Off-campus housing is readily available in London. If you plan to live off-campus, it is best to arrive at least two weeks before classes begin to find a place to live. It is strongly recommended that you see the property and meet your roommates and landlord before signing a lease to ensure your needs and preferences are met.
Tip: Don't forget to reserve and budget for temporary accommodation to stay in while you search for housing.
Finding a Place to Live in London: First Steps
Note: Many websites advertise apartment and room rentals in London. Please be careful when using other websites.
- Furnished: The apartment or house includes furniture that you can use during your stay as a tenant. Both furnished and unfurnished rental units are common in London.
- Room/Apartment/House to Share: Single or shared accommodation in a private home where individuals in an apartment or house are looking for roommates. May include furniture, kitchen and/or laundry facilities. The bathroom is usually shared.
- Room and Board: This is a room in a house or apartment. Rent payments include accommodation and meals.
- Apartment: A self-contained unit of one or more rooms, with kitchen and bathroom facilities. It may be a unit in a large building complex, or one floor of a private house with or without a private entrance.
- Bachelor and Studio Apartment: A small self-contained unit where the bedroom, living room and kitchen (or kitchenette) is combined in one room. There are no walls separating space.
- House or Townhouse: A self-contained unit on its own plot of land or joined to similar units.
- Sublet: This is an arrangement where students “rent’ their apartment, as a sub-tenant, to someone else for the period when they will not be occupying it. For example, students who leave London for the summer often ‘sublet’ or rent their apartment or room to other students for a reduced rate while they are away in order to save money. They are still subject to the rental agreement with the landlord. It is recommended that you sign a written sublet agreement.
Things to Consider When Looking for Off-Campus Housing
Location and Distance
- Is it within walking or biking distance to the University, or on a direct bus route?
- How often do the buses come and what is the travel time to the University?
- How close is the nearest grocery store?
Tip: Use London Transit's Interactive CityMap to search the nearest bus routes to any address, as well as other points of interest (schools, parks, libraries, etc.). This is a great resource when researching housing in London!
Rent and Utilities
Facilities and Furniture
- How do the prices compare? Rent varies depending on location, number of roommates, facilities available, etc.
- Does rent include utilities like electricity (known as hydro in Ontario), gas and water? If not, how much do utilities cost per month and how will bills be shared between the tenants/roommates?
- Does rent include other services such as phone, internet and/or cable?
- How much do utilities cost during the coldest months in the winter?
- Does the accommodation offer facilities like laundry (washer and dryer), a kitchen (with a refrigerator and stove), heating, lighting, bathroom facilities or storage? In Canada most rental units come with a refrigerator and stove.
- If laundry facilities are not available in the rental unit, where is the nearest laundromat and how much will it cost?
- Is parking available? If so, is there an additional cost or is it included in the rent?
- How much of the room or house is furnished?
Western's Off-Campus Housing Service has an online Garage Sale
where students can buy used furniture and other items from each other. Other Questions to Ask
- What are the terms of the tenancy agreement/lease?
- How and when is rent paid?
- Is subletting permitted?
- How safe is the neighbourhood and the rental unit? Are there good locks on the doors and windows?
- Are there restrictions on noise or social activities (parties, smoking, drinking, overnight guests)?
- Who is responsible for the outdoor maintenance of the building, if it is required (shoveling snow, cutting grass, etc.)?
Signing Your Tenancy Agreement (Lease)
A tenancy agreement, also known as a lease or rental agreement, is a written, verbal or implied agreement between a landlord (owner) and a tenant (renter). Verbal agreements are valid. However, it is easier to prove the contents of a written agreement when there is case of a dispute. Most landlords require that tenants sign a lease.
Did you know? Western's Housing Mediation Services can review your rental agreement/lease for free before you sign it. They can also answer any other off-campus housing related questions or concerns you may have throughout the year. Click here to view their Top 5 Tips before you sign a lease.
- When you are ready to sign your lease, the landlord may ask you to pay the first and last month’s rent up front (immediately). This is common and generally required.
- You are NOT required to pay for the entire year of rent at the time that you sign the lease. After you sign the lease and pay first and last month's rent, you will pay rent once a month on the first of the month. You can give your landlord post-dated cheques for this purpose.
- Some apartments require a guarantor who is a Permanent Resident of Canada to co-sign the lease. If you cannot secure a guarantor, you will have to look for another landlord/apartment that does not require one.
- Do NOT sign any agreement before you read, fully understand and agree with all of its conditions. It is difficult to cancel a lease after you sign it and there is usually a large fee.
- If the lease is in writing, the landlord must deliver a copy to you within 21 days.
- Know the required procedures for ending a tenancy (e.g., notice of termination, early termination by a landlord, etc.).
Know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
Know your rights and responsibilities when renting in London. Read the Renting in London booklet by Western’s Off-Campus Housing Service to learn about your rights and responsibilities and to learn about the Residential Tenancies Act.
Important: The Residential Tenancies Act does NOT apply if you share a bathroom with the landlord (owner) or a member of his/her immediate family.
Rights and Responsibilities of the Landlord
- The landlord can demand a security deposit equal to one rental period only (e.g., last month's rent).
- The landlord cannot pro-rate your rent.
- The landlord cannot demand post-dated cheques (e.g., cheques for the entire length of your lease).
- The landlord cannot enter the rental unit without 24-hour notice unless there is an emergency (e.g. fire/damage)
- The landlord cannot seize your property because you have not paid the rent.
- The landlord must maintain the rental unit in good condition that is fit for living
- The landlord is not responsible for ordinary cleanliness of the rental unit.
- The landlord can terminate a tenancy before the end of the agreed term for any of these reasons: failure to pay rent, undue damage to premises, disturbing others, overcrowding, impairing safety of other tenants, illegal acts, etc.
If you require legal assistance due to problems with your landlord or need someone to explain your lease, contact any of the following services:
Off-Campus Housing Assistance for International and Exchange Students
Are you looking for off-campus housing?
Contact the Off-Campus Housing Services for personalized assistance with your housing search in London, Ontario, even if you aren’t in Canada yet. This service is only available to international and/or exchange students studying at Western University.
How can they help you?
- Customized housing searches based on your needs.
- Personal property viewings on your behalf.
- Assist with your questions about off-campus housing, London services and amenities.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 519-661-2111, ext. 85925. This service is offered from early May until the end of August each year. More information is available online: http://offcampus.uwo.ca/international.cfm
**Please note this service is intended to connect you with housing. They are not involved in the finalization of securing a rental or make any guarantees regarding your living experience.**
General Resources for Students Living Off-Campus