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Leases and Renting
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.
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
- Price is the rent (accommodation fee) calculated by days,
weeks or months. Make sure you understand the details of the rental
- 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.
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
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:
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: