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What you need to know about off-campus rentals

Posted March 6, 2020

You’ve decided to move out of residence or live off-campus, but not sure where to start? Here’s some important things to know when looking for rentals in Toronto.

Types of rental options

For off-campus housing, there are rental options such as units in condo and apartment buildings, or individual rooms within a unit. There are also privately-owned student housing options that function like university residences.

Use the U of T Housing Finder Tool to see listings from across the city and also find potential roommates.

Budgeting for Toronto rent

“Students should budget about $1000 per month. And that’s for living with roommates. If you’re planning on living alone, that price will close to double. It’s around $1800 in the downtown area and a little less farther out,” says Katrina, a Student Life officer at Housing.

Condos are the most expensive option while rooms for rent are the most affordable. Home sharing programs allow you to rent a fully furnished room in someone’s home such as Toronto Home Share and Homadorma.

You can also make use of Toronto’s public transportation and live farther out from the city centre (such as Etobicoke or Scarborough) to save money on rent.

What to look for when searching for a place to live

“Number one is safety and comfort,” advised Katrina. Ask questions and go to apartment viewings in-person. Some things to check for include making sure doors lock, windows can open, thermostat control is inside the apartment, quality of lighting, if outlets work, etc.

When visiting potential places, you can use the Apartment Viewing Checklist created by Housing Services.

Tips for first time renters

“Put everything in writing.” Katrina notes the importance of keeping a track record of the communication between you and your landlord. Use email as your primary mode of contact with your landlord. Send follow up emails to solidify decisions made in person or over the phone.

It is also important to know your rights as a tenant. Visit Steps to Justice to learn more about the housing laws in Ontario.

Consider investing in tenant’s insurance to cover any unexpected costs from theft or accidents within your rental unit.

In a big city like Toronto, be wary of potential scams. You should only be paying when you’re signing a lease and getting your keys. Make sure to keep a copy of your rent and key deposit receipts.

If you have any questions during your rental search, you can get advice and support from Housing staff.

To learn more about rentals in Toronto, you can also watch the How to Find a Place to Live Facebook Live.