Posted June 25, 2014
Here you are living in a quiet neighbourhood where families gather and share experiences involving their children, work and play. At a house close by, young people start arriving and the party starts with searing sounds of music and profanity-laced yelling. A place in some sites, where beer is openly sold to all and sundry.
This is NOT Mr. Rogers’ neighbourhood.
Let’s back up a bit. At a recent meeting of the city Planning, Building, Engineering and Environmental committee, the staff presented a report regarding the licensing of rental properties. More specifically the report focused on student lodging-houses in single-family zoned areas.
The city staff has been working on this project for the past nine months and there has been considerable public input.
But a strange thing occurred. The staff did not recommend proceeding with the proposed bylaw. Following discussion, the committee voted to have the staff review that decision and report back. Of the members of the committee, only Coun. Cam Guthrie voted against sending it back to staff for review.
Residents living around one student lodging-house have been complaining about the tenants abusing their privacy and peace of mind for months. Normally the neighbours brace for the months of September and October when the new crop of students arrive. But now the uncivil party seems to keep going, despite many students returning to their homes.
Here’s what neighbours face almost on a nightly basis: Loud rock music, drinking, selling beer, fouling the neighbour’s property, yelling, and using profanity and the participants keep it up long after midnight. In some cases, resident’s personal property has been damaged.
The adjacent homes have been asking for help to curb these objectionable activities in the neighbourhood without much assistance from the city bylaw officers or the police. But the authorities say their hands are tied due to the system that prevents direct intervention.
This is a widespread problem in Wards Five and Six. The university has no interest or control over these off-campus student houses. The owners of these homes allow overcrowding and offer no supervision of their student tenants. The student cost is $500 a month and in some of these homes there may be as many as a dozen living in the home.
In the background, is a determined Landlord’s Association lobbying to have staff and council reject the proposed rental bylaw. Many of the Landlord Association owners do not live in Guelph.
Why are they objecting? Because they don’t want any interference that may ruin the cash gravy train.
The affected resident’s say there is no control over the behaviour of the students by the landlords. The landlords counter that the rental charge will not change the uncivil behaviour of their tenants.
At one point, the city said the revenues derived through the rental program would be used to beef up bylaw enforcement and police presence.
The affected residents, and, in other parts of the city where these student-lodging houses are located, are demanding action.
Apparently the staff has not considered the effect on these homeowners and taxpayers who are afflicted by the unruly behaviour of the student occupants who are not permanent residents. The students have no stake in the game and can act anyway they want.
This issue will be a rallying point for citizens in the October 27 civic election.
If not controlled here, it can happen anywhere.
Is your neighbourhood next?