Thinking about living off campus in or around Toronto? Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Determining your needs
We cover everything you need to know about finding a place in our recorded URent: Finding A Place session. This is a great place to start if you’re thinking about renting in the Greater Toronto Area. Toronto’s rental market is very competitive and expensive, so it is important to know about rental costs and living costs to create an educated budget. There are different types of housing located in different neighbourhoods too.
Finding a roommate
Sharing a unit with a roommate is a great way to save money. Use the Roommate Compatibility Checklist (PDF) to determine if someone has a similar lifestyle to yours. We also encourage you to sign a Roommate Agreement (PDF) before moving in together.
Your rental search
There are lots of platforms that you can use to search for housing. We specifically recommend using the U of T Off-campus Housing Finder, as these landlords are explicitly willing to rent to students. Use the filters to search for units that match your budget, desired neighbourhood and personal preferences. Once logged in, it doubles as a roommate search tool to find other U of T students who would like a roommate.
Attending a viewing
Viewing a unit is important to avoid scams and ensure the unit suits your needs. Ask for a virtual viewing (a live video tour is ideal), come early to Toronto, or ask a trusted individual or a realtor to assist you. You can use our Apartment Viewing Checklist (PDF) to assess the unit.
We suggest you ask for a live (i.e. in-person or video) tour to ensure the unit is as advertised. Request photos and floor plans, inquire about the unit’s amenities and safety, and make sure you know who the landlord is and their contact information (phone number and email are best). Reference our Landlord Q&A (PDF) for a list of key questions.
Making a rental application
When submitting an application, you should arrange to provide your full name and contact information, proof of employment, proof of income, references from previous landlords, and previous address.
Signing a lease
Landlords can only legally request last month’s rent and a refundable key deposit up front, and should not ask for application fees, security/damage deposits, cleaning fees, etc. This is true even if you are an international student. While you can choose to offer more than one month’s rent, a landlord cannot legally ask you for more than one month’s advance deposit.
Landlords are required to use the Ontario standard lease form when signing new leases. You can insist on signing this form, even if you are offered a different form. Remember, only valid terms of the lease can be legally upheld. A landlord cannot write an illegal clause and then try to evict you over it, even if you sign the lease. Always remember you have a legal right to ask for a rent receipt (PDF) for any money paid to a landlord.
Using this information should help guide you to finding safe and suitable housing in the Toronto area. For more educational resources on off-campus information, check our URent program, including our self-guided housing modules. If you need further support, you can book an appointment with our team and explore Steps to Justice, which is a guide to Ontario legal topics.
Disclaimer: The University does not investigate, endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by any listing. The University assumes no responsibility in regard to any agreement made by students sharing accommodations. These accommodations are located off-campus, are not affiliated with U of T, and operate under their own policies and guidelines.
Become an empowered, educated tenant through URent events and workshops. Learn how to find safe and affordable rentals and resolve conflict with roommates and neighbours.Learn more about URent
URent: Housing Modules
These are six self-guided learning tools that cover the specific steps to finding a safe and affordable rental.Learn more about URent: Housing Modules