Housing tips for students

Graphic by Florence Yee

CSU Housing and Jobs Office luncheon for students

Looking for a place to live in Montreal can be overwhelming, especially for international students who are unfamiliar with the city. Concordia’s Student Union off-campus housing and job bank (HOJO) held a free lunch for students on Jan. 16, offering tips on how to find a place to live in the city.

HOJO is an off-campus resource centre in the mezzanine of the Hall building at Sir George Williams Campus and CC-426 on Loyola Campus which advocates for students’ workers’ rights and tenant rights. HOJO helps students find affordable, safe and clean housing in Montreal. They also provide free-legal information to students regarding leases, roommate problems, jobs and any other issues they may face.

The “Lunch and Learn” featured a presentation on apartment renting laws in Montreal and different tips to help students find a home in the city.

“Landlords pray on international students who are afraid to point out problems they might have with their lease and apartment,” said Safrine Mouajou, a HOJO representative. “So many students come to our services afraid of their landlords and scared to defend their rights.”

When searching for a place to live, students should look at whether their future home has gas or electric heating, what sorts of appliances are included and whether the place is furnished, said HOJO representative Hannah Brais to the crowd of students during the presentation.

“Students should take into account factors such as proximity to their schools and if they are looking for a roommate when searching for a place to stay,” Brais added. “Make a list of [traits] you search for in a roommate.” In addition, students should find out whether electricity, heating, phone, Internet and parking are included in their rent.

Brais said HOJO does not recommend homestay, where a Concordia student lives with a Montreal family and shares their home. She recounted previous instances of abuse in homestay situations, where locks had been put on the fridge, preventing students from eating and keeping food at the home they were renting.

Mouajou also suggested that students “go out and explore the city” when searching for a place to live. “Do not simply rely on the pictures listed online,” she said. “See the place for yourself.”

“When signing your lease, make sure that the unit you saw is the same unit you are renting,” said Brais. “Leases automatically renew each year and tenants should give three to six months’ notice in writing to their landlords if they wish to end or transfer their lease.”

HOJO representatives also discussed students’ rights, such as how the landlord must give tenants 24-hours’ notice before entering their apartment space. Students always have the right to refuse rent increases, said Mouajou. If they have a problem with the amount, they can discuss it with their landlord or file a motion with the rental board commissioner.

For more information on student housing and job options, HOJO encourages students to make an appointment or visit their website www.csu.qc.ca/hojo.

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