The 9th Week

How to Rent Permanent Housing

References are needed for rental housing
If you choose an apartment, the superintendent will help you to fill out an application for rental, where you will need to indicate your income which must be confirmed by your employer if you work. You must provide a copy of your bank account statement and give the name and the letter of a guarantor who will pay for your apartment if you run out of money. To rent an apartment, a recommendation from a permanent resident in Canada may be useful, for example, your English teacher, case worker at a centre for immigrants, a representative of your ethnic community or religious centre. Working children can rent an apartment for immigrant parents. An agreement of rent often specifies the amount of rent and what is included in the rent, the rental terms plus other information related to accommodation and maintenance of the apartment, for example, how the rent can be increased in the future.

Repairs in a rented apartment
Before occupancy, you will pay for the first and last month’s rent and sometimes for the keys. You should get a receipt for the payments. If you then decide to leave, you have to notify the superintendent two months in advance. When you leave, you should not pay for the last month and when you return the keys, you have to get your key deposit back. As a rule, the apartment provided for you should be freshly renovated and the kitchen should be equipped with a serviceable refrigerator and electric stove. Modern houses have central air-conditioning because in Toronto it is very hot in the summer. If the house is old and has no air conditioning, you need to buy a window air conditioner by yourself.
All the issues associated with living in the house, such as repairs, plumbing, electrical malfunction or problems caused by the neighbours have to be solved by superintendent. Also for some purposes, you can contact the owner or manager of the house.

How to avoid conflict with the landlord
To avoid conflicts in the house, you have to know the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, who are governed by the law of Canada called the Residential Tenancies Act. This information is available in English at

Who can apply for subsidized housing?
Families or individuals with low incomes may qualify for rental apartments in buildings with subsidized (low cost) housing; the cost will not exceed 30% of your income. Subsidized housing in Toronto is provided by the organization "Housing Connections". On its website, there are detailed rules for the granting of subsidized housing. Applications for subsidized housing are submitted by Canadian citizens, persons with landed immigrant status (permanent residents), applicants for permanent resident status, refugees, and refugee claimants. You can apply using the Internet, (instructions are indicated on the website, or visit the office personally. In Toronto, "Housing Connections" is located at the following address: 176 Elm Street. To be eligible, the applicant must pay more that 30% of his/her income for rent for his current housing. Indeed, if your present housing is found to be too luxurious and this is the cause of its high cost, you may be asked to find cheaper housing. A family of two is usually offered a one-bedroom, if you do not have bulky medical equipment requiring a separate place for storage. In that case, you may qualify for a two-bedroom.

How long is the wait for subsidized housing?
The line for subsidized housing moves rather slowly. For example, according to the site, for a bachelor apartment (one room, kitchen and washroom) you have to wait from one to five years, for a one-bedroom from seven to ten years, for a two-bedroom five to ten years, and up to twelve years for a bigger apartment. Actually the waiting time is longer because there is a system of priorities. These are primarily people who are victims of violence, the seriously ill who according to doctors have no more than two years to live and then low-income families. Next in line are the homeless, divorced, family members and youth.

How not to lose your place in line for the subsidized housing
To stay in the queue, you must annually certify that you need subsidized housing and ask to be left in the line. If you disagree with a decision on your claim, you are entitled to appeal this decision. The right of appeal will be explained to you at the office of "Housing Connections".

Make a note. When it comes your turn, you will be offered a subsidized apartment three times. If for any reason, you do not choose any of the three apartments, you will be removed from the line. You are eligible to apply again but then you will be put at the end of the queue and your waiting period will start over again.