FINDING RENTAL HOUSING
One of the first questions you should ask yourself when searching for rental housing is, “what does the rent cover?”
Depending on what your tenancy agreement says, you may have expenses in addition to what you pay your landlord each month. Here are some common examples of monthly expenses that may or may not be included in your rent:
- utilities (electricity, heating and hot water)
- TV, internet and home phone services
- coin-operated laundry
- more expensive transit pass
- parking fee or permit
- tenant insurance
And, there still may be additional one-time expenses that you will need to pay at the start of your tenancy:
- security deposit
- pet damage deposit
- deposits to utility companies
- installation / activation fees to utility companies
- deposits to telecommunication companies
- installation / activation fees to telecommunication companies
- renting a moving truck
- boxes and supplies to pack your belongings
- new appliances (cutlery, microwave, TV, etc.)
- furniture (bed, couch, dresser)
Deciding where you want to rent can be overwhelming. You need to think about all the things that will make your new place of residence YOUR home sweet home. To help focus your property search, try to determine your rental needs and preferences. Consider factors such as:
- distance to work, school, shopping and friends
- size of the unit
- type of property
- type of neighbourhood
- nearby amenities
- smoking/non-smoking rules
- pet policies
- roommate restrictions
- accessibility requirements
- safety concerns
You can try searching websites like Craigslist, Kijiji or online listings from property management companies in your area. Keep your eyes open for bulletin board postings at stores or schools, ads posted outside buildings with vacancies, and listings in the classifieds section of your local newspaper.
You can also get the word out within your network of family, friends, coworkers, teams and clubs, through social media or word of mouth. If you’re getting your haircut or paying for groceries, consider mentioning that you’re searching for somewhere to rent. You never know who’s going to have a lead on the place that’s right for you.
What should I bring?
You may only get one chance to view a rental unit before deciding if you want to fill out an application form. When viewing a rental unit, consider bringing the following:
- cover letter
- credit check
- pet resume
- tape measure and furniture measurements
- family member or friend
What questions should I ask?
Here are some questions to consider asking during your viewing:
- Is it a legal rental unit?
- Is the neighbourhood safe?
- What are the advantages of living in the area?
- Does the place include appliances and amenities? Or has it been “staged” for the viewing?
- Are the neighbours generally quiet and respectful?
- Is the building soundproofed, or is it common to hear noise from other units?
- Has there been a history of bed bugs, other infestations, or illegal activity?
- Is there public transportation nearby?
- What are the rules about smoking, pets, roommates and accessibility?
- Is there laundry available in-suite, or at least somewhere on the property?
- Are there designated parking spots for tenants, or is there only street parking?
- Is storage room available on the property?
- Are there any fees for things like parking, storage or laundry?
- Is the heat for the unit controlled from within that unit, or from within a different unit?
How do I make a good first impression?
When a landlord meets you, they are trying to determine whether you will be the best tenant out of all the applicants. It may not seem fair that someone is making a judgment of what type of tenant you will be based on how you act and dress, but the reality is that it happens. Be yourself, but put your best self forward.
Here are some tips:
- Arrive on time
- Dress business-casual
- Avoid clothing with tears and controversial slogans or logos
- Minimize strong smells of perfume or cologne
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol before the viewing
- Introduce yourself and shake the landlord’s hand, if it feels appropriate.
- Take your shoes off when touring the property (and remember to wear socks)
- Come organized by having all of your relevant documents prepared (credit check, cover letter, references and pet resume)
- Strike up a conversation and try to find some common interests (work, school, sports, kids, etc.)
- Thank the landlord for showing you their unit and answering your questions
Can the landlord ask for an application fee?
A landlord cannot ask you to pay a fee when applying to rent a place. If you pay an application fee that the landlord refuses to return, you can apply for dispute resolution. However, you will need to know the landlord’s proper legal name and address, and have evidence that you paid the fee.