The demand for student housing is growing as U of T’s population continues to expand. While finding affordable housing close to campus can be a struggle, for some students it is only the beginning. Vanishing landlords, pests, leaks, and bad roommates are just a few items on the list of things to look out for when considering moving out and renting your own place. Here are just a few stories of housing horrors from U of T students — and advice on what to look for when looking for a place off-campus.

 

Tegan

teganFifth-year | Criminology

“In second year I lived in a house across from a run-down apartment building in a rough area. There were always cops with their sirens blaring, babies crying, and occasionally prostitutes would knock on our doors asking for money and directions.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off-campus housing next year? “Get in contact with previous tenants to ask for past issues.”

 

McKenzie

mckenzieSecond-year | Environmental studies

“I lived on the top two floors of a three-storey house with a couple of roommates, but we didn’t know our neighbours downstairs before we moved in. When it got cold in the winter, our house was less than ten degrees. We called the landlords multiple times and brought them in to find out what was wrong, but they couldn’t figure it out. Months later, we found out that our downstairs neighbours had control of the heat and were turning it off when they were warm enough, not letting the heat get to us, even though they knew that we were cold.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off campus housing next year? “Before you move in, ask your landlords what their policy is for dealing with leaks, heating issues, and other potential problems so everyone is clear with how to deal with them.”

 

Molly

MOLLYSecond-year | Undeclared

“Before I moved into my place, I didn’t ask any of the important questions. Unfortunately, I let my landlords take advantage of the fact that I was young and new to Toronto. This seems to be a common problem — a lot of my friends have had the same thing happen to them. Everything I took for granted when I was living at home just didn’t work properly — broken appliances, drafts, pests, you name it.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off-campus housing next year? “When you’re house-hunting in Toronto, all I can say is check everything. Water pressure, drafts, check behind the stove for bugs or signs of mice, ask how new the windows are, and ask if the bathroom fan works properly. These things can seem nit-picky and over the top, but you’re talking about your home for the next year.”

 

Steph

stephFourth-year | History

“Around two and a half years ago, I moved into my first apartment with a couple of friends near Spadina and College. We were a bit too eager and moved into one of the first places we looked at. We should have known that the whole situation was sketchy when our landlord never got us to sign a lease and asked for a ‘security deposit’ of $800. During our two years of living at this place, we had countless problems. The ceiling caved in twice, the hot water pipes burst multiple times, part of the front door caved in, and the worst situation was when the whole apartment flooded over six inches with water. If that all wasn’t bad enough, when we would call our landlord for help, he wouldn’t answer! We were forced to fix all these problems ourselves, and we did not hear from our landlord again until we moved out. We never got back our $800 security deposit.

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off-campus housing next year? “My advice for students who are house-hunting for the first time is to accept help. Landlords are notorious for taking advantage of students, especially those moving into their first place. Whether it is your parents, friends, other family members, coworkers, or a U of T housing advisor, involve them!”

 

Emily

emilySecond-year | Political science

“House hunting in Toronto as a student was very challenging. I didn’t end up getting an apartment until mid-August, which was very last minute and I am lucky I secured a place before September. In my search, I saw bachelor apartments the size of my dorm room for $700, and an above-store apartment with a hotplate in the kitchen for a hefty $900.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off-campus housing next year? “You should really start looking before the summer starts; securing a place early will relieve a lot of stress. When looking for a place, make sure it has appropriate safety features, laundry in the building, and utilities included. Lastly, if the advertisement sounds too good to be true, it probably is; be cautious, and never look at a place alone!”

 

Justin

justinThird-year | Chemistry

“I moved into an apartment above a Pizza Nova. The apartment always smelled great, which was awesome, but I could hear mice running around at night. Even though I was really careful about not leaving food out and taking out the garbage, the mice never went away and got into the cabinets. Even worse than the mice, I also gained 15 pounds thanks to the friendly owner of the Pizza Nova who would give me deals.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off-campus housing next year? “I don’t think that it’s the best idea to live above a fast-food place. It’s loud, attracts animals, and is too [tempting].”

 

Michael

michaelFourth-year | Engineering

“I rented a house with my girlfriend, who I had been dating for eight months, and a couple of friends from my program. When me and my girlfriend broke up six months into our year-long lease, we were forced to live together for the rest of the year. Our landlord refused to let us break the lease, and our other roommates refused to move. It was a bad situation for everyone, and I really regret the move.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off-campus housing next year? “I would recommend everyone who is renting a place to ask their landlords to clearly outline what the terms of the lease are and what the protocol is for breaking the lease.”

 

Kaitlyn

kaitlynFourth-year | Psychology

“I attempted to move into an apartment building where I had already paid first and last month’s rent, totalling $1,700. When I tried to move my things in, there were cockroaches and bugs everywhere. I contacted my landlords and told them I was moving out because I didn’t want anything to get infested with bugs. The landlords didn’t want to give us our money back and denied any bugs being in the apartment, even though my roommate and I had pictures. The landlords delayed the process of getting our money back for three weeks, and in the end only gave us one month’s rent back.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off-campus housing next year? “If you are moving into a building, make sure it’s clean and look up bed bug reviews. If you are moving into an apartment, make sure you have a nice landlord and cover all your bases. Don’t settle for an uncomfortable living environment!”

 

Luke

lukeSecond-year | Sociology

“I moved into a new apartment with a good friend this year, and we just assumed that everything would be fine with the place since it was so new. There was a pipe that burst behind our unit that we didn’t notice until our landlord sent us the hydro bill for the month, which was $400 over what it usually is.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off-campus housing next year? “Check the areas around your house regularly to make sure you’re not missing anything important.”

 

Shannon

shannonThird-year | English

“I moved in with my roommate from first year, and living in an apartment was very different than living in residence. She was a slob and we ended up fighting all the time. She eventually dropped out and moved out of the province with her boyfriend, and now I’m back living at home with my parents. Needless to say, we don’t really talk anymore.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for U of T students looking for off-campus housing next year? “Be careful when choosing someone to live with.”

Stay up to date. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, sent straight to your inbox:

* indicates required

Tags: