Tenant Rights and Responsibilities - Determining your needs

Everyone has their own needs or preferences when it comes to where they want to live, but being flexible is an important part of finding a new place to live. Are you searching for a place that is within walking distance of public transit? Most people who rent have to end up making certain compromises in order to find a place to rent in their area, and sometimes it isn’t easy. Before you start looking for a place to live, you may want to take the time to make a list of requirements. The Rental Search Worksheet will help you to do this.

What's included in the rent


The total cost of renting a home is definitely important, and there are many different factors that will affect what you can afford, including your household income, cost of utilities, and any outstanding debt that you may have. Before you make a decision on a certain home to rent, you will have to determine how willing you are to make lifestyle sacrifices as well as the amount of debt you are comfortable having.

It is also important to consider the following:

  • Are utilities, including water, electricity, heat, internet, and cable television, included in the rent cost?
  • Contact utility companies to find average monthly costs if utilities are not included.
  • Factor in small extra expenses like parking or laundry.
  • Consider transportation costs if moving to a new place.
  • Determine if appliances are included; if not, purchase or rent new ones.
  • Check for provincial/territorial rent control and future rent increase expectations.
  • Ensure there is an adequate number of bedrooms.
FACT: Can you afford it?

The total amount of your rent, heat, water, electricity, and municipal services should make up no more than 30% of your total household income before taxes. Make sure to exclude things like cable TV, internet, parking, and telephone service in this calculation, as they are generally considered to be extras.



Most people search for places to live based on location, with a specific area in mind. Houses and apartments in prime locations typically cost more, though there are a number of benefits, including being closer to work and saving money on transportation costs. The distance from your new home to work and school as well as other important things should be factors. There are other things to consider, however, including distance from family as well as the overall safety of the area. Take the time to put together a list of locations that satisfy your own requirements, as well as other locations that you might also consider.

When you are evaluating some of the different location options you have, make sure to take the following things into consideration:

  • Level of crime in the area
  • Proximity to work and/or school, family, and friends
  • Distance to public transit, family, and friends
  • Access to major roads
  • If you are moving with children, are there schools or play areas within walking distance?
  • Are there local amenities, including shopping, restaurants, entertainment, etc?
  • Is there a lot of traffic near where you will be living?
  • What is the quality of air in the area like?
  • What is the noise level of the area at different times throughout the day?

Types of Housing

Basement Apartment

basement apartment is essentially a house that used to be an apartment. These apartments sometimes have their own individual entrance, as well as their own bathroom, laundry room, heating system, and kitchen. Sometimes, however, they share amenities with the rest of the home. Many low rise apartment buildings have these types of apartments as well.


Detached homes are standalone and not attached to any type of building, and they are typically one or two storeys tall. These homes are sometimes referred to as single family dwellings or single-detached houses. One-storey homes are called bungalows, and there are many different styles. Range-style bungalows are typically longer and more spread-out, having just one storey.

Walk-up or Low-Rise Apartment

A walk-up or low-rise apartment is usually found in a building that does not have an elevator. Rent for these apartments is usually cheaper than high rise apartments, as they are typically older buildings and do not have more than five storeys total. These apartments usually only have a few amenities, including a laundry room and sometimes storage lockers.

High-Rise Apartment

High-rise apartments are ones that can have anywhere from 6 to 30 storeys in total. High-rise apartment towers include elevators and security systems are common, used for monitoring the entrances and exits of the building. These apartment buildings usually have laundry rooms, recreation facilities, and other amenities for residents to enjoy. They also tend to have efficient utilities, including heating, electrical, and plumbing.

Rooming House

A rooming house has rooms available to rent by the week or month. There is usually a refrigerator included in the room for storing food, and renters share the kitchen and bathrooms with others. Single people are the most ideal candidates for a rooming house.

Semi-Detached or Duplex

A semi-detached house, or duplex as it is also known, is attached to another home of a similar style and size. The wall that separates these two houses is usually thick enough to block sound from getting through to the other side. These homes can be either one or two storeys tall and typically have backyards. In certain areas throughout Canada, a duplex is defined as a two-storey house with individual units on each storey. If the home comes with a yard, it typically only for residents living on the first floor.

Single-Room Occupancy (SRO)

A single-room occupancy resembles that of a rooming house, with the one difference of there being a kitchen and a bathroom included in each individual unit.

Townhouse or Row House

Townhouses, which are also sometimes referred to as row houses, are a series of homes with walls between each one. These homes are usually two storeys, and a stacked townhouse is one that sits directly on top of another.