I have a love-hate relationship with house-hunting in Vancouver. On one hand, it’s thrilling to scroll through Facebook and rental websites for a fresh place. Yet I have had many ‘I’m going to live at the Nest’ moments when landlords ghosted me. Ultimately, you need to act smart and fast because the Vancouver rental market is competitive.
Here are a few tips to assist you with your hunt.
1. Organize your preferences and living needs
Before you start looking for places, it’s important to figure out your preferences. Set a budget and ask yourself if you’d like to live in a room, a basement, a studio, a four-bedroom apartment or a house. Do you want it furnished or unfurnished? Furthermore, know the pros and cons of each. By knowing what works for you, it will be easier to filter your search.
2. Where to find listings
There are a lot of sites where you can find online listings:
You can also check Facebook groups:
- UBC students looking for roommates, housing rental/sublet
- UBC Roommates and Housings
- UBC Room Rentals - Room Exchange
3. How to stand out to landlords
Some landlords accept applications on a first come, first serve basis. However, most of them will only proceed with the strongest applicants. Thus, you must ensure that you have all of your documents and the security deposit ready. The types of documents asked for varies between landlords, but here’s a list of commonly-asked documents:
- Your basic information (name, age, phone number, etc.)
- A credit report (or a letter of financial support if you don’t have a credit card yet)
- References (or a reference letter) or proof of employment
- Pay stubs
- Your ID or passport or UBC card
You also need to be convincing when writing your first email to the landlord so that they reply. Check out this site for tips to write a bomb email.
4. Use your common sense
You must be cautious of landlords who are asking for too much information. Use your common sense and do not give out your Social Insurance Number.
5. Avoiding scams
Vancouver can be a foreign ground for first-time renters and you might not be able to recognize some red flags. To solve this, you must understand your rights. Some basic information is that your security deposit should not be more than half of your first month’s rent and you must not pay anything until a written contract is secured. For a more extensive explanation on deposits, tenant responsibilities, and more, head over to the BC Residential Tenancy website. It is a great helpline for both landlords and renters.
Other red flags include a price that is too good to be true or if the landlord refuses to show you the place before you sign the lease.
6. Be patient and persistent
Apply every day or even twice a day. Dedicate a certain period every day for house-hunting. It may be disheartening at times but trust me when I say that the right place will come along. I am a first-timer and an international student who was attending virtual viewings at odd hours. If I can get a place, then you can too!