Finding Housing and Avoiding Rental Scams

This page contains information about the housing search process. Keep reading to learn about the steps and timelines students should keep in mind when looking for housing.  There are many websites and businesses that advertise available rentals in Niagara. Below are websites that we can recommend to get your search started.

Brock University provides a listing service for landlords to post their
rental properties that are available for students.  Brock students can use the website free of charge to find housing, and can search based on criteria like amenities and monthly rent. Students can post for roommates and to sublet their accommodations. 

SpacesShared is a virtual platform that allows Students looking for safe and affordable home sharing arrangements to match with Older Adult Hosts. SpacesShared is collaborating with Brock University Off-Campus Living. Their priority is safety and simplicity in finding a match that feels comfortable for students. They are with you every step of the way!

Please note that any other websites are not affiliated with Brock University. On any website, there is a chance you will encounter a rental scam. Keep reading below to find some tips to help recognize and avoid rental scams!

Quick Information – Rental Housing for Students:

  • Most leases are 12 months in length and end April 30th or August 31st. Students may choose to move before the school year (leases beginning May 1) or sublet the room to another student.
  • Many students choose to live in neighborhoods that surround the university, and are located near bus routes.
  • There are no designated off-campus neighborhoods for students. All rentals are found in the general community, and students share neighbourhoods with residents and families.

The Housing Search – Timeline

Before students begin searching for housing, it is important to be informed about laws that govern the rental market in Ontario. To learn more, keep reading to find the “All about leases” and “Tenant Rights and Responsibilities” sections. Our Resources Page is full of helpful pages to continue learning more.

Determine needs: Think through what location, type of housing and transportation you will use/ need. Remember that no place will have everything you want. Narrowing down your must haves will help!

Find housemates: Knowing how many people you are planning on living with will guide your housing search. Remember best friends don’t always make the best roommates.

Begin your housing search: Visit to find listings, find roommates or post about an empty room in your student house. SpacesShared, in collaboration with Brock Off-Campus Living, is also a great place to look.

Arrange viewings: Never sign a lease without viewing and inspecting the property. Bring along friends or family members to your viewing to avoid feeling pressured, and to have an extra set of eyes. If you’re not able to visit, a video call is a good alternative to physically visiting the address.

Beware of scams: Scammers and predatory property owners rely on creating a sense of urgency to trap students in scams or unsuitable accommodations.

Review your lease: Don’t sign anything before closely reading the lease and consulting the law. Ensure your property owner is not asking for illegal deposits or making unreasonable requests. Do not be afraid to walk away at this point if something feels wrong.

Sign your lease: See our Housing Search checklist to help you screen listings. If you feel that everything looks good, you are ready to sign! Ensure all living in the home have their names on the lease, or sign their own lease. If you have questions, please email us at!

All about Leases: Signing and Ending

General Information
Signing a lease for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Below is some information about signing your lease.
Most tenancies in Ontario fall under the Residential Tenancies Act. What your landlord is allowed to ask you to sign is regulated. The first thing we recommend you look for is the Ontario Standard Lease form. All leases that fall under the RTA beginning after March 1 2021 must follow the standard lease agreement for which can be found here.
If you are living with roommates, the type of lease agreement you enter will have an impact on things such as moving out, resigning and paying rent.

We recommend doing research on the housing market before entering your rental. Community Legal Education Ontario has a variety of resources and information. To get started, check out Renting a Place to Live

Have questions? Need Support? Email us at to book an appointment!

Ending your tenancy
There are many different scenarios in which you might want to end your lease. In many cases we recommend that you seek legal advice for your situation. Below is some general information about the process to end a lease

  • If you are currently in a fixed term lease, discuss your plan to leave with your roommates and landlord
  • You can always request to move out early, but your landlord is not required to allow this in all cases
  • In many cases you can end your tenancy, including if you have not been provided with the Ontario Standard Lease, or if you are facing harrassment or violence in the home
  • To learn more about ending leases, we recommend this resource from Community Legal Education Ontario

Have questions? Need Support? Email us at to book an appointment!

Disclaimer: Rental scams and housing websites

It is the responsibility of the student to contact the landlord directly. Brock University highly recommends a personal inspection of the premises and an exhaustive review of all arrangements with the landlord. Any student who does not feel qualified to entertain these investigations should seek professional assistance.

Students are also warned that as tenants they may potentially incur risks which expose them to personal liability as occupiers of property. All students are urged to review the issue of insurance with their landlord and/or their own insurance agents.

In recent years, stories of people becoming involved in online rental scams have made the news in communities across the country. While instances of online fraud may be rare, it is always important to be attentive when conducting a housing search. Here are a few potential scenarios for students to be cautious of:

  • The landlord states that they have another renter who is willing to give more money than originally requested, and to secure the property the student must wire money.
  • A security deposit, viewing deposit or first month’s rent is requested first, before the student can ‘view‘ the property.
  • The landlord states an ‘agency‘ will show the property and deliver the keys. If the property is privately owned and not operated by a property management company, confirm that the agent represents a reputable leasing company first.
  • The landlord is out-of-country and unable to show the property personally.
  • The landlord asks a student to ‘wire’ money.
  • The landlord requests that a lease be filled out prior to viewing the property

In cases where you are trying to find another student to sublet your room, or you are looking for a roommate, you may also experience a scam. Be cautious of these scenarios:

  • The potential housemate/subletter offers to send a large sum of money via cheque or money order (more than a deposit for rent)
  • They offer to send money without viewing the rental property first
  • They offer to send money without signing a lease
  • The tenant has excuses for not being able to meet in person (e.g., international student, on exchange, out of the country for summer work)
  • The tenant seems eager to finalize the process with you

Tips for avoiding scams

  • Never give out personal financial information: Instead, visit your bank for help making secure payments.
  • Follow the general rule: Don’t let your guard down when looking for an apartment. If something feels wrong with the situation, it may be wise not to pursue it.
  • When in doubt, always view the property: Often individuals who are attempting to scam students request a deposit before the potential tenant has had a chance to preview the rental property. Never provide funds or sign a lease prior to viewing the property and meeting the landlord.
  • Never wire funds to anyone claiming to be a landlord. Go to your bank and discuss secure payment options.
  • Be cautious: If you receive photos or detailed information from a landlord without requesting it, be mindful that this is typical scammer behavior.

If you suspect that you have been targeted by a rental scam, report it to your local law enforcement immediately. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) is the central agency in Canada that collects information and criminal intelligence on such matters as these. More information is available on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.

Have questions? Need Support? Email us at to book an appointment!