Her Campus's Declassified Student Ghetto Survival Guide: Legal Rights to Student Living

As the school year slowly comes to a close, tis none other than the season of searching, signing and resigning of leases for many (and soon to be) upper year students alike. Long gone are the glory days found within the walls of first year residences. Long gone is the luxury of access to food halls close in proximity and the classic residence party that surges an instant adrenaline rush to remain uncaught by the red vested don. Instead, we welcome with open arms the next rite of passage on the unwritten rulebook of post-first year endeavours: Off-Campus Student Housing.

Although daunting at first, my general rule of thumb for current first year students is simply to know your rights and know your home. In fact, the government of Ontario provides concise and helpful tips under the Residential Tenancies Act to ensure that students living in off-campus housing are made properly aware of their rights as tenants and the rules placed upon them by landlords. So, without further ado I present to you several legal aids with a little bit of personal wisdom on the side to- HER CAMPUS’ Declassified Student Ghetto Survival Guide: Legal Rights to Student Living.

Thou shall READ the fine print

  • Upon signing your lease, the initial excitement may hit you all at once, but always remember to read things thoroughly with a careful eye.
  • A landlord can collect a rent deposit as long as it is asked for before or on the day that the landlord and tenant enter into the tenancy agreement.
  • The rent deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent or the rent for one rental payment period.
  • Something that goes without attention, is fire safety. The law requires that your landlord provides at least one smoke alarm per floor and an adequate means of fire escape within the property.

Thou shall COMMUNICATE effectively

  • The more open you are with your landlord, the less disagreements and misunderstandings are to take place.
  • In the case of maintenance repairs, speak with your landlord first.
  • Provide a detailed list in writing and give it to the landlord or person responsible for maintenance.
  • A landlord has the right to refuse to initially rent to a person in possession of a pet; however, a tenancy agreement cannot forbid a tenant from having a pet.
  • The landlord can increase rent once every 12 months.
  • A 90-day written notice of the increase must be given to the tenant.
  • A landlord can only enter a tenant’s unit in specific circumstances.
  • in most cases, the landlord must give the tenant 24 hours written notice (emergencies being an exception of course).
  • Always keep copies of documents that you provide to your landlord.

FINALLY, the serious stuff aside -don’t forget to enjoy every step of this experience! Queen’s is known for its sense of community, that of which we owe great pleasure to the student housing community that surrounds our school campus. When else will you be able to decorate your living room with an array of mix and match furniture with some of your closest lifelong friends? Find that cheap but obscenely comfy couch off the online student resale page, hang those twinkly lights all along the walls of your living room and most importantly create a safe space, a home in which you are able to escape the stress and tiresome schedule of being an overworked and under-rested university student.