Off-campus students living in Yale-owned buildings will send their rent checks to a new firm this month, following University Properties’ decision to switch its residential management firm from Owens, Renz and Lee Company to Elm Campus Partners, a firm recently started by a Yale alumnus.

Elm Campus Partners, which is also responsible for performing maintenance operations on University Properties’ residential units, started its operations on Jan. 1 after University Properties’ contract expired with OR&L.

Director of University Properties David Newton said the switch was not motivated by any problems working with OR&L, which is based in Branford, Conn. Rather, officials saw an opportunity to improve service by awarding the contract to a New Haven-based company operated by a group of Yale alumni, he said.

“We hope to provide better services to the tenants,” Newton said. “[Elm Campus Partners] has a rather unique understanding of the environment in which we operate and the kinds of tenants that we serve.”

Yale Graduate and Professional Student Senate Student Advocacy Chair Zach Victor GRD ’06 said he applauds the switch, especially since off-campus housing is important to graduate students.

“The graduate students apply to many institutions, and … a lot of us are courted competitively, and so if you end up in a University-owned building, you have high expectations,” said Victor, who lives in Yale-owned housing on 210-220 Park St. “I feel good if someone from Yale manages the property. They’ll be more on the same page with my expectations.”

But GPSS President Vipan Nikore SOM ’06 said it remains to be seen how Elm Campus Partners performs.

“Shortly after the switch to Elm Campus Partners, most graduate students left for winter holidays, and many have still not yet returned,” Nikore, who also lives in Yale-owned off-campus housing, said in an e-mail. “Thus, I believe it is too early to measure the impact of the change in property management.”

The new contract with University Properties is the first for Elm Campus Partners, which Managing Partner Troy Resch SOM ’97 GRD ’97 said was created expressly to serve the Yale community. Still, Resch said the firm hopes to eventually expand to other cities and universities.

Resch, who co-founded the firm with Andrew Lewandowski ’92, said he does not expect students living off-campus to encounter any problems in the wake of the switch.

“The transition should be seamless for the tenants,” he said. “The rent checks go to the same location, [and] the accounting system is computerized. Yale basically just [had to throw] a switch, … so there shouldn’t be any issues.”

Elm Campus Partners has created a Web site where tenants can file maintenance requests and contact representatives. The firm has subcontracted a new maintenance company, CB Maintenance, which is located in New Haven. The previous maintenance staff was run by OR&L.