How To Get Yourself An Apartment In Toronto? The Complete Guide!

When I moved to Toronto (Canada), I never thought it would be quite a challenging task to find myself an apartment. I had already lived out in multiple European and North American cities and wasn’t expecting any kind of issues finding an apartment. But to my surprise, finding an apartment is like looking for a job in this city!

While I knew that housing in Toronto was expensive, I wasn’t completely aware of the housing shortage in the city. What that means for you as a Tenant is that the landlords gets a ton of applications and can get extremely picky (sometimes discriminatory).

Documents Required

It would be handy for you to keep certain documents with you that will make it easier for you to apply for housing and get accepted.

When you apply for housing you will be asked for the following –

  • Proof of Income – This document could be a letter from your employer or your recent pay stubs. In case you are self-employed, you can use your tax returns as a document that proves your income.
  • Bank Statement – If you are a student or have no income then you can either obtain recent bank statements or a letter from your bank that proves you have enough funds to pay the rent.
  • Valid Photo ID – Landlords can ask you to provide a valid photo ID. You can use your Provincial Photo ID, Driver’s License, Permanent Residence and Passport.
  • Credit Report – In case you have been living in Canada, you will be asked to provide a credit report from Equifax or TransUnion.
  • Reference letter – This would be from your previous landlord or apartment. It would be good to keep their contact details handy as well.

Finding An Apartment

You can use to find apartments in Toronto however to apply for an apartment you might need to go through a real estate agent. Usually when you send an email for a viewing, an agent will contact you.

Padmapper makes it easy to find apartments in Toronto

How to use Padmapper

  • Select what region you want to live – For example Toronto, Ontario
  • Filter listings based on budget, lease duration, bedrooms
  • View relevant listing and contact details

Alternatively you can also use Google Maps for finding apartments in the region.

Google Maps listing apartments in Toronto

A real estate agent can also help you in your search as they have access to the apartment listings in the city and can recommend you units based on your budget, and preference.

Long leasing Application Forms

Rental application forms can be quite long

Unlike many American cities where you can look up and even rent apartments online, Toronto still lags behind, and you might be able to find only limited places which will allow you to rent the unit through a website and make payments online.

Instead, you will need to view the unit first and then fill in an application each time you have to apply for a condo. Agents might accept the form through email.

Finding A Good Real Estate Agent

Usually when you contact for rental listings, you will find that many are represented by realtors. You can always ask them to show you more listings around the area.

A good real estate agent would usually do the following

  • Show you a number of listings
  • Will not force you to go for higher cost rentals
  • Will drive you around and show you the properties
  • Will not charge you any fees for helping in your search

If an agent insists you to bid up on your application or have an earlier move-in date than what you want, they might not be working in your best interests, and it is recommended that you look for another agent.

Making Rental Payments

Many places in Toronto require payment to be made through cheque

For payments, you will need to hand out a cheque or certified cheque or bank draft. You can always inquire if the agent/landlord would be willing to accept Electronic Fund Transfer (also called as Interac) instead of cheque.

Avoid paying in cash unless you already have a good relationship with the landlord and make sure to ask for receipts for payments made in such case.

What If You Don’t Have A Job Offer?

Having a job is not a requirement for housing however can make your application look strong. In case you don’t have a job offer, you can rely on your bank statements as proof of funds.

Other Things To Consider

Make sure you view the apartment before you put in your application. Some apartments can be really messy, in need of repairs or smell of smoke all the time.

If the apartments need repairs, do let the landlord know about it in written as they might be required by law to get those repairs done.

Discrimination Is Rampant

Don’t be surprised if your application gets rejected even if you have a job offer and good credit score. While laws against discrimination exist in Toronto (Ontario), they are not properly enforced and you will often end up getting discriminated directly or indirectly by landlords who own properties in Toronto.

If you get rejected, just move on and submit your application for another property.

Complaints for discrimination can be made through Tribunals Ontario.

Beware Of Scams

If you find a deal too good to be true, it might be a scam. Make sure to check the apartment beforehand, Avoid paying for anything in advance and make sure that the person you are dealing with is legit. You can search for them on Google/Facebook and see their reviews.

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