70 Ava Road, Brantford, Ontario, Canada N3T 5H2
What To Look For In Housing
So your first semester is well underway, you've made new friends and the discussion begins on the subject of getting an off-campus rental house for next year. It's all part of the university experience.
But, it is not without potential pitfalls and hazards. Based on our experiences at The Student Edge, here are some thoughts and tips to guide you.
1. TALK IS CHEAP
Make sure your friends are serious about going together for a house. That means they have the backing of their parents to start the search and will follow through for the right property. Having someone back out late in the process makes everyone look foolish, is a waste of time not to mention frustrating for the rest of the group and the property owner. It also leaves the rest of the group scrambling to find a replacement housemate.
2. SET A BUDGET
You need to identify what your group wants in a house. Most arrangements in Brantford are 12 month leases that include all utilities and high speed internet. Some include laundry machines at no additional cost while others have coin-operated models. Some offer television in a common room and maybe even a TV - others do not. Air conditioning may not be an issue in December but if you're staying the summer, it will be.
All the niceties add to the rental cost the property owner is seeking. Make a check list of the needs of the group and be sure to compare apples with apples. Talk to second and third year students about their experiences to get a feel for the going rental charges (The upper end is at $540 while $400 is near the bottom).
3. CHOOSE YOUR HOUSEMATES WISELY
Having people who are great friends is one thing. Living with them in a shared house can be quite another. If you are very fussy about neatness and others are not, there will be conflict. Hate a messy bathroom? Make sure they do too. They like to cook but not clean up? That becomes your problem. Party animals always are problems waiting to happen. There should be a clear understanding among the members of the group that respect for each other must be there.
Generally speaking, the closer you are to the campus, the higher the rent. A 10 minute walk is not a big deal and can save you a bundle. Check to be sure there is easy bus service too if walking is a problem. But again be sure to compare the services you are getting for giving up the closer location.
5. WHEN TO ACT
The best houses are snapped up quickly. The students who are well organized and put effort into the search are always well rewarded. The vast majority commence their search after returning fro their second semester in January. The clever ones have everything nailed down before Christmas holidays. It is never to early to start.
6. HOW TO START LOOKING
Obviously, we think that everyone will just go to www.thestudentedge.com and that will be sufficient. But most property owners advertise at www.places4students.com and Kijijji. There is also word of mouth. Every year people are graduating which may mean entire houses open up. Do not be afraid to ask around.
7. WHAT SORT OF HOUSES
The majority of the student properties offered for student housing in Brantford are century homes that have four, five or more bedrooms. There are a handful of much larger premises as well. Most of these have received some level of renovation but be aware there are renovations and then there are renovations. Look beyond the obvious and do not be afraid to ask exactly what has been done. If you can ask the students who are departing what their experience has been. Quite likely your parents will know what to be looking for but you should be able to get a good first impression. If you are uneasy, you probably should look elsewhere.
A lease is a legal contract between you, your co-signor and the property owner. Once you sign on the dotted line you are committed. Most landlords request post-dated cheques for convenience or have arrangements for direct deposit from your account to theirs the first of every month. Standard practice is to provide first and last month's rent deposit upon signing.
Regardless of your program, year two and onward will be more difficult than your freshman year. With added studies, the last thing you need are problems with your housing. Choose wisely and with any sort of luck you'll finish out your degree with memories and friends that will last a lifetime.