HOW TO TRANSITION WHEN IMMIGRATING TO CANADA
When moving to a new country, it may be challenging to get a house to rent. In Ontario (Canada) in particular, most landlords would require to see proof of employment, proof of income, a good credit and reference from previous landlords before renting a house to someone. This is because the Landlord will have a challenge to evict a tenant who is not paying because they have to go through the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB). There have been situations where it can take upto six months to evict a tenant. Being a new immigrant, you will likely not have any of the above and therefore what are the options?
- Obtain temporary housing for a few months while you work on getting a job and establishing credit
One of the options available would be to live in a hotel or a hostel for a short period while looking for a job. This option is less preferred because of lack of flexibility e.g. cooking etc. The other alternative is to use short- term booking websites like Airbnb or VRBO and one can negotiate with the host, especially the length of the stay. These are normally cheaper than hotels and there is flexibility in terms of amenities provided by the landlord.
2. Live with a friend or a relative for a while until you are able to get a job and establish credit to qualify for rent.
If you’re fortunate enough to have relatives or friends who can help, take advantage of the opportunity to minimize your costs and work on getting a job and establishing credit. The disadvantage with this is the inconvenience that would be caused to the friend or relative and this can strain the relationships especially if the parties do not agree on the expectations prior to moving in with the friend or relative.
3. Use a local guarantor if available
A guarantor is a person who agrees to pay your rent if you are unable to do it yourself. This agreement is legally enforceable. As a result, it’s usually relatives or close friends who agree to sign such a contract.
This allows you to rent a home while assuring the landlord that the rent will be paid regardless of the circumstances.
4. Provide proof of savings to rent a residence
Landlords may accept your offer if you can show a bank statement with a substantial sum of money that might cover the rent for a few months. A bank statement with savings demonstrates your capacity to pay the rent. Sometimes it may help for you to offer to prepay the rent to proof your commitment.
5. If possible, make a larger deposit than intended.
Each province in Canada has its own set of rules for renters who must pay a rent deposit before moving in. In Ontario, for example, tenants must pay the first and final month’s rent; there is no security deposit. However, you will be asked to pay a security deposit equal to half of the monthly rent in British Columbia.
You may give the landlord a few additional months of rent ahead if you don’t have a credit report or an employment letter – this can be a significant incentive for the landlord to approve your application over another. Remember that the landlord is not allowed to ask you for any more money above what is mentioned in the lease.
6. Look for house-sharing or apartment-sharing opportunities.
You can try to obtain shared housing by subleasing from an existing renter; or you can look for a roommate.
Having a roommate with a strong credit history co-sign the lease agreement; or
Getting a lease from a landlord who lives in the same building as you.
What is the definition of a sublease?
A sublet permits you to rent a room from an apartment’s initial renter. The rent is paid to the current renter, who then pays the landlord. In most cases, rooms subleased by tenants do not require you to give a credit report or a statement of employment. This varies by location and is dependent on the urgency of the subleasing tenant.
Many people in Canada are looking for roommates to share their living quarters. To fulfill the credit history requirement, instead of signing a sublease with the present tenant, you might consider co-signing the lease with a roommate who has a strong credit history. Landlords who rent out a room in their own home or apartment may be prepared to waive the credit history and/or employment letter requirements.
Start your search by checking for shared accommodation postings on Kijiji, Craigslist, and certain provincially popular Facebook groups like Home Zone (for Toronto and GTA listings).
NOTE: 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.