AMS website offers advice for house hunters

No housing shortage in Kingston, Town-Gown Relations says

AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner (MAC) Libby Shaker says the MAC released an online housing guide this month.
AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner (MAC) Libby Shaker says the MAC released an online housing guide this month.
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Before students begin their housing search, they should take the time to research options and not rush to sign a lease, Manager of Community Housing Elaine Bevens Caird said.

Caird said she sees the biggest housing rush after students return from the holidays.

“Typically students start looking for housing in January because that’s what they’ve heard is when they need to start their search,” she said.

Caird said, in reality, dates of availability vary by property and there are many options depending on the size of accommodation a student is looking for.

“May 1 rentals are primarily for the larger-sized accommodations and the Sept 1 rentals traditionally are for the smaller-sized accommodations,” she said, adding that listings come up throughout the year. Many of them are on Community Housing website, housing.queensu.ca/

community_housing.

“We would rather that the students take the time to gather the knowledge that they need to become better consumers in searching for housing,” she said.

The AMS Municipal Affairs Commission (MAC) released an online housing guide this month, available at myams.org. The website includes information on finding housemates, signing leases and moving in, among a variety of other topics.

The housing guide was one of the AMS executive’s six campaign promises last year.

“We tried to create this huge document with information about looking for houses but also about living in your house as a citizen of Kingston, so bylaw info and stuff about the Kingston property standards or theft prevention,” Municipal Affairs Commissioner Libby Shaker said.

“In the past we’ve had a lot of information that was sort of in different places or that only some students found and others didn’t, and so we thought the website was the best way to reach everyone,” she said.

Shaker said the MAC is developing an online chat forum for students to talk about specific houses around campus.

“Ideally students would use that when they’re looking at houses to kind of scroll through and say, ‘Okay, people said it’s a really noisy street; maybe I don’t want to live on a noisy street,’” she said.

The forum should be up by the end of the school year, Shaker said.

The AMS gives out the Golden Cockroach award annually to a landlord who students feel doesn’t perform his or her responsibilities properly. It will be given out next month.

Town-Gown Relations Co-ordinator Joan Jones said she thinks the MAC Online Housing Guide will be beneficial as a resource for students to get a different view of housing issues than they would at the Town-Gown Relations or Community Housing offices.

“Students always look to the AMS as a first resort,” Jones said, adding that she thinks peer-to-peer information is invaluable in the housing search.

Jones said students should take advantage of housing resources offered to them and not worry about finding houses immediately.

Other resources include the City of Kingston website, which includes information about garbage, bylaws and utilities and the Kingston Property Standards Office.

“We don’t have a shortage in Kingston,” she said, adding that there are a variety of properties available around the city that can satisfy the different needs or requests students have.

“Usually I tell them that, thankfully, they’re not all looking for the same thing and I think that that’s really important,” she said.

First-year student Alexandra Kim said she’s already picked her housemates and has begun looking for a place to live next year. She said the biggest stress in her housing search has been finding accommodations that fit her location requirements.

“I definitely want to be, like, a minute away from the school,” she said.

Kim said she thinks the MAC Housing Guide and other resources are a good idea, but she’s not sure whether students will take all the information to heart, particularly advice about housemate selection.

“I don’t know if people would take advice … into consideration because it’s sort of like, ‘This is who I’m going to live with,’” she said. “I think students, especially our age, are kind of stubborn and they’re going to live with their friends no matter what.”

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