An American in Canada
November 3, 2011 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm an American, and I'd like to rent a place in Canada for about three months. Is there anything stopping me from doing so? Are there any extra hoops I'll need to jump through?

I'd be driving up from the States for about a three-month stay. I won't be working, studying, or immigrating, so there shouldn't be any immigration problems at the border. It'd be more of an extended vacation.

But are there are barriers to me signing a short-term lease? If so, should I look for a less formal sublet? Or maybe I'm stuck with more expensive vacation rentals?

Are there any particular quirks to Canadian (or is it provincial, in the way that American housing law is generally state-based) housing law that I ought to familiarize myself with as an American looking to rent?

posted by SpringAquifer to Travel & Transportation around Canada (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Generally, housing laws are provincial and/or municipal. Depending on the city you'll be visiting, I would advocate subletting rather than renting directly, for a couple of reasons:

-It will probably be cheaper, and your accommodations may be nicer, or in a nicer, more neighborly neighborhood than if you were renting short term.

-A landlord may not be willing to deal with a tenet that can't provide Canadian identification, or work history, etc. Especially in a short term arrangement, where you wont be working and wont have a student visa. In Ontario, for example, Landlords have the right to perform credit checks, criminal back ground checks, call up previous room mates and landlords, etc. Most legit landlords ask for this information, though they may not necessarily use it. If you being an American would make it difficult to perform that kind of backgrounding, you may find it difficult to rent directly.
posted by emilycardigan at 9:06 AM on November 3, 2011

Do you already have a destination in mind? The housing situation can differ quite a bit from city to city, and laws can differ from Province to Province.

In Toronto, I have not heard of anyone willing to sign a tenant to a 3-month lease. It's almost always one year. If you were willing to share, it should be simple enough to sublet a room or share an apartment with someone else who holds the lease.

I'd also being anything to the border that might help to prove that you won't be looking for work or looking to stay longer than you're legally allowed. You could bring a bank statement that shows that you have enough money to support yourself for three months, for example, or something that proves that you have a job to go back to in three months.
I don't expect you should have much trouble crossing the border but I think it's best to be prepared.
posted by beau jackson at 9:15 AM on November 3, 2011

Depending on when and where you're going, it may be worthwhile looking into subletting a student apartment in a university city/town. Many students would just happy to get that money for the 3 or 4 months. That is assuming there are no legal issues, I suppose.
posted by sarae at 9:20 AM on November 3, 2011

As for actually looking for a place/sublet, check out Kijiji. Its our version of Craig's list (although some cities might have Craig's list as well). I've used it to find my last 2 apartments and had no problems with it.
posted by snowysoul at 9:57 AM on November 3, 2011

Be aware that if you set up a Canadian bank account, it can take a long time to get American checks to clear. Otherwise my folks have no problems living in Canada almost 6 months of the year, despite being US citizens. They own, but all of the other Americans I know around there do vacation rentals without any problems. Agreeing with others that a 3 month lease is just odd anywhere.
posted by ldthomps at 10:35 AM on November 3, 2011

Response by poster: I was looking at Vancouver.

And, yeah, a 3-month lease is admittedly a little unusual in the U.S., too, but I've still done it before, so I'm keeping the option open.

As far as subletting goes, when I've subletted to others in the States, my landlord has still wanted to run the credit checks, background checks, work history checks, etc., on my subletters. This was despite the fact that I was still technically on the hook for nonpayment, and the fact that I was the one who drafted the sublet agreement. So I was more curious about that process, in general, for an American who didn't have a visa or any other form of Canadian identification.

I probably won't set up a Canadian bank account. It's just three months, so if I can just deal with the rent and utility payments and such without one, I imagine I should be good otherwise.

Thanks for everything so far!
posted by SpringAquifer at 11:12 AM on November 3, 2011

As for actually looking for a place/sublet, check out Kijiji. Its our version of Craig's list (although some cities might have Craig's list as well).

It's eBay's version of Craigslist; not exclusive to Canada at all. And Craigslist covers just as much territory up here.

Check both.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:36 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could contact BC's Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre with this question; they're a non-profit, and answering questions like this is what they do. That said, I'm pretty confident that there are no legal barriers to renting a place here for three months. Rental laws are provincial, as some folks upthread have suggested.

I live in Vancouver and I generally use Craigslist to find apartments when I move. You're going to have a lot more luck with sublets or vacation rentals than with normal leases; outside those situations, landlords are almost always looking for tenants who can stay a year or more.

FWIW, I did the same thing in reverse last year (I spent two months in New York). I ended up subletting an apartment that I found via Craigslist for two months. I paid the rent via money order since that was the easiest way to get US funds to the person I was renting from. The landlord knew it was happening and I didn't have any trouble. I also brought proof I could support myself to show at the border, as beau jackson suggests, although in the end I didn't need to show it.
posted by twirlip at 4:55 PM on November 3, 2011

Get a copy of your credit report and bring it with you - I'm Canadian, and I do that when I'm in the market for a rental just to keep every prospective landlord from running their own check. I've never had one refuse my copy, and while yours won't be Canadian, it will at least provide them with a frame of reference.

If you're living off savings for three months, I would also consider offering to pay at least half (maybe all) of the total rent up front. I know it might leave you a bit vulnerable, but if I was renting or subletting, it would certainly help persuade me that I should consider renting for a three month period to someone with no ties in the country (and no reason not to run off and leave me stranded).
posted by scrute at 6:56 PM on November 3, 2011

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