Renting in Canada – What You Need to Know

Moving is never easy, and that can be even more true when you are planning to relocate to an entirely different country. Luckily, with a little advice, we can help make the process smoother. Here, our Ottawa and Orleans immigration physicians talk about how to find the right rental for your family if you are looking to immigrate to Canada.

Immigrating to Canada: A Guide to Renting

Canada has long been considered a nation of proud homeowners, but in the past decade or so the percentage of renters has been on the rise with immigrants making up a large portion of those renting.

This makes it very important for all newcomers to have knowledge that is easily accessible to learn about how to find a place to rent in Canada, what the rental requirements are and what to expect in rental properties.

Here, our team at Immigration Physician Ottawa offers some helpful advice to help ease some of the stress that may go along with finding a rental.

Finding Affordable Rent in Canada

When it comes to how much you can spend on rent each month, the primary consideration will be your income. As you begin your search you may hear people mention 30%. This will be in reference to the saying that your rent shouldn't account for any more than 30% of your total income. Unfortunately, this just isn't reasonable for many people or in many popular cities.

When considering how much you can afford you should look at the bigger picture. In many cases you won't only have rent to pay, you will also have utilities such as heat, hydro (electricity), and even water in some cases.

You should also be aware that the location you look at can have a large impact on the cost of rent. 

When it comes to rentals across Canada the most expensive can usually be found in British Columbia and Ontario, especially in the higher populated cities, while the least expensive province is Quebec.

The type of rental and neighbourhood it is situated is also a factor. If you rent a basement apartment in a suburb, you are likely to pay less rent than if you chose a condo in a highrise downtown.

What’s included in rent in Canada?

Back to what we said above, you should always consider what is included with the rent when it comes to the affordability of a rental. Some may or may not include the utilities just as you may or may not need to provide your own appliances.

This can vary greatly across Canada and even between cities in each province. Take some time to research your desired area and determine what is normal for that area.

One thing that is typically not included is furniture. So, if you plan to immigrate to Canada, you should also factor in getting things like a bed and couch or chairs, or anything else that you may find necessary to live comfortably.

Types of Properties to Rent

In Canada, there are three main types of rental dwellings. These are houses (including townhouses), apartments, and condos.

One of the differences when looking at houses and townhouses is that a house will generally be more spacious than a townhouse and is more likely to include a yard while townhouses are not only smaller but may also be broken up into smaller dwellings such as separate main floor and basement dwellings, meaning that you would have other living on the same premises as you and your family.

When looking at the differences between apartments or condos, a condo will usually be a unit or units owned by one person or entity in a building owned by a different person while apartments are in a building (or house) where all apartments and the building itself are owned by the same person or entity.

There will be benefits to each type of rental and which works best for you and your family will depend on your own needs and preferences.

Finding Places to Rent in Canada

While word of mouth is one of the more common ways to find rentals in Canada, the internet or newspapers are also good resources. That said, it's important to be critical of ads you see as there are many online scams, so if a rental seems too good to be true then it likely is.

If you would like extra help finding the ideal rental for you then you could consider hiring a real estate agent. These agents can begin the search for your perfect residence before you even immigrate to Canada.

A Guide to Lease Agreements in Canada

When it comes to housing regulations you will need to look to the provincial authority as they will handle these types of matters.

Each province will have its guidelines for what is expected and acceptable for rentals. There will be guidelines and rules for both the landlord and the tenant.

While the length of your lease may vary, the typical lease is an agreement for one year that will outline all of your rights and expectations as a tenant and the same for your landlord.

Always read through your lease and ensure that you understand everything before you sign. Speak with the landlord if you need clarification on anything and don't be afraid of asking a lawyer to take a look at it if you have any concerns.

Learn more about housing laws including your rights as a tenant in each province or territory in Canada:

Applying For a Rental in Canada

The application and supporting documents required when applying for a rental will vary between landlords. Some may only request to meet you while others may ask that you complete a full application including employment information, rental background, references, and a credit check. 

In Canada, your credit helps to determine how trustworthy you are with paying your bills on time. Unfortunately, if you are new to Canada this may be a roadblock. Having additional supporting documentation outlining your trustworthiness as a renter from your originating country may be useful in these cases.

Becoming a Homeowner in Canada

While your initial goal when you immigrate to Canada is to find a rental, you may eventually decide that you'd like to settle down and purchase a home.

Renting can help you get there by allowing you the financial wiggle room to put money away until that time comes. After all, you will need a downpayment if you plan on purchasing a home.

How to Immigrate to Canada

If you plan to immigrate to Canada you will need to do your fair share of research into what steps to take and the requirements that are needed. These requirements can vary depending on the method of application. You can expect to provide a long-term plan, an employment offer letter, and complete an immigration medical exam.

Immigrating to Canada doesn't need to be difficult. Please contact us at Immigration Physician Ottawa to learn about how our services can help you complete your permanent residency application requirements.

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