How to rent a house / apartment / room in Vancouver

Renting a house in Vancouver may be very difficult, and as such, it requires a lot of stamina and patience. Since 2008 I have lived in 5 different houses and apartments, viewed over 2 dozen suites and helped some of my friends to find a good (or a satisfactory) place to live. Some landlords will not rent to you unless they get all sorts of references from you and make you sign a 1-year lease, and some will be less demanding, and will rent to you after a 10-minute conversation.


Because of the technological advancement, people rarely start looking for apartments anywhere else but online. The most popular directories are Craigslist and Kijiji (likely due to these resources being free to use). Craigslist is infested with scam ads, where the owner supposedly is away from the country, and is willing to mail the keys after a Western Union payment. The rule of thumb: if the ad looks too good to be true, it likely is. Would you rent out a $2000/month apartment for $700 just because the person has the same religious beliefs as you do? I sure won’t.

An example of a scam e-mail I have encountered while searching for an apartment on Craigslist

An example of a scam e-mail I have encountered while searching for an apartment on Craigslist.

Keep in mind, that in order to get a suite/house in a better location with a more handsome price, I strongly recommend to start looking in advance. Sometimes, people start looking for new tenants more than 1 month in advance; but generally, you are required to provide your current landlord with a 30-days move-out notice.

Another important moment – make sure to check the apartment in this directory. Many older houses may have an ongoing rodent/bug infestation problem that can be inconvenient at the very least.

Most landlords will incline you to sign a lease. It is fine to do so, if you are planning to stay in the apartment for a while, just make sure to read the details of the lease. If you have an opportunity to avoid the lease – do it.

If you have a pet, it will be a lot harder to find a suitable place to stay. Some places are absolutely against pets of any kind (allergies, they all say); others may consider letting you have a cat. I’ve had friends sneaking their cats in their apartments with no issues.

If you are a smoker – tough luck. Most places do not allow smoking indoors; and some will let you smoke on the balcony or on the adjacent deck. However, some landlords may be dicks (or strata rules may be strict), and you won’t be allowed to smoke on the property whatsoever.

There is plenty of elderly housing – generally, for those who are 50+ years of age. If you are lucky, you can get somebody to rent one of those apartments for you (the price is usually less than average).

Most places will be unfurnished – except for the kitchen. Stove, countertops, kitchen cabinets, fridge (and for newer suites a dishwasher) is included. The rest is up to you to provide. If the apartment is furnished – it usually costs $200-300 more on the lease, and $400-500 on the month-to-month basis. Of course, if you are renting just the room, it usually comes furnished.

If you are just visiting temporarily, instead of renting a pricey hotel room consider looking – this is where people post short-term rental ads (sublets) for their apartments or houses. Rates can go as low as $300 per month for a furnished room.

Padmapper: Apartments for rent (map view) – VERY convenient – unlike Padmapper, has its own listings, but not as convenient
Craigslist: Apartments for rent (customizable list)
Kijiji: Apartments for rent (customizable list, Real Estate -> House Rental)
Health or safety issues by an apartment – a very good tool provided by the City of Vancouver

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