Unsigned: Students’ responsibility in dealing with poor housing standards

Three months ago, we wrote about Waterloo’s “phony housing bubble” and suggested that the student housing industry is dominated with developers who care too much about making a quick profit, and not enough about creating tangible value for those whom the houses are being built.

This week, we revisit this situation, not because some positive changes have been made, but because it is just as vexatious now as it was then — if not more.

Recently, Schembri Property Management was unable to fulfill its end of a bargain to allow tenants move into a building on September 1.

Their reason is simple: the building was not yet completed. This is a common trend across the city.

In fact, about two years ago, Preston House on King Street faced the same problem with move-in dates.

Sometimes, companies claim to have completed the buildings in order to fulfill the move-in date, only for tenants to move into apartments that are anything but ready.

Other times, everything seems all-right until a room floods, or perhaps even a lobby. These problems, even the little ones, are evident not of buildings that have been properly planned and meticulously built, but of buildings that have been rushed, carelessly.

However, instead of only pointing out developers’ dubious intent and inefficient execution, this week, we will also look at some of the other factors and stakeholders.

In particular, we look at the tenants, who more often than not are unable to protect themselves against the sort of exploitation that has unfortunately become the norm.

In order to protect themselves, students should first of all make sure they are reading their lease agreements — or at least getting a professional to read over it. Such professionals are not hard to find.

They could be anyone, from a scrupulous friend or relative, to certain people within the Students’ Union and residential services, who, through special services, are dedicated to helping students in such situations.

Nevertheless, it must be said that the university could be doing a better job of making such services known to students.

The fact remains that the onus is on the students to know their rights, and if they remain oblivious to these rights, companies will continue to take advantage of them.

Although students’ awareness of what lies within lease agreements would not automatically fix the housing problem, it would do a lot to weed out those developers who never seem to be up to any good.

Leave a Reply