Leaving the campus bubble, and renting your own home for the first time can be a daunting experience and becomes horrifying as you run the ‘what ifs’ through your head, according to Rentals.ca
What if I miss some fine print in the lease?
What if the water heater starts leaking and the landlord isn’t around?
What if I get the “horror story” roommate?
What if I get charged for damage I didn’t do?
So, from a student’s perspective, here are some helpful tips to go from anxiety and uncertainty to a comfortable place to call home.
1) When do Western University and Fanshawe College students have to start looking to get the best rentals at the best rates for housing in London?
- If you’re a student going from first-year into second-year and want a good house, start looking January, latest. If you’re lucky and start looking early, you can get stunning places for around $500/month.
But don’t sign too early. Always consider your options, even if rental companies coax you to sign (of course, they always want to close the deal ASAP).
The rental housing market in London is diverse, so, if you start early, you have time to look around and find the best place to live. You don’t want to sign early and then discover a better home for a better deal right around the corner.
The latest time to find a house is February if you want to get a good lease for the next school year, starting date September 3-5.
- However, if you’re looking to rent at the coveted apartments at Redbricks (London Property Corp.), you need to start looking in early November, when the company hosts its open houses. The apartments at Redbricks are the closest residences to campus and rent out SUPER fast. Redbricks can be pretty expensive, so if you can, talk to current residents about their rental experiences before signing.
2) What areas of the city have the highest concentration of students?
- Students live all along Wharncliffe Road N (walking distance to bus routes 2 and 102 that go straight to campus). It’s mainly a residential area, but the bus routes make it accessible to get to grocery stores and the downtown core.
There are lots of reasonably priced rentals along this road, making it easy for students to see their friends regularly. The only drawback is the packed commute in the mornings.
- Richmond Street is another student favourite. Most houses are concentrated around the university front gates (referred to as Old North), and some students live on Richmond Street a little bit north of campus. For students interested in clubbing or a ‘downtown’ city feel, there are plenty of house rentals further south along Richmond that are close to entertainment venues and restaurants. Pretty convenient for weekend nights out!
3) Why do you think it is not too difficult for students to find housing, even though London’s vacancy rate is a low 2.1%, according to the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation?
- There are lots of helpful rental resources available to students in London. Western University has a designated Off Campus Housing website that compiles listings from major rental companies in London, such as Luxury Student Rentals and Exclusive Rentals. The Off Campus Housing website is heavily advertised in first-year residences and throughout the year on campus. If you’re a student studying at Fanshawe College, they also have an Off-Campus Housing website.
- The student community in London is tight. There are many Facebook groups that thousands of students use to post sublets, roommate requests, and general rental FAQs.
Students feel more comfortable talking to other students when setting up house showings or figuring out lease turnovers, so rental spaces left by graduates are often quickly filled up by students coming in the next year.
4) Have your rents increased since being a student, and if so by how much?
- My rent has actually decreased from $575 last year to $534 this year, both with utilities included (shared among four other roommates). But I moved from a detached house into a two-storey/duplex.
- However, the rent for the next tenants who will live in my past rental will increase to $595/month.
5) If you have friends who are students at other universities in Ontario, is your monthly rent cheaper or more expensive than your friends’? How much cheaper or more expensive?
- My monthly rent is way cheaper than those of my friends who go to universities in Toronto and rent a place downtown. I pay $534/month in my current London rental, but many of my friends pay upward of $1,000/month. Granted, the price depends on the location. My friends prefer a more convenient location, close to school and the downtown core so that they can run to class in the morning. A lot of my friends in Toronto actually prefer to live at home to save rent money and commute to school daily via public transit.
- I recently caught up with some friends studying at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and was shocked to learn they pay $450-$500/month for rent, utilities included.
- In Cambridge, Ontario my friend pays around $600/month while others in the area range from $450-700/month. Students studying in Waterloo, Ontario pay on average $600/month.
6) Any other issue on student housing that you think is important to discuss?
- Read. Your. Lease. Carefully. Know and understand what you are signing.
For example, if it doesn’t explicitly say the rental includes all utilities in the lease, make sure to confirm with your rental company before you sign.
- Squeamish of pests? Check if your landlord will pay for pest control or if you need to
- exterminate the annoying critters yourselves.
- If you’re planning on subletting your home during the summer or a semester, make sure your sublet signs a Sublet Agreement. This will ensure that any damages incurred during their sublet term will hold them responsible and avoid messy verbal arguments.
- And lastly, before you start moving in, TAKE PICTURES OF THE SPACE. Note any structural damages or major issues and send them to your landlord right away to ensure you don’t get charged for the leftover damages of previous tenants.
7) Resources helpful to students in London
- Renting in Ontario 101: Legal rights that you need to know
- London, Ontario Garbage Collection Calendar and Zone Maps
- London Neighbourhood Boundaries and Descriptions
- Fanshawe Accommodation Comparison Chart: (Use this to decide between which lease you want to sign when you’re viewing properties!)
Oh, and what if you are a first-year student?
- First-year residences have a lot of resources available. Ask your Residence Adviser (RA) or sophomores about their housing experiences, and take advantage of information sessions/open houses held by rental companies.