Student housing proposal needs some more work

The housing situation in Waterloo is fast becoming a serious concern to students, Waterloo residents and the City of Waterloo. Recently, there was coverage in the Waterloo Region Record of students whose house was flooded. It seems that everyone has a horror story from living off campus: moldy bathrooms, freezing cold temperatures, shot water heaters, et cetera.

In response, a by-law is going to be discussed by city council to attempt to fix the problem. Certain measures are very welcome, such as mandating that landlords follow appropriate health and safety regulations and file adequate documentation.

However, two issues raise concern for us. First, compliance is achieved through self-auditing and risk-based enforcement instead of proactive efforts by the city to enforce regulations. While doing more was dismissed as going “overboard,” this seems like a half-measure at best. One of the problems are “slumlords” who simply do not care about complying with current landlord/tenancy laws and prey off students not well versed in them.

Secondly, landlords will be forced to house no more than three people per dwelling without upgrading their liscence at significant cost. Restricting the supply of student housing will drive up housing costs by a large amount. It will also push students outside of current areas of student housing such as Northdale and heighten the problem of community integration in other areas.
While it is important that the city is working to solve this issue, albeit long overdue, there are clearly problems that remain which need to be addressed by the recent proposal.

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