Dealing with the Housing Panic!
Today we have a guest blog written by Kathryn Hofer, Manager of Off Campus Living (OCL). Off Campus Living is a unit within Student Life that works closely with students, residents, City staff, landlords, and City Councillors to help ease the way for students who live in Guelph. OCL assists students and landlords with tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities, they help students with finding rental housing and they work to ensure positive relationships with neighbourhoods in Guelph.
Many first year students are beginning to think about where they're going to live next year. Kathryn's blog today offers some thoughts and tips for finding housing in Guelph! Enjoy!
With the first few weeks of classes passing us by, the house hunt for first year students, or should I say “house panic” is on! Many students are feeling the pressure to find a place to live for next year!
So, let’s start with the most important fact about housing hunting in Guelph: we live in a city that has a rental housing surplus, which means that there are more rental houses geared-to-students than there are students looking for places. This may lead you to ask, “but, why is my son or daughter telling me that they can’t find anything, that landlords are taking places off the market before my son or daughter even has a chance to look at them?”
Here is the magical answer: the housing market in Guelph peaks after reading week because upper year students are only required to give their landlords 60 days notice that they are moving out. So, most houses come on the market at the end of February! Phew, hopefully this info will assist you with calming your son or daughter’s worries when they tell you that they can’t find anything!
When we give our Off-Campus Living presentations, what we really talk about with students once we peel back the layers of information is thinking critically, trusting your gut, and keeping yourself safe financially. Here is a list of tips:
1. A lease is a legal and binding contract. Once you’ve signed, you are responsible for the lease term (most leases for students in Guelph are 12 months). And, remember to keep a copy of the lease that you sign, along with your landlord’s address, phone number, and email.
2. Pick your housemates wisely based on your habits. Best friends aren’t always best roomies.
3. Go with your gut. If the landlord seems weird, then they will probably get even weirder over 12 months
4. Get a copy of your lease reviewed by an Off-Campus Living Peer before you sign!
5. Don’t pay with cash! Open a chequing account. Get receipts. Your landlord should only ask for “last month’s rent” as a deposit. Damage deposits are against the rules!
6. There are no student ghettos in Guelph. Students live in mixed neighbourhoods, so make a point of saying hello to your neighbours.
We talk about a lot of other things during our presentations too, but these are good conversation starters. Ask your son or daughter if they have a copy of the lease, talk to them about opening a chequing account, and let them know that receipts are helpful when it comes to income tax time. Most importantly of all, let them know that you’ve heard of Off-Campus Living and that you know that they can drop in any time to get support (we’re located on the main floor of the University Centre, firstname.lastname@example.org).