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TIPSNavigating the Rental Housing Landscape in Vancouver: A Guide for Newcomers and Novices

Moving to a new city can be both an exhilarating and daunting experience. An essential piece of the puzzle is finding a place to live that fits your needs, lifestyle, and budget. If you’re new to Vancouver or you’re just on the lookout for some tips on how to find the perfect place to live, then this article is for you.

Your Criteria

The first step in this process involves deciding your requirements – location, size, and budget are paramount. According to a recent report from, as of July 2023 the average rents in Vancouver are:

Average Rent$2,550$2,981$3,901$4,311

These are averages, the rent rate of a rental property varies greatly, influenced by factors such as area, size, and amenities.

When considering your location, be sure to consider local amneities like shops and transit accessibility. The Lower Mainland has several rail and rapid bus routes. Good resources include Translink’s website, Google, and Walkscore. If you like to bike, Vancouver is a very dense and bikeable city and continues to invest in bicycling infrastructure such as separated bike lanes.

Where to Find Properties

There are numerous online platforms where you can find rental properties, such as Craigslist, Zumper,, and There isn’t one central source, so best to look around.

While the vast majority of posts are legitimate, there can be scams. Best to use your common sense – if something’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. In general don’t exchange any money unless you’re sure you’re dealing with the actual owner or a professional property manager.

Know the Rules

Residential tenancies in BC are primarily governed by the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), which can be found here. The RTA covers crucial aspects like contracts, condition inspection reports, deposits, rent increases, notices, application fees, landlord and tenant obligations for repair and maintenance, and procedures for ending tenancies.

However, the RTA does not cover all types of accommodation, such as:

  • Student housing owned by an educational institution i.e. UBC or SFU’s student housing
  • Shared accommodations in which a tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner
  • Manufactured home parks, which are covered by the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act

You can find the complete list of exceptions in the RTA.

Types of Properties

Here in BC, you’ll typically encounter five main types of rental properties:

1. Purpose Built Rental: These are buildings dedicated to rental units, providing stability but potentially more basic facilities and fewer larger units. However, geographically they tend to be clustered and while there has been a push to built more rental housing, most of BC rental housing stock was built prior to 1980s.

2. Condo/Townhouse Strata: These properties are multifamily buildings that have separated or ‘stratified’ ownership by unit, meaning they can be individually sold. Typically condo/strata buildings may have higher-end finishings, but require adherence to strata rules, which can change. These are also subject to owners deciding to sell or moving into the unit.

3. Single Family Home/Duplex Non Strata: These properties offer more space and privacy, but maintenance levels vary, and there’s potential for owner-occupancy or demolition. But location wise can be quite flexible as most cities have Single Family residences scattered around the entire city.

4. Suite: These can be a portion of a house or a lock-off suite in a strata building, often providing a more affordable solution, though you may have to share certain facilities.

5. Room-share: This option usually involves shared kitchen and bathroom facilities with the landlord, meaning RTA rules may not apply.

Applying for a Property

Given the low vacancy rates in BC, well-priced rental properties are rented fast. When inquiring about a property, provide decent information about yourself. This can include your employment details, previous rental experiences, pet ownership, and credit score.

Post-Viewing Steps

If you’ve viewed a property and decided to apply, remember, landlords in BC cannot charge an application fee. However, expect applications to be detailed due to the cost and difficulty of dealing with bad tenants.

Signing the Agreement

Once you’ve been approved, the next step is to sign the rental agreement. Be sure to familiarize yourself with common terms in a rental agreement before signing. Check out our other blog post [here](link to blog post) for more information on this.

Whether you are a newcomer or a seasoned BC resident, understanding the housing landscape is key to finding the right place for you. We hope this guide will be of use in your journey towards securing a perfect home in beautiful British Columbia.