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The Ideal Student Tenant

This being the Housing Issue of Arthur and the last issue before the Christmas Holidays, I thought I might get some food for thought for my fellow students to mull over the Christmas break, by getting a landlord’s take on what his ideal student tenant would look like. To do this, I decided to call my landlord. His name is Andrew Galvin and he runs a real estate agency here in Peterborough, and as a sideline, rents out a number of properties in the downtown area to members of the Trent student body.

Mr. Galvin said that his ideal tenant, student or otherwise, is somebody who “pays their rent on time, and is respectful of the property and of the other tenants in the building.” I asked Mr. Galvin if it had ever occurred that any of his student tenants had ever been disruptive and/or had “trashed” their unit, and he answered, “I had one place that got trashed, but not by students, and it cost me roughly $15 000 in total to both repair the damage and to have the tenants evicted.”

Wow! I was astounded at hearing this. I enquired further as to whether this made him as a landlord to be more reticent about renting to any one particular type of tenant constituency within the community, and he answered, “… it can be expensive to the landlord in lost rent and repairs. It did make me more vigilant, though, about the screening process.”

I therefore asked Mr. Galvin about the nature of the screening process which he undertakes for every potential tenant who applies for one of his units: “I phone their references and past landlords or work references. I also perform a credit check now every time.”

I asked Mr. Galvin if this was a customary occurrence in the case of him insisting on the credit check in each case, and he answered, “I used to go just by references, but now I go with the credit check all the time because I found that a lot of people are overextended on their credit from purchasing such items as furniture, stereos, and cars, but not so much regarding appliances. I generally find that I am hesitant about renting to somebody if I see that others to whom they owe money are not getting paid – then I am likely not to get paid either.”

I asked Mr. Galvin if, in general, he found that students made good tenants, and he had this to say: “I have rented to students for 25 years and was a student myself, and generally I don’t have a problem with them as tenants. However, I find that they are often very messy, and usually do not clean their apartments for the entire one-year period of tenancy. They do not vacuum the floors. I usually see that the kitchen and bathrooms have not been cleaned in upwards of a full year. Countertops are not cleaned, students do not dust their apartments, and I have even had to get rid of a toilet after one tenant vacated the premises after a year because it was so dirty.”

I enquired of Mr. Galvin whether this caused him to incur a significant amount of expense in cleaning bills when students vacate their apartments. He answered, “Big time. I am regularly stuck with a $300-500 cleaning bill when a student leaves one of my units, and the Landlord-Tenant Act forbids me from withholding any form of cleaning or damage deposit from a tenant when they rent from me!”

Wow, what an eye-opener! So there you have it, folks, from a landlord’s perspective. I guess if you had to grade us as tenants, I’d say we just got a B- from this fellow! I’d say that as students, we’re not doing too badly in our ‘studies’ as tenants, but that we could definitely bump up our ‘grades’ somewhat! Put that remote control away, and leave that Netflix marathon/binge of Game of Thrones for another day, there folks! (Everybody gets bumped off in that show anyways, right, so why even bother?) Get that bucket and bottle of generic green “Mr. Clean”-type stuff (the generic stuff is cheaper than the brand name stuff, trust me, that’s what I buy all the time!), an Atlantic Bee Mop with removable head, some rags, a scrub brush, and a toilet brush, and get down on your knees and start cleaning your kitchen and bathroom!

Not only will your landlord thank you for it, but you will more likely get a good reference from them moving forward when you apply to your next place if you actually take the trouble to clean up after yourself. Remember, university is our preparation for the habits we will develop for the rest of our lives! If we don’t clean up after ourselves now, what’s it going to be like when we graduate, buy a house, and have kids of our own? Just something to mull over as we swing headlong into some Ye Olde Yuletide Cheer. Maybe freshen up the place before heading out to see your family for Christmas. Can’t hurt to “clean house” before wrapping up our semester for this year! Take care folks, and Merry Christmas!

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