Depending on whether you are renting with an individual or a large company, you may not be required to provide everything on this list, but these are some of the most common things you may be asked for when you apply for an apartment:
1. Government photo ID – This one is obvious; they need to know that you are who you say you are! Your driver’s license, passport, citizenship card, or provincial ID card are all acceptable. They may photocopy it as part of the application.
2. Proof of income – Often just a letter certifying employment or pay stubs from your current employer, your proof of income helps the landlord evaluate if you have a source of income for rent. They are not allowed to judge based on percentages or opinion though – that old adage of “30% of income is the most you should pay for housing” is discriminatory.
3. Proof of other income or assets – as with proof of income, bank statements or letters from other income sources (e.g. government funding or child support) can help demonstrate to your landlord that you are able to cover expenses.
4. Landlord & credit references – If you have lived in an apartment before, bring your previous address and contact information for your last landlord. If you haven’t had a landlord before, you can bring other references (e.g. your boss) to demonstrate character. While a landlord can refuse you if your references are bad, they can’t discriminate against you for not having any, particularly for newcomers to Canada! A reference from a bank or credit card company can also help prove you’re a credit-worthy individual.
5. Social Insurance Number – A landlord cannot insist that you give them your SIN or show them your card. However, it is often in your best interests to do so – it is easier to run credit checks using a SIN and there is almost no chance they will mix you up with someone else. There may be plenty of people with your name, even some with your birthday, and if they have bad credit you don’t want to be paying for their mistakes!
Depending on the landlord and the terms of your application/lease, you may also need to pay a deposit to apply (which should be refundable if your application is rejected). Get a copy of your application to take with you that acknowledges the deposit paid and the terms and conditions of applying.
Once your application is approved, you may also be asked to present proof of tenant insurance if it is required by the terms of your lease. Even if it isn’t required, tenant insurance is highly recommended because it covers what your landlord’s insurance doesn’t.