FINDING SOMEWHERE TO LIVE IN CANADA
One of your first needs after arriving in Canada is a temporary place to stay until you can rent or buy a long-term home. If you do not have family or friends in Canada that you can stay with, one option is to stay at a hotel or hostel.
Most hotels offer private rooms and bathrooms equipped with telephone, Internet connection and television. Some have rooms with a small kitchen that allows you to save money by preparing your own meals instead of eating at a restaurant. The cost of hotels varies within each city or town depending on the overall quality, the services available and the location. On websites and tourist guides, the general standard and cost may be indicated by the number of stars that appear after the hotel’s name. Five stars usually means the highest standard and cost and one star usually means the lowest.
Hostels are a more basic version of a hotel. At most hostels you can get either a private room or a bed in a large room that you share with other people. Washrooms are usually shared and there is often a kitchen where you can prepare your own meals. The cost and standard of hostels vary, but many offer a clean, comfortable and low-cost alternative to hotels.
You should book your hotel or hostel at least several weeks before flying to Canada. By booking in advance, you will likely save money and have a better chance of finding rooms available. Try and find a hotel or hostel that is centrally located and close to public transportation. Beware of very cheap hotels or hostels. They may be located in unpleasant areas or be of a very low standard.
To find a suitable hotel or hostel, you can:
- Go online to the Yellow Pages website and type in “hotels” or “hostels” , or try www.booking.com
- Search the Internet for the tourism website of the city or town where you will be settling (type in “tourism” + “[name of city or town]”) and read the accommodation listings;
- Do a general Internet search for hotels and hostels in the city or town where you will be settling;
- Buy a tourist guidebook to Canada with hotel and hostel listings at a bookstore in your country of origin;
- Go to the information desk at the airport after you arrive (if you did not book accommodation before arriving)
Most hotels and hostels have websites with prices, photographs, a location map and a description of the services they offer. An alternative to hotels and hostels is to contact an immigrant-serving organization in the city or town where you will be settling and ask if there is temporary accommodation available specifically for newcomers and how much it costs. You can find contact information for immigrant-serving organizations across Canada by clicking here.
Renting your first home in Canada
If you are planning to rent a home, a useful CMHC publication is Renting Your First Home in Canada: What Newcomers Need to Know. You can download it from www.cmhc.ca/newcomers or order it by calling CMHC at 1-800-668-2642. This product is available in eight different languages. The information below is based on this publication and other CMHC guides for newcomers.
Tenants and landlords
Your “landlord” is the person who owns the house or building you live in. For larger buildings, the landlord may hire a “property manager” or “superintendent” to collect rent and manage the building.
Landlord and tenant responsibilities can vary in different provinces or territories. CMHC provides fact sheets that describe aspects of the rental process and related laws in each province and territory. The fact sheets also include contact information for provincial and territorial rental authorities and related links. You should read the fact sheet related to the province or territory where you live if you plan to rent a home. You can find the fact sheets at www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/reho.
In general, your landlord is responsible for:
Collecting the rent:
- Keeping your building safe and in good condition;
- Providing everything that comes with the apartment and that is included in your rent (such as the refrigerator, stove, heating); and
- Handling and paying for repairs when something in your home stops working.
As a tenant, you are generally responsible for:
- Paying your rent in full and on time
- Keeping your home clean and well maintained
- Contacting the landlord whenever anything needs to be serviced or repaired; and
- Allowing the landlord or manager to enter your home to carry out repairs, or to show the apartment to other tenants if you are moving out. Your landlord must provide you with proper notice before entering your apartment.
If a landlord is not meeting his or her responsibilities, you can contact the rental authority in the province or territory where you live for assistance.
Moving in and signing a lease
When you agree to rent a place, you and your landlord should sign a lease. A lease is a written rental agreement that outlines all the terms you and your landlord have agreed to. It is a legal document, so make sure you read and understand every word. You may choose to ask someone to go over it with you, such as a relative, a friend, staff in an immigrant-serving organization or even a lawyer.
Common items that appear on a rental lease
Depending on the province or territory, a landlord may ask you for a rental deposit when you sign the lease. The deposit is usually equal to the cost of one month’s rent. This deposit can be used if you do not pay the rent or to cover damage you cause to the apartment or house you are renting. When you move out, your deposit is either returned to you or used to pay for your last month of rent. Every province has different rules about deposits. For example, in Ontario, the deposit can only be used for unpaid rent and not to pay for damages. In Quebec, landlords are not permitted to ask for any deposit. For more details, read the fact sheet for the province or territory where you live, available at www.cmhc.ca.
Ask your landlord or the superintendent to go over the rules and instructions for getting your mail, using the intercom (in an apartment building), garbage and recycling, laundry, tenant and visitor parking, and how the appliances work.
- The names and contact information for you and your landlord
- The address of the house or apartment you are renting
- The monthly rent you have agreed to pay, with or without utilities, parking, cable television or other services
- The date when the rent is due (for example, on the first day of each month) and the amount by which the landlord is allowed to increase the rent in the future
- The term of the rental period (for example, one year or month-to-month)
- The conditions for ending or cancelling your lease, or subletting the property (finding someone else to rent it if you want to leave before the rental period stated in your lease is over)
- A list of the repairs or upkeep that will be your responsibility. Any other restrictions (such as whether or not you can smoke or have pets). Details on the rules under which the landlord is permitted to enter your house or apartment. Procedures for making changes to the lease and resolving any disagreements
Source: Welcome to Canada: What you should know
www.cic.gc.ca, Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2013.