When looking to rent a condo in a competitive market like Toronto, it’s important to house-hunt efficiently. With a large pool of potential renters to choose from, few landlords will have the patience to wait around for you to take your time making a decision.
But decisiveness isn’t the only quality you’ll need during your property search; you’ll also need to be prepared. This means moving quickly to provide the landlord or property management company with the documentation they require from applicants, and once selected for tenancy, the financial commitment they require.
Different landlords have different criteria for potential renters to meet. Some will need only first and last month’s rent, while others will scrutinize your financial situation and renting history. So while there is no universal checklist that will prepare you for all rental applications, the following list outlines much of the information landlords will request from you.
Having this information prepared ahead of time, or at least being able to compile it quickly, will help you stand out from other applicants, and increase your chances of getting into the rental property you’re after.
A credit report, which can be obtained through Equifax or TransUnion, is a comprehensive history of the charges and payments made for recurring bills and credit cards. Landlords will use this score to get a sense of whether or not a renter has a history of prompt payments, and whether or not they tend to live within their means.
Employment letter & pay stubs or tax return
A landlord will want to know that their renters have steady income to make monthly payments with. That’s why most require tenants to supply a letter signed by their employer, stating the level (full-time, part-time, contract, etc.) and yearly income of the applicant.
In some cases, a landlord or property management company will ask to see a recent pay stub, or portions of last year’s tax return instead of, or in addition to the letter.
Proof of renters insurance
Not all landlords require tenants to have insurance, but some do. And among those who do, some require proof before allowing a new tenant to move in. Renters insurance covers the contents of a rented unit, and provides the renter with liability coverage in the event a guest is injured in their unit.
Prospective landlords will often want references from your previous landlords to confirm that you have a history of reliable and respectful tenancy. This reference will note your habit of paying on time, as well as your good standing in your previous building.
Though some landlords will be satisfied with an employment letter and credit check, others will want ta bank statement that details your financial accounts, and approximate the amount of money within. Bank letters can be requested from any financial institution you have an open account with, and can be sent directly to the requesting party.
Personal letter (or interview)
This request is more common for small properties, such as a homeowner renting the upper floor of a detached home. Because this setup is more intimate than an apartment building, they may want to know that you’ll get on well, and that they won’t be up all night listening to your music.
This request may be a chat or personal letter that describes you as a person. In most cases, it will be informal, and may more or less be a casual conversation.
Many landlords will use a rental application to collect personal information from prospective tenants. This isn’t something you can prepare for ahead of time – you can’t complete the application before they give it to you – but it’s important to complete in a timely manner. Chances are, other people are also working on their application, and if they hand it back first, they’ll have a head-start on you.
Remember, these requirements may not apply to the home you’re interested in renting. But it doesn’t hurt to get a dated letter from your employer and a credit check done at the outset of your search. Because if it could mean getting you into your first choice of home, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it at the ready.