Unecessary pressure to sign

As if there was not enough stress on first-year Wilfrid Laurier University students as they adjust to living away from home, come winter semester, there is the added pressure to determine a new living situation and sign a lease for the next school year.

Daniel Gibel, a first-year philosophy major, began his search for apartments between the end of September and beginning of October. He had reviewed the prices of various residences before committing to an apartment, which he will share with five other roommates. Gibel recalled the feelings he felt when he had finally signed the lease, which he described as “a relief.”

“A lot of people were telling me that I should be getting the lease out of the way rather quickly,” Gibel shared. “I was kind of ‘whatever’ about it at first. Eventually, I thought that this was something that I should get done before the Christmas break.”

Gibel revealed that the initial pressure to sign a lease came mostly from his parents and his future housemates. Although he had been handling the pressure fairly well, Gibel can understand why first-year students have been getting stressed about signing a lease.

“It’s sort of a pressurized system where people think that if you don’t find a place right away, then somehow all of the apartments and houses are going to disappear and you need to have a place to live essentially,” Gibel remarked.

The demands of signing a lease for a house or apartment are not limited to just first-year students. Crystal McDonald, a fourth-year kinesiology and physical education major, has reflected on the pressures of signing a lease not only during her first year, but also in her second year.

After spending her second year in an apartment with roommates, McDonald went on to become a don. Although she had the support from her roommates and family, McDonald recalls her former landlord pressuring her to sign a lease before her don application was due.

“I had to let my landlord know in December that I was not coming back for the following year, and he kept telling me that I should sign a lease in case I didn’t get it,” McDonald said. “But I didn’t really want to let the landlord control what I was doing so I wanted to be responsible for what I was doing, so I didn’t sign a lease.”

Dale Langford, a fourth-year archaeology major, believes that he benefitted from choosing to sign a lease much later on in the school year. Langford made this decision as he felt that most houses do not go up on the market right away and first-year students are not always aware of that fact.

“A lot of first years are pressured into signing early because they get the notion that all of the good houses will be gone as soon as they are up on the market,” Langford reasoned. “A lot of places don’t end up going up until later because people just don’t decide.”

Langford recalled signing a lease later than his first-year peers and found a larger, inexpensive apartment that unfortunately was further away from Laurier than the immediate surrounding houses.

Repeating this method, Langford signed a lease in March last year, benefitting from signing late with an eight month lease on Weber St. (ten minutes from campus) costing him $450 a month including utilities.

There are several resources available on and off campus. These resources include consulting legal aide and residential services, which strives to help any student in search of a house. Having a conversation with a don is also helpful, as most have lived off campus.

“Ask questions, be your own person and don’t let a landlord push you around, you’re an adult and always stand firm,” McDonald advised first years who are still searching.

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