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4 people living in 1 bedroom: How the University of Waterloo is helping students navigate region’s housing landscape


A one bedroom-one bathroom apartment renting for $430/month in Waterloo’s University District may sound like a steal, but the listing isn't what it initially seems.

On closer inspection, potential renters will discover they'll actually be sharing the bedroom with three other people.

“Looking for one girl (Malayali preferred) to share a one bedroom, one bathroom furnished apartment near University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University from February 1,” the listing reads. “Currently three persons living here. If you are taking it you will be the fourth one sharing the one bedroom which is very spacious for all four to sleep.”

$430 per person, if all people are splitting the rent equally, would come to $1,720 a month for just that room in the apartment or house.

The listing has prompted outraged online, yet it’s a situation that’s not unheard of for Katie Traynor, the vice president of the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA).

“Students are in a dire position where they need to find the most affordable housing because they simply cannot afford to live next to the institution and just need to be in a place where they can afford all of their basic necessities,” she explained.

WUSA has heard from students that affordability is only half the battle, and navigating Waterloo Region’s housing landscape can be a tall task for any student.

“That kind of endeavour, especially the onus on them to understand their rights, can be very difficult because not only are they juggling multiple courses, they also might be juggling part-time jobs and might be very overwhelmed and stressed,” said Traynor.

To bridge those gaps, UW’s student association recently launched the WUSA Housing Playbook.

It’s an online guide to help students understanding lease agreements, tips on tenants’ and landlords’ right and responsibilities, as well as resources for further support if the answers aren't included in the playbook.

“So for instance, in the case of, let’s say, multiple students living in one apartment, if that apartment wasn’t up to code or if that wasn’t considered something advisable by the city and the rental bylaws we currently have, our resource guide would essentially inform students of that,” Traynor said.

While the student association created the playbook, the hope is to help people well beyond the post-secondary community.

“We want to support and uplift everyone in our community here in the KWCG (Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph) region,” said Traynor.

Students can refer to the university’s off-campus housing resource page during their hunt to find a place to stay.

Photo taken from a post for a one bedroom-one bathroom rental in Waterloo, Ont. Top Stories

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