Top 10 Tips for Renting an Apartment in Toronto (2021)
It’s a renter’s market right now. Toronto, like most major cities in Canada, has an ample supply of rental accommodation available. The impact of COVID-19 pandemic has seen student and immigration numbers plummet; thereby, reducing demand. In addition, travel restrictions and related quarantine requirements have compelled many short-term rentals to convert to long-term rentals. Lastly, a number of developments completed just as the pandemic was setting in, further adding to the supply making this one of the best times to rent in Toronto as we head into 2021.
Having said this, there are still some tips to share that will help you find the best places to rent in Toronto:
1. Identify your requirements
Make a list of what is important to you before you look for an apartment to rent in Toronto – amenities, neighbourhood, walkability, transit etc. This will help refine your search.
With your identified requirements, start your search on liv.rent for apartments for rent in the Greater Toronto Area. Filter your searches by various parameters – housing type, bedrooms, pricing, pet policy and furnished or unfurnished rentals.
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2. Research & explore the neighbourhood
Find out the average rent for comparable properties in the area of Toronto that you’re targeting. This will give you a good idea of what you should be paying. It also arms you with the necessary information to negotiate terms and rates if necessary. In addition, scope out the neighbourhood on foot; given that you’ll be renting for at least 12 months, this will give you a better idea of the area, services and amenities.
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3. Research the landlord
One way to avoid scam listings and disreputable landlords is to research your landlord beforehand. Utilize social media tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also narrow your searches to verified landlords and/or properties on the liv.rent rental platform. This means their business licenses and land title documents have been verified against city registries; thus, lending reassurance that you are dealing with a legitimate entity.
4. Diversify your search
In addition to liv.rent, use other platforms like 4rent, Walk Score and Kijiji to broaden your search. There will always be some cross posting but this ensures you’ve cast the widest net and the best way to find cheap rent in Toronto!
5. Have all the necessary information to apply
In order to act quickly on a property, make sure you have evidence of employment and income. Valid proof includes bank statements, pay stubs, tax statements, and letters of employment. Other alternatives include job offer letters or student loan financial statements. It is also important to have references (ideally, previous landlords).
On liv.rent, once you’ve completed your renter profile, this will serve as the only application you need to apply for multiple properties. Make sure your profile is fully completed with financial documents and references. This is an indicator of your reliability and trustworthiness as a tenant; thus, landlords will more likely favour your application over others.
6. Be strategic about in-person viewings
If possible, view video tours first. Since in-person viewings are limited due to COVID-19, narrow down your selection and book viewings for only places you’re seriously considering. Once there, be prepared with questions and make sure everything is in working order before committing – run faucets, check thermostats, flush toilets, turn on stoves, etc. And, when you do commit to an in-person showing, be sure you’re ready to act – have all the information and payment ready (see #5 – Have all necessary information).
7. Adjust search parameters
As important as it is to decide on a neighbourhood for your search, it is equally as important to be flexible. Consider properties outside your ‘sweet spot’ – a little to the north, south, east or west. Your selection will expand and you may find a better rental or get more for your money while still enjoying the attractions of your preferred neighbourhood.
8. Consider older rental buildings
As appealing as new condos might be with modern amenities, appliances and fixtures, old buildings are often renovated, more spacious and more cost-effective. Do not rule them out!
9. Be prepared to negotiate
This is a once in a life time opportunity – renter’s market in Toronto. You now have a bit more leverage when determining the rental rate. Try asking for a reduction, a fixed price for utilities, a rent freeze or even permission to have a pet! The ball is in the renter’s court – for now.
10. Familiarize yourself with standardized lease terms
Do your research and know your rights by reviewing the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) rules. This way you’ll avoid agreeing to questionable or illegal lease terms.
Toronto is Canada’s biggest, most diverse, and exciting city! If there ever was a time to consider moving to Toronto, it is now. The rental market is experiencing some of the highest vacancy rates in years, so the selection of attractive properties is impressive. This will not last. Once the vaccine is distributed and travel restrictions are lifted, demand will increase. Now is the time to act!
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