Kitchener-Waterloo

Students are still waiting to move into the K2 building in Waterloo

While not exactly homeless, students are still waiting to move in to the new K2 condo building on King Street and James Street in Waterloo. September was a rough month for students, as many others were unable to move into the also-incomplete Icon condo building.

Students were told that they can expect to move in to K2 building by mid-November

Some students in Waterloo are still waiting to move in to the K2 student condo building on King Street and James Street. Due to construction delays, students will likely move in mid-November, 2016. (Carmen Ponciano/ CBC News)

University classes have been on for about two months but Terry Wang, a student of the University of Waterloo, is still waiting to move into the apartment he signed a lease for in June.

Wang was supposed to move into the new K2 building on King Street and James Street in Waterloo on Sept. 4, along with hundreds of other students.

But in August, the building's customer care department emailed him to say that the move-in date was delayed, because construction workers were on strike and the building wasn't yet finished.

"When I went to their office in August, what they told me was that it was going to be early or mid-October," said Wang. "But recently I got an email saying we can move in about mid-November."

Wang is now living temporarily in apartment, while he waits to move into the K2 building. 

"I actually have a lot of work and fell behind," Wang said. "I can't fully focus on my studies because I don't have a firm study space."

CBC tried to contact K2 and U.I.D. Developers about the K2 building. There were no replies to several calls and emails.

Four unfinished buildings

K2 is the fourth condo building in the past two years that hasn't been finished in time for the fall school year, leaving some students scrambling to find another place to live as their classes started.

In 2014, students were delayed from moving into the One Columbia building, in 2015 the Sage 2 condo building on Spruce Street was also delayed and in the summer of 2016, students weren't able to move into the Icon tower on Philip Street as the school year began.

In that case, students were notified in August that they would have to delay occupancy until mid-September. 

Although Icon got the green light from the City of Waterloo to let students move in by the second and third weeks of September, student complaints that the building was "rushed" and poorly built, began to surface. Some students complained they didn't receive what they were promised, such as desks.

City's role

Jeff Henry, Waterloo councillor for Ward 6, says he sympathizes with the frustration of students but the only role the city plays in cases like these is to ensure that the building is safe to occupy.

"It's not whether or not the building is finished, it's not whether it's furnished. It's about whether it meets the basic life and safety requirements to occupy," he told CBC, adding that students should reach out to the province's Landlord and Tenant Board that oversees these disputes.

The City of Waterloo has said students can move into the south tower of the K2 building, on floors four to 12, but the city says the north tower and all other areas of the project are not ready for occupancy.

The City of Waterloo has given the green light for the lobby and most of the South tower of the K2 project to be occupied. But the north tower and other areas are still not ready. (Carmen Ponciano/ CBC News)

'Only avenue'

Catherine Fife, NDP MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, told Craig Norris on CBC K-W's The Morning Edition that she has been raising this issue for three years.

"The act has not been modernized or kept up-to-date to meet the needs of students," she said. "The Landlord and Tenant Board is the only vehicle that a tenant whose contract has not been honoured [has available to them]...this is their only avenue to seek justice."

"Every year I continue to write to the minister who is responsible for municipal affairs and the Residential Tenancy Act." Fife said.

"I have asked ministers to look at this population of very important people for Kitchener-Waterloo, which are students, and give them a mechanism that will ensure that there is enforcement when a developer [does not keep] promises that a unit is ready." 

Wang has a hearing date in November with the Landlord and Tenant Board, looking to cancel his contract with K2. 

"Most of us are international students who are renting in the building," he said. "We are coming from China for our first year of university and we don't have the power to protect ourselves. I hope some one can help us protect our own rights."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated three condo buildings had gone unfinished by the agreed-upon move-in date over the past two years. In fact, that number is four.
    Oct 28, 2016 8:57 AM ET

now