Off-Campus Housing

The Rental Process

  • Determine your monthly budget - the closer you live to campus the more expensive and competitive it may be
  • Decide what you are looking for (room, house, apartment) and who you are living with
  • Prepare for your search - understand the market, know where to look, have documents prepared
  • Begin your search - regularly check multiple websites, Facebook, and other resources
  • Set up viewings of property - either virtual or in person
  • Research the landlord and area
  • Submit an application with requested documents
  • Review and sign the lease agreement upon approval
  • Prepare for move in - set up utilities, get tenant insurance, look into furnishings, etc.
  • Pick up keys on lease start date and move in

What might you need for applications?

  • Online or paper application
  • References - Previous Landlords, Employers, Managers, Supervisors, etc.
  • Proof of enrollment or income (Queen's offer/acceptance letter) or proof of income

Lease Agreements in Ontario

  • Landlords are required to use the Ontario Standard Lease Agreement
  • If you share a living space with the landlord or a direct family member of the landlord, they are not required to use the Standard lease and you do not have protections under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) of Ontario

Understanding Kingston's Rental Market

  • The City of Kingston has a challenging rental market - You must utilize many resources, websites, listing services in order to see all of the properties available to you
  • Rental properties can range in prices depending on: location, amenities included, quality and finishes in the property, and type of property
  • Many landlords operate on a first come, first served basis. Being prepared, organized, and efficient is critical for securing accommodations

Finding Affordable Housing Options

  • Proximity to downtown Kingston and campus dramatically increases the cost of properties. Look for properties that are outside of Kingston's downtown and may be outside the conventional student area
  • While looking for properties further from campus, ensure they are near major bus routes to easily access campus
  • Renting a property by yourself can be expensive. Consider teaming up with another student to keep costs down
  • Don't rely on just one website or resource to find a place to live. You need to use as many websites as possible - seeing more of the market to give yourself more options
  • Queen's Community Housing manages the rental properties owned by the University and rents to both graduate and undergraduate students. Supply is limited, so be prepared to search for alternatives

Renting a Property with Other Students

  • The majority of Queen's students rent a house or apartment with people that they meet in first year. Of those initial groupings, very few last beyond second year.
  • While students say that bathroom cleanliness and piles of dishes are primary irritants, it is ultimately the lack of a plan for conflict resolution that allows those small irritants to become housebreakers. As housemates, you need to communicate with one another to ensure everyone remains happy. 
  • Careful housemate selection can minimize possible areas of conflict and putting your expectations in writing ensures that you have a plan for addressing conflict when it occurs. Take the time to get to know your housemates before agreeing to live with them. Do you have similar expectations for house cleanliness, quiet/working hours, and house goals? The Off-Campus Living Advisor has prepared a Housemate Hunting Worksheet (PDF, 437KB) to help you choose your housemates wisely.
  • Other students, however, move into pre-existing housing groups for many reasons - whether it's a bid to save rent over the summer months, arrival at Queen's as a late acceptance, transfer or exchange student or a quest to expand your circle of friends.
  • Regardless of the housing group, a formalized Housemate Agreement (PDF, 164KB) outlines individual responsibility and formalizes expectations for behaviour on issues such as smoking, noise, guests, cleanliness and paying one's portion of a shared utility or service bill.
  • Understand Joint and Several Liability. Signing one lease agreement with a group of individuals means you are all jointly responsible for the entire property, not just your portion of the rent. If your housemate does not pay the rent, the other lease holders will need to make up for it or you all could be held accountable. 

Renting a Room in an Owner-Occupied Property

  • Some students make the transition to independent living by taking a room in a family home. For others, living in a house with the landlord is a financial decision.
  • In situations where you share a house with the owner or a member of the owner's immediate family (including a fellow student whose parent owns your house), you are not covered by Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act.
  • To protect your rights and fulfill your responsibilities, you need to create a contract specific to your situation.
  • In cases of dispute, this contract serves as a legal record, so make sure that you cover everything - not only how much you pay for what, but also space allocation and lifestyle issues.
  • For a good idea of where to start, check our sample Roomers and Boarders Agreement (PDF, 204KB).