University to buy Aberdeen houses

19 Aberdeen St. is one of two houses Queen’s is purchasing.
19 Aberdeen St. is one of two houses Queen’s is purchasing.

Students who signed leases to live in two houses on Aberdeen Street will have a new landlord next year: the University.

The University is negotiating to purchase property at 7 Aberdeen St. and 19 Aberdeen St., said Tom Morrow, associate vice-principal (operations and facilities).

“We had the owner approach us a few weeks ago and [we] have come to an agreement that sees us purchase [the houses],” he said. “The two transactions for those houses are scheduled to close on Monday, but the existing landlord maintains possession until the first of May.”

The owner selling the two properties said he didn’t want the Journal to use his name. He said he doesn’t want his other student tenants to be hesitant to rent from him out of fear he will sell his houses. He said he is not planning to sell any others at the moment.

The owner said the deal arose when a real estate agent approached him and the University both and suggested the sale.

“The real estate agent put the deal together,” the owner said. “They approached both of us.”

Morrow said the decision to purchase the properties was part of the University’s routine property purchasing practice and had nothing to do with Homecoming.

“We purchase properties on an ongoing basis,” he said. “We took a look at [the houses] and we felt it was useful either as student housing or as helping to acquire the properties for the Queen’s Centre.”

Morrow said the University may trade these two houses for properties situated on the site designated for the Queen’s Centre. Morrow said there are currently five properties that are privately owned on the site that the University has not yet bought or expropriated. The University may trade one or both of the properties on Aberdeen in exchange for houses it wants to demolish to make way for the Queen’s Centre, Morrow said. Failing this, the properties will become part of Queen’s Housing.

Matt Wilkie, ArtSci ’08 and a tenant at 7 Aberdeen St., said he and his housemates found out about the sale after they signed their lease for the upcoming year.

“Our landlord called us a few nights ago in the middle of the night and said he’d sold our house to Queen’s,” Wilkie said. “He said he was going on vacation and Queen’s would contact us.”

According to the province’s Tenant Protection Act, any lease signed by tenants prior to the sale of a property continues to be valid and binding for the new owner. If the owner wishes to make any changes to the lease, it must be approved by the tenants.

Morrow said the students in the two houses that signed leases for the upcoming year will be able to stay in the houses, and they will be treated as they would be by any other landlord.

“Queen’s has some practices in place for its housing that would apply to those students as it would for any student who lives in houses leased from Queen’s,” he said. “It would be my expectation that the terms of the lease that is in place now would be honoured.”

Wilkie said he and his housemates made a deal with their previous landlord, in which they pay the entire year’s rent at the beginning of the year and receive one month rent-free.

“It was an unofficial verbal agreement,” he said. “We don’t know if Queen’s is going to honour that.”

Morrow added that while the University hasn’t yet contacted next year’s tenants, it will do so before it takes possession of the properties.

“It’s usually the practice that the seller would contact the students and let them know, and it’s my understanding that’s occurred,” he said. “Once the lease becomes our responsibility we would be contacting the students ahead of time.”

Justin Hansis, Comm ’07 and resident of 19 Aberdeen St., said he found out about the sale of the house from a friend who recently signed a lease for the house next year. While Hansis won’t be living in the house next year, he said, he thinks the University will be a good landlord.

“It’s probably a good thing for the house because it’ll be kept in better shape,” he said, adding that it could also improve the neighbourhood. “If people knew that Queen’s owned houses on the street, they’d kind of be more careful about what they did.”

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