Off campus checklist

When to start looking and what to look for

Although you’ll find a variety of listings at all times during the year, we suggest you start looking 2 months in advance. Many opportunities for September are found in early July.

LEASE TYPES: Houses and apartments rentals generally require you to sign a one year lease. In most cases,  rooms in a house are rented out for 4- to 8- month periods and sometimes for up to 12 months.

APPLICATION DEPOSIT: Never put down a deposit to hold an apartment unless you have a written agreement indicating whether it is refundable.

COST: Can you afford it?  Consider all related expenses: utilities, heating, electricity, parking, Internet, etc.

LOCATION: Is the neighbourhood safe? Even at night? Is it close enough? Are you comfortable walking or biking to the campus? Do you have easy access to mass transportation?

MODEL APARTMENTS: Never sign a lease based upon a model. Insist on seeing your actual apartment.

FUNCTIONNING ORDER: Check appliances. Run water in all sinks, showers and tubs. Flush toilets, and check the air conditioning and heating.

APPEARANCE: Is it clean? Do the carpets look worn or smell bad? Has the apartment been recently painted? Do the walls have nail holes?

INVENTORY: Note all defects on an inventory list and have it signed by the landlord or an impartial witness. Take pictures or videotape the apartment at move-in.

LANDLORD: Speak to tenants living in the building. Does the landlord respect their privacy?  Are repairs done quickly?

NOISE AND PARKING: Check for noise and parking problems by visiting the apartment at various times during the day, at night and on weekends.

SAFETY/ SECURITY: Are the doors equipped with good quality locks (even the patio door)?  Is there an easy egress way? Are hallways and parking lots well lit?

Related links

Inspect the facilities

When visiting the unit, check for:

  • Smoke detectors in working order
  • Proper electrical installation – outlets, fixture, breakers
  • Well-fitted doors and windows that operate and lock adequately
  • Lighting (natural and fixtures)
  • Appliances, furniture – what’s included?
  • Laundry facilities – if none is provided, how far is the nearest public laundry?
  • Traces of mold – Any signs of water infiltration?   
  • Traces of insects or other pests
  • Adequately maintained garbage/ recycling/ composting disposal facilities
  • Stairs, porches and railings – are they in good repair?

Before you sign the lease

Before signing anything don’t forget to:

  • Read the lease and make sure you understand it.
  • Be prepared to pay full rent, not just your share. This is what "joint and several" liability means, a term included or implied in nearly all leases.
  • Obtain a copy of any rules and regulations in addition to the lease.
  • Have all promised repairs and improvements written into the lease and signed by the landlord.
  • Keep a copy of the lease and rules and regulations with your important records.
  • Insist on seeing your actual unit.
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