Settlement Services

Rental Accomodations in Canada

Each province has its own regulatory body and set of rules regarding tenancy and it is better to check those rules from local contacts. However generally speaking the overview is as following: When looking for accommodations, you need to be aware of other basic concepts and practices:

Tenancy agreements specify the rights, responsibilities and rules that you and your landlord agree to. By law, written agreements must include standard information on the rights and responsibilities of tenants and the landlords under the Residential Tenancy Act.

A lease or fixed term tenancy agreement is a written agreement that says you have agreed to rent for a certain length of time such as six months or a year. Be very sure that you want to live there for the specified length of time before signing a lease, as it may cost you to break the lease at a future date.

A security or damage deposit is the amount of money-usually half a month's rent-a landlord can ask you for to cover the costs of damage to the accommodation, or unpaid rent or utilities. The landlord can also ask for a pet damage deposit and deposits for extras like keys or garage door opener. Your landlord can only ask for a security deposit when you first agree to rent the place. You must pay the full security deposit within 30 days after you move in or you can be evicted.

Protect yourself from the start by remembering that you are entering into a contract - a business deal - with the landlord. It is important to make sure everything about the deal is clear from the beginning so that there is little chance of argument or dispute later. Should you need assistance in solving problems with your landlord you can contact the Residential Tenancy Office whose staff can help you by explaining the law to you, and in some cases, by calling your landlord on your behalf. The Residential Tenancy Office also holds arbitration hearings for landlord and tenants when they cannot resolve disputes on their own.

Rent Increases: Landlords can raise rents by set amount each year and can apply for arbitration for rent increase above the amount. Your landlord can raise your rent once a year by a nominal amount, starting 12 months from the day you moved in and started paying rent. The landlord must give you notice in writing at least three full months before the increase starts.

Move-in and move-out conditions inspections reports, or a checklist where you and your landlord must write down the kind of condition you think the place is in, must be done with your landlord when you move in and when you move out in order for you to get your security deposit back. The law requires that you landlord give you a copy of the condition report immediately, or if that is not possible, then within 7 days of your move-in inspection or within 15 days of your move-out inspection.

Pets: Landlords have the right to refuse pets, or to charge an extra deposit for accepting pets.

Eviction: Your landlord can only evict you for certain reasons set out in law, and must give you an official written notice using a "Notice to End a Residential Tenancy" form. On the notice, the landlord must provide the reasons for eviction and how you can challenge the eviction. If landlord does not use this form or provide required information, the notice may not be legal. If you are not sure, check with Residential Tenancy Office, which is the government office that helps resolve problems between landlords and tenants. Never ignore an eviction notice, even if you think it is not legal.

Moving out: You must give at least on full month's written notice to your landlord, and you must clean and repair damage caused by you or your guests before you move. You cannot use your security deposit to pay part of the last month's rent unless the landlord agrees in writing. The new law requires that you must move out by 13:00 p.m. on the last day of your tenancy, unless you and your landlord agree on some other time. Check to see if a move-out time was written in your tenancy agreement. If it was, then you must move out by the time.

Whether you rent or buy will depend on your personal finances and whether you already have a job in Canada. Most newcomers decide they should first rent a house or apartment. This gives them more time to save money to buy a house and to decide where they want to live.

If you want to buy a house, unless you can pay the full price, you will need to get a long-term loan called a mortgage. Mortgage loans are provided by banks and other financial institutions. They decide whether the borrower has enough income, more assets than debts, and a good credit rating. Most will ask you to pay at least five percent of the cost of the house from your own money.

Types of housing:

Furnished or unfurnished: Furnished housing should include beds, tables, chairs, lamps, curtains, a stove and a refrigerator. Unfurnished housing may include a stove and a refrigerator, but not always.

Room for rent: This is usually in a house or an apartment that is owned or rented by other people. Everyone shares the kitchen and bathrooms.

Bachelor or studio apartment: These are small apartments designed mainly for one person. They have one large room with a kitchen and a sleeping area, plus a separate bathroom.

Other apartments: Most other apartments have from one to three bedrooms. All will have a separate kitchen, a living room and a bathroom.

Duplex: This is a house divided into two separate apartments. It may be bought or rented.

Townhouse: This is a small house joined to other houses. It may be bought or rented.

Condominium: Condominium ownership means you own the unit you live in and share ownership rights for the common space of the building. Common space includes areas such as corridors, the grounds around the building, and facilities such as a swimming pool and recreation rooms.

Condominium owners together control the common areas through an owners' association. The association makes decisions about using and maintaining the common space.

You could expect to anywhere over $450 a month for a room, and between $1,000 and $1,500 a month for an apartment or a house. Rental costs vary greatly across cities and across Canada. Housing is more reasonable outside the large cities. An immigrant-serving organization in the area where you plan to settle can help you find affordable housing.

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