at the date of the loan. This is an unsecured loan and is intended to be down payment assistance. This loan may not be assumed by another person or entity.  Payments required under the terms of this loan will be made monthly by payroll deduction. Should the borrower retire and payroll deductions are insufficient to meet the obligation, then arrangements satisfactory to the college will be made.

In the event of the borrower’s retirement with the approval of the college, or death, the loan shall become payable ninety days after demand by the college. Such demand may be made at any time prior to maturity. Unless and until such demand is made: (a) if the borrower has at least ten years of service at the time of retirement or death, the loan shall be payable in accordance with its original terms; or (b) if the borrower has less than ten years of service at the time of retirement or death, the loan shall become payable two years after the date of the applicable event.

The loan shall also become due and payable: (a) upon demand at such time as the borrower ceases to occupy the house as a principal residence; or (b) within ninety days after the date the borrower’s employment at the college is terminated for reasons other than retirement.

The loan may be paid off before maturity without penalty.

Imputed income will be calculated based on the difference between the rate on the loan and the long-term AFR in the month of the loan.

Option Three 
Monthly mortgage subsidy in the amount of $75.00 per month for seven years.  

Payment of the subsidy will be paid via stipend and added to monthly wages.

Exceptions to the practices described above are subject to consultation with the Faculty Housing Committee.

All terms of the Housing Program are subject to periodic review by the trustees of the college and by the administration to determine whether the program is achieving its goals. The trustees reserve the right to alter or amend the terms of the program and the eligibility criteria as the trustees deem necessary or warranted.