The major Canadian cities have low vacancy rates, typically 2% or less meaning that out of every 1,000 properties, 50 or less are available for rent or lease. This means that the nicer properties, in great locations, don’t last long and so to be competitive and improve your chances of successfully securing a place means in part, understanding the process so that you can act quickly and confidently.
Landlords, or their agents, will make a property’s availability for rent or lease known through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or other various internet sites such as Kijiji.ca or CraigsList.ca for example. Newspaper and other such print advertising have become for the most part ineffective compared to the internet where a lot more descriptive information and pictures, as well as a wider international reach can be achieved.
As you can imagine, these internet sites generate a lot of inquiries. When calling the Landlord for information, be prepared to be asked as many questions as you ask of the Landlord. Don’t be concerned or intimidated. Landlords are seen as being selective because of the relatively low vacancy rate. This is just the typical process. If after your conversation with the Landlord you are still interested in the property, you can schedule a time to view privately wherein you have the opportunity to see not only the property, but in the event of an apartment or a condo, also evaluate the amenities. And of course you can see the neighbourhood, public transit and other such important influencers.
- Learn about the Scotiabank StartRight Program for Newcomers*1, and details on international account opening options:
So what happens if you view the place and you like it? At this stage, the Landlord will give you an application either in person or emailed to you that you then complete and return to the Landlord. This will most often grant the Landlord your permission to conduct a Canadian credit check on you. Be aware that if you are a recent immigrant and have no Canadian work history, you will have a difficult time with those Landlords that insist on a credit check. A good practice is to have your bank from your home country prepare a letter indicating your credit rating back home and your creditworthiness. Some landlords may accept this and its better than not having anything. In the end, if this is still insufficient, don’t despair as there are some private landlords that will forego a credit check and rent or lease their property just by meeting you. After all, many Canadians were once recent immigrants themselves.
A good practice is to have your bank from your home country prepare a letter indicating your credit rating back home and your creditworthiness.
If everything is completed correctly and accurately on the application form, you can typically expect to hear back within 24-48 hours at the latest. And if all checks out, the Landlord will be contacting you of your acceptance and a Rental or Lease Agreement will be created by the Landlord and offered for you to review. If you are in agreement with the terms set therein, then both you and the Landlord sign the document. At this stage you will likely be expected to offer last month’s rent as a deposit to be held by the Landlord for the duration of the term of your stay equivalent to the first month’s rent. By law, the Landlord will hold onto your deposit and will owe you interest accrued on your deposit when you eventually leave.
Finally, on the day you move in (or sometimes a day or more before you move in), the Landlord will be looking for the first month’s rent and in exchange, will give you the keys to the property and discuss moving in arrangements.
Edward Frezza, BSc, MBA is a real estate broker with Re/Max Professionals in Toronto. He started with commercial real estate in 1989, and since 2004 has focused on residential real estate in the Greater Toronto Area. His interest in multi-family rental real estate and new home construction led to creating his own real estate investment portfolio. His depth of knowledge and experience has him sought out by home buyers/sellers and investors alike. Edward is passionate about helping people achieve security for themselves and their family though home ownership. This passion has also led him to teaching real estate courses through the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) for the last 4 years.
*¹ – The Scotiabank StartRight Program, created for Canadian Permanent residents from 0-3 years in Canada, International Students and Foreign Workers.