Housing issues heard

The Housing Grievance Centre opens to support students

Catherine Wright and Sangeeta Raju, ArtSci ‘14, inform students about tenant rights.
Catherine Wright and Sangeeta Raju, ArtSci ‘14, inform students about tenant rights.

Students facing housing issues with their landlords can now receive guidance from a new student service, the Housing Grievance Centre (HGC).

AMS Assembly passed the proposal for the introduction of the HGC last March.

The Centre, which opened in the JDUC on Nov. 15, provides students with advice regarding housing issues, such as how to properly communicate with landlords, how to review lease contracts and their rights as tenants.

“The HGC has been created to handle these questions, provide resources on tenant rights, and disseminate information to first-year students,” said AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Catherine Wright.

Wright said with the majority of students, issues with landlords are the most common.

“Many students have questions on what a landlord is and is not allowed to put in a lease or what property issues a landlord is required to fix,” Wright, ArtSci ’14, said.

“We are also anticipating questions regarding housemates and interpersonal conflicts,” she added.

The Centre isn’t able to provide legal advice to students, but will refer them to Queen’s Legal Aid if necessary.

Wright operates the Centre with an advisory board, as well as a member of the property standards division of the City of Kingston.

Students will be given advice by other peers from the Centre on how to go about tackling housing issues.

“[The HGC will] provide peer lease-readings to pick out any unlawful clauses … and book inspections with [Student Property Assessment and Dwelling Education (SPADE)] through the HGC,” Wright said.

SPADE is an AMS-run inspection service that gives students free home inspections, as well as home checkups when school isn’t in session.

Wright said the HGC will have a positive impact on students as it offers them a service that will support them with housing issues.

Coleen Tung, Nurs ’14, said she called the HGC for advice regarding an issue with her landlord after she bought a dog.

Tung said her landlord wanted her to provide a $700 cheque for owning a dog.

She said she was uncertain about the reasons behind him asking.

“He said the cheque would be used for fumigation, but I did research and companies will not fumigate houses anymore because of the danger,” she said.

When Tung confronted her landlord about this, she said he didn’t give a specific answer.

“I assumed that he would just cash my cheque and not use it for anything relating to me having a pet in the house,” she said.

The HGC convinced Tung to not provide a cheque.

“[The HGC] let me know that my landlord can’t make me do anything extra for having a pet,” she said.

“[The HGC] saved me from letting my landlord get away with taking a lot of money from me.”

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