Boy meets world: Living off campus
Despite all the fun you have in rez, it has its downfalls. Dealing with noisy neighbours, the hassle of signing friends in and the endless list of rules you have to follow gets really irritating. When the year ends, you're left with the decision to find a group of friends to live with or ride solo and find new accommodations for next year.
Living off-campus is an absolute blast. The freedom you are given is taken to a whole other level. You're able to have whoever you want over at any time, make as much noise as you (reasonably) want to and, for the most part, follow the list of rules created by none other than yourself. However, with all this increased freedom comes increased responsibility. When you decide to live in a house, you're your own boss, and the onus is on you and your roommates to deal with issues together.
One of the best things about moving out of rez is the ability to host your own parties, but this doesn't mean that you can get as rowdy as you want. The City of London has a 24-hour noise bylaw with pretty stiff fines. Generally for the first offence you can be charged $200, and if you're slapped a second time, the fine is $500. Subsequent charges become summary charges and subject to fines of up to $5,000. Oh, and these fines are per person in the house and not a collective fee.
Glenn Matthews is the Housing Mediation Officer for Fanshawe and Western and said the police will often skip the second charge and go straight to the summary charge. "When having a party, talk to neighbours but also have a plan in place so that everyone stays inside and not to have everyone leave all at once as this usually occurs at 2 to 3 a.m. when others are trying to sleep," Matthews suggested. "They might also want to keep windows and doors closed."
He also warned of another issue that students might run into. "If they have a party and someone is injured, not only are the tenants liable, but (so is) any guarantor (usually a parent) on the lease." What would be more embarrassing than having your parents come down to deal with something like this?
Matthews also noted that London is on the verge of passing a public nuisance bylaw, which will primarily be used for large events such as St. Patrick's Day.
Furnishing Your New Place
If you're like most students, you're probably on a tight budget and don't have a lot of money to spend on furniture. The first people you should ask for help are your parents, extended family, friends or older siblings that have no more use for their old furniture. Kijiji is also a great source for cheap furniture in decent shape for things like loveseats, coffee tables and chairs. Though not everyone likes handme- downs, if you're living offcampus for only a year or two, the swanky furniture can wait.
Unlike rez, the only cleaning service available when you move out is the one you provide yourself. The biggest thing is making sure that you and your roommates are all on the same page when it comes to chores. When you move in, decide who is in charge of what, and when your responsibility should be completed by. For example, whoever is in charge of garbage disposal should make sure that it gets out on your designated garbage day, or you'll have pile up after pile up of garbage and will have to wait until the following week to get rid of it. Chores might be the most mundane thing to do, but they're also pretty necessary.
Matthews strongly suggested that students sign a Roommate Agreement when they move in together to iron out any potential issues before they become problems. The form lays out rules on rent, the payment of bills, chores and other general house rules that roommates should consider. Living with even the best of friends can take a turn for the worse when you decide to live together, so make sure that friendships last as long as they can by hammering down a system that works for everyone. You can read a PDF copy of the agreement here: tinyurl.com/fan-roommateagreement.
If you have and issues or questions about living off-campus, more information about housing mediation can be found at tinyurl.com/fan-housingmediation. If you have questions for Matthews, make an appointment to speak with him by calling 519- 452-4282 or by dropping by Counselling and Accessibility Services in room F2010.
Living off campus is an amazing experience, but it's a privilege and not a right. Please enjoy responsibly.