Hamilton, especially around campus, is relatively safe. Nonetheless, even in the safest neighbourhoods, every year there are reports of break-ins, peeping toms, and sexual assault. Having a neighbourhood full of students has its benefits, but it can also attract certain kinds of crime. There are also safety issues related to your house – things like fire and security.
Safety cannot be overlooked when searching for accommodation! Make sure that you check out your potential yard and street lighting, distance from transportation or campus, and shrubs around the entrances and on the street. Do you feel comfortable here? Do you feel good about your landlord?
To protect your house from a break-in, make sure that there are working locks on all the doors and windows and always lock the house when you leave. If you’re going home for the winter break or away for Reading Week (thieves know the school calendar) you may want to invest in a timer for the lights inside of your house. Don’t forget to store your electronic equipment (like computers, stereos, TVs), jewellery and other small valuables in a safe location. Ask a friendly neighbour to keep an eye on the house for you. Tell them about your plans for the holiday and when you’ll be back. If they have a second car, consider asking them to park it in your driveway to make your house look lived in. You might also want to leave a key with a trusted neighbour and ask them to check in on the house daily – maybe even turn lights on and off, etc.
Your landlord is required by law to ensure that the house is safe and that there is a working smoke detector on each floor, as well as a working carbon monoxide alarm and fire extinguisher. If you have serious concerns about the fire safety of your accommodation, please call the City of Hamilton Fire Department, Prevention Division at 905-546-3333.
If you’ve noticed evidence of pests or vermin (e.g. mouse droppings) in your accommodation, call your landlord first. If your landlord is not able or willing to call an exterminator or solve the problem in some other way, then call the City of Hamilton Health Department at 905-546-2489. They can be reached for health concerns including pests, lack of heat, mold, etc. They will come and inspect the house for you, free of charge. If there is a problem, they will deal with the landlord.
If you’re on campus studying late, the safest way to walk home is with a friend. However, if you’re alone on campus and need to walk home, call SWHAT (Student Walk Home Attendant Team) at ext. 27500, or download the MUSST app. Open 7 days a week, 7 p.m. to 1 a .m ., September to April, SWHAT offers you a free accompanied walk with one male and one female volunteer across campus or to off-campus destinations (maximum 30 min walk or bus ride from campus).