Student housing in Waterloo is starting to get a reputation for mistreatment of its tenants.
This year marks the fourth consecutive that a Waterloo student housing complex was not finished on time. As a result, students have been without a home for the first weeks of the new school year.
This year it was TheHub, owned by Accommod8u, that was not completed by the orginal deadline.
Although students have now moved into the apartment building, CTV News reported that there are structural damages, safety hazards, and unfurnished apartments. In previous years, residents of ICON, One Columbia, and K2 all had similar experiences.
According to Andrew Clubine, the Feds VP of Education, the housing companies often justify the postponement of move-in dates due to severly delayed construction. Accommod8u said that fifty rain days put them off schedule this summer.
There have also been other cases of misrepresentation from student housing companies, making the rental market in Waterloo a difficult one to navigate.
Heron Fukur, a third year arts and business student, had signed a lease with Schembri Property Management for an apartment in their One Columbia building, prior to visiting her family in Dubai between the spring and fall terms.
When she returned in September to move into her new apartment, she discovered that they had rented out the room to another person.
“At the very least I should have been contacted,” she said.
“Especially as an international student, I don’t know what I would have done without a friend to drive me [to search for new apartments] or [wihout] a friend’s house to stay at.”
However, if students are seeking help to deal with housing issues, it is available to them.
Resources such as the Landlord Tenant Board, Waterloo Region Community Legal Services, City of Waterloo By-law Enforcement, or the Community Legal Education Ontario all provide services for students in need of assistance with their tenancy.
Feds also provides assistance to students by pointing them in the right direction of who to contact, depending on what type of assistance they require.
“Once students are moved in, the first step is to talk to the landlord and the property management company,” said Clubine.
“That’s something that we provide support for as far as ‘how do you write a letter, how do you have that conversation,’ [and]making sure you have a paper trail.”
“To prevent housing issues from happening in the first place, it is important that students who are looking to sign a lease take their time while searching. “
“There are lots of options, and according to the [statistics] the City [of Waterloo] has, there is lots of supply…Students should [not] feel like they need to jump right into the first place that is appealing, especially when it comes to new buildings,” stated Clubine.
Further, Clubine emphasized the importance of reading the lease in its entirety, or otherwise, going to the Waterloo Housing Office where authorities are able to conduct a thorough review prior to move-in.