Citizenship and Immigration Canada
you consider when looking for a place to live?
When you first arrive
in Canada, you will probably be living in temporary accommodation. You
will soon be looking for a permanent place to live. The cost of setting
up your first home may be more expensive than you expected.
Finding a place to
live can take several weeks. Think of the search as three separate tasks:
- Deciding how much
you can afford to pay, how many rooms you need and where you want to
- Finding the apartment
or house you want.
- Completing the
legal contract to rent or buy.
Will finding a place to live be the same everywhere
Not entirely. Prices
are different from city to city, and each province has slightly different
laws on renting and buying. However, the process is the same everywhere
How much do houses and apartments cost?
Prices depend on
the location, age and condition of the apartment or house, and the local
housing market. Some cities and provinces control how much landlords can
charge for rent.
When you are budgeting
for your housing costs, you may have to allow as much as 35 to 50 per
cent of your income. This should include the costs for such things as
heating, utilities and laundry.
The table below gives
a good idea of average costs for a particular year.
Many houses are bought
and sold in the spring and early summer, and prices might be higher then,
although there will probably be a greater choice.
* Based on a February
1998 survey of MLS residential average prices by the Canadian Real Estate
How do you find an apartment to rent?
Your main sources
of information are the classified advertisements in local newspapers and
what you hear from other people. Some agencies which advertise apartments
may charge a fee. This does not mean they will find a home for you, but
they may show you more of what is available. Be careful before you sign
any type of contract.
Once you decide on
a price range, size, and preferred location, you should be able to identify
several possible apartments. Normally, you telephone for an appointment
to see the apartments.
Look for convenient
parking, nearby bus routes, shopping, schools, and laundry facilities
(washing machines) in or near the building.
Ask the landlord
or the person renting the apartment what facilities are included in the
rent, such as parking, whether or not you can keep a pet and how many
people can live in the apartment.
The landlord will
hold the apartment for you after you pay a deposit (which will be applied
to the rent) and you both sign an offer to rent the apartment.
What can you expect in a rented apartment?
Every apartment should
- its own door,
which can be locked, to a common hallway or to the street;
- a kitchen with
a sink and hot and cold water, countertop, shelves or cupboards and
appliances such as a stove and a refrigerator;
- closets and storage
- a private bathroom
with a sink, toilet and bath or shower.
Your apartment will
be equipped with several essential utilities, including:
- a heating system;
- light and electricity;
- hot and cold water;
- telephone lines;
- sewage pipes.
You should find out
if the costs of electricity, gas, heat and water are included in the rent,
or whether you will be charged directly by the utility companies.
Property taxes are
paid by the landlord. You must pay the costs of telephone and cable television
connection and the monthly bills for those services.
should include beds, chairs, tables, floor covering, light fixtures, curtains,
basic kitchen equipment in addition to utilities, a stove and a refrigerator.
What legal arrangements are involved in renting?
In many cities there
is a standard rental agreement, or lease, that both you and your landlord
sign. This is a printed document of one or two pages which specifies the
number of rooms, utilities and options such as parking or storage space.
Read it carefully
before signing. Be sure you understand which utilities you will pay, which
will be paid by the landlord and what penalty you may have to pay if you
leave before the lease is over. An immigrant-serving agency will be able
to help you understand exactly what is expected of you.
The lease will most
likely be for at least one year, and you will have to make an initial
payment, possibly the first and last month's rent. You may also be asked
for a damage deposit, which will be returned to you when you leave if
you have not caused any damage to the property beyond normal use. For
this reason it is important to note any damage and tell your landlord
before you move in.
How do you rent a house?
Renting a house is
the same process as renting an apartment. There may be more appliances,
such as a clothes washer and dryer. The tenant usually pays for utilities
How do you buy a house?
Your main sources
of information are friends and neighbours, real estate agents and classified
advertisements in the local newspapers. A real estate agent is a member
of a licensed real estate firm, who can show you several different homes
and describe what various areas are like to live in.
What can you expect when you buy a house?
You can expect that
the central heating, hot water heater and all built-in furniture such
as cupboards will be included in the price. You may be able to buy the
curtains, stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer from the previous owner
of the house.
What legal arrangements are involved in buying
Property law is complicated.
You should hire a lawyer (or in the Province of Quebec, a notary).
When you have decided
on which house you wish to buy, you usually make a legal written offer,
often with the condition that the house passes a professional inspection
of its condition and structure. The offer normally includes a deposit.
Usually, the buyer and the seller will bargain on price, in writing. If
the seller accepts an offer, the offer becomes an agreement to purchase.
You will probably
want to arrange financing (a mortgage) with a bank or trust company. The
down payment is usually at least 10 per cent of the total price, although
first-time home buyers may be eligible for a five per cent downpayment.
Mortgages can be paid over a period as long as 25 years, with interest
rates fixed for terms varying from one to five years.
Are there other types of accommodation?
Yes. In addition
to furnished and unfurnished apartments, furnished bedrooms to rent, and
houses for rent or for sale, there are also condominiums.
What is a condominium?
apartments or townhouses that are individually owned, while the common
areas (gardens, playground, walkways) are owned together. As well as the
mortgage payment and taxes, you will make a monthly payment, the condominium
fee, to the manager of the condominium for common maintenance and repairs.
Sources of information and advice
agencies, reception houses and national associations can give you advice
on renting an apartment, as well as other useful information.
The Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms protects you from unfair discrimination (See
Fact Sheet #8, Rights and Responsibilities).
The provincial department (or ministry) of housing administers a landlord
and tenant act that governs renting. You will find the information you
need in the federal or provincial government listings of the telephone
This fact sheet contains information that was
current at the time of publication. It is, however, a digest from many
sources, and should not be confused with official statements of policy
or programming. The Government of Canada is not responsible for information
that changes between printings.