OLA in the news across Canada: Student Housing

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LLC
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OLA in the news across Canada: Student Housing

#1 Unread post by LLC » March 10th, 2011, 10:10 pm

Overcrowding, pests and mould a fact of life for many students living off-campus
By: Alexandra Posadzki, The Canadian Press

Posted: 03/10/2011 1:58 PM


TORONTO - Alanna Wallace's housing nightmare started with an unexpected shower last December.

She was enjoying her holiday break when water started seeping through the ceiling of her apartment in Waterloo, Ont. Soon after, dark spots of mould began to appear.

Wallace, a student at Wilfrid Laurier University, spent more than a month coughing and covered in rashes as she watched the fungus creep across her ceiling and down the walls.

The weight of the snow piled on the building's flat roof had been too much for the three-storey structure to bear.

"You could see your breath inside the apartment," said Wallace. "At times, it was around 13 degrees."

After countless phone calls and complaints, Wallace's landlord found her a new apartment and agreed to pay for a moving truck.

As the population of most Canadian universities continues to swell, the question of where to house students is becoming increasingly urgent.

The situation is more desperate in several smaller cities, including Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where residences are bursting at the seams and surrounding areas report low vacancy rates.

Katie Yakasovich, a student union representative at Algoma University, says construction crews were still building the fire escape when students started moving into their residences in a former retirement home last fall.

And at Laurier, there are no spots in residence for upper-year students, most of whom live just north of the campus in war-time houses that have been converted into student apartments.

Wallace says the houses resemble "little cottages," meant for families of two or three at most.

She's seen as many as seven students living under one roof. Some of them have other roommates as well — animals such as squirrels, raccoons or birds that have taken up residence in the attics or walls.

York student Steven Broadly says he's heard of as many as 12 students living in one of the newly built townhouses located on the periphery of the Toronto university.

Often the homeowners have put up drywall to turn common areas and basements into bedrooms.

The York student village, as it's called, was built less than a decade ago but is deteriorating at an "unbelievable rate," says Broadley, describing doors that won't latch and appliances breaking down.

Wallace says part of the problem is the lack of maintenance being done by thrifty landlords.

"The area around the university is so poorly maintained because students are so transient, so landlords don't always feel like they need to keep up the buildings," Wallace said.

But Wallace loves living next to the school and being a part of the community.

"It's a bit of a double-edged sword, because you don't want to live in squalor, you don't want to live with mould, but you want to be able to walk to school," said Wallace.

"You want to be able to feel the community."

Laurier's residence director Chris Dodd says the high concentration of students is leaving many families in the area frustrated.

"Students have a different lifestyle, different hours. Things like that make it hard sometimes for those two groups of folks to coexist," Dodd said.

The issue of adequate student housing is a big one in Waterloo, a city that is home not only to Laurier but also to the University of Waterloo.

City councillors are planning to pass a bylaw that would limit the number of tenants permitted to live under one roof.

Nora Loreto, a graduate of Toronto's Ryerson University, says students are easy prey for landlords looking to make a quick buck.

For many young people, their stay at university is their first time living away from home.

Loreto, who has served on the Ryerson students' union, says many students don't raise issues with their landlords because they are afraid of being evicted.

"It's not comfortable to complain against someone who has access to your bedroom. And if you're not completely sure about how you should be treated, that's where abuse can happen," said Loreto.

"Landlords know that students are inexperienced and unsure about their rights."

Loreto spent a year living in a three-storey house near campus that is often rented out to Ryerson engineering students.

There were mice and rats scampering across the garbage-strewn subflooring, there was no cold water on the top floor of the house and the students had to squat over the toilet, which had been built into the ground.

The landlord had converted two bedrooms into four by putting up dividers made of foamcore and loose-leaf paper. He was charging each of the four students $500 rent.

Former advertiser, a member of the Ontario Landlords Association, says she has encountered few instances of students taking their landlords to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Stewart concedes this may be because students don't know their rights, and she urges them to contact their community legal clinics for free advice.

She says she wants "nothing to do with" landlords who neglect their premises.

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/2011- ... f-campus/1

http://www.journalpioneer.com/Canada--- ... f-campus/1

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-a ... 52308.html
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New
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Re: OLA in the news across Canada: Student Housing

#2 Unread post by New » March 10th, 2011, 11:20 pm

Now lots of people from all over Canada will come here. Would anyone reading from Calgary like to swap properties?

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Marc
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Re: OLA in the news across Canada: Student Housing

#3 Unread post by Marc » March 11th, 2011, 12:27 pm

This is going to become a hot topic for undergrads. They will find out they can't do anything if in residence and start going after the private providers.

Rusty
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Re: OLA in the news across Canada: Student Housing

#4 Unread post by Rusty » March 11th, 2011, 1:39 pm

Marc wrote:This is going to become a hot topic for undergrads. They will find out they can't do anything if in residence and start going after the private providers.
Can you elaborate about the undergrads? Are they different from the 2nd or 3rd year students? Also, the schools know this is a problem. They could educate their students by providing some kind of rental info/rental kit. The schools could make their concerns known to the landlords.

If one of these homes had a fire, the schools & city would then start to make changes...and quickly. The landlords that need to worry about this are the ones who are being greedy & unresponsible. No us.

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Marc
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Re: OLA in the news across Canada: Student Housing

#5 Unread post by Marc » March 11th, 2011, 9:05 pm

Rusty wrote:
Marc wrote:This is going to become a hot topic for undergrads. They will find out they can't do anything if in residence and start going after the private providers.
Can you elaborate about the undergrads? Are they different from the 2nd or 3rd year students? Also, the schools know this is a problem. They could educate their students by providing some kind of rental info/rental kit. The schools could make their concerns known to the landlords.

If one of these homes had a fire, the schools & city would then start to make changes...and quickly. The landlords that need to worry about this are the ones who are being greedy & unresponsible. No us.
Rusty I manage a lot of rentals marketed to students. What I mean about undergrads are years 1-4. Most of the places I manage are nice. The ones that could use upgrades are cheap, and they are cheap because they need upgrades. Students are told about the LTB from the school housing departments. Most don't care and want a carefree lifestyle. It's the non-student neighbors who are the ones with complaints, not the students.

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