Renting in downtown Toronto is stressful. Not only is it super expensive but it is also extremely competitive and fast moving. A huge chunk of my business is working with young professionals relocating to or looking for a new/bigger space in downtown Toronto. Many are shocked at how the prices have sky rocketed in the past few years. I remember just two or three years ago, getting a decent one bedroom condo for rent was totally accessible at $1800/month, now that number looks more like $2100/month (or higher depending on where exactly in the core you are looking), and that excludes all the extras like hydro, tenants insurance, parking, maybe even a storage locker.
So here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve found have helped my clients secure a rental with a bit less stress.
(1) Work with a realtor. Preferably someone who does leases regularly – like me … and no this is not just a plug to advertise myself, because there are literally hundreds of realtors who specialize in leases. I just want to stress that you want to work with a realtor who is committed to riding out the search when the first or second offer you put in isn’t accepted. Plus, realtors who draft several lease agreements every week know the right clauses to include, they know your tenant rights and the residential tenancy act inside and out. Last but not least realtors can book more than one unit at a time so you can hit up 4 or 5 different units you are interested in during the same afternoon.
(2) Be prepared to pay first and last months rent – even though the new Standard lease says that tenants are only required to pay one months rent up front as a deposit, most landlords who have hired a real estate brokerage to list their property for lease still practise the first and last months rent deposit.
(3) Get your employment letters (stating salary, length of employment and supervisor contact information at the very least) and credit reports (with beacon score) ready before you go out and see condos. If you see the unit you love, you and your realtor will need this information PDF-ed and ready to go with an offer. Units “fly off the shelf” in a matter of hours sometimes and a tenant that has all their background information ready along with an offer will always win to a tenant who does not have their ducks in a row. The best place to grab a clean and easy to read credit report with score is Equifax.ca or transunion.ca …these services cost about $25.
(4) Download docusign for free. This will allow you and your realtor to prepare offer paperwork virtually on the spot or at the very least just hours after you’ve seen the unit you want. Time is of the essence! Click here for the free trial of docusign.
(5) Be prepared to loose the first unit you offer for, often many of these units will get two or more offers. Some units are already leased by the time you get around to signing paperwork. This fast paced rental market requires you to be both patient and prepared. Being in a multiple offer situation for a rental is crazy, and honestly each landlord is different. I find that the biggest deciding factor for landlords is the quality of tenant(s) and price, but a variety of other reasons come in to play as well: pets, employment stability, having a guarantor, deposit, credit score, etc etc. Also, if you notice that a unit has been on the market for several days (say over a week) its safe to say that this landlord is very picky with the kind of tenant they want, and I’d be willing to bet they’ve already turned down a handful of offers already.
Hope the above 5 tips have helped you prepare for the reality of renting in Toronto. The process can be daunting but by being prepared and using the right tools, you’ll be one step closer to opening the door to your new condo!
Founder of Views Of Toronto & Toronto Realtor