Too much student housing? Waterloo council warned about increasing supply
Published Monday, June 8, 2015 5:48PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 8, 2015 6:47PM EDT
The increase in student housing stock in Waterloo is obvious even without a statistical report to back it up – but what about the student housing picture in the near future?
As more units come onto the market, city councillors heard Monday, student populations won’t grow fast enough to fill them.
“We believe that there’s about to be a significant oversupply in the market,” said Chris Read, who chairs a committee looking at the relationship between Waterloo’s two universities and the wider community.
That oversupply, Read said in an interview, could prompt non-students to fill some of the vacancies – leading to clashes between students and non-students, and perhaps even an increase in crime.
According to the town and gown committee’s report, Waterloo has more than 32,000 student housing units – or about 1,200 more than it has students seeking those units.
Another 7,000 units are at some stage of the planning process, while university enrolment is not projected to change significantly.
“Now we have data that’s telling us we may be coming into a problem,” Read said.
“As long as we keep providing people with that information, we think we’ll get better outcomes.”
Read says he’s already seeing more competition among student landlords, who may offer cheaper rents or more amenities to entice students to their properties.
Mayor Dave Jaworsky called the report “eye-opening,” but said the city wouldn’t likely play any role in stemming oversupply.
Instead, he said, it is ultimately up to property owners to decide whether to build student housing or something else on their properties.
“Each landowner can build whatever they like,” he said.
If an oversupply situation does come to be, he said, the housing could end up being adapted for young professionals or other users.
Right now, the average cost for student housing in Waterloo is about $600 per month, including utilities.