Housing awards lacking

This year there were no nominations submitted to the Municipal Affairs Commission (MAC) for the Golden Cockroach Award. Traditionally the award has been given out to the student ghetto’s worst landlord.
This year there were no nominations submitted to the Municipal Affairs Commission (MAC) for the Golden Cockroach Award. Traditionally the award has been given out to the student ghetto’s worst landlord.
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A competition to find the worst landlord in the student ghetto has closed without any nominations. This is the fourth year in a row that the Municipal Affairs Commission’s (MAC) Golden Cockroach Award will go without a recipient.

Hilary Windrem, municipal affairs commissioner, said the award aims to raise awareness about housing conditions. She said the low student participation rate reflects how many students are unaware of the legal protections afforded to tenants who have landlord or housing grievances.

“Even if you’ve chosen to stay on with this landlord next year but you want to highlight some of the things that were frustrating or that you felt infringed on your right as a tenet this year you can highlight those and you’re really well protected by legislation,” she said.

The Key to the Village Award, meant for the student ghetto’s best landlord, was awarded to John McNevin on March 25. Nominations for the awards were accepted between March 8 to March 18. McNevin owns Kingont Investments and also won the award in 2007.

The awards began five years ago as a way to target concerns about the physical conditions of houses in the student ghetto. However, since then student concerns have intensified.

“Five years ago, it was really cool to live in a really run down house. Student needs have changed and [now] we’re seeing students … who want nicer homes,” she said. “So to meet these [needs], landlords have had to fix their houses.”

Windrem said this has caused tension between landlords and their student tenants.

“Landlords don’t feel accountable to their tenants, and students don’t feel as though they can come forward and tell their landlord what they don’t like,” she said. “It’s challenging when you’re dealing with an adult who can use high pressure tactics.”

The Key to the Village and Golden Cockroach Awards seek nominations from students who have either exceptionally good of poor relations with their landlords. Eliana Chia, ArtSci ’11, had a landlord last year who failed to exterminate a bird trapped in the roof of her house. She said she would have applied for the award if the situation with her landlord had been more than just general negligence.

“The logic I see behind [this is that] these awards take place near the end of the [school year] … once the nomination goes through and you move out and it wouldn’t matter what your relationship is with that [landlord],” she said, adding that many students assume someone else’s landlord must be worse so they don’t apply.

“So if [MAC provides] a general list [everyone can add to] … then people are more willing to [contribute], and first years will have a more comprehensive list of [which landlords] to stay away from,” she said.

With files from Clare Clancy

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