Featured article photo: Vancouver, BC in Canada by Adi Kavazovic (CC0 Licensed)
Step 1: Decide Where You Want to Live
"Live where you work; work where you live."—Easy to say, though hard to do sometimes. But if it is at all possible, do consider living as close as you can to where you work or study, as you'd be saving energy and time on commuting, which will definitely serve a positive impact to your day-to-day life.
Metro Vancouver consists of 21 municipalities, where 3 of the most populated municipalities are Vancouver, Surrey, and Burnaby. Newcomers to Metro Vancouver, especially the ones from out-of-province or other countries are often confused by the distinction between Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, and Greater Vancouver. Here are some related articles to hopefully clear the air of confusion:
- The 21 Municipalities of Metro Vancouver (link will be updated soon)
- What's the Difference Between Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, and Greater Vancouver? (link will be updated soon)
Step 2: Furnished or Unfurnished?
Okay, just one more question before you start browsing for rental listings: Would you like to rent a unit that is furnished or unfurnished? An unfurnished place is usually cheaper, though you may end up compensating for this through paying for furniture and/or moving costs. Do your calculations according to your situation and keep this in mind when browsing through the listings.
Step 3: Browse Rental Listings
There are quite a number of websites where you can browse for rental listings in Metro Vancouver, but here are 3 options you can consider:
Craigslist (vancouver.craigslist.org) is arguably the most popular way to search for rental listing. You can easily filter listings by distance from a certain postal code, price, number of rooms, furnished/unfurnished, and size of the space. You can typically contact prospective landlords through email or phone number; these contact information can be obtained directly from the listing.
Facebook Groups and Facebook Marketplace
Facebook is also a decent alternative to Craigslist in finding your next home. Simply log into Facebook and search for "Vancouver rent". You'll encounter many groups which you can join, where hundreds of new listings are updated every day. The upside of using Facebook over Craigslist is that you will be able to easily send messages to your prospective landlords through Facebook Messenger.
If you receive messages from any listing stating that the landlord is out of town, but they're asking you to transfer a certain amount of deposit so that they can mail you the key, please stay away, as it is very likely to be a scam.
Through Rental Companies (not the same as Property Agents)
A rental company is a company that owns and/or manages building(s) specifically for tenants. A rental property agent is simply a third-party who connects prospective tenants with landlords or rental companies. You could certainly just ask a property agent to look for a place on your behalf, but this isn't a popular option to go with in Metro Vancouver as prospective tenants are almost always in abundance that landlords typically don't need to connect with property agents to advertise their units.
Some people may argue that renting an apartment in a building managed by a rental company is better in many ways than one. This is because a rental company is more likely to:
- Adhere to the rental law
- Provide sufficient notice for anything related to your tenancy
- Responsive to maintenance and repair requests
- Accommodate rental benefits from the government
Of course, all of these depend on whether the rental company is a good one, and good landlords would also be doing all of the above, so at the end of the day, it all comes down to your choice whom you'd prefer to have as landlords.To find rental companies, you can simply Google them based on the specific areas you intend to live in. Example keywords:
- Downtown Vancouver rental company
- North Vancouver rent property management
- Surrey rent properties
- Granville rent property company
- ... and its permutations
Google should present you with a list of rental companies, and sometimes you would be able to view photos and listings of units that you would not otherwise encounter from Craigslist and Facebook.
Step 4: Setup a Viewing Appointment
When contacting prospective landlords, you should aim to set a viewing appointment with them. This is when you meet the landlord and view the space that you might end up renting.
- Dress presentably. Landlords usually show their units to a few prospective tenants, so making a good first impression is advisable.
- Bring a measurement tape, especially if you have furnitures that you would like to move in. Measure around the space and take note.
- Be prepared to answer questions such as "What do you do for a living?"
- Consider scheduling multiple viewing appointments closely together (within the same day, for example) so you can make your choice and notify the landlord of your interest much more swiftly after your viewing appointments.
Step 5: Contact the Landlord
As previously mentioned, landlords usually show their units to a few prospective tenants, so if you found a place you really like, be prepared to contact them on the same day, or the day after, or just... as soon as possible, really.
Typically, you would then meet again with the landlord to:
Sign a tenancy agreement
This is usually the standard Tenancy Agreement provided by the Government of British Columbia.
Sign an addendum to the tenancy agreement
Depending on your landlord, you may need to sign an addendum to the tenancy agreement. This is an additional agreement pertinent to the unit you are renting and will outline additional details to the tenancy agreement.
Make a deposit payment
Prior to meeting your landlord, make sure your bank balance is sufficient to make a deposit payment. In British Columbia, the maximum allowable deposit is half a month's rent, so for example, if your monthly rent is $1,200, your landlord may request at most $600 as the deposit. When contacting your landlord about your interest in renting the unit, they would usually inform you on how they would prefer to receive the deposit, whether by cash, cheque, bank draft, or bank transfer. If you make the deposit by cash, make sure to ask for a receipt from the landlord.
- If the landlord is requesting for a bank transfer for the rental deposit, consider downloading a mobile app from your bank and suggest that you will transfer the deposit payment on the spot through your phone when meeting the landlord to sign the tenancy agreement. Screenshot the payment you made and send it to your landlord.
- Avoid sending any money before a tenancy agreement is signed.
- Sign two copies of the tenancy agreement (one for the landlord and one for you). Alternatively, make a copy of a signed tenancy agreement (photos are fine too).
It takes time and energy finding a house or an apartment to rent, but it'll be worth it if you do it properly and end up with a place you love! Hope this post helps anyone new to the renting game in Metro Vancouver, and if you have any questions, feel free to post them as comments below!
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