The new slum lords

Hey readers,

It was a busy weekend as parents moved their kids out of University and College. The streets of Hamilton are littered with the remnants of 8 months of higher learning. Much of the area around McMaster university is converted housing where family homes that used to sleep mom and dad and a couple of kids, now sleep 8 to 10 students. Living rooms and dining rooms have been converted to additional bedrooms and the slum lords are raking in the cash.

Some of the buildings really should be condemned as they have not been cleaned or renovated for decades. That said students from all around the globe descend on cities and towns like Kingston, Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa to study, party and learn about life. Part of that life is separation anxiety brought on by many of the living conditions.

When my daughter moved into her present place with 6 of her fellow students, I couldn’t believe the condition of the century home they found. The ceiling was cardboard tiles nailed to strapping attached to rough sawed floor joists. There was little insulation and the tiles were falling down. Parts of the room had been painted so many times, it was hard to determine where the walls ended and the trim started. Other parts of the room had dust that was literally several millimeters thick. The floor used to be a beautiful hardwood, but years of neglect had worn it down to a collection of raw wood and slivers.

When I first saw the house (Before the previous tenants moved out) the sitting room crown molding was serving as a shelf for empty vodka bottles that circled the room and the bathroom had more mold than I had ever seen. It never ceases to amaze me what students will put up with.

On the other side of the equation, land lords are charging 300-400 per student which means the profit over and above the mortgage payments is considerable. They do have repairs each year and there is no doubt that there are cleaning bills, but there are separate companies that can be contracted to do the work. The goal is to spend a little and collect allot.

The city of Ottawa recently put a stop to home conversions to try to prevent neighborhoods from becoming student slums. The down side of this is less affordable housing for students.

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