University students frustrated with impossibly expensive South Island rental market

WatchIt's no doubt, housing prices are cooling off, but there's one market that's as hot as ever: rentals. And students heading into a new school year this fall are already finding it difficult to find homes in Victoria. Kori Sidaway has more.

“It’s gotten really out of hand,” said Sarena Gulseren.

Like thousands of students on the south Island, for Gulseren, finding a place to call home is near impossible.

“It’s been quite difficult, I’ve had to move four times in the last two years,” she said.

Her current landlord is asking for the full years’ rent,  $7,000 dollars, all upfront. And Gulseren, who survives on incremental student loans, can’t afford to pay that — so for the fifth time in two years she’s house hunting.

“It’s $600 for an empty hallway closet,” said Gulseren, showing one listing on her phone.

She’s seen multiple eyebrow-raising rental ads, but this one, $600 for a closet where you provide your own sleeping bag and foam mat, made her jaw drop.

“It’s just shocking I just almost don’t even have words that this is an ad,” said Gulseren.

“It’s very illegal, it’s degrading. It’s just ridiculous.”

And she says whether the ad is satire or not, it doesn’t matter. The struggles of finding affordable student housing in the Greater Victoria area are very real.

Victoria ranked as the sixth most expensive rental market in the nation last month, with the median price of a one-bedroom at $1,390 and two-bedrooms at $1,730, according to PadMapper’s Canadian National Rent Report for July.

Relief, at least for UVIC students, is on its way

“We are increasing the number of student housing at UVIC by 25 per cent,” said Horgan in November of 2018.

But it’ll be a few years. The new housing for 800 students won’t be available until around 2023.

But Saanich council, whose region houses a substantial number of post-secondary students, is hoping to have a solution for students much sooner.

“I think within the next year we’ll be able to see the first wave of legal garden suites coming onto the market,” said Saanich councillor Zac de Vries.

“I’m hopeful that will add more affordable units to our housing stock in the very short term.”

And for Gulseren, that change can’t come soon enough.

“It really has played a huge impact on my mental health.”

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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