Students in limbo after City denies occupancy permit

Tenants struggle to find accommodations until access is granted  

Zahra Sayyed, a Master’s student in Public Health, wasn't able to move into the apartment she signed a lease for several days.

On Aug. 31, The City of Kingston denied an occupancy permit to a newly constructed Princess Street apartment building—a day before the tenants’ fall semester move-in.

 The building didn’t meet minimum safety requirements laid out in the Ontario Building Code, according to the City.

Tenants of the building were originally told they could move in on Sept. 1. But around 9 p.m. the night before, they learned they couldn’t, forcing all occupants of the 93-bedroom complex to find alternative accommodations during Labour Day weekend. 

The property manager, Stelmach Project Management, declined a request for comment. 

While City officials issued the occupancy permit on Tuesday after a re-inspection, dozens of tenants were left financially stressed and uncertain about their living arrangements. 

Nhyira Gyasi-Denteh—a Master’s student in Public Administration—arrived in Kingston on Thursday night. The next day, she decided to walk past the building. 

“I noticed that there was still construction happening,” she told The Journal in an interview. “There was a manager there who I spoke with. I said, I’m supposed to move in tomorrow morning, is this place going to be ready?”

The manager told her the building would be ready and that she could pick up her keys on Sept. 1 as planned. 

“It’s been really stressful,” she said. “Here I am, moving to a new town that I know nothing about, and I had a plan. I like to be organized for my studies, and it was supposed to be a simple transition. I tried looking for other accommodations, but who wants to live half an hour away from campus?”

“Give me a f—king roof over my head,” she said.

Zahra Sayyed, a Master’s student in Public Health, told The Journal only one of her three roommates received the email from Stelmach Project Management informing tenants of the failed inspection.  

Sayyed only signed a lease because of a clause stating that “in the unlikely event” of a delayed occupancy permit, rent would decrease until it was granted.

The lease also stated it was the landlord’s responsibility to arrange and pay for “alternative accommodations” for tenants displaced by a failed inspection. 

Sayyed—who emailed the company asking whether they would honour the clause—only received a response around midnight the day the permit was denied. The company told her there wouldn’t be updates until Tuesday and did not address her question about accommodations. 

“They just ignored it,” she said. “I think I called them at least fifty times, and I have not heard anything.”

Sayyed was told over the phone that the inspection would be done mid-August so the company would have time if issues arose.

“It shows a lack of organization on their part,” she said. “Why would you have an inspection literally the day before your tenants are supposed to move in? What landlord, what developer, what leasing company would ever think that’s a good idea?”

“I signed a lease, and that lease should be honoured,” she continued. “Why would I sign it only to have to go through all this now? It’s just not right.”


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