how to rent in toronto

How to Rent in Toronto: the Ultimate Guide for Tenants

“How about we meet for lunch at Allen’s?” my colleague and soon-to-be client asked me.

Him and his partner wanted to know how to rent in Toronto as their living situation changed, 2 kids and 2 cats in the past 8 years together, plus, they lived in the East End of Toronto, but their businesses were located in the West End.

Normally, I don’t work with tenants. It’s simply something I chose for my business model, but I’ve known him for a very long time, and I was honoured that he would think of me to help him and his family move into a place that would better suit their lifestyle.

In between getting our drinks and ordering our meals, they began asking questions. The first one showed me they’ve been doing their homework by asking me:

How to rent in Toronto and is it Easy to Find a Place?

“No, it’s not.” I told them point blank. “But, if you get your ducks in a row, like paperwork, and other things ready, it will help make it that much easier for you.”

After going over what they would need to have ready to make it easier to rent a house in Toronto, I could see they were a little taken aback by how many things they would need to prepare.

“Don’t worry,” I assured them, “I’ll send this all to you in an email.”

Below is the actual the follow-up email I sent them (minus names) on how to rent in Toronto.

Here is what you’ll need to have ready in order to be able to offer to rent a place:

  1. A completed rental application (attached). Fill it in listing everyone who will live in the house, yes, even the kids. The more thorough it is filled in, the better it looks to a landlord. DO NOT provide your social insurance number and make no mention of pets.

Your references are very important, and so are your landlords to vouch about how great you were as a tenant.

I’ve attached a landlord letter template for you as some landlords can take forever or write shitty terrible letters that don’t help you.

  1. Please send me a copy of your ID’s. It can be either a driver’s licence or passport. Health cards are not valid IDs. Nothing is needed for the kids.
  2. Letter of employment. I know, being self-employed makes that impossible. (Her), please ask HR, or someone who has the capacity at the brewery to prepare one for you. It should include how long you’ve worked there, what your salary is, or your hourly wage plus the amount of hours worked per week.
  3. 2 most recent pay stubs. Keep these handy. You will need to submit them when you are ready to offer for a house.
  4. 2 most recent bank statements. Since you’re both self-employed, a landlord may want to see whether or not you do actually make enough money to pay rent every month.
  5. Credit score: you can get them from either your bank, Transunion or Equifax.
  6. Pint of blood – after all of the personal info you’re about to hand over, why not sweeten the deal? (Please don’t actually do this)

Having all of this ready to go will put you in a good position to submit a strong offer on any home and even in a rushed condition if needed for a kick-ass home.

She asked me if a personal letter would help secure a place. I told her it couldn’t hurt, but in the end, landlords want the best tenant possible and money and good references would be the ultimate determining factor.

How to find a house rental in Toronto?

This was another question they had on how to rent in Toronto.

I told them about the best toronto rental sites that I know of, namely:

“If you find a place you like on any of these sites, besides realtor.ca, I probably won’t be able to help you because these are sites where landlords have posted and they gnerally don’t cooperate with agents.”

Lunch came, so the conversation went back to talking about kids, work/life balance and what we do in our downtime.

But for you, dear reader, I wanted to expand on the important items in the email I sent them.

What do you need for a rental application in Toronto?

I’ll talk to this from a real estate agent point of view as renting a place without an agent will be different.

Rental Application Form

The rental application provided by agents is the OREA or TRREB Form 410. I always suggest filling the form out as thoroughly as possible.

For one, it looks better than one only partially filled in. What impression are you giving a landlord, who could potentially go bankrupt from an asshole tenant, by only having most blank spaces on the form?

Please, whatever you fill in, DO NOT give your SIN (social insurance number).

A scumbag, scamming landlord could use this to steal your identity.

Also, you may have noticed that I told my clients not to mention their cats.

Under provincial law, a landlord cannot use pets as a reason not to rent to you. In reality, they are likely going to hold pets against you because the fear of damage caused by pets is a real concern for a lot of landlords.

Plus, there may be religious beliefs against some pets.

The sneaky thing to do, and I hate to put it that way, is to simply bring your pets in unannounced.

Once you’ve taken possession, there is absolutely nothing to stop you from getting a pet, and you cannot be evicted for having pets.

You can get evicted for extensive damage caused by pets, but that another post for another day.

Your ID

Landlords want to know you are who you say you are.

Believe me, landlords only read and listen to horror stories about tenants, never about the good ones, so they will want to match up the name on the rental application with valid ID.

Forms of valid ID are driver’s licence, passports, Canadian citizenship card, and Canadian permanent resident card.

Health cards are not valid forms of ID.

Letter of employment

Another way that helps with how to rent in Toronto is providing a letter of employment allows a landlord to check and decide if you are able, financially, to pay the rent.

Joking aside, rents are expensive in Toronto as there are more people looking for places to rent than there are places available.

