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10 tips for renting a house in Vancouver

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

If you are moving to Vancouver for the first time, I’m sure you’ve realized that rent is not as affordable as you thought. As we have mentioned before, Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities to live in because of its ridiculously high rent prices.

Therefore, you basically have two options to keep yourself on a relatively low budget: share a room or share a house. This time around, we will give you 10 tips for renting a house in the city.


Renting a house is a cheaper option in most cases because this type of property normally has a lot of square footage, 2 or 3 levels, and many rooms. For this reason, you can gather a group of 4 or 5 people that are willing to share the property, decide how much each of you will pay and enjoy a bigger space for a lower price.

However, there are some things you need to be aware of when renting a house.

Tip 1: Know your garbage

Garbage collection in the city varies depending on where you live. While in an apartment building, you have a garbage room where everything is taken from without you knowing, a house is a little bit different.

In a house, you will have a range of bins and bags that need to be used for garbage. Here’s a quick table on what each one is for.

Green bin

Food scraps and yard waste

Gray bin

Garbage (non-recyclables)

Blue bin

Recyclables (plastic containers, cans, etc)

Gray box


Yellow bag

Paper, newspaper, cardboard

If this is your first time separating garbage, you can use the city’s Waste Wizard or download the VanCollect app for more help knowing which items go in which bin/box.

Our recommendation is that you download the VanCollect app which will help you sort your garbage and also let you input your address so you can receive notifications of when the garbage truck will come to your neighbourhood and for what type of garbage. That’s right! There’s one day where you will have to take out regular garbage only and another where they will only pick up food waste 😱. It gets easier with time, so don’t panic. We talk more about this in the ‘How to take out the Trash in Vancouver, a quick guide!’

Tip 2: Keep your sidewalk clean during Winter

When you rent a house, unless the owner lives in the property with you, you will be responsible for cleaning the sidewalk in front of the house. Why? Because it’s the law.

Important: you only have to clear the sidewalk in front of the house whenever there is snow or freezing rain. This has to be done before 10 am each day, and you have to shovel the snow from the sidewalk toward the house (not the street). If you fail to do it, you could receive a ticket from the city.

Tip 3: Stay informed of animals in the area

Raccoons. You will find these dumpster divers all over the city. Therefore, make sure you take precautions when disposing of your garbage. Place everything in plastic bags before you place it inside the bins, make sure you wash off any excess food from things like tuna cans and other containers that might be exposed and clean the bins with a strong substance like bleach to prevent odours from coming out of your bins.

Bears. Welcome to bear country! Canada is known for having bears, and this will be the animals you need to be aware of if you live in North Vancouver. The best recommendation here is to put the garbage in the bins outside ONLY on the morning of the day they will collect the garbage.

Tip 4: Identify the services you need to pay for

One of the differences between renting an apartment or a house is the services that are included in the rent. Make sure you ask the owner which are the bills you have to pay for, like gas, water, electricity, and internet. Then, ensure your contract reflects that conversation.

Tip 5: Check the noise levels

When you rent a house, sometimes you only rent part of it. What do we mean by this? People rent you the basement, but there is someone else living on the first floor, or you rent the house (2 floors), but there is someone living in the basement.

In each case, make sure you pay attention to the noise levels around the house. Since Canadian houses are mostly wood-built, you can have TONS of noise if the house isn’t properly insulated.

Tip 6: Have a conversation about maintenance

Although normally the landlord takes care of the house maintenance, like paint, appliances, piping, or gardening, talk about it. You want to make sure the contract has details on who will be responsible for what to avoid surprises in the future.

Tip 7: Research the neighbourhood

Even if you are in Canada and it might be considered safer than your country, there are better areas than others. Here are two things to consider.

  1. Check what is the walk score for the property. Walkscore is a number from 0 - 100 that is based on the number of services, grocery stores and shops in the area, plus how accessible it is by transit. This can give you a pretty good idea of how the house compares to others you might be considering. The higher the score, the better.

  2. Read our ‘Places to avoid’ article where you can find information on extra research that can help you enjoy your international experience a bit more.

Tip 8: Get tenant insurance

Tenant insurance is required by most landlords because it will help protect your stuff in case of a burglary or even flood or fire inside the property.

There are many services available, and you are free to compare your options. We recommend getting it with Nuera Insurance, based on previous experiences with them.

Tip 9: Request an inventory

An inventory is a list of items that the landlord is leaving behind for you and a record of the damages the property has at the moment of renting. Register scratches or holes on walls, broken fixtures, stains on furniture and anything that looks like they could accuse you of doing while occupying the property. It’s the time to cover your ass!

Pay attention to your senses too! Is there a strong humidity smell? Gas? These things might represent health hazards if you don’t report them to the landlord.

Tip 10: Decide who’s responsible for paying

If you are gathering a group of people to rent a property, you will have to decide who is responsible for paying rent. Landlords will rarely agree to receive parts of their rent from 5 different people, so you have to tell them who will get them the money.

After that, you can internally decide on which day of the month everyone will send their rent to the one responsible.

There you go! 10 things to look out for when renting a house. Remember you can always learn more from other people’s experiences and that is the reason why we have a Slack community you can join for free and ask other students!

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