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Living Off Campus?


Welcome to Hamilton and McMaster University. One way or another you will be living off campus. 

Whether it is living on your own, a student house, or living at home, it is important to know the fundamentals of your rights and responsibilities when living as a tenant.  This page will provide summarize information about safety, health, by-laws, contracts, roommates, sublets and provide you with resources for you to have the best off-campus experience. 

This information was taken by various resources that can be found on

or in the Off-Campus Resource Center located in the McMaster University Student Center (MUSC) Room B112.

Professional Help

Off Campus help at McMaster

Off-Campus Resource Centre, OCRC

Non-legal advice for tenants, landlords and all thing related to off campus living including listings for rent and sublets.


McMaster University Student Centre, MUSC, Room B112ab


Landlord and Tenant Board

Provides information about the Residential Tenancies Act.

119 King St. W, 14th Floor, Hamilton


Tenant Legal Advice

Provides student tenants free information and legal advice. Let them know that you are a student when you call them. 


Dundurn Community Legal Service

    Residents of the downtown area and west-end Hamilton. 


Hamilton City Services

Community Standards and Penalties

      City of Hamilton By-Laws Office, 905-546-2489


Fire Safety Standards and Inspections

    City of Hamilton Fire Department, Prevention Division, 905-546-2424 ext. 1380


Pests, lack of heat, garbage

    City of Hamilton Health Department, 905-546-3500 


Quality of rental accommodations and maintenance of property

    City of Hamilton Property Standards Office, 905-546-2782, 


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Residential Tenancies Act, RTA

  • RTA is the provincial legislation that governs the relationship of residential landlords and tenants in Ontario. It covers tenants that do not share a kitchen and/or a bathroom with the owner or the owners immediate family (eg. Son or Daughter).

  • Landlord and Tenant Board is an agency, under the RTA, that provides information about the Act and helps resolve disputes between tenant and landlord

Living at Home With Family
  • Living at home you are not covered by the Resident Tenancy Act. 

  • Establish good relationships with parents/guardians/landlord to negotiate privacy, curfews and other house rules.

  • Leave a copy of your schedule and important dates to be seen by your family for trip planning or appointments.

  • Let your family know of alternative contacts in case of emergencies. 

  • Respect the members of your family. 

  • Become independent by doing your own laundry, making lunches and dinners, and washing your own dishes.

House Hunting

  • Make sure you know exactly what you are looking for in terms of types of room and use this accommodation checklist to see if this house is for you

  • If you are looking for a larger home to fit many people inside, start looking in January 

  • Cruise around the local streets to look for "For Rent" signs and use word of mouth

  • Ask your landlord for references of past tenants to get an idea of utility/heating costs and landlord accountability before signing any leases



  • Use Mac Off-Campus for Listings

  • The tenant is responsible for the rent if the tenant chooses to sublet the room.



  • Consider your budget before looking for a house

  • Take into account of tuition, transportation, type of room, food, utilities, cellphone, tenants insurance, cable, activation fees, internet and cost of the rent before you sign the lease. The little things add up!

  • Ask the landlord if they require first and last month’s rent upfront before signing a lease.


Utilities 101

  • Consists of heat, hydro, and water.

  • Factors affecting the cost: air-conditioning, dishwasher, dripping taps, unsealed windows, laundry machines. Keep things in mind when viewing the home.

  • Be mindful: electric heat is more expensive that oil. Oil is more expensive than gas.

  • Ask the landlord for references and ask them what the cost of utilities were to get an idea of utilites cost. 

Tenants insurance

  • Landlord should have insurance on the house, however not for your personal belongings. Protect your belongings from theft, water damage, etc from tenants insurance.

  • Ask your parents if you are covered under their insurance, if not get a quote by searching online.

  • For added safety of your personal items, create an inventory list of the things you own


Mac Off Campus Sublet listings
Mac Off Campus Listings


  • Have honest discussions with your potential housemates about day to day house habits.

  • Discuss: Is rent split evenly or more for larger rooms, boundaries of subletting including gender, who pays for cable and internet, what will happen during the summer months, smoking rules, personal items, visitor rules, and pets.

  • Remember to respect and communicate with your housemates with general rules and privacy. 

  • Create reasonable chores between housemates, create a schedule for these. 

  • For more ideas check out the buttons

More questions?


(905) 525-9140 ext. 24086

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