Off-Campus Housing Considerations

Searching for suitable accommodation options and renting for a longer period of time may be very different from your home country. It will take each student some time to research options, view accommodations and make the best choice for themselves.


Landlords/home owners:

  • A landlord is the person you are renting accommodations from and who makes all decisions related to the place you are living. Their roles and responsibilities also include:
    • Collecting rent payments
    • Dealing with issues or problems that arise in your rented space
    • Providing a safe and functional accommodations including working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Please note that landlords are NOT permitted to enter your property without 24 hours’ notice and they are NOT allowed to take any of your personal belongings.

Students should be prepared to:

  • View multiple property websites to find suitable accommodation options
  • Plan to view more than one accommodation by contacting each landlord and making an appointment to view the space
  • Ask a friend or arrange for a Student Leader to accompany you on your appointment for their support
  • Consider sharing accommodations with other students
  • Fill out a rental application to be reviewed by the landlord to consider you as a tenant
  • Sign a lease (legal document) that confirms that you agree to the terms of the rental for a specific length of time
  • Be asked to pay first/last month’s rent up front (this is common practice within Canada)
  • Avoid negotiating monthly rental costs (in Canada as this is not an appropriate custom)

Considerations:

Some important items to ask yourself, plan and consider before agreeing to any rental accommodations in Canada are the following:

  • Budget – What is the maximum amount I can afford to pay each month? How does it compare to other locations?
  • Utilities – Does it include internet, electricity, heating, etc. or will I have to pay these after paying for rent? How much is each utility monthly?
  • Facilities – Are laundry facilities available? If not, where is the closest laundry facility? How much storage/space do I have access too? Do I have access to outside space? Are there quiet hours? Where does the mail get delivered?
  • Public transportation Is this on a bus route? How far is the nearest bus stop?
  • Food – How close is the nearest grocery store?
  • Furnishings – Is the room or apartment furnished? Are appliances included? What would I need to purchase?
  • Maintenance – Who is responsible for the maintenance of the outdoor space? Will I have to shovel the path and sidewalk in the winter? Do I have to cut the grass in the summer?
  • Safety – How safe is the neighbourhood? Are there good locks on the doors and windows?
  • Additional Fees – Is a damage deposit required? Is first/last month’s rent required?
  • Rental Agreement – What are the terms of the lease? Questions for the owner? Landlords usually ask payment for two months at time of rental – the first month and the last one.
  • Payments – When is the rent due each month? How do I make the payments? Will I get a receipt for Canadian Income Tax purposes? Do I need to pay first/last month rent?
  • Roommates Am I sharing the accommodations with other people or the home owner? Is it private? Will I be allowed to find a roommate to reduce the costs?
  • Guests – Are guests allowed? Can they stay overnight?

For your convenience, you can review and print the Housing Search Checklist document as reference when viewing a rental space.


How to avoid a scam:

Finding housing in Ontario can be difficult and some people may try to take advantage as you are vulnerable when searching for longer term accommodations. It is important to understand the warning signs of possible scams that are fake rental advertisements and can be posted on various sites.

Here are a few warning signs of possible scams:

  • The rental space is:
    • Much cheaper than other units in the area
    • Posted on multiple websites with different contact information
    • Not found or address does not exist on Google Maps
    • Looks very different in person than it did in the pictures on the listing
  • The landlord:
    • Is not available to personally show you the unit and will not let you book an appointment to see the accommodations and confirm condition of the space
    • Avoids responding to your specific questions
    • Does not include pictures of either the inside or outside for you to view
    • Requests personal information such as: Social Insurance Number (SIN), banking information etc. which could be used for illegal purposes
    • Requests money to apply to rent the space
    • Asks for a large amount of money to rent or extra fees (first/last month’s rent is normal practice – see below)
    • Requests that you send money by wire transfer (NEVER e-transfer money without meeting the landlord or before seeing the place to rent)
    • Accepts e-gift cards as rental payment
    • Requests cash for payments (which cannot be traced/cancelled) without signing a rental agreement
    • Tells you that there is a number of people wanting to rent and suggests sending money to secure the space

Rental agreement/lease:

A rental agreement/lease outlines the rules of renting the home and all that you agreed to with the landlord. It is a legal document and important to understand all the information about living in your new space. This agreement is meant to protect you and the landlord’s rights should a disagreement occur.


First/last month’s rent required:

It is common practice in Canada for landlords to request first and last month’s rent (two months’ rent) when you agree to living in their accommodations and sign a rental agreement/lease. This payment would be required when picking up the keys to gain access to your space. 


Victim of a scam?

If you think you have been a victim of a scam, you should report your situation to the local police.