Top five tips to know before you sign a lease:
Have your unsigned lease reviewed by Off-Campus Housing staff. This is the best way to ensure you understand what you are signing. Make an appointment by calling (519) 661-3787 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stop by our office in Rm. 3C1, Ontario Hall from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Are you covered by Ontario rental law?
If you are not sharing a bathroom and/or kitchen with the owner or a member of their immediate family, then you are covered by Ontario rental law (which is called the Residential Tenancies Act or RTA). You and your landlord must follow the rules stated in the RTA. If you are sharing a bathroom and/or kitchen with the owner or a member of their immediate family, then you are you not covered by the RTA. You must follow the rules stated by your landlord.
Joint or separate lease
If all tenants are named on the lease, then it is joint. This means you and your roommates (and your guarantors) are legally liable for each other's actions. Never sign a joint lease with strangers!
If you are the only tenant named on the lease, then it is separate. This means you are only liable for your actions.
Utilities included or utilities extra
Some students prefer utilities to be included in their lease so they only have to pay one amount each month. The downside to this is you don't have control over reducing your costs; you are locked in to a set amount each month regardless of how little utilities you use.
If your utilities are extra, you must set up accounts with utility companies in London. This means extra bills to pay in addition to your rent each month. A benefit of paying utilities yourself is that you can control your utility usage in the attempt to lower your monthly costs.
Get all promises in writing
You may negotiate with the landlord before signing the lease for things like painting walls a certain colour, improving existing features, or installing newer appliances. Whatever you and your landlord agree on, make sure this is written into your lease with a deadline for completion. If the promise isn't in writing, you don't have a way to prove it.