Living Off-Campus

Most new students prefer to live on-campus during their first year at Lakehead. However, there are many reasons Residence Life may not be right for you.

Below are links to help your search for off-campus housing in Thunder Bay and Orillia:

 Off-campus Housing - Thunder Bay
 Off-campus Housing - Orillia


Wolfie's Helpful Housing Hints:

An illustration of Wolfie the Lakehead University MascotStudent housing is a hot commodity, so it’s best to act quickly so as not to be left with places far away from campus or in less than desirable neighbourhoods. Students should be prepared for application fees to be paid to landlords, to fork up their first and last month’s rent, to pay a security deposit and if applicable, a parking fee. For first-time renters, it’s also important to do plenty of research to determine the average monthly rates in the area in order to avoid getting taken advantage of.

Students should be prepared for application fees to be paid to landlords, to pay their first and last month’s rent, to pay a security deposit and if applicable, a parking fee. For first-time renters, it’s also important to do plenty of research to determine the average monthly rates in the area in order to avoid getting ripped off.

Important Things To Consider:

Living with Roommates

Sharing housing with other people can help you reduce costs and can provide you with a social network.

If you decide to live in a shared house or apartment, you will need to carefully consider what type of people you are comfortable living with. Some things you may want to consider when choosing a roommate are:

First, take time to decide what you want out of your relationship with your new roommate. If you’re new to Canada maybe you’d like to find a friend who will join you for dinner and introduce you to their social circle. Or maybe you’re already established and are just looking for someone to share the bills with while living independent lives. Whatever you’re looking for, be clear with the other person to make sure that you don’t have different expectations.

Sleeping habits, work schedules, food preferences, allergies, smoking and drug use, pets, entertainment and hobbies are all important parts of someone’s lifestyle. You do not have to have the same lifestyle as your roommate, but make sure that you understand whether or not your lifestyles will be compatible.

Most people will say that they’re ‘clean’, but people have very different opinions on their definition of clean. Some people think that sweeping every single day is normal. Others are satisfied with a quick vacuum every few months. Some people tolerate piles of dirty dishes in the kitchen while also maintaining a spotless bathroom. Before agreeing to anything, make sure you have the same understanding of “clean”.

Protect yourself against unpleasant surprises by asking a potential roommate tough but tactful questions about finances. Watch their body language to get a sense of whether they might be uncomfortable talking about money or unsure about their financial future. You need to make sure that they’re in a position to meet the financial responsibilities of sharing a home.

Make sure to ask about a potential roommate’s entertaining preferences, house guests, and romantic partners. If you like to have friends over, make sure they do too. If either of you plan to have guests, discuss how long they’re welcome to stay. Establish how many nights of the week it’s reasonable for significant others to sleep over. Even if neither of you are currently in a relationship, you might be in the future.

Conflict Resolution
It is natural that you will face both interpersonal and practical challenges while living together. Whether it’s dealing with obnoxious house guests, rodent infestations or just generally getting annoyed with each other, someone’s approach to conflict resolution in the past often indicates how they will behave in future. Ask a few questions about past experiences rather than hypothetical future scenarios to get a sense of how they behave under pressure.

Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few potential roommates, you can ask to speak with past roommates or landlords to get a better idea of whether you are compatible. You may also want to check their social media accounts to learn more about their lifestyle and confirm the information they have told you.

Another good way to test a potential match is to invite them to hang out with you and your friends for an evening. Hopefully, they’ll also invite you to meet their friends. This can allow you to get to know each other in an informal setting

(Source: - What should I consider when choosing a roommate?)

Roommate Agreements
Download a copy of the Roommate Agreement Form or create a list of potential issues, discuss them with your roommate(s) and come to an agreement on how to handle them. Once you have all come to an agreement, make sure everyone signs the document and does their part.