A rule of thumb that some landlords use is the 30% ratio.

They will only rent to you if the rent price is max 30% of your take home pay. There’s nothing you can do if they use this against you.

Move on.

There are always other places.

Your 2 Most Recent Pay Stubs

Just like above, a landlord will want to confirm what your take home pay actually is.

Your 2 Most Recent Bank Statements

This is more for self-employed people because they don’t have a company providing them with a pay cheque.

It can seem like an invasion of privacy, but again, landlords are the ones at risk to lose their asset, and this is another layer of due diligence that they are picking a good tenant and not a career squatter.

Even if you have steady employment, some landlords will want to see that the money going into your account is from where you say you work based on your employment letter and pay stubs.

Credit Score

Your credit score can be a deciding factor between a landlord renting to you or not.

Let me put it this way, a credit core riddled with missed and late payments could be a precursor to a landlord having to constantly chase a tenant for rent.

Remember, the landlord likely has a mortgage on the house or condo, and late rent from you could mean a missed mortgage payment for them.

I know, I know, they took a risk buying a place to rent out, but you also signed a legal contract saying you would pay rent on time, every time.

Other Forms You May Come Across When Finding How to Rent in Toronto

Ontario Standard Lease Agreement

The Ontario Standard lease is mandatory for landlords and tenants to sign.

The goal of the document is to allow tenants to know exactly what their rights are and what a landlord and a tenant can and cannot do.

This form came about as some asshole landlords would use a tenants ignorance against them and do scumbag things like raise rents higher than what is allowed, evict tenants illegally, shut off water if rent isn’t paid, and other nefarious things.

OREA Form 400 – Agreement to Lease

If you are working with an agent to rent in Toronto, or just want to know more on how to rent in Toronto, on top of the Ontario Standard Lease Agreement, you will sign and attach OREA Form 400 as a schedule to your lease agreement.

It should detail additional terms that are expected of a tenant and landlord as long as it doesn’t go against the Tenant and Landlord Act.

More so though, it forms the contract between the real estate brokerages and details the payment structure for the agents involved.

About Rent Deposits

Can landlords in Ontario collect both the first and last month’s rent?

Yes, they can. When renting a place in Ontario, landlords can ask for both the first and last month’s rent upfront. However, it’s important to note that the first month’s rent should be applied to cover the initial month of your lease. These payments are not technically considered deposits, as the landlord can only use the money for the last month’s rent, not for damages.

What happens when you give notice to end your tenancy?

Once you decide to end your lease, you only need to pay the second-to-last month’s rent, as the last month’s rent is already covered by the initial payment.

Are security deposits allowed in Ontario?

No, security deposits are not legal in Ontario. The only acceptable deposits are the rent deposit, which equals one month’s rent and is only used for the final month, and a key deposit if applicable.

Yes, key deposits are legal as long as they meet two conditions: they must be a reasonable amount to cover key replacement costs, and they must be refundable. Landlords must return the key deposit in full when tenants return their keys. If keys are not returned, the deposit can be used to cover the cost of replacing them.

Can landlords collect damage deposits in Ontario?

No, landlords in Ontario cannot legally collect damage deposits at the start of a lease. Rent deposits and key deposits are the only allowed forms of deposits. If damages occur during the tenancy, the landlord must go through the Landlord and Tenant Board to seek payment.

What is the maximum rent deposit in Ontario?

According to the Residential Tenancies Act in Ontario, landlords can request a rent deposit of one full month’s rent or the rent cost for one rental period, whichever is less.

Is there an interest rate on rent deposits in Ontario?

Yes, landlords in Ontario must pay interest on rent deposits every 12 months if collected. The interest rate is the same as the yearly rent increase guideline set by the province for each calendar year. If landlords fail to pay interest, tenants can reduce the rent deposit to match the current rent or withhold the interest amount from a future rent payment.

Are rent deposits refundable in Ontario?

Yes, rent deposits must either be returned to tenants in full or used to pay for the final month’s rent. Landlords cannot withhold any part of the deposit for purposes like covering damages or cleaning.

Final Tips on How to Rent in Toronto

It’s not easy figuring out to rent in Toronto, so if you find a place that you really love, but are competing against several other potential tenants, sweeten the deal:

  • by offering to pay more onthly
  • by offering to pay additional months of rent upfront
  • provide a letter about who you are, what you do, why you want to rent the place and how well you promise to take of it

There you have it, everything I know and learned being in the real estate industry since 2004 nd how to rent in Toronto

If you are looking for a house or a condo to rent in Toronto or in the GTA, get in touch with me here, as I have several awesome and reputable agents that I can put you in touch with that will make sure your best interests are at hand, and I know they will take good care to help you find the best house or condo that you’ll absolutely love living in.

Awesome. Now you know everything I know about how to rent in Toronto.

That’s a wrap.