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Tips on How to Look for Housing

Your Housing Search “Toolbox”
Common Abbreviations in Rental Listings
Glossary of Housing Terms
Talking to Landlords
Viewing Units
Information Landlords Want From You

There are a number of places where you can find apartments and houses for rent, including:

  • Halton Housing Help - Offers a free listing service including rooms, apartments and houses available for rent in Halton as well as links to other rental listing websites.
  • Link to external site - Halton’s online newspaper covers Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville
  • The Hamilton Spectator Link to external site - Hamilton’s daily newspaper also serves Burlington.
  • The Renters News – Free copies of this resource are available at variety stores and newspaper boxes throughout Halton.
  • You can use computers with internet access at public libraries free of charge.
  • Family and Friends - Many places that are available are sometimes not advertised.
  • ‘For Rent’ Signs – Walk or drive through neighbourhoods you are interested in and look for ‘For Rent’ signs.
  • Bulletin Boards – Check bulletin boards in public places such as grocery stores, laundromats or community centres for places to rent.

Common Abbreviations in Rental Listings

Abbreviation Meaning Abbreviation Meaning
A1 good condition last/LMR last month's rent
appl appliances Laun/lndry laundry
avail. immed. available immediately lrg large
apt. apartment lwr lower floor
bach bachelor mo. month
bal balcony msg. message (leave a message)
BR bedrooms neg negotiable
bsmt basement nr near
dep deposit ph phone (please phone)
dr dining room prkg parking
fam. family priv private
gar garage refs references required
flr. floor renov renovations or newly painted
frdg refrigerator req required
furn. furnace rm room
hyd hydro; electricity upr. upper
immed. immediately W/ with; included in the rent
incl. includes XL extra large
kit kitchen    

Glossary of Housing Terms

This glossary includes words and abbreviations of words that you may see in rental housing advertisements.

Apartment (Apt): A self-contained unit in a building with a few or many other units.

Appliances (Appl): Household devices that include items like washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers. Sometimes items are included in the cost of renting a unit.

Co-operative Housing: is a different form of social housing. It is not rental housing. The households who live in the project are all members of the cooperative corporation that owns the building. They elect from among themselves a board of directors who are responsible for overseeing the management of the building. They are subject to rules in the Co-operative Corporations Act Link to external site and are not considered to be landlords so are not subject to the Residential Tenancies Act Link to external site.

Deposit (Dep): Money that a tenant may have to give to a landlord in order to hold a rental unit.

Domiciliary Hostels: Halton Region has service agreements with four domiciliary hostels which provide residential care, on a long-term basis, including board and lodging, to people who are living with severe and chronic mental illness and/or cognitive difficulties/impairments, seniors who are frail, and people with developmental disabilities.

Duplex: A building with two units.

House: A dwelling that usually includes some outside property and is separated from other units.

Housing with Supports: Housing where services are provided to tenants. This can include help with home maintenance and daily activities.

Hydro: Electricity

Landlord/Property Manager: A person who rents housing to you (apartments, townhouses, rooms, etc.). He/she is responsible for collecting rent, and keeping the housing in good repair and good condition. The landlord may not always be the owner of the building.

Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB): Like a court, the Board settles disagreements between landlord and tenants using the Residential Tenancies Act Link to external site.

Last Month's Rent (LMR): A landlord is allowed to ask for last month's rent in advance when you move into a unit.

Lease: A written contract that a landlord and renter sign. A lease will outline things like how much, how often and when rent must be paid. You must be given a copy of the lease.

Rent Geared To-Income and Non-Profit Housing: Community-based affordable rental housing provided by non-profit corporations, overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors. A percentage of non-profit housing tenants pay rents geared to their incomes (known as RGI housing), and the remaining pay market rents. The percentage of tenants paying RGI ranges from 25% to 100% of tenants in the project; generally the ratio is around 60% RGI: 40% market.

Ontario Works(OW): A government program that may provide you with financial assistance if you are in need.

Private Market Rental Housing: Housing provided on a for profit basis. It can include apartments, townhouses, duplexes, triplexes and houses.

Post-Dated Cheques: Cheques dated in the future. Cheques are not intended to be cashed until the date written on the cheque.

Rent: Money that a tenant pays a landlord for the right to live in a rental unit. Money may be paid weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on the agreement a tenant made with the landlord.

Residential Care Facility: Also referred to as Domiciliary Hostels, these facilities are licensed and funded by government health and social service departments, providing care for elderly tenants or those living with physical disabilities and/or mental health issues.

Residential Tenancies Act Link to external site (RTA): The law that sets out rules for tenants and landlords in Ontario.

Rooming House: Housing where tenants have their own rooms but share kitchens, bathrooms and/or common areas with each other.

Second Stage Housing: Interim housing for survivors of spousal abuse and their children.

Semi-Detached Unit: Two self-contained units attached side-by-side.

Tenant: A person who lives in a rental unit and is responsible for paying rent to the landlord.

Townhouses: Self-contained units attached side-by-side in a row or a square.

Transitional Housing: Interim housing usually between living in a shelter and having your own place. Usually short term and intended to provide a supportive living environment, as well as tools and opportunities for social and skills development.

Triplex: A building with three units.

Unit: This can refer to any self- contained space for which you pay rent. This includes an apartment, townhouse, house or room.

Utilities: Heat, water, hydro

Talking to Landlords

  • When you find an apartment or house that you are interested in, call the landlord to get more information about the property.
  • Create a list of questions and information you want to ask about the property.
  • If you are still interested in the unit after talking with the landlord, ask to see the property.

It may be difficult to get in touch with many landlords and many will not return calls. Do not give up! Make a list so that you know who you have called, where you have left messages and who you have to call back. The more landlords you talk to, the more likely you are to find what you are looking for.

While speaking or sending written messages via email to landlords it is important to remain professional and respectful. Landlords are seeking responsible tenants and professional communication may positively influence your application as a prospective tenant.

Viewing Properties

When you go to see a property, it is important to look at the unit thoroughly and it is a good idea to take notes. Use the Halton Housing Help housing search checklist pdf (52.4KB) to assist you with your search for housing when viewing units.

Information Landlords Want From You

When you go to look at a unit and decide to fill out an application form, there are some things the landlord may want to know:

  • the names and telephone numbers of people who can give you a good reference, such as friends and relatives or a supervisor at work
  • the name of your previous landlords
  • old addresses you previously lived at
  • written permission for a credit check

Landlords often check the information provided, so be sure that information is accurate.

Sometimes landlords will ask for your Social Insurance Number (SIN). It is important to know that you do not have to give out your SIN if you do not want to do so.