Your First Year in Canada
8. What rights do tenants have?
When renting an apartment you have to sign a contract in the English language. You must have a good understanding of all the provisions of the contract, so you may ask for a copy to be translated into your native language. If you do not understand something, ask for a translation from relatives, friends, or someone you trust. You have the right to make a few copies of keys for apartments and front doors, or to ask the landlord for extra keys, though you may be required to pay a deposit for them. When you leave your home you can return the keys and get back your deposit. The owner must have a copy of the keys to the apartment to get into it in the event of an emergency, such as fire or water leakage. You cannot change or install an additional lock without the consent of the owner. You can ask the owner to make the necessary repairs in the apartment or even in the house (for example, in case of failure of the elevator, or your mailbox) or obtain consent for self repairs, which will be paid for by the owner. The superintendent must respond to your request if other tenants violate the rules of living together, for example, if they smoke outside the designated areas, or engage in discrimination. Be advised that many landlord and tenant rules vary from one province to another, so be sure to become familiar with the rules in your province of residence.
9. Who carries out repairs on a rented apartment?
As a rule, for new tenants the apartment should be completely renovated and the kitchen must be equipped with a serviceable refrigerator and electric stove. Most modern homes have central air conditioning, but if the house is old and there is no air conditioning, most likely, you'll have to buy it by yourself. In this case, the air conditioner is usually installed in the window. All problems related to living in a house, for example, repairing plumbing or electrical systems or complaints about neighbours, have to be solved by the superintendent, or if you feel it is necessary, you can contact the landlord. Applications for repairs must be submitted in writing and, if the repairs are not done, you can repeat your written request a second time, and then refer to the Landlord and Tenant Board.
10. How can I avoid conflict with the landlord?
Sometimes there are conflicts that happen between landlords and tenants. The conflict may involve, for example, the reluctance of the owner to carry out repairs to the apartment, or a long delay in the repair of elevators, or an increase in rent that is too quick, or an apartment that is too cold. As a rule, from September 1 to June 15, central heating in an apartment must provide a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. Or maybe you are forced to leave, or you do not want to let the landlord enter your apartment, etc. In order to avoid conflicts with the landlord or superintendent, get to know both the rights and responsibilities of tenants, which are governed by the Canada Residential Tenancies Act. If you believe that the landlord has violated your rights, you can complain to the Landlord and Tenant Board.
11. In what case can I be evicted?
The landlord can evict you from the apartment if you:
•Do not pay your rental fee.
•Disturb other tenants.
•Damage house property. You have to repair house property if you caused the damage.
•Allow too many people to live in your apartment.
•Keep unauthorized animals in your apartment.
•Need special medical care that is not available in your unit.
•Do not report your income (if you live in subsidized house).
Sometimes a landlord needs to use the apartment for themselves or his (her) relatives or the unit needs to be vacated because of repairs. If the owner decides to evict you, he must first apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board, which will consider the reasons for your eviction. If the reasons are found to be persuasive, you will have to leave.
12. What problems can newcomers have when renting an apartment?
Renting the first apartment after arriving in Canada is associated with certain difficulties. Some owners are reluctant to rent apartments to immigrants, and this is understandable. Nobody knows you and you do not have any references from your previous place of residence. Immigrants may be unemployed for a long time, do not speak English and cannot communicate properly with the superintendent. Some ethnic food odours, cultural habits and customs of immigrants disturb other tenants. Try to solve conflicts with patience and a positive attitude.
13. How can I buy an apartment or a house?
About 40% of Canadians live in their own homes, and soon you may find yourself among them! The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recommends (in eight languages) the following five steps to buying a home.
1. Think carefully about your decision. Buying a home has a lot of pluses and minuses. Of course, it's nice to have your own home, where you can live with a whole big family, raise children, and perhaps grandchildren. But your assessment should include many considerations: do you have enough money; will you be able to take care of the home in winter and summer and make the necessary repairs?
2. Do you have money for a down payment? Are you ready to take a loan and pay a monthly amount and interest? Do you know what costs are associated with the use of the home? Maybe you have to pay old debts, for example, children's education or buy a car? Making the necessary calculations will help you. Please use the following website as a resource: www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/buho/hostst/hostst_002.cfm.
3. When choosing a home, consider not only your current needs, but also the future. How many children do you plan to have? Do you want to eventually bring your children or parents from abroad? Maybe you would like to use the home for your own business? Or do you want to buy a home as an investment and offer renting?
4. Buying a house is a complex process, especially for immigrants who buy their first home in Canada. Have you decided what kind of home you want: old or new, and how much you can afford to pay. Can you find a lender? Now you have to enter the real estate market and see what you can buy today. This can be done in many ways: by yourself through the Internet, using other media, consulting family and friends, or hiring a real estate agent, who will help you to find an appropriate house and draw up an acceptable Agreement of Purchase and Sale.
5. On the closing date, you have to make a down payment minus the deposit, pay for a lawyer, government fees and charges, etc. After that the act of transfer of property rights will be issued by the Registry or the Land Titles Office. It is called a Transfer/Deed of Land. Then the home is yours.
(To be continued)