a place to live
Canadians rent housing, and so do most newcomers, at least for the
first few years. Apartments and houses for rent are usually listed
in the classified advertising section of the newspaper. It is also a
good idea to walk around an area you would like to live in, and see
if there are any signs posted on or by the buildings. Do not take
the first place you see -- try to shop around a little, see what's
available. Prices often vary considerably.
apartments can be rented by the month, but with most rented housing
you sign a lease for a year. This is a legally binding contract
between you and the landlord. Make sure you understand exactly what
you have to pay for, and what is included in your rent. For example,
do you pay for the heating costs or are they included? Canada is a
cold country in the winter, and heating can be expensive. Are you
allowed to have pets? Are the fridge and stove included? Do you have
to pay municipal taxes? Also, you may have to pay a security deposit
(such as the first month's rent) to rent the apartment you have
chosen. Read the lease over carefully before you sign it.
should also purchase tenant's insurance to cover the costs of
replacing the household contents of your apartment. It is probably a
good idea to ask someone in your local community group or
immigrant-serving organization for information about housing. They
can also explain the legal terms used in leases.
Avoid signing a lease if you plan to move again soon.
rights as a tenant
tenants (someone who rents a room, an apartment or house) and
landlords both have legal rights. There are laws which protect you
from sudden rent increases or being forced to leave your apartment.
You have the right to live anywhere you choose. Discrimination on
the basis of colour, creed, sex, age or disability is not allowed by
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Provincial
landlord and tenant laws also protect against such discrimination.
You also have responsibilities. It is important to keep the house or
apartment you are renting in the same condition you found it. Call
the provincial or municipal government department responsible for
housing, sometimes called a rental board, if you need information or
help, or look up the provincial Landlord and Tenant Regulations. You
will find the numbers in the blue pages of the telephone book. You
can also ask community groups for information or help.
a home is a big step, and you might want to wait until you are
settled before you do so. Most homes in Canada are sold through real
estate agents, although some owners do it themselves. You may see
"For Sale" signs posted in front of homes, and you can
also read the classified advertising section of the daily newspaper.
buying a house, it's important to remember that there are many
hidden costs. These may include the agent's fee, in some provinces,
as well as lawyer's or notary's fees, yearly property tax, house
insurance, registration fees, various home buyer taxes, and the cost
of maintaining the house -- heat, hydro, water, sewer, and so on.
Make sure you know exactly what your costs will be before you buy.
may want to find out about the First Home Loan Insurance Program,
run by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It enables you to
buy a home with a smaller down payment. The Corporation's fee is
rolled into the total mortgage in the form of a small percentage.
you rent or buy, you will need to sign up for various basic
services, such as heat and hydro (electricity). In Canada, some
homes are heated by gas, others by oil, and others by electricity.
Frequently, there are one or two main companies which provide these
services in an area, and you can find these in the yellow pages of
the telephone book. Try looking under "Gas," "Heating
Companies," "Oils/Fuel," and
will want to get a telephone installed quickly, so that you can
reach the people and the services you need from the comfort of your
home. Bell Canada operates most of the telephone service across
Canada, but you can find out the name of the telephone company in
your area in a telephone book. The Customer Service number should be
in the first few pages of the book. The telephone company in your
area normally has phone-centres in large shopping malls. You can
visit them to get your service set up.
can either rent a telephone from your telephone company and pay
month by month or buy one. The cost of making local calls is covered
by the monthly service fee, which is added to the cost of renting
the telephone. Long distance and overseas calls are not covered by
this monthly fee, and can be quite expensive. Many telephone
companies offer special plans which can reduce the costs of long
distance calls. Phone cards, which can be used to call anywhere from
any phone including public telephones, are a cost-effective way to
reduce long-distance charges.
Canada is a very large country, so even when you're calling within
the same province or city, long distance charges may apply.
are you're going to need some basic furniture and household
appliances. You can buy new, which can be costly, or wait for stores
to have sales and buy things gradually. You can also buy used
furniture and appliances, which is what many Canadians do. Articles
or furniture for sale listings are found in the classified
advertising section of the newspaper. You can also try used
furniture stores, church and local rummage or garage sales, or
community organizations. Your local community immigrant service
organization should be able to help you with names and addresses.
find out more...
one of the best sources of information is your local
immigrant-serving organization. You might also want to consult the
provincial or municipal department responsible for housing, listed
in the blue pages of your telephone book. They may have a central
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has a free pamphlet
entitled Homebuying, Step by Step. They also run the Canada
Housing Information Centre, and can provide information on the
rental and housing markets across Canada. Call their toll-free
number for more information: 1-800-668-2642 or visit their website