Renting House (CIC Guide)

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.

Laws for renting and landlords and tenants responsibilities are different in each province or territory.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Provincial and Territorial Fact Sheets:

  • tell you how to rent;
  • explain the laws for each province and territory; and
  • give you rental authority contact information for provincial and territorial rental authorities.

In general, your landlord:

  • collects the rent;
  • keeps your building safe and in good condition; and
  • provides everything that is included in your rent (such as refrigerator, stove, heating).

As a tenant, you must:

  • pay your full rent on time;
  • keep your home clean and well maintained;
  • contact the landlord whenever anything needs to be fixed; and
  • let the landlord or manager enter your home to do repairs and, if you are moving out, to show the apartment to other people. Your landlord must let you know if they will be coming into your apartment.

If you have a problem with your landlord, contact the rental authority in the province or territory where you live.

Finding a place to rent

There are many ways to find houses or apartments to rent. You can:

  • visit neighbourhoods and look for “For Rent” signs on houses or buildings
  • check the classified ads in newspapers, bulletin boards in shops and community centres
  • check online classified ads or visit rental agency websites
  • ask your friends
  • ask for help at an immigrant-serving organization
  • pay a rental agency to help you find a rental home

Before you visit a place you might want to rent, prepare a checklist of questions you may want to ask the landlord or superintendent.

In Canada, landlords can ask you for references (such as a past landlord or an employer) who can confirm that you will be a good tenant. They can also:

  • ask you where you work;
  • ask you what your income is; and
  • check your credit history.

You can get help from an immigrant-serving organization if you do not have:

  • references
  • a job
  • a credit history in Canada

For more information on credit history, see Money and finances.

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 everything 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
  • friend
  • staff member at an immigrant-serving organization
  • lawyer

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
  • how the appliances work

A landlord may ask you for a rental deposit when you sign the lease. If you do not pay the rent or you damage the home, the landlord will use the deposit to cover the costs. When you move out, the landlord will either return the deposit to you or use it to pay for your last month of rent.

Paying the rent

You usually have to pay the rent to your landlord, superintendent or property manager on the first day of every month. You can pay your rent:

  • in cash;
  • by post-dated cheques (many landlords ask for 12 cheques dated the first day of each month for the next 12 months); or
  • by certified cheques (many landlords ask for a certified cheque for the first and last month).

Important: Make sure you ask your landlord for a receipt and keep it as proof of payment.

In some places, your rent may include some or all of your utilities, such as:

  • electricity
  • heat
  • water

If they are not included in your rent, you must pay these bills yourself.

Rent increases

In most areas, your landlord must give you a 90-day notice before increasing your rent. Usually, landlords can increase your rent only once each year.

Moving out

Before moving out, you must give written notice to your landlord that you will be leaving. You must give one, two or three months’ notice depending on the province or territory in which you live.

If you have a lease, the law may not let you end the lease early. In such cases, you must come to an arrangement with the landlord or pay an amount set by law in your province or territory.