Queen’s housing inconsistent

University-owned rental properties garner mixed reviews

When Renata Colwell, ArtSci ’13, moved into University-owned rental house in 2010, she found rats in her apartment.

“It was not good condition, I knew that going in,” Colwell said. “I moved in the beginning of May, it was mid-June before the rats were gone.”

With a budget of about $5.7 million, Queen’s owns 496 rental units in Kingston.

Colwell said Queen’s housing officials took a few weeks to respond to complaints about the rat problem.

She didn’t renew her lease with Queen’s housing for the following year.

“I would not rent another Queen’s University property,” she said. “I thought when I signed up for this … I [wouldn’t] have to worry about being screwed over by a landlord but at times I thought Queen’s University has screwed me over more than an average landlord.”

Associate Dean of Housing Bob Pritchett said rats in Queen’s housing aren’t a common occurrence.

“Once we’re made aware of the issue we generally work with the tenant to deal with an issue,” Pritchett said. “All tenants are given the opportunity to report on the condition of the unit at the beginning of their tenancy, unfortunately not all of them take that opportunity.”

Getting into Queen’s-owned housing is determined by an application process for west campus properties, or a lottery-system for houses surrounding main campus.

“Part of the desire was to have a fairness about the allocation. So, the lottery was born from that,” he said.

All tenants are handled by the housing office, located at 169 University Ave. This includes rent payment and maintenance requests. Though the rent changes every year, as costs escalate, the rental prices for most properties are below market price. “There’s this notion about student housing [that it] is not very good housing or whatever else,” Pritchett said. “I think what you will find by the end of the semester or over the years that it’s really improved. A lot of students who live in these properties are coming from residences so they haven’t really lived on their own yet.”

-— With files from Katherine Fernandez-Blance

Know Your Rights

1. Deposits

It’s illegal for landlords to request any deposit other than the last month’s rent before signing. Additionally, last month’s rent can’t be used to cover the cost of cleaning or refurnishing the rented space.

2. Tax receipts

When asked, landlords must provide tenants with a tax receipt for payments made toward the rental property. Tenants must request tax receipts within one year of living on the property.

3. Rent payment

Post-dated cheques and pre-authorized payments aren’t required payment methods for renters.

4. Snow removal

The pathway between a tenant’s front door and sidewalk must be cleared of snow and ice during winter. Landlords are legally obligated to shovel and salt the area regularly.

5. Landlord visits

Landlords must provide written notice 24 hours prior to entering a rental space. House checks, repairs and maintenance can’t be completed without first
notifying the tenant.The Residential Tenancies Act allows for some leniency toward unauthorized entries in the case
of emergencies.

— Michelle McCann

— Source: Landlord and Tenant Board

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