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Canada has long been a sought-after destination for international students seeking world-class education and cultural diversity. As the number of international students from around the globe choosing Canada as their educational destination continues to grow, they must understand their rights, particularly when it comes to housing. Navigating a new country’s legal landscape can be challenging, but awareness of your rights as an international student in Canada is the first step toward a successful and fulfilling experience.

Let’s get into the housing rights that international students in Canada should be aware of.

International Students in Canada: Know Your Housing Rights

  1. Discrimination is Unacceptable

One of the fundamental principles underlying Canada’s approach to human rights is the rejection of all discrimination. This includes discrimination based on race, ethnicity, nationality, or any other protected grounds. As an international student, you have the right to seek housing without facing bias, and landlords and property managers are legally obligated to treat all tenants equally and fairly. If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can file a complaint with the appropriate human rights tribunal in your province. 

  1. Understanding Lease Agreements

Lease agreements are legally binding contracts that outline the terms and conditions of your tenancy and it’s crucial to read and understand your lease before signing it. Ensure that the lease specifies the rent amount, the duration of the lease, and any additional fees or responsibilities. Pay attention to clauses related to maintenance, repairs, and your privacy rights. If you have questions or concerns, seek clarification from the landlord or consider consulting with a legal professional. This is a step that, surprisingly, people often overlook; reading through your contract carefully can save tenants a lot of stress down the line. Going through your contract with a highlighter and marking any areas of concern/ambiguity is a great way to stay on top of this step.

  1. Rent Increases and Tenant Protections

Rent increases in Canada are regulated by provincial laws. It’s important to be aware of these regulations before signing anything to prevent unfair practices. Most provinces have guidelines on both the frequency and percentage by which landlords can increase rent. Additionally, certain provinces have rent control measures in place to protect tenants from exorbitant increases. Understanding your rights in this regard will empower you to respond appropriately if faced with a rent hike that exceeds legal limits.

  1. Repairs and Maintenance

Landlords are responsible for maintaining the property in a good state of repair, ensuring it meets health and safety standards. If you encounter issues such as plumbing problems, heating failures, or other maintenance concerns, it’s best practice to promptly report them to your landlord. In most cases, landlords are legally required to address these issues on time. If they fail to do so, you may have the right to withhold rent; however, I will always advise a tenant to seek legal counsel before taking this step. 

  1. Privacy Rights

As a tenant, you have the right to complete privacy in your rented accommodation. Landlords must provide notice before entering your premises for non-emergency reasons, and the purpose for their entry should be clearly stated. Familiarize yourself with the specific notice requirements in your province to ensure your privacy rights are respected, as this is crucial in feeling comfortable in your home.

  1. Know Your Eviction Rights

Understanding the circumstances under which eviction is legal is crucial for international students. Generally, landlords can evict tenants for non-payment of rent, violating the terms of the lease, or engaging in illegal activities on the property. However, landlords must follow due process and adhere to the eviction procedures outlined in provincial laws. If you receive an eviction notice, seek legal advice immediately to understand your rights and options.

  1. Seeking Legal Assistance

If you encounter housing issues of any kind whilst in Canada and are unsure of your rights, I will always advise that you consider seeking legal assistance. Many provinces offer resources, such as tenant information services or legal aid clinics to help tenants navigate housing-related legal matters. Being informed about your rights and having access to legal support can make a significant difference in swiftly resolving disputes and ensuring a positive housing experience.

To summarise, international students in Canada have extensive rights that protect them when it comes to housing. From non-discrimination to understanding lease agreements, knowing your rights is essential for a smooth and enjoyable stay in this diverse and welcoming country. By being informed and proactive, international students can assert their rights, address issues promptly, and contribute to a positive living environment for themselves and all of their fellow tenants. Canada values diversity and inclusion, and it is important that international students feel empowered to assert their rights and contribute positively to Canadian society.

Ready to become an International Student in Canada?

Canada has indeed been gaining popularity as a top destination for international students. 

If you’re interested in studying in Canada for work or residency purposes,  would like to know more about tenancy rights and the Canada Investor Visa, or are just interested in a general chat around immigration for study, please reach out to me at preeya@stepglobalgroup.com to have a conversation on any of these topics. 

FAQs

In Canada, student housing options vary, and students have several choices based on their preferences and budget. Many universities and colleges offer on-campus residences or dormitories, providing a convenient and community-oriented living experience. Off-campus housing, including apartments, houses, or shared accommodations, is also common and allows students more independence. Additionally, some students choose homestays, where they live with a Canadian family while studying. Many universities and colleges have housing services or resources to assist students in finding suitable accommodations.

As a Canadian student tenant, you have certain rights and responsibilities outlined by provincial or territorial tenancy laws. These rights typically include the right to a habitable living space, privacy, and freedom from discrimination. You also have the right to be informed about any changes in tenancy terms and the right to dispute unfair practices. Your responsibilities include paying rent on time, keeping the rental unit reasonably clean, and respecting the property and the rights of neighbours. Many provinces have agencies or organizations that provide information and resources to help students understand their rights and responsibilities as tenants.

International students in Canada navigate the job market through various avenues to gain work experience and support their studies. Many universities and colleges offer career services that provide guidance on job searches, resume writing, and interview preparation. Students can explore on-campus employment opportunities, which are often available to international students, helping them gain valuable experience while studying. The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program allows eligible international students to work in Canada after completing their studies. Networking, attending career fairs, and using online job boards are common strategies for finding employment.

The Canadian Government has recently announced that the policy that allowed international students in Canada to work an unlimited number of hours off campus during their studies (brought about due to the COVID-19 pandemic) will end as of April 30, 2024. Students are now restricted to 20 hours of off-campus work during studies, the same rule that was in effect pre-COVID. 

This is a marked change, as recent reports have suggested that up to 80% of international students in Canada are now working more than 20 hours a week.

International students get the same rights in Canada as fully-fledged citizens, including (but not restricted to):

  • Freedom of speech and the press
  • Peaceably assemble
  • Travel
  • Due process
  • Privacy
  • An attorney and speedy trial in criminal cases
  • Trial by jury in certain cases

 

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by Preeya Malik

by Preeya Malik

MD, Step Global

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