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With its strategic positioning in North America and being a major hub for air, sea, road, and rail transport, Greater Montreal enables businesses in the region to easily access around fifty countries and reach nearly 1.5 billion consumers. Consequently, the region attracts a considerable number of foreign investments, qualified foreign workers, and international students, drawn not only by these advantages but also by its university research hub and dynamic economy. However, these newcomers are faced with a significant challenge upon their arrival: finding housing.

According to data from the Greater Montreal Observatory, the Greater Montreal area is characterized by a high proportion of rental housing. Almost half (46.1%) of households are renters, and after Los Angeles and New York, Greater Montreal is the third North American metropolitan region with the highest proportion of rental households. A shortage of available rental housing, especially at an affordable cost, directly impacts a significant portion of the region’s households.

The search for housing poses a significant, sometimes unexpected, challenge to newcomers facing a rental market with more demand than available offers. The absence of a credit history in Quebec, tightening landlord requirements, and rising rental prices only complicate access to housing.

For the past decade, Reloc Quebec has been supporting newcomers to help them find comfortable accommodations that align with their aspirations. Our team has developed expertise that, through active listening and assessing the needs of clients, relies on a precise understanding of the Montreal rental market and its unique realities.

Here are three starting tips to increase your chances of finding housing, whether you are a newcomer or someone looking for an international candidate:

  1. Study the rental market to know what to expect.

Nothing is worse than searching for housing in an unfamiliar market in terms of terminology, prices, budget, inclusions, sectors, neighborhoods, soundproofing, services, transportation, schools, etc. Preparing in advance by studying available listings, associated prices for different property types and neighborhoods, is essential. This will give you a clearer idea of what you can find in the market based on your criteria. Being accompanied by an experienced person is highly recommended if the process is unfamiliar to you or if you lack time.

  1. Present a favorable application.

The current market favors landlords since the vacancy rate for housing is around 2% in Montreal, below the market equilibrium point of about 3%. If you arrive without a credit history, many landlords may require a credit check that you won’t be able to provide. To ensure you can pay your rent, they may ask for guarantees, such as a deposit or prepaid months of rent. While this is not mandatory and is done by agreement, if you don’t agree with the landlord, they may choose to rent to someone else! If you want to position yourself at the forefront, we also advise preparing the following documents, depending on your situation:

  • Proof of employment including your name, position, start date, and annual salary.
  • A letter from your bank stating that you have a good payment history.
  • Proof of funds available in your bank account.
  1. Sign a compliant lease before transferring any money.

A lease from the Administrative Housing Tribunal constitutes a legal contract between you and the landlord. We recommend verifying that it is completed and signed by both parties before proceeding with any requested bank transfer. An important factor to consider is the presence of scammers who use web photos to display a fake rental or pretend to be landlords renting a property for which they are only tenants, sometimes in bidding wars, sometimes outright in default of payment. It is crucial to visit the property in person and confirm that the person is indeed the owner. Depending on the situation, you may ask for identification and documentation or validate the company’s name in the business registry.

In summary, the better prepared you are for the housing search by gathering information from reliable sources in advance, having compelling arguments that make you a preferred tenant, and verifying information before concluding the lease agreement, the greater your chances of success will be! Feel free to contact us if you feel the need for assistance; it’s our specialty!