For the first few months or even a couple of years, most newcomers moving to Canada consider renting accommodation versus buying property. As an essential and high-priority task, this often turns out to be challenging as in addition to the rent deposit, landlords usually ask for an employment letter, a credit report, and references. And with just having moved to Canada, newcomers often aren’t able to meet these additional requirements.
So, as a newcomer, how can you find permanent accommodation in Canada with no credit history and no job offer letter? In this article, we will share a few tips and workarounds on how to position yourself as a reliable tenant so you can find a suitable place for you and your family.
Moving to Canada soon and looking for more tips on renting a place?
See How to rent your first home as a newcomer in Canada.
To build a stronger case as a reliable tenant, you can try combining as many tips as you can from the ones outlined below.
8 tips to find a rental unit without credit history and job letter in Canada
1. Provide proof of savings from a bank account
You can demonstrate your reliability as a tenant by showing proof of savings to cover a few months of rent. To do this, you don’t need to provide a detailed bank statement. Speak with your banking advisor to know your options; it may be possible to obtain a letter indicating that you are in possession of the funds to pay the rent.
Moving to a new country comes with many challenges. Book an appointment with an RBC Advisor to find answers to any financial questions you may have.
2. Provide a local guarantor or co-signer
A guarantor or a co-signer is someone who agrees to pay rent on your behalf if you are not able to. Being a guarantor or co-signer is legally binding, and usually, only close friends or relatives will agree to act as a guarantor for you. You should also consider the impact on your relationship with them should you fail to hold up your end of the bargain.
3. Look for house-share or apartment-share arrangements
You can try to find a shared accommodation by –
- Subleasing from an existing tenant; or
- Co-signing the lease agreement with a roommate who has a good credit history; or
- Leasing from a landlord who lives in the same apartment or house.
What is a sublease?
A sublease allows you to rent a room from the original tenant of an apartment. Rent payments are made to the existing tenant who, in turn, pays the landlord. Generally, rooms that are subleased by tenants don’t require you to provide a credit report or employment letter. This may differ from place to place and depends on the urgency of the tenant who is subletting.
In Canada, many people seek out roommates for their living arrangements. Instead of signing a sublease with the existing tenant, you could explore the option of co-signing the lease with a roommate who has a good credit history, to meet the credit history requirement.
Landlords renting out a room in their own house or apartment may be willing to overlook the requirement for credit history and/or employment letter.
You can start your search by looking for shared accommodation listings on sites like Kijiji, Craigslist, and some provincially popular options like Home Zone on Facebook (for Toronto and GTA listings).
Tip: Sites like Kijiji and Craigslist tend to have many scammers. If a listing seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Do not make any payments until you verify the place in-person and sign the appropriate paperwork.
4. If you can, offer more than expected deposit
Each province in Canada has legal guidelines on rent deposit payments to be made by tenants before moving in. For example, in Ontario, renters are required to pay first and last month rent; there’s no security deposit. But in British Columbia, you will be required to pay a security deposit equivalent to half the monthly rent.
In the absence of a credit report and employment letter, you can offer the landlord a few more months of rent upfront – this can be a huge incentive for the landlord to accept your application over another. Remember, the landlord cannot legally ask you for any additional amount beyond the specified norms.
So be sure to check the guidelines for the province you are moving to and accordingly present your offer to the landlord.
5. Explore condos or basement apartments rented out by individual owners
It can be relatively easier to find a condo or basement apartment that’s owned by individual landlords versus those that are owned by property management firms or large institutional investors. The application process for apartments located in rental buildings is usually very strict and offers little to no flexibility in terms of credit and employment verification. However, individual landlords may be more willing to understand your unique situation as a unique and make an exception to accept you as a tenant, subject to your reliability.
6. Consider neighbourhoods that are away from prime locations
Finding a place in the heart of the city or the city centre is usually challenging even for those who have credit history and employment records to show. Broadening your search and considering the suburbs or neighbourhoods that are on the outskirts of the city may prove helpful in finding a suitable place. While you do this, if you don’t have a car, keep a close eye on public transportation and commute time to the city centre.
7. Book temporary accommodation for the first couple of months
If you have friends or family already residing in Canada and they’re open to hosting you, it may be a good idea to plan your stay with them for the first few months.
For those who cannot leverage this option, you can try booking long-term stays at an Airbnb, a hotel, or a hostel. Hostels in Canada are clean, secure, and extremely budget-friendly; some even provide free breakfast. Often, you’ll be able to choose between staying in a mixed dorm or a male or female-only dorm. Some hostels also provide private rooms at a higher cost. Try exploring sites like HostelWorld, HI Hostels, Booking.com, or Kayak to find good deals.
Some landlords are willing to rent to tenants with a two or three-month credit history. Booking or arranging temporary accommodation for the first few months will give you a couple of months of time to build your credit.
For a deeper understanding of how to build your credit, read How to build a good credit score from scratch
How to obtain 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 generate 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. Detailed instructions to obtain the report are available on the respective websites.
8. Take up a survival job and/or volunteer
Survival jobs are lower-skilled jobs where significant education or extensive professional experience is usually not required. For example, working as a driver with a ride-sharing service, warehouse or factory worker, cashier at a grocery store, barista at a coffee shop, food delivery person, sales associate, telemarketing associate, cleaner, or a server at a restaurant.
Volunteering is an integral part of Canadian culture, and giving back to the community is usually well-regarded and valued in Canadian society. It involves giving personal time freely for the benefit of another person, group, or cause.
Both survival jobs and volunteering are good ways to earn Canadian experience, practice your language skills, build your network locally, and gather references for your rental application. Survival jobs will also provide you with an employment letter and cover basic living expenses while still allowing you to continue looking for your desired role.
Finding your first long-term permanent accommodation in Canada can be stressful and challenging. Following the tips outlined in this article will ensure you have a place to stay while you build your credit history and find employment. And over time, you will be well-positioned to find a place you can call home!