Some international students prefer to have long-term housing arranged before arriving in Toronto. Although this can provide peace of mind, we do not advise you to enter into a rental agreement without inspecting the unit and meeting the landlord. Never give or transfer money to a landlord with out meeting them. There are scams which operate in this way and therefore you should be wary of any prospective landlord who requests payment before meeting.
If you decide to arrange housing from a distance, you should:
- request photos and floor plans so you have an idea of what to expect when you arrive at your new home.
- consider if the unit will be big enough for you.
- consider if the unit includes the facilities and services you want.
- make sure you know who the landlord is, how they can be reached, and to whom you will be giving your deposit.
- ask for recommendations from friends and family who know your housing needs and have experienced living in Toronto.
- ask a family member or friend to view the house/apartment for you if they live locally.
- make sure you get what you promised after you arrive.
Despite not being Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada, all international students are encouraged to file a tax return with Canada Revenue Agency. Many students living off-campus don’t realize that rent payments for off-campus housing are considered to be tax deductible expenses. However, to include rent payments as an expense in your tax claim, you must have proper receipts from your landlord. A rent receipt must include at least the following information:
- the address of the rental unit;
- the name of the tenant(s) to whom the receipt applies;
- the amount and date for each payment received for any rent, rent deposit, arrears of rent, or any other amount paid to the landlord and shall set out what the payment was for;
- the name of the landlord; and
- the signature of the landlord or the landlord's agent.
Never make any rental payments with cash. Instead, make payment by cheque, money order, or online transfers such as Interac email money transfers which provide you with proof of payment other than a receipt issued by your landlord. It's important to have as much evidence of payment as possible in case disputes ever develop. Personal cheque is always the best option as it provides you with a few days grace to contact your bank and stop payment if necessary. Your potential landlord may ask for a guarantor. A guarantor is a person who can guarantee that your rent will be paid every month. A guarantor must have an account or credit history with a Canadian bank. If you do not have a guarantor, you will need to open a bank account at a Canadian bank to prove that you have enough money to pay your rent.
If you need to open an account with a Canadian bank, you may need:
- A passport
- A study permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada
- University of Toronto student card
- Once the account has been opened, you can ask for a letter from the bank detailing the date your account was opened, the funds available, and your good standing with the bank. It may also be helpful to get a letter from the University of Toronto stating the duration of your study, including any funding you may have.
Your landlord or potential landlord is not allowed to ask for your legal status in the country, including your Social Insurance Number (SIN).