More international students are flocking to Canada every year to study. As an international student in Canada, deciding where to live is just one important choice to make before coming here. Our Ottawa and Orleans immigration physicians share some information about housing rights for foreign students in Canada.
While foreign students have many options available to them in terms of options for accommodations, many international students prefer to live off-campus, often in short-term housing, apartment or other rental property such as a single-family detached home, a duplex or triplex.
Whether you'll be living alone, with roomates or with family, as an international student and tenant you'll have rights and responsibilities. A rental property may be a great option for you, as they tend to be more affordable than a mortgage and are often rented on a monthly or annual basis, depending on the rental agreement. Also referred to as a lease, a rental agreement is a legal contract between the renter (tenant) and the owner of the property (landlord).
For foreign students working and studying in Canada, it can be confusing to know your rights and responsibilities - and which reliable sources you can consult for accurate information.
In this post, we'll answer the question of how many foreign (international) students are currently residing in Canada and cover your housing rights and responsibilities.
How many foreign students are in Canada?
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has reported that as of December 31, 2022, there were more than 800,000 foreign students with active study permits (study visas) for Canada. This represents a 31% year-over-year growth rate, with that number at just over 617,000 in 2021.
Foreign Students & Housing Rights in Canada
No matter who you rent from or the type of living accommodation provided, international students have rights that should be complied with under Canadian human rights law.
A landlord may request a credit check or personal or work references to verify your good financial standing and reliability. However, prospective landlords are not allowed to ask any personal questions regarding your religion or ethnic background, how long you've been in Canada, whether you'll have any relatives visiting or about any plans to have children. You may decide to provide a bank statement as proof of savings to your landlord or include the name of a co-signer (guarantor) who can pay your rent on your behalf if you are unable to.
Also remember that a landlord cannot request more than the first and last month of rent when you sign your lease. In Quebec, only first month's rent is required.
Landlords cannot refuse to rent to you just because you are new to Canada and therefore lack references and/or credit.
If you have questions about the rental process, you might also consider consulting on-campus advisors and/or newcomer settlement services.
Your Rights & Responsibilities as a Tenant
Your rental agreement will include important information about:
- Your rights and responsibilities
- Your landlord's responsibilities
- Your monthly rent amount
- When each month's rent is due
- Conditions of ending or cancelling your lease
- Any other restrictions
Along with collecting your rent, your landlord is responsible for keeping your house or apartment safe and in good condition. The landlord is also required to provide everything in the rental property (e.g. heating, stove and refrigerator) and in your rent (e.g. utilities) as specified in your lease.
When it comes to your responsibilities as detailed in your lease agreement, be sure to:
- Pay your rent in full and on time
- Maintain your property
- Contact the landlord with any significant maintenance issues
- Comply with any additional rules or restrictions (e.g. smoking or pets)
It's important to note that responsibilities of tenants and landlords may vary from province to province. If you notice that your landlord is not complying with responsibilities or duties outlined in the lease agreement, your provincial landlord and tenant board is a great resource.