Renting your first home in Toronto

Renting your first home in Toronto

Renting your first home in Toronto

When immigrating to Canada, finding accommodation is an important consideration for most newcomers. As with any international trip, new arrivals usually book their first accommodation before arriving.

And temporary accommodation (hotels, hostels, apartments, condos, houses, etc.) is usually the preferred choice for the first few days or weeks, or even months.

Are you moving to Toronto soon? Fill out our contact form to get more information!

In search of more permanent, long-term accommodation, newcomers often choose to lease or rent their first home in Canada rather than purchasing it outright.

The time it takes to find an apartment may vary depending on supply, demand and vacancy rates in the rental market in the Canadian city you are moving to.

For credit and employment reasons, many newcomers find it difficult to secure a rental space in a large city like Toronto. It generally requires proof of income (at least three months bank statements), one- or two-month deposit, background check, credit check, and more.

On the other hand, if you want to live in the suburbs or in a small or medium-sized city, finding an apartment is relatively easier.

This article provides guidance on all the standards, requirements and processes when renting an apartment. This allows you to be well-informed, prepared, and confident to start a new chapter of your life in Canada.

How Beginners Find Your First Apartment for Rent in Canada

Step 1: Decide How to Find an Apartment to Rent – Search on Your Own or Find an Agent How to Find Accommodation in Canada

There are two ways. You can:

  • Find yourself using a variety of online and offline methods: Explore websites like ViewIt and to find different locations around the city. You can understand the rent in the area. To find better deals, use websites/apps like Craigslist, Kijiji, Zumper, and Padmapper. There are also some popular options in the province worth checking out, including Facebook’s Home Zone (for Toronto and his GTA listings) and Winnipeg Rental Network (for Winnipeg listings). All of these sites feature aggregators, providing a forum where renters can contact landlords directly.

Tip: If the listing doesn’t seem real, it’s probably a scam.

Do not make any payment until you have inspected the location in person and signed the appropriate paperwork.

  • Hire an agent/real estate agent: There are many agents and real estate agents who can help you find an apartment. is a good place to start your search. Another option is to search for properties on sites like ViewIt or

Each listing typically lists the names and contact information of agents who can be contacted.

Next Stop Toronto can also recommend good real estate agents who work in your desired neighborhood, budget and language. Fill out our contact form on the homepage to learn more.

Step 2: Identify Your Preferred Neighbourhood

Identify a Toronto neighbourhood where you would like to live. Some factors that you should consider while researching neighbourhoods are:

  • The average cost of rentals in a specific neighborhood 
  • Commute time to core downtown/city center or major business hubs
  • Monthly travel costs
  • Walk and transit scores
  • Proximity to schools, your workplace, grocery stores, transportation, shopping malls, places of worship, etc.
  • Parking
  • Crime rates
  • Noise levels

Step 3: Decide Type of Accommodation

There are several types of housing you should know about:

Apartments: According to the Canada Home Mortgage Corporation (CHMC), apartments range from walk-up units in low-rise buildings to units in buildings with elevator access. These buildings are owned and maintained by a corporation. Amenities available in apartment buildings range from one washer and dryer on site to full laundry rooms, common areas, and fitness facilities.

Condominium: A condominium is a unit (similar to a suite or apartment) in a high-rise building. Condominium residents typically have access to shared amenities within the building, such as a gym, pool, and party room. Condominiums are owned and maintained by a private owner or landlord.

Student Dormitories: According to CMHC, student dormitories include rooms that are rented out to individuals. The kitchen, bathroom, and living room are usually shared with other residents.

Houses: CMHC defines residential rentals as townhouses, semi-detached houses, semi-detached houses, and detached houses. The house may have two or three separate apartments, one above the other. A house divided into two units is called a duplex, and a house divided into three units is called a triplex.

Basement Apartment: The basement of a house is often called an apartment. Basement rentals have the advantage of having more space than most apartments and access to outdoor areas such as terraces, lawns, gardens, and parking spaces.

Bachelor Units/Studio: These are both apartments and condos. Bachelor units or studios are relatively small, with one room serving as both a sleeping area and a living area.

To get professional advice, fill out the Next Stop Toronto contact form on the homepage to speak directly with an experienced real estate agent.

Step 4: Search For Offers That Match Your Criteria.

When looking for the right accommodation, use our online filters to narrow down your options. When contacting a real estate agent, be sure to clearly state your wishes.

Here are some questions to ask your landlord or real estate agent when shortlisting:

Rent Breakdown: Ask about what’s included and excluded from the rent. Utilities such as water, water (electricity), heat, air conditioning (AC), internet, and cable may or may not be included. Parking fees may also be subject to additional charges. Most accommodations in Canada have a fully furnished kitchen with all the necessary appliances. However, we recommend that you check that this is not the case.

Pets: If you have or plan to have a pet, check to see if your building has pet restrictions.

Guidelines for Guests: Depending on the type of accommodation, there may be rules and restrictions regarding reception of guests and observance of quiet hours.

Interior Design Rules: Some landlords may not allow permanent changes to the property. Personalizing the space by hanging photos or wall art or installing technology on the walls may be allowed, but you should always check.

Rental Term: Not all rental units are rented for one year. Some landlords may require you to enter into a short-term or long-term rental agreement.

Move-in Date: units or apartments are typically leased two months before the move-in date (e.g. an apartment advertised on August 1st becomes vacant on October 1st). Additionally, most rentals begin on his 1st of the month. However, there are exceptions, so we recommend checking with your real estate agent or landlord in advance.

Acceptable Payment Methods for Rentals: Ask your landlord if they accept all payment methods (cash, check, wire transfer, bank transfer, etc.) or if they prefer a specific payment method.

