How to rent a house in Canada as an International Student?
Many prefer living off-campus due to the flexibility and freedom it provides. Another reason is that on-campus accommodations are limited. As you are new to Canada, it is very important for you to know well how the rental system works. This article will familiarise you with the most important things you ought to know before renting out a unit in Canada. Read on!
What should you consider before renting?
Consider the budget and neighborhood before moving out to a rental unit. There are different types of rental units like apartments, a house, or simply single rooms. Your basic expenses will be more than just the cost of rent, regardless of where you live. Knowing how much it will cost to rent ahead of time will help you create a budget that is realistic.
Your credit report
Your credit report is a collection of information about your credit history. When you borrow money or seek credit for the first time, your credit report is established. Credit bureaus, often known as credit reporting organizations, get information from lenders about your accounts. The information in your credit report determines your credit score, which is a three-digit number. It demonstrates how successfully you handle credit. Some landlords will run a credit check to ensure that you will pay your rent on time. A landlord may ask for a guarantor if you have no credit history or have experienced credit problems. A parent or guardian with a solid credit history is frequently a guarantor. If you are unable to pay your rent, the guarantor agrees to pay for you.
What you need to know about rental contracts
A signed rental agreement serves as a formal record of your agreement with the landlord. If a disagreement arises later, the rental agreement will assist in resolving it. Rental agreements between a landlord and renter are commonly referred to as a “lease”. The renter is granted the right to inhabit a rented property by the landlord. In exchange, the renter agrees to pay rent. Other conditions and rules may be included in the contract. When you sign a lease, you agree to follow all of the terms and conditions. If you have a guarantor, the landlord will have them sign a contract outlining their obligations.
What should your lease include?
Both the landlord and the renter have legal rights and responsibilities that must be defined. The lease should be written and should outline the following:
- The rent, security deposit and additional charges
- Date rent has to be paid and mode of payment
- Rules, terms and conditions
- Parties responsible with contact details
- What is included and what is not.
- Conditions for terminating the lease.
Tip: It’s important to note that the types of dwellings covered by tenancy legislation vary by province and territory. In some provinces mobile home park residents, for instance, are protected under the provincial tenancy legislation, while in others they are excluded. For information on Rental rights by province or territory please consult with those agencies.
In May or September, students typically sign a one-year lease that includes the summer term. You may be required to pay your first month's rent, last month's rent, or a security deposit (half a month's money) at the time of signing your lease, depending on your province. In most cases, the security deposit cannot exceed the amount of one month's rent. The landlord will usually utilize your security deposit to cover the last month of your lease. The landlord may also deduct money from the deposit to cover any potential damage. Certain provinces like Ontario and Quebec have exceptions to this procedure.
Rent can be paid via a check, an electronic bank transfer, or even cash in rare situations. Inquire about your landlord's preferred method of payment. While post-dated cheques are convenient, several provinces make it illegal for the landlord to demand them. The rent needs to be paid on the date stated in the lease. Even a day’s delay is considered a late payment.
Late payments are treated differently by province or territory. Depending on where you live, landlords can:
- Impose a reasonable penalty
- Offer a grace period of up to 3 days
- Provide a notice to terminate the rental agreement due to arrears. The notice would no longer be valid as soon as you pay the rent owing.
Tip: If you're having problems with your landlord, your college or university's housing office may be able to provide you with free or low-cost legal help. They can certainly advise you on where to seek legal assistance.
Subletting your apartment or house
Subletting is the process of renting out a room that you have currently leased for a limited time. It requires your landlord’s consent. This is typically done when you are planning a vacation and want to make or save money by renting out your premises. If you wish to sublet your rental unit, you'll need to find someone to live there. They will be in charge of paying rent and abiding by your rental agreement's terms and conditions. But it comes with a bigger risk because you are liable if your sublet damages the property or does not pay their rent.
Avoid rental frauds
Trust your instincts! Take the required precautions if something doesn't feel right. When it comes to renting an apartment, there are provincial rules in place that protect tenants (and landlords) from scams, harmful conditions, and misleading people. To be knowledgeable before beginning your rental search:
- Look up your province's tenancy act.
- Always take a physical tour of the place.
- Confirm the owner of the property.
- Always sign a written lease.
Be watchful of the following warning signs:
- “Too good to be true” ads
- Unclear listings
- Not meeting the property manager or landlord in person
- Asking for money before you see the rental in person
If you spend too much on rent, it may be difficult to afford other expenditures or save for the future. Stay organized, on track, and on budget as you prepare to relocate. Watch out for rental frauds and scams. While everyone's needs and situations differ, understanding ahead of time which requirements pertain to you will help you in finding the ideal house for you. Before you rent, consider all the costs. Happy living in Canada!
(Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Rentboard Canada Inc., Canada.ca)
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