a 1½ is a large room with kitchenette and bathroom;
a 2½ is two separate rooms, plus bathroom.
a 3½ has a separate bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom;
a 4½ has two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom;
a 5½ usually has three bedrooms, and so on.
Helpful resources for finding housing
classifieds.csu.qc.ca — see ads posted by other Concordia students looking for roommates, or individual apartments posted by landlords looking for student tenants. You can register to view ads using your offer of admission letter.
Questions to ask a prospective landlord and remote visits
Given the extraordinary situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, try to arrange a virtual visit to the apartment; you may ask the landlord to do this via Skype or FaceTime. If you do decide to visit the dwelling in person, make sure to respect social distancing practices and take safety precautions, such as wearing a mask, not touching your face and washing your hands before and after the visit. Most importantly, if you feel sick, don’t visit an apartment in person — a virtual visit can be just as helpful!
Clarify what would be included in the rent and what is your responsibility.
Ask if major appliances are included, such as the refrigerator and stove, or if you will have to provide your own.
Find out whether heat is included. If not, plan for extra winter costs. You can check with Hydro Québec for the approximate cost of your electricity bill.
Ask about the unit's history with vermin, pests and damages.
Leases and deposits
Deposits for more than the first month’s rent are not permitted in Quebec; a landlord cannot ask you for anything more than the first month's rent.
If you sign a rental application and are accepted, you are legally obligated to sign a lease.
Landlords cannot ask you for your SIN (social insurance number), student visa, credit card, or photocopy any of your personal information, though they can verify your name and address with a piece of photo ID.
Avoiding rental scams
Rental scams can take on many forms. The goal may be to get money or personal information from apartment hunters for something that either doesn’t exist, or an apartment they have no legal right to rent.
During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, apartment hunters are more vulnerable to scams. Looking for an apartment is already stressful enough without the added time pressure and inability to visit in person. Luckily, there are many ways to lower the likelihood of getting caught in an apartment scam. Trust your gut and be critical when looking for an apartment. If something feels weird with the listing, if the application process is rushed or if the apartment seems too good to be true, it may be a scam.
Red flags (things to watch for)
The apartment is too good to be true: Whenever you see an apartment that seems too good to be true, it probably is. An apartment that is very cheap for the size or area is a red flag.
You are asked to send money before signing a lease or visiting the apartment (virtually or physically).
You are asked to pay with online coupons, money transfer, cryptocurrency or other untraceable methods of payment.
The landlord is too eager or pushy: This can be suspicious. They might claim that there is a lot of interest in the apartment to pressure you into an agreement.
Asking for too much information.
Requiring a deposit of more than the first month of rent when signing the lease — in Quebec, any kind of deposit is illegal.
Refusing to sign a lease: If a landlord wants you to pay rent or any other fee without signing a lease, it might be because they don’t have a legal right to rent out that apartment, or it doesn’t exist.
The landlord is “out of the country”: A common rental scam is a ‘landlord’ who claims they’re out of the country. Scammers may even pretend to be an agent for a real estate company or a management company acting on behalf of a landlord who’s out of the country. To verify that the person behind the listing is the landlord, do your own background check on the municipal directory of property owners or do a Google search on the management company to see if they’re trustworthy.
Tips to avoid rental scams
Ask a friend or family member to look over the listing with you. A second pair of eyes is always helpful when looking for signs of a scam.
Use the Google images reverse search function to see if the photos have been posted before. Apartment rental scams often copy listings from other real listings, but change details or lower the price to lure in apartment hunters.
Do your research on the building or management company. Be sure the person you’re speaking to is the landlord or their representative, and you can find out who owns the building through the municipal directory of property owners.
Always sign a lease. As a tenant, it’s your right to have an official Quebec lease drawn up in either French or English, the language of your choice.
Never send money before signing a lease. When paying rent, always make sure to get a rental receipt as proof of payment.
Average neighbourhood price ranges
There are many different neighbourhoods in Montreal that can be considered good for a university student, depending on your priorities.
Here are the price ranges you can expect for each of the main areas of Montreal:
As soon as possible. If your budget can accommodate it and you are coming from inside Canada, you might consider looking for a lease that starts on July 1, as there are more options available at that time. International students will not be allowed entry into Canada before August 1 but if they can afford the extra month, they might consider doing the same. If that’s not possible, start looking now anyway, to gauge what’s available and try to figure out what neighbourhood is the best fit for you.
Video tours can be deceiving and sometimes you're shown a different unit than what you are signing up to rent. In the context of COVID-19, we understand that many will not be able to tour apartments in person. It is best that you do a few virtual visits, and once you're sure of an apartment, then make a single appointment to visit in person, before you sign your lease. Ask questions to clear any doubts you have.
Another good rule of thumb is: if it seems too good to be true, it is. Watch out for any red flags such as the landlord asking for too much information, the apartment being too cheap for the neighbourhood, and weird demands in the contract. Know that if you are unsure, you can ask someone at the Concordia Student Union's Off-Campus Housing and Job Resource Centre (HOJO) to look it over for you to help you make the right decision.
