Thousands of new students moved in to residences this weekend for the start of the academic year at Ottawa's universities and colleges, but a shortfall of beds available means many students start the year struggling to find off-campus accommodation.

Carleton University student Sarah Dorey said her experience hunting for an apartment has been frustrating.

"Well I looked through the Carleton boards; my roommate who goes to Ottawa U looked through the boards there. We didn't find too much there," said Dorey.

"There were a couple of places that we looked at and either they smelled a bit or we took one look at the area and said this looks kind of unsafe."

New residence opens at U of O

The University of Ottawa has added the new 405-bed Friel Residence at 240 Friel St. this September as part of the university's mission to make up its housing shortfall.

Coun. Rick Chiarelli said Algonquin College enrolment has doubled in less than a decade, and with high demand for housing and short supply, Chiarelli said his ward is seeing some of the same problems that began to appear years ago around the University of Ottawa.

Illegal rooming houses remain problem, say councillors

"Our problem now is illegal rooming-houses — people converting houses into apartments illegally," said Chiarelli.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said a frenzy of landlords trying to cash in on student demand brought headaches to the area around U of O.

"Noise, property standards, garbage, parking, then there's the build-form issues… conversions that we've stopped now," he said. "It really affects the character of an established neighbourhood like Sandy Hill." 

Last spring, the city's planning committee had approved a new 180-unit student housing complex for Sandy Hill at Laurier and Friel, but city council rejected the plan.