Have a student housing concern? You have options!

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In the last few weeks, student housing activists from the two Waterloo universities and beyond have rocked the boat with their calls for change in the housing and apartment market.

Monday Sept. 23 saw the first of many demonstrations in the fight for fair housing, but the hustle and bustle around the Accommod8u scandal and KW4Rent allegations have left students wondering what resources they can reach out to if they have housing concerns.

One of the upcoming actions with a potentially huge impact is the petition for fair housing conditions in collaboration with UW activist Sylvia Skoruch and local MPP Catherine Fife.

Students are encouraged to share their testimonies by email with the office of Catherine Fife, which will be compiled into a master document and presented at Queen’s Park when the legislature is back in session.

According to Sylvia Skoruch’s recent post in the Facebook group “STUDENT HOUSING CRISIS IN WATERLOO, ” anyone interested in sharing their landlord or student housing experience is urged to email their testimonial to Cfife-CO@ndp.on.ca. The subject line of each email must be “In solidarity with Sylvia Barbara Skoruch, here is my testimonial” or it will not be acknowledged in the legislature.

For more immediate situations requiring assistance and/or intervention, Laurier students facing student housing issues are urged to contact the Student Rights Advisory Committee (SRAC) through the Students’ Union on campus.

The SRAC provides a number of resources to WLU students for a variety of housing concerns: if you would like to know if your unit is a legally licensed rental, the committee can point you in the right direction.

If you would like guidance on how to contact your landlord regarding a maintenance issue, the committee can give you an information sheet with prompts and suggestions to help you get past the formalities of landlord-tenant communication.

If necessary, the SRAC can also get you in contact with Waterloo Region Community Legal Services (WRCLS). If you qualify as a low-income individual, you may be entitled to receive free legal counsel pertaining to your housing issues. It’s important to note, however, that this is generally considered a last resort.

If civil action isn’t an option for you but you’re interested in legally pursuing the matter(s) at hand, you can file a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) under Social Justice Tribunals Ontario.

This provincially-run justice outlet is the place to go if you would like to formally document the issues you’ve faced with your housing. Just be advised that the cost to file a complaint is $50.00 and you don’t get to choose the date in which you attend the tribunal.

Despite the scheduling and financial difficulty the LTB can impose on students, it has its highlights: all tenants, students included, have exactly one year from the date of the incident(s) they’re concerned about to file with the Board. Once you attend your date, you are also given the opportunity to access free legal counsel, and you may also opt to go to mediation with your landlord to negotiate a settlement before the Board formally hears your case.

Although the Accommod8u scandal may now seem like a distant memory, especially to those who weren’t directly affected, it’s still crucial that those helping students move forward get to hear our voices. If you have a concern you would like to highlight through our MPP, Catherine Fife, or would like to address through the SRAC or LTB, you have every right to do so.

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