Know your rights as a tenant living in student housing
With the end of the school year approaching, and new leases being signed, here’s what you should remember as a student renting off-campus housing
The school year is coming to a close and many students are debating whether to continue their leases for their current rental, while others still on the hunt for off-campus housing. Student renters often face issues in their homes that they are unequipped to advocate for, such as unaddressed maintenance problems and rent raises.
McMaster University has various resources available for students to become familiar with student housing laws and their tenant rights. The Silhouette has summarized some of the most important points from these resources that student tenants should know renting this season.
Renting prices in Ontario have seen a steady incline in the last few years. If you’re re-signing with the same rental, it’s likely that your landlord has instated rent increases for the upcoming school year.
It is important to note that landlords in Ontario can legally raise the rent by only 2.5 per cent. This rule applies even if your landlord is including utilities onto your rent; if the total rent increase is greater than 2.5 per cent, it is illegal.
Your landlord cannot demand a specific method of payment of rent, such as post-dated cheques. However, once a method of payment is agreed upon, it cannot be changed without the consent of both the landlord and the tenant.
There is a current student renter aid program available through the Government of Canada, which grants low-income renters a tax-free $500 in rent relief. The due date for application has passed, but more opportunities such as this one may become available in the future.
With regards to maintenance, your landlord has a responsibility to keep the rental unit in good repair and in compliance with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. The landlord is responsible for any repairs, even if you were aware of the need for these repairs prior to signing.
If a landlord has failed to address a maintenance problem, tenants are advised to file a tenant application for maintenance within one year of the issue persisting. Note that a tenant cannot legally withhold rent due to landlords not complying with maintenance standards.
Lastly, it is important to remember that an eviction notice from the landlord does not necessarily mean you must comply and move out, specifically if you feel you’re being wrongly evicted.
Your landlord can only terminate tenancy under a specific set of guidelines and, further, the tenant does not have to move out when a landlord sends notice for eviction. If the tenant chooses not to move out, the Landlord and Tenant Board will decide during a hearing if the eviction should be enforced.
For more information about student housing tenant rights, visit the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, as recommended by the university.