Long processing times discourage students from fighting construction delays
MPP Catherine Fife says student tenants don’t have enough protection
Dissatisfied tenants at TheHub were planning on filing a collective T6 to the Landlord and Tenant Board for concerns over maintenance of the units, but legal counsel advised against it because of the legnthy process.
"It's going to take quite a long time to actually see any sort of remedy from this if they're looking to file a joint application with 300 individuals," said Giordano Modesto, a community legal worker at Waterloo Region Community Legal Services.
Modesto said there's a lot of evidence that will need to be collected and reviewed for such a collective filing. Even an individual T6 claim could take months to reach a resolution, considering general delays from the board and the landlord.
Lengthy processing times at the Landlord and Tenant Board has long been a concern for students, according to the Federation of Students (Feds) at the University of Waterloo.
When tenants at 1 Columbia filed to the Board, Andrew Clubine at Feds said there were several months of dispute before a resolution was reached.
"The process doesn't happen quick enough to give students the assurance that it's kind of worth following through with," said Andrew Clubine, the vice president of education at Feds.
Expediting applications 'a doable option'
Clubine said the problem is many students at Laurier and UW are co-op students, only in the city four months at a time for their classes before moving away for a work term.
"If they don't have assurance that the issue can be resolved quickly, they will likely just leave the problem to the next tenant, because we have such high turnovers," he said.
Clubine, along with Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife, said they're hoping the Landlord and Tenant Board can expedite student applications.
"That is completely a doable option," Fife said.
They would also like to see the province review of the Residential Tenancy Act to ensure that "students have a streamlined, accelerated process, would empower them as consumers."
Not enough protection for students
Fife said student tenants' rights are generally not well-protected.
For the past few years, new condo buildings around University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University have been promising move-in dates for September, but too often students arrive to find them construction incomplete.
- Students are still waiting to move into the K2 building in Waterloo
- Unfinished Waterloo building forces students to make new plans
- Schembri ordered to pay back Waterloo tenant for 1 Columbia deposit
This year TheHub, owned by Accommod8u, saw weeks of delay. When students finally moved in, they discovered the units were not finished.
Despite complaints the city should not be issuing occupancy permits to unfinished units, there is nothing the city can do because they are obligated to give out permits as long as they meet safety requirements set out by the Building Code.
"What we're hoping to educate students on is for them to know what occupancy really means for a new building," Clubine said. "It doesn't mean your gym will be ready."
Fife said cities should stop granting permits to "contractors who have a track record of not honouring their commitments to consumers, in this case, students," pointing out students at Western University, Ryerson University and Queen's University have experienced similar problems.