Market InsightsDecember 2017
Renting a Condo 101 - Everything You Need to Know
Written By Jenn Costigan
Assets/Agents/icon-agent-phoneCreated with Sketch.1-416-817-0240
Assets/Agents/icon-agent-emailCreated with Sketch.jenn@strata.ca
Written By Jenn Costigan
Assets/Agents/icon-agent-phoneCreated with Sketch. 1-416-817-0240
Assets/Agents/icon-agent-emailCreated with Sketch. jenn@strata.ca
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‘Competitive’ barely begins to describe Toronto’s rental market, with the vacancy rate hovering around 1%. Or in English, there are simply more renters than there are actual rental properties available… leaving many renters submitting multiple lease applications before finally securing a property.

Our role in this process is to not only find you the right property, but to maximize the odds you beat out the competition. We do this by framing your lease application in as attractive a manner as possible.

Our role in this process is to not only find you the right property, but to maximize the odds you beat out the competition. We do this by framing your lease application in as attractive a manner as possible. We know the kind of questions the landlord and their agent will ask and how best to field them on your behalf, even if you’re not the perfect tenant on paper. And we know this because we also (and often) represent the landlords!

The following are a number of FAQ’s we’re asked about the condo rental market. Read through them and you’ll be well ahead of most. If you’d like any immediate assistance, scroll to the bottom of the page and send us a note. One of our condo rental experts will be in touch with you shortly.

What’s the difference between an apartment, condo and loft rental?

A condo is a property that is owned, while an apartment building consists of only rental units (none of the residents own their units). A loft is technically a condo — only a building that was converted from (usually) a warehouse, factory, church, etc.

Renters generally prefer to live in condos because the buildings are not only better maintained (there’s pride of ownership), but they usually feature other perks and amenities, such as gyms, party/meeting rooms, a security guard or concierge and ensuite laundry within the actual units.

Landlords and the other owners pay maintenance fees which cover regular cleaning of the building and service from property management and concierge/security. If there’s a problem in the building, such as a spilt drink in a common area or an elevator malfunction, you can expect the problem to be address expediently — as this is exactly what the maintenance fees (paid by the owners) cover.

Apartment buildings are generally more affordable than condos to rent. However, the state of most can be a bit rough and getting anything fixed or addressed is often a slow and bureaucratic process.

When is the best time to start looking?

The best time to begin looking for a rental is 4 to 6 weeks from the date you’d like to move into the property.

This is one of the most frustrating parts of the process for renters… and understandably so. Most of us want to know that we have a place secured well in advance, but the reality is that most landlords list their properties only 4 to 6 weeks before their preferred possession date, leaving renters with little time to find and secure a place. Again, we do everything we can to move the process along efficiently for you. If you’re adequately prepared with the right documentation, the time frame is usually quite manageable.

What documents do I need to provide?

Equifax Report: This is your credit report. From the landlord’s perspective, it speaks to the likelihood you’ll make your payments on time. This is the document we’ll want to look at in advance, before you submit an offer. If there are inaccuracies on your report (quite common), we’ll help you address them quickly with Equifax. If there are other credit problems, we’ll sort out the best way to present them to the landlord.

Employment Letter: This discloses your annual income and duration of employment. From the landlord’s perspective, it speaks to your ability to afford the property. If you’re self-employed, the equivalent of an employment letter would be your Notice of Assessments from Revenue Canada, over the past two years.

Rental Application: This form illustrates your references, their contact details, as well as a handful of other details about outstanding loans or car leases/financing you might have. Don’t ever include your SIN number on this form. No one should see that except yourself and your employer.

Lease Agreement: This is the offer agreement that indicates your lease terms, such as the price, duration of the lease, conditions, etc. We’ll make sure you don't agree to anything that isn’t fair and in your best interest.

I have a pet. Is that ok?

Many of us on the Strata.ca team are pet owners ourselves, so we certainly know firsthand how frustrating renting with a pet can be. Most landlords do not like pets. They view their property as an investment, and worry a pet will damage it.

Landlords often will include an actual ‘no pets’ clause in the Lease Agreement, which states that no pets are allowed in the unit. However, as of this writing, that clause is unenforceable. The Landlord Tenant Act stipulates a cat or dog is considered reasonable wear and tear and pet ownership must be permitted.

The Landlord Tenant Act overrides any clause that contradicts it in the lease agreement, with few exceptions. However, if the actual building itself has a ‘no pet’ policy (quite rare), then no one, and regardless of your rights as a tenant, can have pets in the building.

Offhand, I can think of only a few buildings in the entire city that ban all pets, and one is in the process of overturning its ban right now (95 Lombard). If you’re a pet owner, we’ll make sure you steer clear of these buildings.

Like every potential concern, if you have a pet the best thing to do is discuss it with us. This is a situation where the best approach must be taken on a case by case basis.

I want a loft. I’m not interested in an old apartment building or a condo.

We work hard to find our clients what they’re looking for, but we don't want to misrepresent the reality of the market. There are fewer lofts in the city than there are traditional condos. And when one comes up, it usually doesn’t sit on the market for more than two or three days.

However, we check for new listings multiple times a day. When one does come up, our clients are usually the first in the door. If there is a loft out there for you, we’ll make sure you see it.

Why should I work with a realtor?

Our services are free for renters, and our job is to find the right property for you; to maximize the odds of your securing the property, and to take the headache out of the process. We put a lot of effort into framing your situation in the best light possible, all in an effort to outshine any competition you might have.

This is important as landlords will request references, a rental application, your credit report and an employment letter. The reality is that most people have imperfect credit, or might be between jobs, or self-employed, etc. Whatever the situation, you always have options, and we’ll make sure you’re well aware of them.

We also know the condo market and inventory intimately, and it’s in our best interest to ensure you move into a reputable building. Why? Because it gives us great satisfaction to find the right condo for our clients! But to you cynics out there, referrals are the bread and butter of our business and only happy clients provide referrals! If you’re thrilled with the property we’ve helped you find and secure, it’s win win for everyone.

Finally, the majority of landlords who rent out their condos hire a realtor to market their property and screen rental applications. Without your own personal representation, you will have to work with the listing agent directly; an agent whose sole interest is to the landlord. They will screen you more aggressively, as it’s their neck on the line if they advise their client to accept a lease application from a tenant who causes problems in the future. On the other hand, we deal with listing agents on a daily basis and often act as listing agents ourselves — we know how to speak to them and get our clients’ applications accepted.

If your service is free, how are you paid?

We’re compensated by the landlord, who provides the equivalent of one month’s rent to both the listing agent (representing the landlord) and the renter’s agent (representing yourself). So our pay is half a month's rent. Despite that, our interest is 100% to you, not the landlord. And that’s not just a nice talking point — it’s strictly mandated by the Real Estate Council of Ontario by-laws.

How much does a condo cost to rent?

We get this question often and the answer really depends on the location, desirability of the property and current market conditions. There’s not much point in getting into exact numbers here, as the prices would quickly become dated.

Once we know your budget, we’ll lay out your best available options from there.

I’m interested. What are the next steps?

Contact us! Even if you’re looking a bit early, we’re happy to help out and make some property recommendations.


A Personal Note from Jenn Costigan

We hope you found this article to be helpful! For more information on renting a condo or rental recommendations, tap the button below and we’ll be in touch shortly.

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