how to rent your first home as an immigrant in Canada

Renting your first home as an immigrant in Canada is a significant step toward establishing a new life in a vibrant and diverse country. To accomplish this successfully and with little stress, you need a comprehensive understanding of the local market, legal requirements, and necessary documentation. As a newcomer, the process may seem daunting, but with the right information and guidance, you can embark on this journey with confidence. This guide on how to rent your first home as an immigrant in Canada aims to provide essential insights and practical tips to help immigrants successfully navigate the intricacies of renting their first home in the country, ensuring a smooth transition into a welcoming and inclusive community.

Decide Whether You Want to Search Alone or with an Agent

How to Rent Your First Home as an Immigrant in Canada By Yourself

You can use online platforms, such as real estate websites and apps, to search for available properties. Another option is to connect with locals, join community forums, and attend open houses to gather information. You can also take advantage of settlement services for newcomers in Canada. These free programs help newcomers find their feet in their new location.


  • Cost Savings: You won’t have to pay a real estate agent’s commission fees.
  • Personal Control: You have full control over your search, deciding which properties to view and when.


  • Limited Access: You may have limited access to exclusive listings or industry contacts that agents often have.
  • Negotiation Challenges: Negotiating the deal and navigating legal aspects might be more challenging without professional assistance.
  • Time-Consuming: It can be time-consuming to research and visit properties on your own.

How to Rent Your First Home as an Immigrant in Canada with a Real Estate Agent

Look for reputable real estate agents that you can work with to get a home in your desired location. You can ask about their experience, track record, and approach to working with clients. Also, ensure that any agreements with the agent are clearly outlined in the contract.


  • Expertise: Agents have extensive knowledge of the local market, property values, and trends.
  • Access to Listings: They can provide access to a broader range of listings, including exclusive ones.
  • Negotiation Skills: Agents are skilled negotiators and can help you secure a favourable deal.


  • Cost: You will typically need to pay a commission fee to the agent, usually a percentage of the property’s sale price.
  • Dependency: You might rely heavily on the agent’s schedule for property viewings.

Create a Budget for Rent and Utilities

Like with other important financial decisions, creating a budget is an important step in how to rent your first home as an immigrant in Canada. A budget helps you assess your financial situation and determine how much you can comfortably afford in rent without compromising your overall financial stability. Besides, if you are renting in Canada with no credit history, a budget can help you grow a positive credit history. Including your rent payment in your budget ensures you prioritize timely payment and paying rent on time can contribute to building a positive credit history.

Aside from the rent, you should also allocate funds for utilities such as electricity, water, internet, and other housing-related expenses. Additionally, including an emergency fund in your budget is crucial. Unforeseen expenses can arise, and having a financial cushion will prevent you from facing financial strain if unexpected costs come up. This is especially important for you as a first-timer who has yet to familiarise yourself with the system.

Research About the Neighborhoods

Before you make a final decision, it is important that you carry out thorough research about the neighbourhood you intend to move into. The information you gather will help you make an informed decision about the neighbourhood that best suits your lifestyle, preferences, and long-term goals. Some of the factors to consider include:

  • Location and Proximity: Consider the proximity to your workplace and assess the ease of commuting using public transportation or personal vehicles. Also, check for nearby amenities such as grocery stores, schools, hospitals, parks, and recreational facilities.
  • Safety and Crime Rates: Research crime rates in the neighbourhood to ensure it is a safe and secure place to live. You may also consider the visibility and presence of law enforcement in the area.
  • School District Quality: If you have or plan to have children, research the quality of local schools and their ratings. Also, consider the proximity to colleges or universities if you or your family members are pursuing higher education.
  • Public Services and Utilities: Check the availability and reliability of utilities such as water, electricity, and internet. Also, assess the efficiency of local waste management services.
  • Transportation and Infrastructure: Evaluate the accessibility and reliability of public transportation options. Consider the condition of roads and highways in the area.
  • Community Services: Check for the proximity and quality of healthcare facilities, hospitals, and clinics. If it matters to you, you may also consider the availability of parks, gyms, and other recreational spaces.
  • Noise Levels and Environmental Factors: Evaluate noise levels in the area, considering factors like traffic, nearby industries, or airports. Check for environmental factors such as air and water quality.