(Source: Georgian College Off campus housing)


Living off-campus means you will need to commute to campus. This could be by car, public transit, by bicycle, or by walking. Here are some important questions to ask yourself when beginning your off-campus housing search:

  1. Is your rental housing close to campus?
  2. How will you get to and from school? 
    1. If you choose to drive to campus, you will need a parking pass for your vehicle!
    2. If you take transit, or you may need to use your uPass (or for part-time and Graduate students, opt into the uPass), use transit tickets or pay cash fares to ride.
      1. Thunder Bay Campus uPass Information
      2. Orillia Campus uPass Information
  3. Is your rental housing close to a public transit stop?
    1. If you are taking public transit, how many bus transfers will it take to get you to campus?
    2. Do you know what bus routes you need to take to get to and from school?
      1. Check out public transit information for Thunder Bay, Orillia, & Barrie (LUGC Partnership) campuses
        1. Thunder Bay Transit
        2. Orillia Transit
        3. Barrie Transit
  4. If you are walking or cycling, have you looked into walking and biking paths near by? Do you know the quickest and safest route to get you to and from campus?
 Health, Safety, & Security

Safe Housing Considerations

Safety is an important factor in your off-campus housing decision. It's strongly recommended that you visit the neighbourhood, meet the landlord, and thoroughly inspect the unit before signing a lease. You may want to consider re-visiting potential housing at night to check for adequate lighting, and the feel of the neighbourhood. You want to gauge your landlord's sense of responsibility and importance in regards to safety concerns by asking safety related questions. If the landlord attempts to brush off your questions or shows little concern, you might assume that safety issues won't be high on their priority list. When inspecting the unit, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

Access to the unit

  • Does the room/apartment/house have an adequate locking system? Check the physical shape of the door jam, as well as the lock itself. Half inch deadbolts are good; door chains are less effective.
  • If you are sharing some of the space, can you lock your own room? Can the bathroom be locked?
  • How many people will have keys to the front door? To your room?
  • When was the last time the locks were changed? Try to find out how many copies of the main access key are around. In units such as rooming houses, where there is high turnover, excessive key-copying may be a problem.
  • What is the landlord's policy on access to your building or to your room? How comfortable do you feel with her or his answer? How familiar is your landlord with your legal rights as a tenant?
  • Are there functioning locks on the windows? This is particularly important if the windows are close to the ground, or accessible by a fire escape, or a tree.
  • Is there an access security system? Is it in good working order? This includes a buzzer system, intercom or keying system. You should be able to check who is at your door without having to open it. Is there a viewing device, or a lockable outside door with a window?
  • Does each floor have a functioning smoke detector?
  • If there are outside fire escapes, do they reach the ground? They should not be low enough to allow access from the ground.
  • If there is a garage or storage area, is it properly secured?
  • Is the mail slot or mail box located in a way which prevents access to the rental unit? Can the mail box be secured?

Visibility and Lighting

  • What is the lighting on the street like? Does foliage on nearby trees obstruct the street lamps, or do they seem adequate to light the streetscape?
  • Is there adequate lighting at all entrances to the building? Does it allow you to distinguish the faces of people in the area? Is the lighting evenly distributed around the entrance area, lighting shrubbery, stairs, porches, walkways? Are there any lights that are burned out, or fixtures without bulbs in them?
  • Can you see clearly what is ahead as you approach the building? Are there sharp corners or pillars that obstruct your view of the building? Are there bushes or fences where someone could hide? If there are waste bins or bicycles stored outside the building, is the area where they are stored well lit and easily accessible?
  • Is there adequate lighting inside the building, particularly in hallways, or in stairwells?
  • Is the garage or parking area properly lit? How many cars park there, and how easy is it to see your way when the area is full? Are there places where someone could hide, or not be seen?
  • Is the storage area or laundry room well lit? Can you see who is in the area before you enter? Is it easy to see who is coming in, once you are inside the room or area?
  • Is there an alarm button or telephone in case of emergency?

Communicating for Assistance

  • If there are isolated areas in the building, such as a laundry room or storage facility, can you call for assistance from those areas? Would someone hear you if you cried out for help? Where is the nearest telephone located?
  • How easy would it be to contact other people in the building to let them know you need help?

