Tenant Rights & FAQs



Not sure what your legal rights are as a tenant?

Find answers below or learn more about leases, sublets, roommates!

SHOULD I SIGN A LEASE BEFORE SEEING THE UNIT IN PERSON? No! You should never sign a lease, enter into a contract, provide personal information, or make any payments if you have not seen a unit in person. Always use caution and your discretion when finding off-campus housing online.

Units advertised online are not always quality guaranteed, and are not inspected. We recommend accessing the Off-Campus Housing listings to find a housing option that is licensed under the Waterloo Rental Housing License and to reduce your risk of being caught in a rental scam. Visit our Rental Scam Alert Page for more information on rental scams.

HOW MUCH RENT DEPOSIT CAN A LANDLORD LEGALLY ASK FOR? A landlord may require a tenant to pay first and last month’s rent prior to moving in. The last month’s rent will serve as a deposit on the unit. In Ontario, a landlord may not ask for a damage deposit. First month’s rent is not required until move-in. The student can provide a post-dated cheque for the landlord but they are only required to pay last month’s rent before move-in.

MY ROOMMATE AND I ARE ON THE SAME LEASE. IF THEY LEAVE, DO I HAVE TO COVER HIS/HER HALF OF THE RENT? Yes! If your roommate leaves, you are responsible and liable for their debts to the landlord. You can seek restitution through mediation or legal options, such as small claims court.

MY ROOMMATE HAS VISITORS OVER ALL THE TIME AND I CAN’T GET ANY STUDYING DONE. WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS? In this case, your roommate has the right to have visitors over if they so wish. Your best option would be to negotiate with your roommate to come up with an agreement about when visitors can be in the unit.

I CONTACTED MY LANDLORD ABOUT A MAINTENANCE CONCERN A FEW WEEKS AGO, AND IT STILL HAS NOT BEEN FIXED, WHAT CAN I DO? According to the Residential Tenancies Act, “a landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.” In this case, the best option is to send a written letter to your landlord with a reasonable date of when the shower should be fixed by. If it is not fixed by the date agreed upon, then you could consider contacting the Landlord and Tenant Board.

HOW LONG AFTER SIGNING A LEASE CAN I CHANGE MY MIND AND BACK OUT? Once you have signed a lease, you are locked into that lease. You are responsible for carrying out your lease until the end of the term stated on your lease. If you are unhappy with your living situation, look at ways to improve or change them-looking for another place to live is not the answer once you have signed a lease.

CAN YOU BREAK A LEASE WHENEVER YOU NEED TO? No. Once you sign a lease, you are responsible for it until the end of the term signed for. If you need to get out of your lease, you have the option to either sublet your unit or assign your lease to another lessee.


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