Find Rental Listings

If you hire a real estate agent, they may help you with finding rental listings. However, if you are doing it yourself, some of the sites you can check online include:

  • This official website of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) provides comprehensive listings for rental properties across Canada.
  • Kijiji: A widely used online classified platform where individuals and property managers list rental properties.
  • This website specializes in rental listings and allows users to search for properties based on various criteria, including location, price, and property type.
  • PadMapper: An apartment search engine that aggregates rental listings from various sources, providing a map-based view of available properties.
  • Zumper: This platform provides a user-friendly interface and allows users to search for rental properties based on location and preferences.

Tips for Effective Online Property Search

  • Set Clear Preferences: Define your criteria, including budget, location preferences, number of bedrooms, and other essential features.
  • Use Multiple Platforms: Explore various rental listing websites to ensure you have access to a wide range of available properties.
  • Set Email Alerts: Utilize the email alert feature on platforms that offer it. This way, you’ll be notified when new properties meeting your criteria are listed.
  • Check for Reviews: Look for online reviews or ratings of the property or the property management company to get insights into the living experience.
  • Verify Legitimacy: Be cautious of scams. Verify the legitimacy of listings, and never send money or personal information without confirming the authenticity of the rental.
  • Visit the Neighborhood Virtually: Use online maps and street view features to explore the neighbourhood and assess its suitability.
  • Contact Landlords Directly: If you find a property you’re interested in, reach out to the landlord or property manager directly for more information or to schedule a viewing.

Learn the Different Affordable Housing Options for Immigrants in Canada

In learning how to rent your first home as an immigrant in Canada, you should also learn the housing options available to you. Below are some of these options:


Apartments are self-contained units within a larger residential building. They can vary in size from studio apartments to multiple-bedroom units. Amenities such as laundry facilities, parking, and security may be included depending on the building.

Condominiums (Condos)

Condos are individually owned units within a larger building or complex. They often offer similar amenities to apartments but may include additional features such as access to common areas like fitness centres, swimming pools, or rooftop terraces. Renting a condo typically involves leasing directly from the owner.


Houses offer more space and privacy compared to apartments or condos. They can range from detached single-family homes to townhouses or semi-detached units. Renting a house may include access to a yard or outdoor space and often involves more responsibility for maintenance compared to apartment living.

Basement Suites

Basement suites are self-contained living spaces located within the lower level of a single-family home. They often have separate entrances and may include amenities such as kitchens and bathrooms. Renting a basement suite can provide more affordable housing options in desirable neighbourhoods.

Room Rentals

Renting a room within a shared house or apartment is a common option for students or individuals looking for more affordable housing. Tenants typically have access to shared common areas such as the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.

Duplexes and Triplexes

Duplexes and triplexes are residential buildings divided into two or three separate units, respectively. Each unit may have its own entrance and amenities, offering a balance between the space of a single-family home and the affordability of multi-unit housing.

Mobile Homes

Mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes or trailers, are prefabricated dwellings designed for mobility. They are often located within mobile home parks or communities and offer a more affordable housing option compared to traditional homes or apartments.


Lofts are spacious, open-concept living spaces typically located within converted industrial or commercial buildings. They feature high ceilings, large windows, and minimal interior walls. Renting a loft can offer a unique living experience with a modern, urban aesthetic.

Cooperative Housing

Cooperative housing involves renting a unit within a housing cooperative, where residents collectively own and manage the property. Tenants often participate in decision-making processes and may be required to contribute to the upkeep of the cooperative.

Legal Requirements and Documentation

When applying for a rental apartment in Canada as a newcomer, there are certain documents that you need to submit to your landlord or house owner to prove that you can pay your rent. They include:

  • Lease Agreement: A written lease agreement is a fundamental legal document outlining the terms and conditions of the tenancy. It should cover details such as rent amount, lease duration, responsibilities of both parties and other relevant terms.
  • Identification and Contact Information: Both the landlord and tenant should provide their full names, addresses, and contact information in the lease agreement.
  • Proof of Identity: Landlords may request proof of identity from tenants, such as a driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification.
  • Proof of Income: Landlords often require proof of the tenant’s ability to pay rent. This may include recent pay stubs, employment verification, or income tax returns.
  • References: Some landlords may request references from previous landlords or employers to assess the tenant’s rental history and reliability.
  • Rental Application: A rental application is a form completed by the tenant, providing information about their background, rental history, employment, and references.
  • Credit Check Authorization: Landlords may request authorization to perform a credit check on the tenant to assess their creditworthiness.
  • Security Deposit: Landlords commonly require a security deposit, which is a refundable amount held to cover potential damages or unpaid rent. The terms regarding the security deposit should be outlined in the lease agreement.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities in Canada

