University of Toronto—Cancel Rent for Student Housing/ Residence

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We call on the University of Toronto and all associated colleges to cancel rent at Student Family Housing and other student residences for the duration of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Faced with the sudden loss of income and no prospect of getting summer jobs, students who live in residence must choose between buying food or paying rent. Most do not have the option of going home. Many residents are students with additional family responsibilities, including childcare. Plans for research and graduation have already been altered dramatically, and students will have to bear the additional financial cost of not completing their studies on time. International students in particular also face additional barriers to securing loans or lines of credit because of their immigration status and lack of credit history in Canada.

If we are forced to pay rent, we will face accumulated financial burdens, such as going into debt to pay rent in the short term, and that debt will persist even when the crisis is over. Even if the university agrees to have rent payment delayed, the accumulation of several months of unpaid rent then becomes grounds for eviction.

Premier Doug Ford has asked tenants not to pay rent if they cannot afford it. As students in the university residence, we do not fall under the Residential Tenancies Act (2006), but this should not exempt us from rent relief. With its endowment of $2.6 billion, the University of Toronto could easily afford the complete cancellation of—and not just the deferral of—rent for the affected period. The University of Toronto needs its students, and its students need the University of Toronto to cancel rent.

Concerned Students Residing in Housing and Residences