Students living in dorms on UBCO’s campus are not covered by the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act. - Image Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News Students living in dorms on UBCO’s campus are not covered by the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act. - Image Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Student unions lobby for housing rights

Student unions across B.C. asked the province to include students under the Residential Tenancy Act

Students across B.C. may face the risks of quick evictions, undetermined move-out dates and more as they are not covered by the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act.

The act states students and employees living on campus in quarters owned by the university are not covered under the agreement. This leaves universities to set their own contracts.

Student unions in the Okanagan, Vancouver, Burnaby and Victoria sent a letter to the provincial government in October, asking for students to be included in the tenancy act.

“I think the only real problem with the (dorm) contract, and this is very similar to other universities and colleges across the country, you have to move out in a set time after your last final and you have to move out in a set time in December and in April,” said UBCO student union president Blake Edwards.

“So it just adds an extra pressure for students who need those extra few days to pack up and move.”

The letter lists nine recommendations asking for student housing to be included in the act.

These recommendations include: requiring contracts to explicitly list the rights of tenants, to provide an specific process so tenants can report problems in the residence, a requirement of 24-hours notice before owners are able to enter a residence, transfers between housing units are only required for safety reasons, all institutions have a community standards appeal process, a requirement of a one-month eviction notice, an outline so students know what to expect during a maintenance disruption, for continuing tenancies the rate increases can be no more than that year’s inflation rate plus two per cent, and can only happen once every 12 months and contracts must list a specific start and end date of tenancy.

Edwards said he hasn’t heard anything back regarding a regulation change.

The act does not include students because “students or employees are required to meet certain criteria, such as being enrolled as a student at the institution or being employed by the institution. Those terms would not be acceptable as part of a tenancy agreement under the act and therefore the tenancy agreement wouldn’t be enforceable under the act,” said Lindsay Byers, media relations spokesperson for the ministry.

“The province will not be contemplating any changes to the act at this time.”

Currently, at UBCO the dorm contract states the contract is terminated at a move-out date, the day following the last scheduled exam, or the first day of exams if the student does not have any exams scheduled.

UBCO director of media relations, Bud Mortenson said UBCO has oversight for students in place, as the university has ombudsmen where they can take their concerns if not satisfied with the student housing office.

“The first level of recourse would be to bring a problem to the attention of the student housing office. If the student in the residence wanted to escalate the ombudsmen would work with them to find a solution,” he said.

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