Young adults, recent graduates and young professionals are finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing in Kingston. They say are strained by increasing rents and limited options.
They also claim that they don’t have opportunities to become roommates in affordable multi-room houses near Downtown Kingston and around the University District because they are not students.
One young adult, age 25, took to social media young adult to explain the struggles he faced while finding a suitable place to live in Kingston.
“I’m currently not attending Queen’s University nor am I am attending Saint Lawrence college; I’ve been excluded in many ways from roommate opportunities that are constantly being posted on Kijiji or Facebook marketplace or other related platforms,” the user wrote.
In response to the post, some users found that moving in with upper-year undergraduate students, mature and graduate students was an option when seeking affordable rent and living costs.
Lindsey Foster, President of Kingston Rental Property Association, explained that while landlords can hope to rent their place to students, they cannot discriminate against anybody who is not a student except for the rentals that are student residences.
“In my personal experience, if you go outside of the university district, the accommodations are more (affordable), and that there are less expensive and more reasonable (however). They’re also not going to be six-bedroom houses,” Foster said.
Foster also shared that Kingston currently has one of the highest vacancy rates right now, and in this situation, tenants have more choices to choose from. He encourages prospective tenants to do more research and not give in to high rents if there are other options.
However, recent graduates argue that there are less affordable places to rent for young adults due to family rentals, military housing arrangements and student rentals. They say that Kingston should reconsider its housing priorities as the city continues to attract new talent.
“I’m an alumnus, not a recent graduate, but I graduated two years ago, had to move away for a job. I recently got a job offer in Kingston and had to turn it down mainly because of the high rent prices, and not many rentals are made for young professionals, either student housing or military,” Jacques said.
“Most of the apartments I found when I looked were either basement or room in a house, way expensive for what they are,” Jaques said.
Foster added that the province also froze rents due to the pandemic and as a result, did not increase in 2021.
Rent is expected to increase by 1.2% in 2022 and Foster says that it’s needed to keep up with the increasing rates of rental units’ repairs, maintenance and insurance with increasing inflation rates.
Foster admits that there are some landlords who are taking advantage of tenants’ vulnerabilities and needs.
“No doubt about it. Some landlords are taking advantage of a situation that they shouldn’t be, but the tenants can walk away from those situations and say, I refuse to pay that much money, and then the prices will come down South,” Foster said.
“Tenants have a lot more power to negotiate for places that they want, and especially if they’re going outside of the University District, there are lots more options for young adults,” added Foster.
While housing remains a problem for most, young professionals are facing unique situations. Some young professionals also expressed that most landlords put students only in the listings or ask you if you are a student when you express interest and if you say no, they will either ignore you or tell you that it isn’t available to you.