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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 25, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

Leases and Renting



Leases

In Waterloo, quite often, students are required to sign a 12-month lease (even though they may be in the city for only 8 months); it is possible to find 8-month and 4-month lease agreements; contact the Laurier International and the Residence Services for more information. When you find a place, you have to pay first and last month’s rent; and then you pay the monthly rent on the 1st day of every month.

Renting

  • Most students in Waterloo live either in shared student homes or with families renting out rooms to students
  • Generally, when you rent a room, you have shared access to a kitchen and bathroom, sometimes to a common area; sometimes there are laundry facilities in the house – some houses have coin-operated laundry machines, and some have free access
  • You can share a phone line with the other students in the home, but most students now get mobile phones – there are plans where you get unlimited weeknights and weekends; however, during the day you pay for both incoming and outgoing calls from your mobile (some inexpensive monthly plans are available through the university)
  • Cost of rent varies between $350 - $650 per month. Factors determining price include distance to the university, cleanliness, size, furniture, utilities, amenities as well as distance to grocery stores
  • Price is the rent (accommodation fee) calculated by days, weeks or months. Make sure you understand the details of the rental arrangement.
  • Be clear about the kind of accommodation being offered. Is it a room only, or room and board (i.e. including meals)?
  • How much of the room or house is furnished? Are the bed, desk, lighting, chairs, tables and shelving provided? Is linen supplied?
  • Does the rent include the cost of electricity (referred to as hydro by many Canadians), water and heat? If not, you will have to pay these bills yourself.
  • It is very important to establish the length/duration of the lease for the accommodation you intend to rent. It may be wise to get an eight-month lease from September to April. Rental fees from May to August are usually lower. Therefore, if you have not committed yourself to a one-year lease, you could save some money by moving to a cheaper place, or by negotiating a lower rent for the summer period.
  • By law, you are entitled, as a tenant to sublet the accommodation so you should ensure this option is included in your lease.
  • How convenient are transportation facilities? Where is the bus stop? Where is the parking lot? It is against the law to park a car on the street overnight in Kitchener/Waterloo.
  • Be sure the heating system is efficient, and will allow for a minimum room temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (approximately 72 degrees Fahrenheit). Gas heating systems are the least expensive. Electricity and oil costs more.
  • What appliances will be supplied? Usually there is a stove, oven, refrigerator, sink and sometimes a washing machine with a dryer. Make sure they all work.
  • By law, you have the right of prior consent about who may enter your room. However, special circumstances may require a property owner to enter your premises without your consent. Ensure you and the proprietor agrees on the question of access.
  • Are there rules for sharing any facilities, e.g. washing machine? If so, what are they, and what is shared?
  • Are you allowed to smoke in your accommodation?
  • Who will be sharing the facility with you e.g. children, pets etc?
  • Who is responsible for the exterior maintenance of the building, e.g. shovelling snow, cutting grass?
  • Are there restrictions on noise, e.g. from a stereo, typewriters, or social activities (parties, drinking, overnight guests)?

Legal issues relating to rental of accommodations

Once you have agreed to rent an accommodation, you will have to sign a contract. It is important you are familiar with some of the legal implications of signing this type of document, commonly called a lease. Become familiar with the Tenant Protection Act: Part IV of the Act describes the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords. Awareness of your rights and obligations as a tenant can help you avoid unnecessary problems and disputes. Residential Services on campus can help you obtain a copy of the Tenant Protection Act.

Tenancy agreement

A tenancy agreement between property owner and tenant can be in writing, or it can be verbal or implied. However, in case of a dispute, it is easier to prove the contents of a written agreement. Be very particular about these key points when you are about to sign an agreement with your proprietor:
  • Most property owners will ask you to sign a lease
  • Some proprietors will require a guarantor who is a permanent resident of Canada to co-sign the lease
  • Do not sign any agreement until you read, fully understand, and agree with all the conditions in the document
  • If the tenancy agreement is in writing, the property owner must deliver a copy to you within 21 days
  • Make sure you understand fully the procedures for ending a tenancy, e.g., notice of termination, early termination by the proprietor, etc.

Rights and obligations of the landlord and the tenant

In addition to the first month’s rent, the property owner can demand a deposit equal to one rental period, but only up to a maximum of one-month rent. Normally, to hold accommodations until the date the lease begins, a tenant has to pay one month’s rent, which represents the rent for the last month of the lease. The proprietor cannot use the deposit to pay any other costs, i.e., repair damage or clean up. Security deposits are illegal in Ontario.
  • The property owner cannot pro-rate your rent, or ask you for post-dated cheques (some tenants compromise on the issue of post-dated cheques for convenience)
  • Under normal circumstances, the proprietor cannot enter a rented dwelling without giving notice 48 hours in advance
  • The property owner cannot seize your personal property because you have not paid your rent
  • The property owner is required to maintain the dwelling in good conditions, fit for living
  • The tenant is responsible for the ordinary cleanliness of the rented dwelling
  • The proprietor can terminate a tenancy before the end of the agreed term for any of the following reasons: failure by the tenant to pay rent, undue damage to the premises, disturbing others, overcrowding, impairing the safety of other tenants, and illegal acts

If you encounter any problems with your property owners and need some advice, please contact:

Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (1-888-332-3234 or 1-888-377-8813)

Resolves disputes between property owners and tenants regarding rights and responsibilities under the Tenant Protection Act, including rent increases, evictions and privacy issues

Waterloo Region Legal Services Clinic (519-743-0254)
Offers legal advice to eligible persons for landlord/tenant disputes

For more information see:

Newcomers’ guide to Canadian housing (PDF)
About short-term housing and emergency shelters
Information for tenants