Looking to rent in Toronto? We’ve put together a complete guide of everything you need to know to score a great rental in the city.

Want to get in touch with our Rental Guru? Call Dena at 416-877-3401 or email her at dena@getwhatyouwant.ca.

Looking for a Rental: What to Rent

When renting in Toronto, you have three main options:

  1. Apartment Buildings – Owned and managed by one company (versus a bunch of individual owners), apartment buildings aren’t as numerous as you might think in downtown Toronto.  While there haven’t been very many new apartment buildings built in the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in dedicated rental buildings under construction. There are still some quality (albeit older) buildings out there that periodically have vacancies.
  2. Houses – With more and more people wanting to live downtown, many Toronto home-owners have converted part of their home into an apartment (or two). While many of these are basement apartments, some houses have been converted into several apartments. The biggest advantage of renting a house is the opportunity to live in a residential neighbourhood, often with private outdoor space and sometimes even parking!
  3. Condos – It’s easy to see that Toronto has a lot of condos, and many of them are owned by investors who rent them out. Renting a condo allows you to take advantage of some of the city’s best locations, and many of them have amenities like gyms, pools, concierge services and party rooms, and they’re usually close to TTC transit. If you decide to rent a condo, you’ll be renting directly from the suite owner, but will be required to abide by the condominium’s rules.

How and Where to Look for a Toronto Rental

There are two main ways to look for a rental in Toronto: on your own, or with the help of a real estate agent.

There are tons of online resources to help potential tenants find a rental. Craigslist and Kijiji, while popular for finding an apartment, can be scam central.  Make sure never to give a deposit before physically seeing the apartment and confirming that the person you’re talking to does, in fact, own it. And if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Pro Tip: Viewit.ca is a great website with more integrity than the free classified sites and lots of photos. Landlords pay to advertise on Viewit.ca (thus reducing the chances of being scammed). We also love Pad Mapper – it’s more user-friendly  and has lots of posted rentals .

Of course, you can always work with a licensed REALTOR to help you find a Toronto rental. There are thousands of rentals listed with real estate agents, and a good agent can help you identify great properties and neighbourhoods, as well as help you negotiate the price and terms of your lease. The best part? The landlord pays the agent’s commission, so you can have an expert represent your interests for free!

Pro Tip: Properties that get listed with real estate agents tend to be on the higher end of the price scale, so if your budget is less than $1,400, they may not be able to find you something in downtown Toronto.

When to Look for a Rental

Most Toronto rentals come on the market two months before they are available for rent (e.g. – an apartment will be advertised April 1st and be vacant June 1st). If you aren’t ready to move for six months, you won’t likely have any options to look at.

How Much Does it Cost to Rent in Toronto?

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, the official average prices for rental apartments and condos as of December 2015 are:

  • Bachelor apartment: $1,350 ($1,387 in central Toronto)
  • 1 bedroom apartment  $1,653 (average $1,723 in central Toronto)
  • 2 bedroom apartment – $2,236 (average ($2,466 in central Toronto)

Of course, if you’re looking to move ‘right downtown’, expect those prices to be higher.

The Toronto Rental Market

The Toronto rental market is HOT! We are experiencing vacancy rates at all time lows (around 1.5%) meaning that landlords have their pick of who they want to rent to (and for how much). Rents have increased significantly over the last five years and aren’t expected to decrease anytime soon. If you love stats, check out the CMHC Rental Report.

The Lease

The lease is the document that summarizes your relationship with the landlord – how much rent you’ll pay, the dates of your lease, rules around pets and smoking, what happens at the end of your lease, etc.

Leases are typically for 12 months and after that (unless a new lease is signed), tenants automatically are considered to be ‘month-to-month’–meaning that you don’t generally need to commit for another 12 months. You would, however, have to give 60 days notice before moving out (counting from the first of the next month; i.e. if you give notice June 24th, then you could move out on August 31st).

Your Rights and Obligations as a Tenant

As a tenant in Ontario, you have many rights. Among the important ones:

  • Pets – Landlords can’t evict you for having a pet, but they can refuse to rent to you in the first place. If you’re renting in a condo, the Condominium rules take precedence over the Residential Tenancies Act, so if the condo doesn’t allow pets, Fido or Fifi may get evicted.
  • Rent Increases – In Ontario, rent increases are controlled, but the rules don’t apply to buildings built in the last 20 years (in other words, most condos). Generally speaking, landlords can increase the rent once every 12 months by up to a maximum equal to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for that year (e.g. it was 1.6% in 2015). If the building was built after November 1, 1991, however, Landlords can increase rent by as much as they want provided they give 90 days notice (and use a special form).
  • Right to Access Property – Generally, your Landlord has the right to enter your unit to repair and maintain it (with 24 hours notice or in the case of an emergency). Your Landlord also has the right to show the unit to prospective tenants and/or buyers with appropriate notice.
  • What happens if your Landlord Sells – If you have a valid written lease, your landlord cannot evict you even if he or she decides to sell the unit – the new owner will simply be required to take over your lease (at the rent you currently pay and under the same terms). If you are a ‘month-to-month’ tenant, your landlord is permitted to give you 60 days notice (from the 1st of the month) to allow the new owner to move in–as long as the new owner (or a family member) is going to live in the unit themselves.

Click here for a complete guide to the Residential Tenancies Act 

Click here to download the Landlord and Tenant Board’s Information for New Tenants guide with a summary of landlord and tenant rights & responsibilities.

Getting the Apartment You Want

One of the most important things about renting in Toronto is being prepared when you find your ideal place:

  • Have your deposit ready  To rent an apartment in Toronto, you’ll need to provide first and last month’s rent. Most landlords will require it to be a certified cheque or bank draft.
  • Prepare your references  Any good landlord will check your references before agreeing to rent their unit to you. And please provide cell numbers for easy reference checking!
  • Get a Confirmation of Employment letter  You’ll need to prove that you’re employed or otherwise financially viable to rent in Toronto. And don’t forget to make copies in case you don’t get the first place you apply for.
  • Do a credit check on yourself and have it ready to provide to a prospective landlord  Most landlords will require it – you can order one online at Equifax for $23.95 (or order one via mail for free–it just takes longer).

Some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Scope out Toronto neighbourhoods  You’ll be there for at least 12 months, and your neighbourhood WILL affect your quality of life. You can check out our Guide to Toronto Neighbourhoods for the scoop on downtown neighbourhoods.
  • Be flexible  It’s not easy or cheap to rent in downtown Toronto. Keep an open mind and be prepared to make compromises. You won’t likely get location + size + cheap rent.
  • Be ready to make a quick decision  The Toronto rental market is uber-competitive. If you find a place you like, realize that if you ‘take the night to think about it’. It’ll probably be gone tomorrow.
  • Don’t lie on your application  While it might be tempting to make yourself “look” like a better tenant, having a friendly relationship with your landlord will pay off in the long run.

Ready to Rent a Pad in Toronto?

If you’re looking to rent in Toronto and want to partner with a professional, contact us to represent you (and don’t forget, the landlord pays our fees). We have a dedicated Rental Guru on our team who’d be more than happy to help!

Just curious about what’s on the market? Click here to Search Toronto Rentals (and sign up to get access to every listing!)