Neighbourhood Issues

  • What does the neighbourhood feel like during the day? At night? Are there any small businesses in the area that will be open at night? How easily can you reach a milk store, or a video rental place, or a laundromat? What other places might you sometimes use at night? How safely can you get there?
  • Are there parks or other public recreational facilities in the area? If you think you might use them, visit them and try to get a sense of how comfortable you feel while there.
  • How easily can you reach your building by transit, and how comfortable do you feel walking that route? How late does public transportation run? Do you pass any darkened areas, laneways or construction sites?
  • Do you see police patrolling the area?
  • How many people are out on the street during the day? At night? Does the area feel well travelled, busy or isolated? Is it easy to predict when people will be around?
  • Are there businesses in the area that will attract a lot of out-of-neighbourhood patrons (clubs, bars, restaurants)? Are you comfortable moving around the streets near these locations?
  • Do you feel comfortable around the other tenants in the building or apartment? Do the other tenants agree on keeping doors and windows locked?


  • Is the building in good repair? Is there litter lying around, or does it appear to be well kept?
  • How quickly will the landlord respond to requests for repairs? You can ask her or him how often they visit the building, or how quickly they are able to come to fix something.
  • Does the building feel cared for?
  • Are there signs of graffiti or vandalism?

Bed Bugs

Living with bed bugs can cause much mental, physical and financial anguish. Bed bugs were nearly extinct thirty years ago, but have dramatically increased in numbers since to become a serious problem in many major cities.

The best approach is to be proactive in ensuring that there is no infestation in any rental unit that you are considering. Ask your landlord if there is any history of bed bugs in the building (even if they've been reported on another floor, they can spread very quickly), and check the Bed Bug Registry.

Bed bugs can be present in even the cleanest apartments, as they do not feed on garbage or food (they feed on blood, like mosquitoes). They are difficult to spot, multiply easily, are hard to eliminate, and can go over eight months without feeding. Thus, if you suspect that your apartment has bed bugs, it's important to act fast and notify your land lord as soon as possible. It is your land lord's responsibility to pay for extermination services.

What if a landlord fails to take action?

If a landlord refuses to help when a tenant notifies them of a matter concerning health and safety, tenants may obtain assistance or advice from a legal clinic, the Landlord and Tenant Board or from Toronto Public Health. If it becomes necessary, Toronto Public Health can issue a Health Protection Order (Section 13) to a landlord and/or tenant or both under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

(Source: University of Toronto - Safe Housing Considerations)


Rental Scams

Be aware and avoid off-campus housing scams

There are many unfortunate cases where students may become the victim of a housing scam. Before you begin your housing search, learn more about commons types of rental scams and what you should keep in mind to avoid scams.

If you suspect that you have been the target of rental fraud, immediately report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or your local police station.

Common types of rental scams

Here are some common types of scams that you may come across:

  • The landlord asks you to send the money as deposit to secure the unit without showing you the pictures of the property or without sharing further information to answer your questions
  • The landlord is overseas and renting their unit from afar - They cannot show the unit in person (or arrange for someone to show it for them) and request money be sent in exchange for mailed keys to a rental property that does not actually exist
  • The property is already rented but is advertised online as available - The scammer collects the application fee and deposits with no available rental
What to look out for!
Here are some items to keep in mind when searching for housing:

  1. Rentals that seem too good to be true
  2. Landlords who ask you to send money overseas
  3. Rental advertisements that don’t show pictures of the property
  4. Multiple advertisements that have the same photos
  5. Invalid or incomplete contact information - Be cautious with advertisements with only an email address, as scammers often do not have valid phone numbers
  6. Inability to speak to the landlord - Always make an effort to speak to the landlord and current tenants, if possible, to ask questions before you sign the contract or make any payments

(Source: Georgian College Off campus housing)


View an infographic: Spot The Rental Scams

 (Source: Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario)


Know Your Rights!

Do you know your rights and obligations as a tenant? Are you signing a new lease agreement? What deposits do you have to pay to your landlord and which deposits are illegal? Can your landlord evict you at the end of your term?

Students and landlords should be aware of their rights and responsibilities before entering into a rental agreement. A complete listing of the Tenant Protection Act can be found at the following sources:

Legal Support for Thunder Bay Campus Students

Find out the answers to these questions and more by contacting the Lakehead University Community Legal Services. Please see our How to Apply page for more information or call (807) 346-7815.

Legal Support Orillia & Barrie Campus Students

For legal guidance please contact your local Legal Aid Ontario office. To find out more information about Legal Aid in Ontario and if you qualify, please visit click here