How To Get a Great Toronto Rental

The Toronto rental market moves very quickly and finding a great Toronto rental can sometimes be a little challenging with the best properties being leased within days of coming on the market.

Whether you are looking to rent a condo apartment, townhome, or house, the process is the same and the competition can be fierce. 

First and foremost, in order to make sure you get the rental of your dreams, you should have all the necessary documents (outlined below) in your back pocket before you start looking at properties. This way as soon as you find “The One,” you will be able to move quickly to get the place before anyone else does! 

How To Get a Great Toronto Rental  Toronto Condo Rentals  Toronto Rentals      

Before you start hunting for a rental

Gather all the necessary documents

A Landlord will require the following documents from you:

(Please note: if you are going to be having a Guarantor sign the Lease with you, your Guarantor will also need to provide their own copy of these documents.)

  • Employment Letter: A letter from your employer on company letterhead verifying your length of employment, current position, and annual salary. 
  •  Credit Check: For about $25 you can get a copy of your Credit Score and Report from Equifax.
  • Rental Application:  A standard form that gathers some information about you such as your employer’s information, references, financial obligations, etc. It is important to fill this form out entirely. If you are using a Guarantor, you and your Guarantor should each fill out your own Rental Application. Download a blank copy of the Rental Application here and check out a sample of a completed Rental Application here
  •  Additional References: Any additional professional and personal references you can provide are always a good thing. A glowing reference from a previous Landlord is definitely beneficial.
  • Your Deposit Cheque: Once your Agreement to Lease has been accepted by the Landlord, you will need to provide a deposit cheque within 24 hours of your offer being accepted. This amount is equivalent to two month’s rent and covers your first and last month’s rent. So if your monthly rent is $1,500, you will need to be prepared to pay $3,000 as soon as your offer is accepted in order to secure the place. The deposit cheque should be in the form of a certified cheque or bank draft.
  • A Personal Note (OPTIONAL ): Sometimes adding a personal touch to your offer can go a long way. Writing a brief letter to the Landlord explaining who you are, why you would like to rent his/her property and your intentions to take great care of it. This can be especially helpful if you end up competing against another offer - sometimes giving the Landlord a warm fuzzy feeling can help you win out over the other offer.

Clarify your “must haves” for your new rental

In order to help narrow down the rental properties that might be a good fit for you, you will want to decide on the following criteria:

  • Your maximum monthly budget for rent and utilities
  • Ideal location
  • The size of your rental – number of bedrooms, bathrooms, preferred square footage
  •  Is parking required? How many parking spots? 
  • Property features that are important to you, such as a balcony, large kitchen, your view, on site concierge, gym, swimming pool, rooftop terrace, etc.

Hunting for a rental

Use a real estate agent

A real estate agent has access to all the properties listed for rent on the MLS system. A real estate agent can assist you with narrowing down the properties that best fit your criteria, show you these properties, then help draft your offer, and help to negotiate with the Landlord on your behalf. Plus, using a real estate agent to help you find a great rental won’t cost you a penny (the Landlord pays the real estate agent after a Lease Agreement has been finalized). 

Additional websites to check out

In addition to the properties listed for rent on, definitely keep your eye on the following websites as they can have some great rental options as well. Properties found on these websites are usually listed privately by the Landlord. You will be contacting the Landlord directly to arrange a showing and negotiating the Lease Agreement directly with the Landlord as well. 

When you find “The One”

Once we find a property you would like to put an offer in on, the process will move very quickly in order to ensure that we successfully get the property before anyone else.

Since you already have completed and gathered all the documents outlined above, the only document left to complete is the Agreement to Lease – a.k.a. your offer to the Landlord.

The Agreement to Lease will include all the specifics of the rental contract, such as the monthly rent you are offering to pay, when you would like to move in, and any specific clauses you wish to include. I will prepare the Agreement to Lease on your behalf and will explain all the details of the contract before you and you (and your Guarantor if applicable) sign it.

Once everything is signed by you, I will then submit your Agreement to Lease to the Landlord for his/her to review. I will also be submitting your credit check, employment letter, rental application, and additional references with the Agreement to Lease.

Now you cross your fingers and your toes, and hope the Landlord accepts your offer! 

Once your Agreement to Lease is accepted

Your deposit cheque

Within 24 hours of your offer being accepted, you will need to provide a deposit cheque to cover your first and last month’s rent. Please ensure that you have access to these funds easily as the cheque (which must be certified or a bank draft) will need to be produced on short notice.

Post-dated cheques

Before you move in you will need to provide 10 post-dated personal cheques to the Landlord, each for the value of your monthly rent. The Landlord will then cash one cheque each month.

Tenant insurance

Your Landlord will require you to get tenant insurance before move in day. If you contact your bank or insurance provider they will help you arrange this.

Get your keys and move in

Let the fun begin! Pick up your keys, move your stuff in, and start making your new place feel like home!

A few tips:

  • If you are a student or young professional, having a parent willing to sign your Lease as a Guarantor is always a good idea. Landlords can often be wary of the idea of renting to someone who is new to the workforce or not in the workforce yet.
  • Two months before you want to move in is a good time to start looking for your rental
  • The majority of monthly rental prices do not included utilities, so if your maximum budget for housing is $1,600 you might want to target your search to properties with monthly rents of $1,450 which will allow you room to add in the utilities and still be within budget
  • Bidding wars can be common with rentals so be prepared to move quickly and put your best offer forward
  • Give your references a heads up that they might be contacted by a future Landlord – you want them to be prepared to say lots of nice things about you
  • Many rental properties do not allow smokers or pets. If you require a rental property that will accommodate pets and/or smoking please make sure to let me know.
  • If you are currently renting, it’s important to verify how much notice you need to give your current Landlord before you can terminate your Lease. Usually it’s 60 days from the start of the month.
  • Some landlords will want to meet you in person before agreeing to rent to you. If this happens, treat it like a job interview. Dress professionally and be on your A game!
  • Including a personal letter to Landlord with your Agreement to Lease is a nice touch. Sometimes explaining who you are, why you like their property, and why you would make a good tenant can help convince an otherwise skeptical Landlord.
  • Be aware of Rent Increases
  • Most leases are 1 year in length, although you may find some Landlords looking for a 2 year lease or maybe only 6 months. But generally Landlords are looking for a 1 year lease. After your 1 year lease ends, you can stay renting the property on a month-to-month basis
  • If you are moving into a condo as opposed to a house, make sure to contact the superintendent to book the elevator for the day that you want to move in
  • Beware of scams – if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is!

If you're looking to get an awesome rental, let's chat! I can help you through the rental process and you'll have the keys for your new place before you know it!

And when you start thinking about wanting to buy your own home, check out my guide to Buying Your First Home.