Finding an apartment in Toronto is serious business. Even though rents are down big since last year, it’s still rough out there. So get a credit check, keep an eye out for red flags and get ready to do some digging on the interweb. Your ideal apartment is out there, somewhere, you just have to find it.
Here are some tips for finding an apartment in Toronto.
Diversify your web search
View It and Pad Mapper are definitely twp of the most popular online tools for finding a Toronto apartment, but there are tons of other rental services out there that allow you to narrow down by area, budget, and facilities. Try 4Rent, Walk Score, Rent Seeker, Craigslist and Kijiji to expand your options.
Consider a real estate agent
Most renters don’t realize that you can actually enlist a real estate agent to find your next apartment—free of charge. Many landlords list their rentals on MLS and pay agents commission for bringing you into the fold; they in-turn can help you shortlist options and help you arrange viewings.
Know what you should be paying
Keep up to date with the average rental costs for apartments in Toronto to see if what the landlord is asking for sounds reasonable. Padmapper updates the numbers every month so you can see what studio, one, two, three and four bedroom apartments are going for.
Do some research on the landlord
Toronto’s landlords are some of the most vilified people in the city. It’s usually for good reason, but sometimes not. Either way, it’s good to hear the horror stories. Check out LandlordWatch’s list of 100 worst landlords in the city and approach with caution.
Come with the paperwork
When you show up to an apartment showing, property managers will usually expect you to fill out a lease application on the spot. Be prepared with credit check documents, checks for possible deposits you’re willing—not forced—to make, references and records of employment.
Test things out
There are too many people who enter an apartment without testing out the space. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it would you? While there will likely be restrictions due to COVID-19, you generally want to run the faucets, flush the toilets, fiddle with the thermostat and ask questions so there’s no surprises after you’ve moved the couch in.
Expand your perimeters
Good apartments aren’t easy to come by, meaning chances of snagging your dream home in the downtown core for reasonable prices aren’t likely. Try moving a little north of Bloor and east of Sherbourne, it won’t kill you.
Don’t rule out the old buildings
We all dream of living in an airy, glassy pad devoid of drippy taps, but don’t kid yourself because conditions in newer buildings aren’t always all that. Well maintained apartments do exist.
Bargain for lower rent
Canadians might be known for being too polite, but when it comes to the Toronto rental market there’s no room for niceties. Maybe you want utilities at a fixed price, or maybe you want rent cheaper overall; perfect the art of negotiating and you’d be surprised how much power you actually have.
Know your rights
Thanks to the standardized lease implemented by the province in a couple years ago, signing leases is less complicated. Still, you should always be familiar with the LTB rules, lest any illegal terms get tacked on to your lease without you knowing.