What you need to know as a renter
Decide What You Need
Before starting your search for a rental home or apartment, make note of the things you must have, and the extras you’d love but aren’t deal-breakers, like air conditioning or a pool, for example. Of course, price and location are often the main determining factors, but there are many other key features that can make a rental perfect, or one you can remove from your list of potential options.
If you don’t have your own furniture, or you’re not planning to stay long, it can be far preferable to rent a furnished apartment or room. If you have pets or plan on getting a pet, pet-friendly apartments are a must, of course. Determine how much space you need to live comfortably; a one bedroom apartment can be comfortable for living alone or for a couple, while a two-bedroom is ideal if you want to live with a roommate or need an office.
When to Search
The end of the month can be a good time to search for a rental, as landlords may have vacancies to fill and can be more open to negotiating rent. Winter is a great time to start your search for rentals because thousands of students head home in the spring, especially in big cities. Because choosing a place to live is such an important decision, take your time to assess each property.
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Find Out What’s Included
Before you can evaluate whether an apartment or home for rent is a good option, it’s important to know exactly what’s included in the rent. Asking the following questions should help:
- Are utilities included in the rent?
- If heat and electric are not included, for example, how much on average do they cost per month, especially in the winter?
- What appliances are included? Verify that a fridge and stove come with the unit, but also ask about a microwave, dishwater and air-conditioner.
- Is there a washer/dryer (or hookups) in the unit or is there a laundry room in the building?
- Are wifi and TV cable included?
- Is a parking spot included in the rent? If not, is there a space that can be rented separately?
- Is there street parking and if so, is a permit required?
- Do any blinds or curtains come with the rental?
Clarify Rules and Expectations
Each province has its own rules regarding the fees landlords can request from tenants. For example, in Ontario and Quebec, a landlord cannot ask for a security deposit. Some provinces allow landlords to ask for first and last month’s rent. Typically, the first month’s rent covers your first month as a tenant, while the last month’s rent is held to cover your final month in the property. If permitted, a damage deposit can be held, but if the space is damage-free when you move out, you should get that money back.
While you are responsible for any damage you cause to the property, the landlord is expected to look after normal wear and tear. You may want to ask if there is a maintenance person on site (in the case of a highrise, for example), what is the best way to reach them, and how long tenants usually wait before a repair is fixed.
Be sure to sign a residential tenancy agreement that is relevant to your province. This document outlines the rights and responsibilities for you as a tenant, and for your landlord, too.
If you plan on subletting, be sure to check the lease and the rules of your province to see if it’s permitted. If yes, there may be formalities to follow before moving someone in – informing the landlord in writing, for example.
Each province has its own rules on how often and how much a landlord can increase your rent. There are many factors a landlord considers when determining a rental hike, including improvements made to the property, demand, property values and taxes.
Advantages of Renting vs. Buying
Renting can be an ideal option for those who don’t want to commit to buying a property or don’t have the funds to invest. It can also be a great way to experience what it’s like to live in an area before making the more permanent decision to buy.
Using Kijiji to find your next rental home or apartment helps streamline your search. Once you know what you’re looking for, and have all the relevant information, you’ll be moved in and settled down in a flash.