The Complete Guide to Renting in Metro Vancouver
9 tips for finding and setting up your new home.
Whether you’re renting for the first time, or for the umpteenth time, finding a new home is stressful. That’s why we’re sharing a list of tips for renting in Metro Vancouver– from where to search, what lease terms to expect, how much tenant insurance coverage to purchase, and more.
1. The search
Almost every move starts with search criteria, with budget constraints. Size is usually a major consideration—living alone, with a roommate, or with your family?…Is location a key driver? Do you prefer to be close to shops and transit?… How about amenities like secure underground parking and a gym?… Is in-suite laundry a must? And perhaps more importantly these days, do you need a dedicated workspace? Honing in on your “must-haves” versus “nice-to-haves” as you view properties will save time and keep your budget expectations in check.
Tip: Search available homes at Birds Nest Properties, Craigslist, Padmapper, and Facebook Marketplace.
2. The application
Find a place you love? The next step is to submit a rental application. Most applications are completed via an online form, or sent via e-mail. If shortlisted, the property manager/landlord will likely follow up with an interview, call your references (most often from a work supervisor and past landlord), run a credit check (an indication of your history of paying on time), and ask for proof of employment income.
Tip: Have your proof of employment income ready so you can speed up the application process.
3. Pen to paper
Now it’s time to sign the lease. The standard BC Residential Tenancy Agreement outlines general contract terms, including rent. It’s often paired with an Addendum–a set of additional lease terms such as tenant insurance, pet policies, utilities, furnishings, and restrictions on smoking and subletting.
Tip: A lease is typically signed for a one-year term. At the end of the year, both parties need to agree for it to renew for another one-year term; otherwise, the lease renews on a month-to-month basis, and tenants can leave with one-month’s notice.
4. Security and pet deposits 101
According to rules of British Columbia’s Residential Tenancy Act, a security deposit equal to half of one month’s rent is required for potential future damages. Have a pet? A pet deposit is an additional half of one month’s rent. When your lease ends, both deposits are returned to you–net of any expenses for damages–within 15 days after you move out.
Tip: When moving out, remember to update your property manager/landlord with your new contact details (email and address) to ensure you receive your deposit(s) back in a timely manner.
5. Rent increase
A BC property manager/landlord can serve a rent increase only once in a 12-month period (with three full months’ advance notice) and is limited to the standard allowable rent increase tied to the Consumer Price Index, in accordance to BC Government regulations. For 2020, the standard allowable rent increase is 2.6%; however, any rent increase is ineffective until December 1st, 2020 due to COVID-19.
Tip: Learn more about what’s changed for tenants during the pandemic at the BC Government website.
6. The necessities: utilities
Prior to move-in, your property manager/landlord will provide information on the necessary utility hook-ups required. Buildings with radiant heating/cooling may involve some new routines and a small learning curve, in exchange for energy savings.
Tip: Call ahead to ensure your existing service is transferred, or a new account is created, so you’ll ready to settle in on moving day.
7. Insurance… You don’t need it, until you *need* it
Many landlords and property managers (like Birds Nest Properties) mandate tenant insurance. Optional or not, it’s a good idea to purchase a policy. Insurance should cover third party liability, water damage, personal contents (clothing and furniture), and should also provide for additional living expenses if there’s a fire or flood that requires you to relocate temporarily. As experienced property managers, we’ve seen plenty of cases where tenants are grateful for the coverages.
Tip: To save time at the insurance brokerage, consider the worth of your contents in advance (contents are considered everything that would fall to the ground if you were to turn your home upside down).
8. Quick fixes
Sometimes accidents happen. In these cases, it’s important to have your landlord’s emergency contacts readily available. An experienced property manager/landlord has a network of skilled tradesmen to call on for expedited service for significant repairs.
Tip: While time-sensitive emergencies require quick help; oftentimes, simpler repairs (like a beeping smoke alarm) can be fixed with a quick Google search or a trip to Home Depot.
9. The “ins” and “outs”
For move-ins and move-outs, landlords may use a variation of the BC Conditions Inspection Report to document the condition of the property. The move-in generally involves a detailed walk-through of each room and then a key handover, while the move-out ensures the property was properly cleaned and compares to the records from the move-in inspection.
Tip: Book movers and the elevator ASAP. Month-end can be a busy time for moves and elevator bookings, especially in a larger building.
Still have questions? Give us a call, we’re here to help.
Birds Nest Properties is boutique property management company that specializes in condo and townhome rentals in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Moody, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver.