Student carrying boxes with more piled behind her, looking anxious

Need help with your housing situation?

November 23, 2022
Author: Michael Witcomb

Five ways VIU’s Off-Campus Housing department can help you

For many students, finding – and keeping – a safe place to live is one of their first thoughts when they come to VIU. Did you know the University’s Off-Campus Housing department can support you with things like house hunting, tenancy law and conflict resolution? Here are five ways this year-round service can help you.

Let’s start with helping you find somewhere to live. 

There are many reasons students come to Off-Campus Housing for support. The main one is for help finding housing, of course. We know the rental housing market is extremely challenging right now and finding somewhere to live is tough. Plus, first-time renters, especially international students, may not know what’s expected of them when applying for housing. There are some strategies and resources that work well for everyone and we can help you figure out your plan, even down to budgeting your living expenses. 

What if things go wrong? 

Leaky plumbing, bedbugs and intrusive landlords are some of this year’s problems we’ve helped with. Keeping up with course deadlines (and a part-time job) gets tougher when you’re losing sleep over basic household repair or pest problems. Often, letting your landlord know that you understand your rights – and your responsibilities – will get the problem fixed. If not, we can let you know where to go next. And if the stress is affecting your general well-being, we’ll probably know who to speak to as well. Getting knowledgeable through free courses like Renting it Right can really help with finding – and keeping – good accommodation. Gaining a RIR certificate counts towards your Co-Curricular Record, too. 

I’m away for a semester. Can my friend take my room?

If you have a fixed-term lease, subletting and assigning are ways you can decide who rents your room while you’re gone. This is most likely if you are planning to return, would like your room back when you return and don’t want to be covering the cost of empty accommodation. It’s not as simple as handing your keys to your classmate, however. There are clear rules about what you should do to make this choice go smoothly. 

I’ve rented a place with my classmate … and now we’ve fallen out.

Coming home to a tense environment can be a huge cause of anxiety and may well affect your studies and general well-being. Of course, starting out right is a help and we’ve some ideas for finding the right roommates for the year ahead. We also know that things get tough when you’re generally stressed by deadlines, finances and so on and this can spill over into arguments at home. As part of the Student Affairs team, there are lots of us here to help.

How do I get my deposit back at the end of the year?

Towards the end of the school year, you may start wondering if you’ll get your damage deposit back in full. If you have a contract, there are very clear responsibilities for you and your landlord. Did you know there’s even a specific cleaning list for tenants? If you are living with your landlord, it’s less clear and disputes can be exhausting. You may need to take legal action and seek advice. Off-Campus Housing has information about what to do next and links to lawyers who may be able to help. 

And there’s more … 

In 2023, Off-Campus Housing will be offering Rent Smart education for free to help grow the knowledge base in the student community. And beyond the campus, conversations with community stakeholders continue to raise the profile of student housing needs as we navigate these challenging times. 

Get in touch with Michael in VIU Off-Campus Housing at for more information or support. Visit VIU Off-Campus Housing for lots of useful resources and links. 

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