Move-in delays for ICON Waterloo
While some students at Wilfrid Laurier University have been able to live comfortably since the beginning of classes, a few are still struggling with how and when they can move into their new apartments.
On September 2, ICON Waterloo, two 25 storey high-rises located on Phillip and Columbia, announced in an email to their tenants that their move-in dates would be delayed.
The original move-in date was September 1.
According to their email, ICON’s construction site was affected by the drywall strike, which occurred in Ontario throughout May and June of this year.
As a result, ICON doubled their staff on-site to increase productivity. However, at 5 p.m. that same day, ICON was notified by the City of Waterloo that they would not be granted occupancy permits.
“As safety is both the City and ICON’s number one concern, we will be postponing your move in date to occur between September 9-11,” read the email.
In their email, ICON offered tenants free rent for the month of September.
Tenants were also directed to hotels in the Waterloo area until the building is ready.
According to an article posted by CTV Kitchener on September 9, the apartments were not declared safe by the City of Waterloo. At 2:45 p.m., ICON was granted occupancy permit for one of the two building towers.
CTV also said building inspectors approved the first floor, common corridor and floors two through 24 for occupancy. However, as of September 10, any odd-numbered suites that end in ‘05’ are not ready for tenants. CTV also noted that city officials said the 25th floor is off limits.
Over the weekend, some tenants were able to move into ICON’s south tower.
A Facebook group called “I (got) CON (ned)” was originally a page where tenants could contact one another about the apartments and landlords.
Since the delay was announced, the page now features numerous posts about broken appliances, slow Internet and lack of mattresses.
According to the page, some of the tenants did not receive mattresses, but rather foam pads from ICON. Some tenants have also complained about the dust in their apartments, noting that it can be unsafe for those with allergies.
On Tuesday morning, a user posted a video to the Facebook page, which shows water leaking over electrical panels and furniture around the apartment. According to the user, the water continued to leak for up to an hour.
Sammi Marino, second-year health science student at Laurier, is a tenant at ICON. According to Marino, ICON has been poor with communicating with their tenants, such as not specifying what is wrong with the building.
“When [ICON] told us we can’t move in, they said in their contract they were supposed to give us a minimum of ten days notice, but they barely gave people a ten hour notice so it’s just really crazy with Labour Day weekend and it was really inconvenient,” she said.
ICON told their tenants they would receive a follow-up email on September 6 which would include their move in date and time. As of last Thursday, Marino said she did not receive said email.
“We’ve received nothing from ICON.”
Because of the delay, Marino has been residing in a hotel until ICON allows her and her roommates to move in.
“Before I was living off somebody’s couch and now we checked into a hotel, so we’re just trying to play it by ear.”
While some Laurier students continue to struggle over how and when they can move into ICON, unfinished apartment buildings have become a trend in Waterloo since 2014.
In the fall of 2015, the Sage 2 building on Spruce Street was more than a month delayed with their construction deadline, as tenants had to find other places to live while their apartments were being finished.
The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union’s Student Rights Advisory Committee aims to help university students dealing with landlord tenant issues.
Phil Marfisi, AVP of university affairs, said that students who are having problems with their landlords or rentals are able to contact the committee for assistance in navigating the situation.
While the committee is not an official legal service, Marfisi explained that they train volunteers on how to navigate the Residential Tenancies Act. They also work closely with the Waterloo Region Community Legal Services.
“Sometimes we have questions which are outside our depth because we’re students and we don’t want to pretend to know the answers to anything either,” said Marfisi. “We will do our best to help connect [students to the right resources].”
The committee also helps students navigate their rights and responsibilities as tenants and as landlords.
According to Marfisi, if a student needs help constructing a letter to their landlord, or they want to contact the Landlord and Tenant Board, the committee can point them to the right resources in the Waterloo Region.
“If they want help just in figuring out how to get in touch with their landlord or how to converse with them about the issue they’re facing, we can help them with that as well,” said Marfisi.
For students who are currently having trouble with their places of residence, Marfisi encourages them to first address the situation with the landlord. He also recommends that students read their lease and talk to the landlord before signing anything.
“Don’t make any quick decisions, get in touch with us and we can help [students] navigate the situation or we can help point them to someone who can navigate the situation.”
The Cord reached out to ICON for an interview, but no statement was issued.