With the ever-erratic housing market in Toronto, both home buyers and tenants alike have their work cut out for them. It seems like Canadians can never catch a break with increasing interest rates, tightened mortgage rules, and now, fluctuating rental availability.
According to a CMHC rental market survey conducted in 2016, vacancy rates in Toronto fell to 1.3 per cent – and the shortage didn’t stop there. Availability dropped to as low as 2.1 per cent across Ontario, the weakest since 2001.
As a result, finding a rental property in major cities like Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa or Vancouver has never been more difficult. Whether it is a private landlord or a property management firm, landlords have a plethora of options when it comes to picking the right candidate. So, with tighter rules, more regimental screening processes, and competition against the masses, how do you stand out amongst the crowd?
We reached out to our property manager clients, and they offered this advice to tenants seeking to gain a competitive edge over other prospective occupants:
1 – References
With vacancy rates as low as they are, references are some of the most crucial tools you have at your disposal. “Whether a prospective tenant is new to the country or seeking a change in environment, as a property manager, it is necessary for us to know the credibility of each person who searches for placement,” said Ian Ford, residential leasing manager for Toronto-based Pinedale Properties Ltd.
Winnipeg-based property manager Sunrex Management Ltd. shared, “When dealing with applicants, first and foremost we look for someone who has good references.” Your rental history and previous landlords act like former employers – they can vouch for your reliability when it comes to making your rent payments, and the state of which you left your previous rentals in.
2 – Confirmation of employment
In today’s rental market, if you do not have a dependable source of income, the chances of you scoring a great rental in comparison to someone who does have a steady cash flow are incredibly slim. Financial stability is imperative when trying to secure a rental or lease. If you are a freelancer, this poses a challenge. If you can provide bank statements that can support your ability to meet your rental obligations, landlords may be more flexible when it comes to accommodating you.
3 – Credit report
Have you missed a few payments on your credit card in the past few years? Failed to make your rent payment on time? It can come back to haunt you and hurt your chances of getting that great apartment in the city. “Unfortunately, we find that the most common reason for these financial issues is that the tenants are living beyond their means and have rented a suite that is simply out of their budget,” Sunrex Management advised.
“What many people do not realize is that a late or missed rent payment can have dire consequences for the landlord, too. Building owners have expenses such as heating and water bills, mortgages, and property taxes that we rely on those rent payments to cover, and are ultimately the reason why paying your rent on time is so important.” If your credit report reveals this about you, landlords may move onto another tenant who is more financially responsible.
4 – The number of people occupying the rental
You may be scratching your head on this one, but with the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto reaching $1,800 per month, landlords are seeing all sorts of scenarios involving tenants trying to cram as many people as they can into one unit to cover the cost of rent. This may seem all fine and dandy to you – who doesn’t want to be cost-effective in this market? However, it is a liability and safety issue for your landlord that can see them receiving hefty fines in the event of a tragedy.
Amanda Pereira is the Communications Coordinator for Media Classified, the parent company of 4Rent.ca. 4Rent has been successfully connecting apartment hunters and property managers since 2009. Prospective tenants can explore a variety of rental listings across Canada, including condo-like apartments, single home-dwellings, student housing and more.