How the rental system works

There are many rental options in Canada. You can rent a house, an apartment, or a room in a shared home. When you rent, you are known as the tenant and the person who owns the building or apartment is referred to as the landlord. If you live in a large building with many units, the building may have a property manager or superintendent to look after the building and deal directly with tenants.

As a tenant, you must:

  • Pay your rent on time
  • Keep your home in good condition
  • Contact your landlord if something needs to be fixed
  • Let your landlord enter your home if repairs are needed

Landlords also have responsibilities. They must:

  • Collect your rent when it is due
  • Keep your building safe and in good condition
  • Make sure that everything included in your rent, such as heating and electricity, is in good working order


What landlords will need from you

Landlords want to know that their tenants will pay rent on time and look after their property carefully. For this reason, they are allowed to ask you for references. For example, they may want a letter from a past landlord or from your employer. They may also:

  • Ask you where you work
  • Ask you how much money you earn at your job
  • Check your credit history

As a newcomer, it can be hard to provide this information. If this is the case, you can get free help from an immigrant services office near you.

Covering your costs

Before you look for a place to rent, you will need to decide how much you can afford to pay each month. Keep in mind that the rent you give your landlord is not the only cost to consider. You may also have to pay for heat, electricity, water, cable television, internet, laundry and parking, as these may not be included in your rent. Depending on where you live, you may also have to pay for transportation to and from work, so make sure you have budgeted for it.

Finding a home to rent

Many Canadians rent their homes, so rental properties can be taken very quickly. When you find a place you are interested in, you should contact the landlord to arrange a visit as quickly as you can. Here are some good ways to find a rental property:

  • Check local newspapers
  • Look for free rental magazines in your grocery store
  • Check notice boards at libraries, community centres and grocery stores
  • Walk or drive around the neighbourhoods that interest you and look for signs that say “For rent” or “For lease”
  • Search for a rental property on the internet
  • Ask people if they know of any rentals Get free help from your local immigrant services office
Illustration of a man looking at a house through binoculars.

Moving in to your rental

Once you have found a place to rent, your landlord will probably ask you to sign a lease. A lease is a legal document. It covers everything you and your landlord have agreed to. It is important that you understand every word of this document. If you do not understand it, you should ask somebody to explain it to you.

Here are some questions to ask your landlord when you move in:

  • How will you get your mail?
  • If your building has an entry system that allows you to let visitors into your building, how does it work?
  • Where should you put your garbage and recycling?
  • Where is the laundry?
  • Where can you park your car, and is there visitor parking?
  • How do your appliances such as your oven and microwave work?

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has lots of valuable information about renting a home in Canada. To learn more, take a look at this online guide.