Tip: When viewing potential properties, be sure to take photos to document any damage or visible defects. This can be helpful when negotiating a rental agreement with your landlord.

Expected costs for renting: Rent may vary depending on a variety of factors, including: Neighborhood, unit size, rental unit demand, included amenities and additional costs, etc. A casual search on sites like ViewIt and or apps like Zumper and Padmapper will give you an idea of ​​what to expect.

Air conditioning and heat make up the majority of the cost components, with hydropower costs averaging CAD 50-80 per month, while water costs can cost approximately CAD 20-40 per month.

Internet and cable TV combination is available for an additional fee of CAD 100 per month. Additional charges may apply for garbage collection and waste disposal, depending on accommodation type.

Step 5: Prepare Essential Documents

To be able to rent a place, you will have to provide certain documents to prove that you can pay the rent on time and can afford the space. Landlords may ask for:

  • Employment letter with your salary details 
  • Credit report
  • References (from friends or family or previous landlords in Canada)
  • Bank statements

Navigating through newcomer challenges:

  • For newcomers who are yet to find employment, showing sufficient funds to cover more than a couple of months worth of rent or being able to provide a local guarantor or co-signer might help.  
  • To make up for the absence of a credit report, you can consider providing a letter from your bank or bank statements that show you have sufficient funds to cover more than a couple of months worth of rent.

Obtaining a credit report:

It takes at least a few weeks to a month for newcomers to receive their first Canadian credit card and a few additional months of credit transactions to build a credit history. EQUIFAX and TransUnion are the two major credit rating organizations in Canada, and you can choose either one to get your credit report. However, EQUIFAX is the more popular option, and most landlords tend to ask for a credit report from EQUIFAX.

Want to know how to rent an apartment with no credit history or job letter in Canada? Go to our homepage and fill out the Next Stop Toronto contact form. We will get back to you with customized information for your journey! That means more tips and advice on renting suitable accommodation as a newcomer. 

Step 6: Sign the Lease Agreement

A lease is a document that summarizes your relationship with the landlord. It outlines the rent you’ll pay and mentions the dates of your lease, along with other rules around pets and smoking, what happens at the end of your lease, etc.

Once you decide on the apartment, house, or condo you want to rent, you will be required to submit an application form to the landlord. If you are accepted as a tenant, your landlord will share the lease agreement for you to review and sign. Upon completion of these basic formalities, you will have to make all essential payments (depending on your province, it may include first and last month rent, security deposit, key deposit, pet deposit, etc.).

Tips: Your lease agreement is an important document and should be kept safely. You may need it for other administrative tasks such as applying for a driver’s license, getting provincial insurance, etc. Ensure you read the lease thoroughly and are aware of any additional addendums or schedules that may be added by the landlord. Even if you sign the lease with additional clauses, if those are beyond the ones outlined in the provincial Residential Tenancies Act, legally, you cannot be held responsible for it.

At this stage, some landlords may even require you to buy tenant insurance. Shop around and browse different providers to find one that works for you. Some newer agencies such as Square and Sonnet offer competitive rates.

Tip: If you are subletting from an existing tenant, be sure to have a record of all payments you make. If paying cash, get a receipt. Additionally, have the division of utility bills documented.

Once all the paperwork is submitted, and the payments are made, your landlord will hand over the keys to your new home.

Step 7: Set Up Transfer of any Utilities

More often than not, you’ll be moving into a unit that someone has previously rented, and hence, some utilities like hydro may need to be transferred to your name from the past tenants or from the landlord. 

Tip: There are different hydro providers, so make sure you get the name right. Ask your landlord, realtor, and/or building management to confirm. The registration process for hydro transfer is online and typically takes a day until you receive confirmation; you don’t have to physically visit any place to get it done.

Step 8: Move in!

Once you’ve signed the lease, received the keys, and transferred the utilities, it’s time to move-in! Check with your landlord and/or building management for any additional paperwork you may have to fill out after moving in. 

Tip: Most condo and apartment buildings have specific dates and times when the service elevator is available. Ensure you book it in advance to move in your larger items and furniture.

Know Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Renter in Toronto:

The list of rights and responsibilities of a renter is quite long and specific to each province/territory of Canada. Here are some important points to keep in mind: Rent Increase Guidelines:

Rent increase rules vary by state/territory. Some states set limits that the government can change annually. If your landlord wants to increase the amount beyond the set limit, you will need to get approval. Certain provinces, such as Alberta, have no restrictions.

Rent increases can only occur every 12 months, and landlords must notify tenants of any changes in advance. The number of days it takes to receive this notification varies by province.

Rent Payments and Rental Term: Each province in Canada has its own rules and guidelines regarding rent payments. For example, in Ontario, you must pay the first and last month’s rent before you can move in, and there is no deposit.

However, other cities, such as Vancouver, may require a deposit equal to one month’s rent. In most provinces, leases are signed for one year.

From then on (unless a new lease is signed), leases are assumed to be monthly by default. This means you typically don’t have to sign a new lease for the following year. If you wish to move, the notification period varies by province.

For specific information and legal guidance, please fill out the contact form on the Next Stop Toronto homepage.

Moving to a new country, city, or region and finding a place to live can be difficult and overwhelming, but with the right guidance, planning, research, and related resources, you can find a place to call your own.

Disclaimer: This article provided is not intended for legal or financial purposes. You should consult a professional advisor regarding your particular situation. You can find professionals through the Next Stop Toronto contact form.

While the information provided is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and should not be considered a complete analysis of the topics discussed.

All opinions expressed reflect the author’s judgment at the time of publication and are subject to change.