Finding the right student rental home


At this moment, the real estate market around the Greater Toronto Area and other parts of Canada is out of hand. The prices have skyrocketed to the point that being able to afford a house is nearly impossible.

Luckily for Brock University students, we live in the Niagara Region and more importantly, we don’t need to buy a home anytime soon. However, it’s that time of the year when students (mostly first-years) must start to search for a group of friends that they’d like to live with next year. Then, as a collective group, it’s time to search for your first student home.

For upper-year students, you may be going on a full year or two of living with the same people and growing tired of certain individuals or just the whole house. Either way, you’re now again in the search for a new place to rent for the 2017-2018 school year.

No matter what year you’re in, no matter if it’s just you, or you and a friend, or you and four other people, finding a student home can be stressful. Finding the right home, in the right location and at the right price is all important. But then, one thing most students forget to take into consideration is making sure they find the right landlord.

Landlords are tricky. This isn’t someone you’ve met before, so getting to know them and just knowing if you can trust them is nearly impossible. It won’t be until after you sign a lease you begin to see flaws with your landlord that frustrate you and may put you in a situation of wanting to get out of your rented student home.

With property tax and the new carbon tax, many landlords around St. Catharines and the Niagara Region are boosting their monthly rent to offset the taxes. The average monthly rent around the Brock area has been about $450-$500, that’s for a student home and if you’re looking in the right area.

For some student-homes you may be required to pay a monthly rent, but have to pay internet, utilities, cable and other necessities on your own.

Currently if you’re a Brock student, the most common area to look for a home, if you aren’t about an apartment style loft, is around the Pen Centre or downtown St. Catharines. Living near the Pen Centre gives easy access to a couple grocery stores, the mall, a movie theatre for entertainment and a one bus ride to school or downtown. Downtown homes allow for a one bus ride to school and easy access to the downtown scene. Students with access to a car may look further from the school.

When you do meet up with a landlord to checkout a house and then eventually sign the lease, don’t be afraid to ask numerous questions about the house. Sometimes you may even run into the people currently living there when checking the house out – ask them what their experience has been like. They may lie since the landlord is standing right there, but it’s always worth asking the question.

Just don’t be afraid to really dig in to find information about the house and possibly the type of person the landlord is. You or your parents will be paying $5,400-$6,000 a year for the place. You don’t want to find out months in that your landlord will take forever to respond to texts or to show up to the house to fix a broken toilet and any other issue that is very likely to arise while you’re renting.

One personal question you should ask your landlord, however, is where they live – the city they live in, not their address. Not all landlords are from the Niagara region, so you might feel more comfortable with a local landlord than someone that is 40 minutes or further away. At least if you know he or she is local, they can arrive faster to fix a problem. Also, some landlords share duties with their significant others so you might have access to two landlords which is always better.

So, before you and your friends begin to start searching for a rental, make sure to sit down and discuss some questions you can ask. Also, ask yourselves what you are looking for in a house: two bathrooms, two refrigerators, furniture and other needs. The more you know of what you’re looking for in a home and the more questions you have for your landlord, the more prepared you will be for the viewing of a house.

Chances are you and your future housemates will share a few arguments through your living time together. There’s chances you may grow tired of each other and friendships could be in jeopardy, but before any of that, you all as a collective need to work together to find the right home and landlord.

Your first student-home is a milestone in life – there’s more freedom and it’s your first home away from home (residence doesn’t count). No matter what happens between now and your last year of university, just make sure it’s the right first home.


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