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If you’re having trouble covering rent payments due to financial struggles, there are programs available to help. Provinces across Canada offer low-income earners financial assistance to help cover the cost of rent, as well as heating in many cases. Read on to discover the programs available, what they offer, and eligibility for each. 

Rent Assistance Programs In Canada By Province

Depending on which province you live in and your financial situation, you may qualify for one of the following provincial rent assistance programs:

AlbertaLearn More
ManitobaLearn More
British ColumbiaLearn More
New Brunswick Learn More
OntarioLearn More
Nova ScotiaLearn More
SaskatchewanLearn More
NewfoundlandLearn More
Prince Edward IslandLearn More
QuebecLearn More

Rent Assistance Alberta 

The Rent Supplement Program in Alberta is available to low-income residents of the province to help offset the costs of rental housing in the private market. Under the program, the cost of rent is adjusted on what a household can afford based on income. 

There are two types of rent supplement benefits under this program:

Rent Assistance Benefit

This benefit subsidizes long-term rent for low-income residents. Payments are made directly to tenants, and subsidy amounts are based on household income and local rental market rates. Eligible households may renew the benefit every year with no limit.

Temporary Rent Assistance Benefit

This benefit subsidizes rent for low-income working households or those transitioning between jobs. The goal of this benefit is to help eligible tenants afford rent while they improve their financial situation. 

Applicants must be currently employed or have been employed within the past 24 months. Moreover, they must not be currently collecting other benefits, such as social assistance, Guaranteed Income Supplement or Old Age Security.

Eligibility 

To be eligible for the Rent Supplement Program in Alberta, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a low income
  • Demonstrate a need for rental assistance

Rent Assistance In Manitoba

The Rent Assist program in Manitoba provides financial support to individuals receiving Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) who need help covering housing costs. The program is also available to other low-income private renters. The goal of the Rent Assist program is to help residents transition into career training and employment.

Eligibility and benefit amounts are based on which category you fall under. 

Eligibility For Rent Assist For Manitobans Receiving EIA

If you’re already collecting EIA payments, you’ll automatically receive Rent Assist to help cover the cost of housing.

The benefit amount for individuals receiving EIA is determined by several factors, including:

  • Rental or mortgage costs
  • Household size
  • Whether the family lives in Manitoba Housing or other subsidized housing, or pays rent in unsubsidized housing
  • Whether rent includes utilities

Eligibility For Rent Assist for Manitobans Not Receiving EIA

Non-recipients of EIA in Manitoba must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Pay rent or room and board for unsubsidized housing
  • Meet income threshold criteria based on household size
  • Have dependent children living at home with a net annual income less than $42,400 for households with two to four people, or less than $54,360 for households with five or more people

Rent Assistance In BC

The Rental Assistance Program in BC offers monthly support to eligible low-income working residents to help cover rent payments.

Eligibility

To qualify, families must meet the following criteria:

  • You lived in BC for at least 12 months before applying for Rent Assistance
  • You have a total gross household income of $40,000 or less
  • You have been employed at some point in the past year
  • You have at least one dependent child
  • You file an income tax return every year
  • You have no more than $100,000 in assets
  • At least 30% of your household income goes towards paying rent

Rent Assistance In Ontario

Renters in Ontario have a few options to help them meet their rent payments if they’re struggling financially.

Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB)

The Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) provides low-income earners in Ontario with a monthly benefit to cover the cost of housing. The subsidy is paid directly to households or landlords to maintain housing affordability in the private rental market.

The COHB pays the difference between 30% of your monthly income and 80% of the average market rent in your area. In other words, you would subtract 30% of your monthly income from 80% of the average market rent in your neighbourhood.

For instance, let’s say your income is $1,800 per month and the average market rent in the area is $2,000 per month. In this case, the COHB coverage amount would be:

($2,000 x 80%) – ($1,800 x 30%) = $1,060

Eligibility

This benefit is not available to the general public, as it is a referral-based program. If you qualify for the COHB, someone from the Housing Access Centre will contact you and invite you to apply.

Eligible applicants include the following:

  • Indigenous people
  • Seniors
  • People with disabilities
  • Homeless people or those at risk of becoming homeless
  • Domestic violence survivors

The Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI)

The Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) housing program in Toronto, Ontario provides subsidized housing to low-income earners in the City to make rent more affordable. RGI rent is set at 30% of a household’s monthly adjusted family net income (AFNI). For those receiving social assistance, the rent is based on the benefit amount determined by the provincial government.

Eligibility

To qualify for RGI housing, you must meet the following requirements:

  • All household members must be either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • At least one household member must be 16 years or older
  • At least one household member must be able to live independently
  • Household income must be less than the allowable limits as per the Housing Income Limits (HILs)
  • Total household assets must fall within the Asset Limit requirements
  • Household members aged 16 years and older must not owe money to a social housing provider

Rent Assistance In Nova Scotia

The Canada-Nova Scotia Targeted Housing Benefit helps low-income renters cover the cost of rent. The benefit provides a monthly supplement determined by household income, household size, and the average market rent in your area. 

