In the Know: Living Off Campus

UVic Global Community Newsletter: July 2, 2019

In the Know: Advice for International Students is a section of the UVic Global Community Newsletter that includes valuable information and important dates for undergraduate and graduate international students in the following categories: degree-seeking, incoming exchange, and incoming study abroad/visiting.

Most UVic students live off campus

Every year, demand to live on campus greatly exceeds the number of rooms available, so most students live off campus for at least some of their time at UVic.

On-campus housing is convenient, especially for students who are moving to a new city, but off-campus housing offers more independence and opportunities to explore everything Victoria has to offer.

The following information covers important things to know about finding a place to live in the Greater Victoria Region, starting a tenancy and maintaining a healthy relationship with landlords, property managers and roommates. 

Finding a place to live

Explore your options before you arrive to Canada.

Start by exploring your options and identifying your priorities. This will make it easier to narrow down the choices.

One option to consider is the neighbourhood you want to live in. The following neighbourhoods in the Greater Victoria Region are closest to UVic:

Other options to consider:

  • House, apartment or suite?
  • Live alone or share with roommates?
  • Furnished or unfurnished?
  • Desirable features?
Search for available rentals.

The followings are a few resources you can sonsider:

It is very important to be aware that there are fake rental ads posted on websites like UsedVictoria and Craigslist. If you are asked to pay money before you can visit the rental in person, or before you sign a Residential Tenancy Agreement, you should be extremely cautious because it is likely a scam. 

If you think a rental ad might be a scam, visit or contact the International Student Centre. We can help you recognize and report fraud.

Reminder: Please be aware when using these and other free resources that rentals have not been inspected. Landlords, property managers and potential roommates have not been interviewed or screened. 

Research on following information to select your potential rentals: 

  • How long will it take to get from the rental to UVic by bus, by car, by bicycle, or on foot? 
  • How far away is the rental from UVic, shopping centres, food sources, and other amenities? 
Visit rentals in person.

An ad for a rental might be posted by a landlord who owns the property, someone who manages the property on behalf of the landlord or someone who is already a tenant and who is looking for a roommate. You will need to arrange for an on-site visit before you show up at the rental. 

To protect yourself, we recommend visiting rentals in person with a friend or a family member. Use following suggested questions to gather information. It is a good idea to take photos of each property and make relevant notes to help you remember the conversations. 

Some important questions to ask when you visit a rental:

  • How much is the rent per month? How much is the security deposit?
  • Are any utilities included in the rent? E.g., cable, TV, internet, heat, hot water, electricity, etc.
  • Are any features included in the rent? E.g., laundry facility, storage locker, parking, etc.
  • Are there any restrictions? E.g., smoking, pets, overnight guests, long-term visitors, etc.
  • What are the security features? Are there locks on all the doors and windows?
  • What are the safety features? Are there smoke alarms, fire distinguishers?
  • Do all the appliances work?
  • Do any repairs need to be made?
  • How is the heating system controlled?
  • If there is an outdoor area, and if so, who is responsible for maintaining it?
  • Would it be possible to paint the walls or make any other decorative changes?
  • Is the minimum lease term negotiable? 
  • Why are the current tenants leaving?
  • When could you move in?

Starting a tenancy

Do the paperwork.

The tenancy starts when you agree to pay money to occupy a rental.

Please make sure you are familiar with the rules and regulations that govern this process in British Columbia (BC).

Three important things need to happen before you move in:

  • Sign a Residential Tenancy Agreement 
  • Pay the appropriate deposits and fees
  • Complete a condition inspection report.

Applicable tenancy forms are on the Province of British Columbia website

Tip: Do not give the landlord, property manager or potential roommates any money before you sign a Residential Tenancy Agreement.

Change your address.

Update your address in UVic My Page every time you move.

To make sure you continue to receive your mails, even if they are sent to your old address, you may wish to sign up for the change of address service provided by Canada Post. Order the service online or in person at any post office. There is a post office located in the Student Union Building.

Purchase tenant insurance.

Insure your possessions against theft, fire and other damage.

What if there is a flood in your basement suite and the water destroys your computer? What if you forget something on the stove and it starts a fire that damages the kitchen? Do not assume the landlord's insurance will cover the cost of replacing your possessions or repairing any damage caused by you.

There are many tenant insurance providers. Research your options before making a decision!

During the tenancy

Tenancies are most successful when everyone involved fully understands their legal rights and responsibilities. It promotes a healthy relationship and helps prevent disputes.

Learn about municipal bylaws and community standards in the Greater Victoria Region.

Consult the rules and regulations to resolve tenancy issues when they arise. Tenancy issues include the following:

  • Renewing a fixed term Residential Tenancy Agreement
  • Requesting repairs and services
  • Making a noise complaint
  • Changing locks

You should also consult the rules and regulations when you are ready to end your tenancy.

If you have questions about your legal rights and responsibilities as a tenant in British Columbia (BC), the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) and the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre (TRAC) are excellent resources.

You may also learn from a UVic student blogger discussing types of landlords and tips for finding accommodation in Victoria on the MyUVic Student Life from a student's perspective. 

More advising topics are available on our website. If you can't find the answers you are looking for, or if you require more information, visit or contact the International Student Centre.

Important Dates

July 1: Canada Day. This is a statutory holiday. Since it falls on a weekend, classes are cancelled and UVic services are closed on July 2.

July 4: Post-Graduation Work Permit Information Session.

July 15: Deadline for undergraduate and graduate students to apply to graduate for fall convocation.