June 13th, 2024

Housing service partners with U of L as students prepare to return to class


By Dale Woodard on August 24, 2021.

With colleges and university students ready to head back to school, a program is in place to ensure students and landlords alike can find a living arrangement that make both feel at home.
Since 2003, Places4Students has been helping students in Canada and the U.S. find lodging as they learn and last year partnered with the University of Lethbridge to provide those same services to students coming to hit the books in southern Alberta.
“Schools partner with us to maintain the off-campus housing service for them,” said Kim McConnery, Marketing Specialist for Places4Students. “Right now we’re finding a pretty serious housing shortage with low vacancy rates pretty much everywhere in Canada and the U.S. So it’s just hitting the ground running again and trying to get the word out there that if there is anybody who has ever rented to a student if they would be interested in thinking about it.”
McConnery fields questions from the renters and students alike.
Renters typically enquire about income.
“They’re encouraged to hear it’s an extra source of income,” she said. “They have a lot of questions about lease agreements and things like if they haven’t been in the rental market before. So we offer assistance there with some general things on our website.”
Landlords are also usually happy to find out students are willing to do things around the house to help out.
“Things that tend to be a different relationship than a typical landlord and tenant,” said McConnery, adding Places4Students has been seeing a lot of international student usage lately, using the program to help them better communicate with the landlord.
“We help give them peace of mind in figuring out the location. They can call and talk to our staff and we can help them with any questions they have about the area.”
Places4Students also allows students to make roommate profiles and sublet profiles, allowing them to communicate with other students in the area, said McConnery.
“So if they’ve never been in the area before and they’re looking for a roommate and somebody to go to school with, they can communicate with them through our service. It’s just a level of safety that students seem to enjoy.”
McConnery said landlords are also comfortable with guarantors, such as a parent or provider who can cover the rent for a student who may not have a rental history.
“Or maybe (the student) is just going to school and not working, we have a lot of students who will have parental guarantors. That also makes the landlord feel comfortable because they’re not having to worry about their rent not being paid. It’s a good balance for both of them.”
In 2020, Places4Students added the U of L to their list of clients.
“It seems to be pretty similar across the board,” said McConnery. “Lethbridge in general, I’ve learned the landlords in the area are extremely kind. It’s a very welcoming community and I’ve enjoyed being a part of helping the students in Lethbridge. There was a need there and we were able to help them.”
McConnery said the COVID-19 pandemic of the past 18 months has caused a few landlords to pull back and see what’s going to happen next.
“But coming into the new school year we’re finding a good balance of landlords who are OK on either side. So students are able to find that comfortable spot.
“One difficult thing with COVID is that with the rental market being so hard, we’ve seen a lot of landlords sell their property. So it wasn’t they didn’t want to be in the market anymore and rent to students, it was just a really good opportunity. So our list of landlords has gotten a little bit shorter as they took advantage of that market.”
With school almost back in session, McConnery said it’s a busy time of year for Places4Students that’s made even busier now that resident halls are not holding as many students as they could in the past.
“We’re seeing students need some off-campus housing. Also, we had a group of first-year students last year that didn’t get the experience of on-campus housing. So we’re seeing two groups of students coming in as freshmen from last year and freshman this year who want to be on campus. So it’s a pretty competitive market for residents at the schools right now.”
Students or landlords looking for more information can visit http://www.places4students.com or call 1-866-766-0767.
They are also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under Places4Students.
“Even if we get one student a room who wouldn’t necessarily have gotten it without getting the word out, we’ve done a good job,” said McConnery.
“We just hope to help as many people as we can.”

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