How do I find a place to rent?

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Just arrived in Manitoba and don’t know where to start in your search for an apartment or a room? Here is a step-by-step guide:

You will need:

Income – this can be regular salary from a job, monetary support like Employment Income Assistance, or savings.
Rental history – this is a record of homes in Manitoba that you have rented in the past. If you don’t have this, you will need a guarantor. This is a person who will make sure that you will pay your rent and is willing to assume the responsibility if you cannot.

Steps:

  1. Set your budget and list of “must-haves”
  2. Foremost among your considerations are:

    • Your budget – it is advisable to keep your rent within 30 per cent of your monthly income. Also consider the cost of your utilities (hydro or electricity, heat, water, parking, phone, cable, and internet) when setting your budget.
    • Size and style of the home – this will depend on how many family members you have. Based on National Occupancy Standards, you will need one bedroom for each boy, five years and older; each girl, five years and older; each adult couple; and single adults 18 years and over. Children five years or older children of the same sex can share a bedroom. Depending on your needs, you can choose from apartments, houses, townhouses or rooms.
    • Location – do you want to live downtown? Near your workplace? Near family? Other factors that you will need to weigh when deciding on the location would be nearby schools for your kids, nearby amenities (such as stores, doctor’s offices), or places of worship.
    • Other options – if you are interested in subsidized rental homes or if you want to know if you qualify for Employment Income Assistance, read the article Types of rental housing in MB for more information. You can also learn more about Rent Assist, a rent subsidy program through this link.
  3. Look for places to rent
  4. When you have determined your budget, style of home and location, now is the time to look at “for rent” leads. You can ask for leads from relatives or friends. Better yet, you can ask the help of New Journey Housing (they also have seminars that can help you learn more about newcomer housing options). You can also search:

    • Online – search on sites like Winnipeg Rental Network, Rent Manitoba, Kijiji Classifieds, or Winnipeg Free Press Marketplace. It will also be helpful to check out forums and Facebook groups (search for general newcomer groups or your particular nationality’s newcomer group) for “for rent” ads. People who post ads in such groups prefer newcomers and may have fewer requirements compared to ads in general circulation.
    • Classifieds section – look through classified sections in ethnic, community, or daily newspapers like Winnipeg Free Press.
    • Pamphlets – you will find booklets and flyers given out for free in the library that have listings you can explore.
    • Signs – go to the area that you like (either drive through or walk around the neighborhood) and look for “for rent” signs.
    • Bulletin boards – grocery stores, libraries, clinics, settlement provider organizations,and other commercial or community establishments may have ads for available rental homes posted on their boards.
  5. Call, inquire, and visit
  6. Call the supplied phone number on the ad. Politely ask the contact person or the landlord when you can go and check out the place. Be prompt in viewing the place; competition for good rental homes is stiff in Manitoba. Be there at the appointed date and time. Present yourself well when you meet the landlord and show that you are serious about renting the home.

    What to check and ask:

    • Rental cost – know the utilities and services included in the rent, the total rent and when it is due. Also, ask the amount for the security deposit and when you need to give it.
    • Building or unit– it should be clean and in good repair inside and out. Check if the fridge, stove, water taps, heater/air conditioning work. Also, flush the toilet and see if there are leaks. Check if the water drains from the sink and bathtub.
    • Rules – check if pets are allowed; if smoking is allowed; and if you can you make improvements to the house or unit. Also ask what the rules are on visitors, noise and disturbances; use of laundry facilities; and others.
    • Parking – is there space allotted for you? And would a parking space incur additional costs? If you don’t have a vehicle, it would be helpful to ask the landlord for the nearest bus stops and buses you can take.
    • Contacts – find out who is the caretaker of the site, and who to call for repairs, emergencies or when you have a problem with another tenant.
  7. Apply for it
  8. If you find everything in order and you like the unit or house:

    • Fill out the rental application – this will ask basic information about you, where you work or where you get your income. It may also ask for rental history. If you do not have this, you may need a Guarantor to apply with you. The landlord may also check your credit report. Finally, get your references ready. Make a list of names and contact information of people who can vouch for you.
    • Pay the security deposit – this is 50% of the monthly rent and is given either when you apply or after you are approved. The security deposit covers whatever damage you may cause while living in the rental home. If you are required to give a security deposit when you apply, remember to ask the landlord whether it will be returned if in case you are not approved.
  9. When you are approved
    • Read and sign the lease – you will be asked to sign a Tenancy agreement. Make sure to read and understand it as it is a legally-binding agreement. It will list all the terms of your lease, including what utilities are included in the rent, when the rent is due, when the landlord can increase the rent, and other terms and conditions. If you have questions about the stipulations, ask the landlord. For general questions, go to General Frequently Asked Questions (Residential Tenancies Branch) or consult a lawyer.
    • Ask for a condition report – this is a report that describes the state of the unit or home before you move. This ensures that you would not have to pay for damages that have already existed and you are not responsible for. It would be a good idea do the inspection with your landlord and photograph the place to accompany the condition report.

Sources: Renting a Home in Manitoba (MIRSSA, MIIC, IRCOM, New Journey Housing, and the Winnipeg Rental Network); The Newcomers Guide to Canadian Housing, and Renting your first home in Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

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Community Resources

Welcome to Canada: Finding a home

Older adults (55+) can check for housing options from the Winnipeg Housing Directory for Older Adults found on the A&O Support for Older Adults site.

Discrimination is prohibited in areas such as housing and accommodation. Read the article “What are human rights?” to know more about your rights as an applicant and tenant.

The Residential Tenancies Branch is responsible for mediating disputes between landlords and tenants. If you need help with any issue regarding your rental home, you can contact this agency.

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