I regrettably returned from my holidays in January to learn that some Laurier students who expected to move into their residence were still without homes. I had hoped that by the time I returned, Waterloo’s student housing crisis would be over and every student that had been displaced would have a place to call home by the time they started their second semester. I guess I should have expected the result to not be in favour of the students.
The last time housing delays in the Waterloo Region lasted this long, students waited over a year and a half to start hearing results from the Landlord and Tenant Board. I am personally dreading the day that students who I have met with throughout the course of last semester come in and tell me that their process times for Landlord and Tenant Board hearings are lengthy and that they have to wait months, if not a year, to get results. This practice places unnecessary stresses on students who are already going through a rough period. That is why the Laurier Students’ Union will be asking the provincial government to amend the Application Screening Rules of the Landlord and Tenant Board’s Rules of Practice to create an “Applications that will be Expedited” procedure.
Within this procedure, we are asking the government to create specific guidelines which allow for certain applications to be expedited. In cases which student renters file a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant Board, there is often the need for a quick fix. Most of these students rent premises in 12-month intervals, and should not have to wait until they are about to move out to hear back from the Landlord and Tenant Board. By creating an expedited process, the government would ensure that students do not have to carry the unnecessary stresses accompanied with the uncertainty of wait times.
Post-secondary students are especially vulnerable to the consequences of housing disruption. A 2014 study on post-secondary student mental health conducted by the Ontario College of Art and Design and Ryerson University identified housing problems as a significantly understudied factor of campus mental health concerns. By providing expedited cases to students, the government of Ontario will be able to take a step forward in satisfying Premier Wynne’s mandate to the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development in supporting student mental health on campuses. While this would not be a complete solution to the many problems that face student tenants, it would be a good first step in the right direction.