Volume 96, Issue 11
Tuesday September 17, 2002

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Housing plentiful

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

While it may be a problem in other cities, a housing shortage might not be coming for students in the Forest City.

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Association, 2002 will set a record for housing sales in London, said Ken Sumnall, manager of market analysis for CMHA, adding many of those properties are being bought by housing developers, aimed specifically at student housing.

"Prices are moving up, [with] larger increases in certain markets and areas of the city," Sumnall said, adding the average price for property around Western is $140,000.

The double cohort has impacted housing, Sumnall said, citing it as the reason for newly constructed residences at both Western and Fanshawe College.

Sumnall said London's housing market is not as tight as that of Guelph, Waterloo and Toronto.

"In the last couple years, prices right next to campus have gone up, but not outside, say a 10 minute bus ride away," said Glen Matthews, housing mediation officer for Western's off-campus housing.

"For students looking for something, supply is still there," he said. "There's no panic situation yet."

Jim Miller, spokesperson for Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Chris Hodgson, agreed London is not facing a shortage.

"[Guelph, Waterloo, Toronto] have vacancy rates of less than one per cent," Miller said, noting London's vacancy rate is 1.6 per cent.

Miller said students create a higher demand on housing in university and college based cities.

When renewing a lease, annual guidelines regulate rent costs, he added. The government factors the costs of operating a rental unit, looking at heat, hydro and other costs, then calculates a three-year average to set the percentage at which rents can be raised.

In 2002, a 3.9 per cent increase was permitted, while in 2003 it was set at 2.9 per cent, Miller confirmed.

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2002 THE GAZETTE