As long as you continue to meet the criteria, you’ll continue to receive the rent supplement. However, you must apply every year to confirm your eligibility for the program.

The monthly rent supplement can be sent directly to you or your landlord.

Eligibility

You must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a resident of Nova Scotia, a Canadian citizen, or a Landed Immigrant
  • Spend more than 50% of gross household income on rent
  • Have an annual gross household income under the current income limits for average market rent in the area

Rent Assistance In Quebec

Renters in Quebec who are having trouble covering rent have a few options to help them meet their rent payments.

Rent Supplement Program

The Rent Supplement Program helps low-income households secure housing in privately-owned rental properties or housing co-ops. Eligible participants pay rent based on 25% of their income, which also covers heating costs. The Rent Supplement covers the remainder of the rent agreed upon between the tenant and the landlord.

Eligibility

  • Several requirements, including income, are used to determine eligibility.
  • Some people experiencing special circumstances may get priority.

Low-Rental Housing Program

The Low-Rental Housing Program is designed to help low-income households in Quebec cover rent costs. The benefit amount is equivalent to 25% of household income, which includes heating costs. 

Eligibility

To qualify for this program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • You have lived in the landlord’s designated area for at least 12 of the past 24 months before applying

Rent Assistance In Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Housing Benefit provides a monthly benefit to low-income renters in Saskatchewan to cover the cost of housing. The benefit is co-funded by the federal and provincial governments under the National Housing Strategy. 

The benefit amount ranges from $175 to $325 and depends on household size and the percentage of income spent on housing costs. 

Eligibility

To qualify for this program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Spend at least 35% of your annual gross household income on housing costs
  • You have no more than $300,000 in household assets
  • You have an annual gross household income at or below specific threshold limits

Rent Assistance In PEI

The Family Housing Program in PEI is available to individuals and families facing challenges paying rent due to financial issues, poor living conditions, or other special circumstances. Qualifying residents may be eligible for either of the following:

  • Government-owned housing: Rent is typically the equivalent of 25% of household income, and covers heat and electricity.
  • Landlord-owned housing: Vouchers are available to help cover the cost of rent in privately owned units.

Eligibility

Your eligibility for the Family Housing Program is based on the following criteria:

  • Number of dependents in your household
  • Annual household income thresholds
  • Ratio of housing cost to income
  • Your current home’s condition

Rent Assistance In Newfoundland

The Rental Housing Program in Newfoundland helps low-income households find affordable rental housing in the private market.

Eligibility

To qualify for this program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Meet income threshold requirements
  • Your current housing is adequate, but over 30% of your income is spent on rent and heating costs
  • Your current housing is inadequate, but suitable housing in your area would cost at least 30% of your household income

Rent Assistance In New Brunswick

The Rent Supplement Assistance Program in New Brunswick reduces rent for eligible low-income residents to 30% of their adjusted household income. The benefit covers the cost of rent and heating and bridges the gap between the reduced rent and the agreed-upon market rate. 

Eligibility

To qualify for this program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your current housing is adequate, but over 30% of your household income is spent on rent and heating costs
  • Your current housing is inadequate, but suitable housing in your area would cost at least 30% of your household income
  • Total household income must not exceed the Housing Income Limit based on household size and location

Is The Government Of Canada Doing Anything To Make Rent Affordable?

Housing prices, rent prices, the cost of goods, and interest rates are through the roof, and wage increases are not keeping up. As a result, affordability issues have worsened over recent years, leaving many Canadians struggling to cover the cost of housing. Given this dire situation, what is the government of Canada doing to alleviate it?

In early 2024, the government announced its federal budget which includes a component to make housing in Canada more affordable. To address the increasing financial strain on Canadian renters, the government will provide rent support to low-income renters. 

The efforts are part of the Canada Housing Benefit, which will receive an additional $99 million, bringing the federal government’s contribution to the plan to $325 million. These additional funds will be directed at low-income renters through provincial and territorial rent support programs. The goal is to make rent more affordable for more than 300,000 low-income households by 2027-2028.

Final Thoughts On Rent Assistance In Canada

The current housing crisis in Canada seems to be affecting renters the most. If you’re experiencing financial difficulties and are struggling to pay rent as a result, consider applying for one of the above-mentioned rent assistance programs to help top you up.

Rent FAQs

Are there rules on how much a landlord can charge you?

There are no restrictions on how much a landlord can charge for a new lease. It’s up to renters to decide whether they agree to the rent price or not. However, once the lease begins, landlords have caps that they cannot go over in terms of rent increases. Generally speaking, landlords cannot increase rent more than once a year and by no more than the provincial limit for the year.

How do I know what my rights are as a tenant?

Each province has rules and regulations that landlords and tenants must follow. As a renter, you’d be well advised to find out what your rights and responsibilities are in your province. So, make sure you’re in compliance and that you’re being treated fairly by your landlord.

Can EI help with my rent payments?

Yes, if you lose your job and collect Employment Insurance (EI), these payments can be used toward paying your rent.
Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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