While considering how to rent your first home as an immigrant in Canada, it is important to know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Some important ones to keep in mind include:


  • Rent Control: In some provinces, there are regulations in place to control rent increases, ensuring that they are reasonable and predictable.
  • Right to Timely Repairs: Tenants have the right to prompt and necessary repairs to maintain the habitability of the rental unit.
  • Right to Challenge Eviction: Tenants have the right to challenge an eviction notice if they believe it is unjust or if the landlord has not followed proper legal procedures.
  • Security of Tenure: In most cases, tenants have the right to remain in the property for the duration of the lease, as long as they comply with the terms of the agreement.
  • Right to Privacy: Tenants have the right to privacy within their rental unit. Landlords must provide reasonable notice before entering the property for non-emergency reasons.


  • Payment of Rent: Tenants are responsible for paying rent on time, as specified in the lease agreement.
  • Respect for Property: Tenants must take reasonable care of the property and inform the landlord of any damage or necessary repairs.
  • Compliance with Lease Terms: Tenants are obligated to comply with the terms and conditions outlined in the lease agreement.
  • Reporting Maintenance Issues: Tenants should promptly report any maintenance issues to the landlord to ensure timely repairs.
  • Notifying Landlord of Changes: Tenants must notify the landlord of any changes in contact information, such as phone numbers or email addresses.
  • Cooperation in Showings and Inspections: Tenants are generally required to cooperate with the landlord for scheduled showings and inspections, provided proper notice is given.

How to Spot Rental Scams

There are people who engage in rental scams and being able to spot them will save you from falling victim. Here are some ways to identify them:

Too Good to Be True

If a rental listing seems too good to be true in terms of price, location, or amenities, it might be a scam. Compare the advertised property with other listings in the area to get a sense of the market rates.

Unrealistic Prices

Be wary of listings offering significantly lower prices than the average for similar properties in the same area. Scammers often use unrealistically low prices to attract potential victims.

Pressure to Act Quickly

Scammers often create a sense of urgency, pressuring potential renters to make quick decisions without proper consideration. Be cautious if the landlord insists on immediate payment or signing the lease without a thorough review.

Incomplete or Generic Listings

Legitimate landlords provide detailed and specific information about the property. If a listing lacks details, contains generic descriptions, or seems copied from other sources, it may be a scam.

Requests for Upfront Payment

Be cautious if the landlord requests payment, especially through methods like wire transfers, before you have seen the property or signed a lease. Legitimate landlords usually collect deposits or rent payments after a lease agreement is signed.

Unavailable for Viewing

If the landlord is unwilling to allow you to view the property in person or provides excuses for not being available, it could be a red flag. Scammers may avoid in-person meetings to hide the fact that the property doesn’t exist or is not as advertised.

Inability to Provide Proper Documentation

A legitimate landlord should be able to provide a valid lease agreement, proof of property ownership, and contact information. If the landlord cannot provide these documents, it may be a scam.

Communication Red Flags

Poor grammar, spelling mistakes, or generic email responses in communication can indicate a scam. Legitimate landlords and property managers typically communicate professionally.

Unusual Rental Requirements

Be cautious of landlords who request personal or financial information that is not typically needed for a rental application. Scammers may attempt to collect sensitive information for identity theft.

Trust Your Instincts

If something feels off or suspicious, trust your instincts. If the rental situation seems too good to be true or raises concerns, it’s better to walk away and consider other options.

In Conclusion,

Renting your first home as an immigrant in Canada is a tasking endeavour that requires careful consideration, proactive engagement and attention to detail. However, this guide on how to rent your first home as an immigrant in Canada has shared some tips that can make it less demanding. By taking the time to research, seek local advice, and build a solid foundation before proceeding to search, you can secure a comfortable living space that reflects the warmth and diversity of your new Canadian home.