How Can U of T Help You Find Off-Campus Housing? An Interview with Student Life Officer Katrina Persad

Last week, I sat down and chatted with Katrina Persad, Student Life Officer, Housing Education & Outreach. Katrina’s job is to provide students with information while they navigate Toronto’s rental market.  Even though I love living off-campus, it can also be super challenging. From moving between multiple places, to dealing with legal issues, to experiencing the stressful August rush, I definitely know the downsides of the Toronto housing market.  A view of a skyline at sunset. I did not, however, know about Katrina and all the other resources at Student Life. Had I known, these would have definitely made my house hunt a lot easier! First, I asked Katrina what resources were available to students looking for housing. She introduced me to the following:  An off-campus housing finder— U of T has its own directory of off-campus rental units. What’s great about this search engine is that all landlords on the site are willing to rent to students, and all ads are vetted, so chances of scams are a lot lower. A roommate finder— U of T has an online platform where you can filter and search for likeminded people to room with. Web resources— From an apartment viewing checklist, to a list of questions you should ask your landlord, to a roommate agreement, all the web resources provided by Student Life looked super helpful. Presentations— Student Life hosts regular presentations and events about off-campus housing. Live presentations cover budgeting, assessing one’s needs, finding the right roommate, and much more. In fact, U of T Student Life will be hosting a FB live about housing this Thursday, so make sure to check that out! Advice and information— if you’re running into complicated situations with your landlord, or need specialized advice, Student Life can help. The office is there to provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to navigate the rental market.
A hand holding brochures about tenant rights.
Brochures available in the Student Success Centre!
Katrina and I also chatted about the stressful August rush. Most students try to find off-campus housing in July or August, because housing generally becomes available 2 months in advance of its move-in date. That means that during the summer months, the retail market gets hot! I spent last summer stressfully looking for an apartment with my roommate, and it was not easy. Here were Katrina's tips for surviving that period:
  • Before you start searching, consider your needs and what your deal breakers are. Be willing to be flexible about certain things.
  • Treat every interaction professionally— house-hunting is like a job search, so look professional, understand rejection, and be persistent.
  • Keep in mind the variety of options available to you— student housing buildings, apartment buildings, renting units from owners, renting a room within a house, etc.
  • Know the laws and be on-guard against scams! If it seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. 
An empty apartment Like I’ve said, off-campus house-hunting is hard, but it's 100% worth it.  As Katrina put it, off-campus housing allows students to "be citizens in a larger community." With the resources from U of T behind you, your house hunting just got a lot easier! 

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