Information courtesy of Settlement.org.
Finding housing can be an overwhelming experience for newcomers to Canada. There are a number of housing options available, and it can be difficult deciding which is best for you. There are a number of resources available to you that will help make the process much smoother. Settlement counsellors at CUIAS are available to offer you advice and help you as you deal with various housing issues. The information below explains some basic house-hunting strategies, outlines different types of housing, and contains links to other websites which provide useful information about different aspects of housing.
Finding a House Before You Arrive
Buying a House
Emergency/Short Term Housing
Other Useful Links
FINDING A HOUSE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE:
· Housing help centres help people find affordable housing (these centres are usually free to use). To find a housing help centre near you, click here.
· Visit a settlement agency, like CUIAS, for help finding affordable housing.
· Landlords often advertise houses or apartments for rent in the Classified Ads section of the newspaper.
· 2010 average monthly rent for apartments in Toronto: $777 for bachelor, $949 for 1 bedroom, $1123 for 2 bedrooms, and $1322 for 3 bedrooms.
w A good way to save money is to try shared housing; this is where you share an apartment or house with other people, sharing the cost of rent and utilities, and sometimes even groceries. An important thing to remember is that the Residential Tenancies Act does not apply if you are sharing a house/apartment.
· You can find rental housing from resources like bulletin boards, classified ads, rental guides, websites, and even from walking around a neighbourhood and looking for Vacancy or For Rent signs.
w When you rent a house, you sign a lease with the landlord; it will tell you information about the length of time you are renting for, the rental rate, what is included in the costs, and rent increases.
w A landlord may ask you to have a guarantor or co-signer; this is someone who agrees to pay your rent for you in the event that you are unable to do so.
w The landlord may also ask to see a bank statement, a letter from your employer, references, etc.
· You have rights as a tenant, which are outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act. These include the right to a safe home, basic utilities like heat and water, the right not to be unlawfully evicted, etc.
w You also have responsibilities as a tenant. These include paying your rent on time, keeping your home clean and repairing damage, honouring your residency agreement and obeying the law.
w A guide to the Residential Tenancies Act, outlining your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, can be found
· A list of important terms that you need to know when renting a house can be found here.
· A guide to renting your first house in Canada can be found here.
· This website gives further information on tenants’ rights.
· This website gives further information on repairs and maintenance in rental homes, and what rights and responsibilities tenants have regarding them.
BUYING A HOUSE
· You have the option of either buying a plot of land and having a builder construct a new home for you, or buying an existing home from the owner.
· If you are building a new home, make sure that the builder is registered with Tarion, an organization which will protect you from any violations of the Building Code on the part of the builder.
· If you are buying an existing home, you should contact a real estate agent who is registered with the Ontario Real Estate Association. A real estate agent will help you find a house and will help you throughout the buying process.
· A complete guide to buying your first home can be found here.
· You may need a professional to help you buy your first home. Information on where to find a professional can be found here.
· Subsidized housing involves getting money from the government or a private organization to help you pay your rent. Subsidized housing can come in the form of co-ops (where residents own the property and can get government subsidies for low-income residents,) non-profit housing managed by charitable organizations, and government-run low-income housing.
w Information on co-op housing can be found here.
· Unfortunately, there is a long waiting list for low-income housing in some parts of the process, sometimes as long as 10 years.
· In order to apply for subsidized housing, you will need to find the closest centre to you, which can be found here Co-ordinated Access Centre.
· Information on low-income housing in Ontario can be found here.
EMERGENCY AND SHORT-TERM HOUSING
· Emergency housing is short-term housing for those who may be homeless or in crisis (ex. living on the street, experiencing abuse, recently evicted from their home etc.) Examples of emergency housing are shelters and hostels.
· The following links are helpful for those in crisis and in need of immediate assistance:
· You may need to live in short-term housing when you first arrive in Canada if you have not yet found a permanent place to live. There are a number of affordable options for short term housing:
w Hostels have small rooms to stay in, and you share a bathroom and kitchen with other residents
w Bed-and-breakfasts are usually in a person’s home, while you may also be able to stay in university or college housing temporarily.
w Hotels and motels are available as short-term accommodation. Motels tend to offer cheaper rates than hotels.
w If you are staying longer, you may want to consider an apartment hotel, which is more affordable than a hotel.
· If you arrive at the Toronto Pearson International Airport and have no place to stay, go to the Immigrant Reception and Information Services kiosks in terminal 1 or terminal 3 - they will give you information about short-term housing.
· If you have difficulty understanding your electricity bill, call 1-877-632-2727 or 416-314-2455 (in Toronto), or visit your energy provider’s website.
· A lot of information about paying for utilities and saving money through energy efficiency can be found here. Click on Living in Ontario, then Housing Basicsand then Utilities.
· If you are a senior in need of medical care, you may be able to arrange for care in your home through a Community Care Access Centre.
· The Home Adaptation for Seniors Independence program may pay for alterations to your house that are aimed at keeping you safe and secure.
· This page here talks about seniors’ homes and other information for seniors.
OTHER USEFUL LINKS
· A list of properties that have been certified by the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario, meaning they meet safety and other standards.
· http://www.hydroone.com/SaveEnergy/Pages/Home.aspx , http://www.mei.gov.on.ca/en/energy/electricity/?page=smart-meters ,
https://saveonenergy.ca/ - Information on how to save money through energy efficiency programs and cutting down on your energy consumption.