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Top 10 tips for first-time renters in Toronto

For many newcomers, finding a place to live is one of the most important tasks to figure out once arriving in Canada. Major cities like Toronto and Vancouver are popular destinations because of the extensive career opportunities they offer. In this blog, we’ll be focusing on the basics of renting in Toronto by sharing some advice to help you find a place you’ll be happy with!

Here are the Top 10 tips to help you find a place to live in Toronto:

1. Find the best deal by exploring your options online!

Sites like ViewIt and Condos.ca are good places to get a feel of the rent in different neighbourhoods. To find better deals, sites/apps like Craigslist, Kijiji, Zumper, Padmapper, and Bunz Home Zone on Facebook are worth visiting. Since these are listing aggregators, they provide a forum for tenants to directly connect with landlords. With no realtors involved, the downside is that you need to verify the authenticity of the listing yourself.

2. Deciding between living downtown or the suburbs

Renting a place in the suburbs (such as Brampton, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Scarborough, or Markham), is comparatively more affordable than downtown Toronto. However, don’t forget to factor in the cost of your daily commute for a more holistic picture; walk and transit scores can help you narrow your search.

3. Stay on top of your timing and dates!

Units or apartments are listed for rent typically 2 months before the move-in date (for instance, an apartment advertised on August 1st becomes available October 1st). Also, note that most rentals begin on the 1st of the month. In a city like Toronto, the fall season is a busy time, be sure to plan, plan, plan!

4. Utilities may add on to your monthly rent

Make sure to look beyond the monthly rental price – common utilities to be considered are water, hydro (electricity), heat, and air conditioning (AC); landlords may include some or all of these as part of your rent – or they may be excluded entirely. AC and heat is a majority of the cost component, hydro averages to $50-80 per month, while water can be about $20-40 per month. Internet and cable TV, combined, will cost additional—upwards of $100 per month. Parking space will cost you extra too, be sure to consider that as well

5. Inspect the place before you decide to rent it!

Your first rental is an exciting time – be thorough throughout the process! In big cities like Toronto, household pests like bedbugs can be an issue so be sure to check the place. You may get a good deal on rent if the building is slightly older or if the construction is yet to be complete.

6. No credit report? Having a local guarantor or co-signer might help!

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 your case.

7. Move quickly to secure a unit you like

The rental market in Toronto moves fast so be quick to place an offer with the landlord.

8. Know what’s common practice

It’s standard for landlords to ask for the first + last month rent before you move in—this s the norm, but depending on your situation (lack of credit history, no job offer, etc.) you may be asked to cover some additional months as well. Be sure to ask the lister rent-related questions upfront.

9. Ensure a smooth transition

More often than not, you’ll be moving into a unit that someone has previously rented; some utilities like hydro may need to be transferred to your name from the past tenants. The registration process for hydro transfer is online and typically takes a day until you receive confirmation.

10. Protect yourself; get tenant insurance

Look around and browse different providers to find one that works for you. Some newer agencies such as Square and Sonnet offer competitive rates. When renting a place, it’s advisable to factor in some additional expenses as what may initially seem like an affordable unit, may actually turn out to be over your budget. See: Five tips to get your budget started, to help you plan your finances. We know it can be overwhelming, but with the right resources and information, you’ll be sure to find a place you can call ‘home.’


Other helpful links:

Renting in Toronto: The complete guide for tenants

Toronto rental tips and survival guide for Millenials

13 tips to make apartment hunting in Toronto way easier




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This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.