It's Back to School time here in Guelph and other places, but for the Royal City there are a couple of important changes to make note of, and some new rules to keep in mind as we start the real new year, post-Labour Day.
The Province of Ontario sent out a press release yesterday urging Ontario's 600,000 college and university students to know their rights in regards to renting off-campus housing. Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act includes information on how to terminate a lease, when rent can be increased, who's responsible for repairs to rental units, and outlines standards for rent receipts and deposits, subletting, having pets and changing locks.
On top of that, the province wants students to be aware of their rights and responsibilities as a tenant, to keep lines of communication open between landlord to tenant, get all agreements to rental terms in writing, and keep copies of documents provided by landloards. If you've got issues though, there's always the Landlord and Tenant Board and the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit to secure your rights.
"Searching for housing off-campus can be daunting for students, especially those who are renting for the first time. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a tenant can make the process easier, protect you from rental disputes, and allow you to keep focused on what matters most – growing your talents and skills through post-secondary education," said Chris Ballard, Minister of Housing.
Locally, the City of Guelph is starting the tenant safety initiative today. The program, which is co-run by the City and the Off-Campus Living office of the University of Guelph, is a chance for student renters to make sure their housing is up to code. “We encourage all tenants in Guelph to book a free safety inspection of their rental unit,” explains Bill Bond, a Building Services inspector at the City in a press release. “Tenants often don’t know if their rental unit meets minimum safety standards and we’re here to help.”
The inspections take up to 15 minutes, and units are checked for violations of Ontario building and fire code regulations including working smoke alarms on every level and outside every sleeping area, working carbon monoxide alarms, a large enough window or door to get directly outside if there is a bedroom in the basement, and fire separation between each unit. Inspections are scheduled for Monday to Friday from 9 to 11:30 am and 1:30 to 4 pm. To get yours email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 519-837-5615 extension 1.
Safety is also a concern outside the house, as the Safe Semester program begins September 9, and runs every Friday and Saturday until October. As revealed to Guelph Politico last month, the plan for this Safe Semester won't change much from previous years with road closures and additional amenities in the city’s core to help improve road safety, and decrease instances of littering, public urination and other nuisances, according to the city website.
On Fridays and Saturdays between 10 pm and 4 am Macdonell St will be closed between the West Parkade and Breezy Corners, and along Wyndham St between Carden St and Cork St. All parking lots will remain open and accessible, a wheelchair accessible portable washroom will be located at Guelph Central Station, a taxi stand will be set up at the north side of Carden Street across from Guelph Central Station, and shuttle buses will travel between Guelph Central Station and the University Centre from 12:30 am until 3:30 am.