Why do I need a Realtor to help me find a rental, can't I just go on Kijiji, Craigslist or even Realtor.ca?
The answer of course is yes, but what is your time and stress worth? According to CMHC (the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) in the fourth quarter of 2016 the vacancy rate for rentals in the GTA declined to 1.3% which is abysmally low and makes the Toronto rental market incredibly tight. You need an advantage and an edge. I can't tell you how many people I've helped find a rental who spent 6 months unsuccessfully trying to find one themselves before a friend or relative referred them to me. Within a matter of days or weeks I can usually help find the best place for their particular situation and let me tell you, some of those people have become my single greatest source of referrals! Now that's the mark of a happy client!
Let’s get down to what a Realtor can do to help you lease a condo in Toronto...
Working with a broker in the context of leasing helps you in a number of ways; from the most basic standpoint we have access to better search tools than you do (for listings on the MLS service). We are able to narrow our search to the most finite of parameters and weed out all of the extraneous listings so that the only suites your Realtor sends you have been tailored for your needs. We also know the market and are able to let you know when your goal of a 2,000 sq ft condo in the downtown core for $1,500 a month is an unrealistic one. Experienced Realtors will know what to look for in respect to the building and the suites themselves whether in regard to the floor plans, views, amenities, state of repair, balconies, local transit or construction in the area and more. They will also know the best buildings and locations for your particular lifestyle, the area restaurants, entertainment venues, gyms, shops, etc!
Additionally their services should include writing the offer to lease/lease itself, negotiating with either the landlord or the landlord's agent (more common) on your behalf and ensuring you get the best deal in the best location possible. A good Realtor will also know the laws, here are some excerpts from the Residential Tenancies Act you may find interesting: (A copy of the act can be found by clicking here and I highly recommend you read it over, or at least give it a good skim)
• The only legal security deposit a landlord may collect is Last month's rent or a refundable key deposit that means no damage deposits, etc (See 2006, c. 17, s. 134 (1))
• No pet provisions in any lease are void and not enforceable (unless the building itself is a no pet building as some condos are) *There are some caveats that go along with this so speak to your Realtor about this one. (See 2006, c. 17, s. 14.)
• A landlord may not demand post dated cheques or a pre-authorised monthly charge on your credit or debit card(you can offer to provide post dated cheques to the landlord and I would urge that you do for convenience sake, but the decision is yours) (See 2006, c. 17, s. 108; 2009, c. 33, Sched. 21, s. 11 (3, 4))
• These are just a few examples of the law that your Realtor should be knowledgeable in, but I do always recommend you have your lawyer review any documents prior to signing them.
Hiring a Realtor to aid you in your search will save you time, money and quite possibly your sanity! The best part of working with a Realtor as a Tenant client is that for you, their services are FREE!*
(*Well almost, in most cases your Realtor will be remunerated by the landlord but not in all cases. Before you sign a Buyers Representation Agreement you need to discuss what happens if you find a place you want but the landlord isn't paying the commission, if you find something off MLS etc. This is something a good Realtor will go over with you and explain in a clear concise manner.)
My next post will talk about what you need to have and know BEFORE you call your Realtor to begin finding you a home to lease! Stay tuned!
As always, please feel free to comment, ask questions, and even suggest future topics you'd like me to write about!