There are many platforms you can use to find roommates online. Take a look at classifieds.csu.qc.ca, a Concordia-only apartment and room posting page. Here you can see ads that have been posted by other Concordia students looking for roommates, or individual apartments posted by landlords looking for student tenants. There are also many Facebook groups for international students looking for roommates or housing. Though we aren't affiliated with these groups, we have heard from students that they are also a good resource.
To learn more about the different neighborhoods in Montreal, you can look at our multilingual site likehome.info. This is a website we have created that offers useful information about different aspects of renting an apartment in Montreal and also has an interactive map that displays different neighborhoods with a transit map overlay. There’s a super useful feature on the upper-left side that allows you to select neighborhoods that are within a 20-minute commute to campus. When you click on a specific neighborhood, it gives you a description of the area, the average rent for different sized apartments and the different metro or bus lines that bring you to campus.
Some neighbourhoods that are farther from campus but might have some more affordable options are: Park Extension, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, LaSalle, Ville Emard, and Ahuntsic-Cartierville. You can even consider commuting from across the St. Lawrence River, via bus, metro, or train (and coming soon, light rail). Longueuil and Laval, suburbs across the river, can be reached by metro.
As you expand your search away from campus, keep the public transit map in mind. Living within a 10-minute walk of a public transit station will make your commute to campus much easier. Use a map app that includes a transit option to see the distance via transit between an apartment you’re looking at, and the Concordia campus (SGW or Loyola) where most of your in-person activities are expected to take place.
If you’re expecting to have most of your in-person activities at the Loyola Campus, start by looking at neighbourhoods in the western end of Montreal: Verdun, LaSalle, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG), Montreal West.
If you’ll be at the SGW Campus more, consider looking in the areas of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, St-Michel, or in the suburb of Longueuil or Brossard (which connect via metro to downtown Montreal).
Use a map app to determine what the main transit (metro and bus) routes are in the neighbourhoods that you’re looking at, and try to locate housing close to those routes.
It’s very important to know your rights as a tenant in Quebec. Due to the high demand for affordable housing in 2021, there are increased cases of Quebec landlords failing to abide by the usual laws about rent and tenants rights. Standing up for your rights is your responsibility.
Quebec has a rent control system, which is unique in Canada. What does rent control mean for tenants?
Your landlord can only legally increase your rent by a certain percentage per year, as determined every year by the Quebec government. In other words, you should not be paying more than a small percentage more than the previous tenants of any apartment. On the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL) lease (the only legally binding lease document in Quebec), be sure to check “section G,” where the landlord is required to write the lowest rent paid for their rental in the last 12 months. The rent you are being charged can only be a government-approved percentage more than the amount in section G. If a landlord has left section G blank in the lease, you can ask them to provide that information and they are required by law to do so. If the amount in Section G is much lower than what you are being charged, you have 10 days after the section is filled out to request a hearing with Quebec’s rental authority, the Tribunal administratif du logement. By requesting a hearing (which you can do online), you are starting the process of potentially lowering your rent back down to the legally approved level.
When you move out, you can pass your lease on to a friend (called a lease transfer, or transfer de bail), without the rent increasing beyond a government-approved percentage, usually between 1 and 3%. You always need to ask your landlord’s permission in writing before assigning a lease transfer to a friend.
Rent control is in place to defend your rights as a tenant, but it’s up to you to make sure your landlord is complying with the rules.
It’s not a good idea to send out multiple applications at the same time.If you send an application for a rental, you are legally bound to sign a lease if your application is accepted. A useful trick is to make your application valid only for a certain time frame, say 48 hours. (You can make a note of this on the application, and inform the landlord when you’re communicating with them.) That way, if you don’t hear back from the landlord within a short period of time, you can keep looking.
Sometimes landlords request money at the time of the application. Be aware that there’s no guarantee that an application fee will either be refunded, or will be credited toward your rent. Send a landlord money online at your own risk.
Remember that within a landlord-tenant dispute, Concordia University will never get involved. A landlord cannot report a tenant to Canada customs, nor to the university, for a matter having to do with housing. They can call the police for matters to do with creating a disturbance or any criminal activity, but anything related to utilities or apartment maintenance is not a police matter.
You can get around Montreal by public transit, on foot, by bike, or by car. Montreal's public transit system is efficient and affordable, and Concordia’s SGW Campus is located at the Guy-Concordia metro stop. The Loyola Campus is accessible by several bus lines, in addition to the Concordia shuttle that runs between the two campuses throughout the day.
Many people opt to use public transit or bike (even in the winter in some cases!) both because the city is relatively easy to get around without a car, and because the roads can be hectic. But if you’re looking for a place to live in Montreal, and you’re considering bringing your car, keep in mind you may have the option of buying a vignette, or a resident’s parking permit from your borough. The permit lets you park on the street in your neighbourhood.