Off-Campus Housing

UVic Global Community Newsletter: August 16, 2021

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.

Preparing to Rent 

Finding your new home in Victoria can be very exciting, but it may also be a bit stressful as the competition can be high and there are many components to keep in mind when beginning your search. It is important to educate yourself about renting in British Columbia (BC), because when you sign a contract it is a legal agreement between you and your landlord.

While we know students are eager to secure their off-campus housing prior to arriving in Canada, we typically recommend that you arrange your housing in person upon arrival in Canada for your protection. 

You can book temporary accommodation for your initial arrival in Victoria, and then begin your search for off-campus housing once you have arrived. Please don’t forget to visit our Self-Isolation Program website or contact the UVic Self-isolation team (uvicsip@uvic.ca) for important information about COVID-19 and the current self-isolation (quarantine) requirements upon arrival in Canada.

There are many things to consider when beginning your search for housing in Victoria. Deciding on which neighbourhood, type of accommodation, whether you will live alone or with roommates, and whether the house will be furnished or not are good places to start in narrowing down your search.

Short-term Accommodation 

You may need to rent a short term accommodation while you look for a more permanent place to live. Below is a list of options for you.

Hotels in Victoria 
Minimum $85/night - $149/night PLUS FOOD

Airbnb
Minimum $45/night – $239/night PLUS FOOD

VRBO
Minimum $63/night - $239/night PLUS FOOD

Hostel
Minimum $29/night PLUS FOOD

Long-term Accommodation 

Once you are ready to search for a long term accommodation, you can use the resources below to help your search

Some other resources that can be helpful are:
  • Asking friends or people you know who may be moving on from their current home
  • Off Campus housing Facebook groups – UVic Off-Campus Housing, UVic Off Campus Group, Victoria, BC Rental and Housing Resource
  • Hire a realtor to help you find a place to rent or lease
    • This option could cost you $500-$700 CAD for one time service fees. If you are interested in this option we suggest finding a realtor through the Victoria Real Estate Board. 
  • You must read and understand the tenancy agreement carefully, understand the terms and be fully responsible for the terms of the agreement before you sign. The Government of British Columbia has a fact sheet that outlines your rights and responsibilitiesas a tenant.
  • Please be aware that there can be fake rental ads posted on websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and UsedVictoria. If you are asked to send the landlord, property manager, or potential roommates any 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. To learn more about how rental scams work and how to protect yourself click here.  

Important: Please be aware that off-campus accommodation options are not verified by UVic for legitimacy or quality. Therefore it is important that you or someone you trust views the accommodation in person.

Rental Costs in Victoria 

Average rental costs in Victoria can vary, but you can expect something in the range provided below.

  • Studio apartment: $1323
  • One-bedroom apartment: $1660
  • Two-bedroom apartment: $2075
  • Room in a shared house: $800

Things to consider when viewing a potential Rental Unit 

When you are viewing a place to rent, look for these very important elements:

  • Think about location (bus stop/grocery store)
  • Strong locks on all doors and windows
  • Check to see if the following are working
  • Toilet (give it a flush and check for leaks)
  • Shower (turn it on and off and look for leaks)
  • Faucets/taps (turn off and on and make sure water doesn’t drip after you turn it off
  • Clean carpet (carpet must be cleaned before you move in)
  • Pet policy (check if pets are allowed )
  • Neighbourhood (does it seem safe)
  • Level of noise (open the windows and hear noise level from traffic)

Look for water damage (yellow or brown stains on ceiling or walls) and mouse droppings. Do not rent if you see these things. If you look at a basement suite, make sure it is not damp or too dark.

Rights and Responsibilities

You are probably very excited about finding your new home while you study at UVic, but make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities before signing a tenancy agreement. You can also read our In the Know article on Tenancy Rights and Obligations.

We strongly recommend that you visit the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC) website to read the “Tenant Survival Guide. TRAC also offers a free online Renting it Right course in partnership with the Justice Education Society, which is a great introduction to renting housing in BC.

The Residential Tenancy Branch of the Government of British Columbia is another good resource for more information.

If you have a conflict or dispute with your landlord, you can also consult with the UVic Ombudsperson.

Three things that need to happen before you move in

Inspection Report
  • Before signing anything you and your landlord should complete a move-in inspection report. This is a chance to fill out a checklist and document the condition of your home before your move in and when you move out.
Sign a Tenancy agreement
  • Although verbal tenancy agreements are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), it is always best to have a written agreement with your landlord. Signing a hardcopy contract is one of the best ways you can protect yourself as a tenant, since it proves the terms you agreed to at the start of your tenancy.
Security Deposit or Damage Deposit
  • Security Deposit or damage deposit secures the tenancy for you and for your new landlord. Once you have paid this deposit your landlord cannot rent the unit to someone else and you have committed to moving into the unit. The maximum a landlord can charge is half a month’s rent. For more information, visit the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre website.

Rental Scams

It is often very hard to determine if a listing is legitimate without actually meeting the landlord or viewing the property. University endorsed platforms like Places4Students are always safer, yet not guaranteed. Craigslist, Kijiji Victoria, Facebook marketplace and Facebook groups often have legitimate listings, however you need to be more careful of scams and people trying to take your money. Never send money to someone you have not met and never pay a deposit before you have signed an agreement and viewed the accommodation. If you think something is wrong, trust yourself and ask yourself these important questions:

  • Is the rent really low compared to similar listings in the area?
  • Does the language in the listing seem different than other listings you have seen? For example, does the listing include many spelling errors or does it seem unrealistic?
  • Is the landlord saying that they are unable to show you the unit and not willing to arrange an in-person viewing? Or does the landlord seem excessively eager to rent to someone?
  • Are they asking you to mail or send your deposit electronically prior to viewing the listing and agreeing on the arrangement?
  • Does the landlord seem pushy and do they want you to pay immediately electronically prior to viewing the listing and agreeing on the arrangement?

The key is trust your instincts. Ask questions and do not send money to anyone you have not met.

Trouble finding Housing

It can be a challenge finding a place to call your home while you study at UVic. Be prepared and have a plan in place if this happens. International Student Services is here to support you through this process but the plan starts with you.

Make a list of your options:
  • Can you stay with relatives or close friends?
  • Are you able to afford short-term accommodation (AirbnbVRBO or a hostel) while you are looking for a place to live long-term?
  • Have you thought about compromising on your wants? Maybe you cannot have your perfect place right away, but maybe you could rent a place on a short-term basis (e.g. month to month) while you look.
  • Have you looked at all the resources provided in this article?
  • Visit the campus and look on the bulletin boards in the Student Union Building (SUB).
  • Do not hesitate to contact International Student Services if you require more assistance and need support!

We wish you all the best during your search for off-campus housing, and hope your settlement in Victoria goes as smoothly as possible! Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns at issinfo@uvic.ca.

Upcoming events:

August 18: International Student Information Sessions

Want to know what else is going on? Join the to receive regular updates about opportunities and events, both on and off campus.