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New to renting? Want some guidance on your rental search? Just browsing our website? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
As your personal guide and trustworthy Leasing agent, we strive to give you the best of the best. In the years that we’ve spent in the industry, Tenants have always asked us “What do I need to do when renting?”. We’ve composed a step-by-step guide that organizes the rental process to make renting simple and fun!
Step 1: What are my Rental options
Before you even go looking for a place, you have to understand your needs. Think about the type of place you’re looking for. Are you looking for a lot of bedrooms and washrooms for your family? Do you have special parking needs? Do you want to live close to a school or a mall? These are just some of the things you have to consider before start looking for a place to live.
You also have to familiarize yourself with different types of rentals as well to help narrow down the perfect place. Such as Apartment Buildings, Detached Homes Upper and Lower Levels, and Townhomes/Condos.
Once you have narrowed down some qualities, its time to go looking for a home!
While there are no perfect rentals, there is a perfect rental for you. While you might have to compromise on a few of your wants, finding a place to rent becomes a lot easier when you know what you will and won’t settle for, including how much you want to spend.
Step 2: Hire an Leasing Agent
There are thousands of real estate agents but not all are wanting to work with Tenant clients. How do you chose one that’s right for you? You have to pick carefully. They will be acting as your representative and you will need someone to look out for your best interests. You will need someone that you can trust and someone who understands what you want.
Leasing agents have to be a trained professional who knows your area inside out. A great agent is someone who offers you quality services to help you accomplish your goal. The first step working with a Leasing agent will be for you to complete a Rental Application before touring homes, reason being the Leasing agent needs to know up front your situation and ability to rent based on income and finacial history. Click here
Step 3: Find your Rental
There are many ways of finding that ideal place! First, before you go hunting you have to make sure you are also financially ready. Make sure to have a budget when you go rental shopping. One thing to keep in mind is your deposit typically equal to 1 months rent. As a general rule, housing costs should be less than 35% of before-tax household income.
- Utilities (electricity, heat and water)
- Municipal services (if applicable)
Keeping these things in mind, you are free to go window shopping! You can go searching for a place according to the different neighbourhood surrounding you, check social media facebook, renters websites, or on-line classifieds such as Kijiji and Craigslist. Looking for a place can be really fun and exciting! You can browse listings using the smart listings search on our website, here.
Step 4: Questions to ask...
Things to discuss when visiting a rental property for the first time
- Are utilities such as heat, electricity, water, cable television, or Internet included in the monthly rental fee, or are the costs shared with other tenants? If the costs are shared, not everyone has the same usage or requirements.
- What type of heating is used - natural gas, oil or electric? Be aware that some energy sources cost more than others (e.g. electric baseboard heaters might cost more than forced air natural gas)
- Which utility companies service the unit? On average, how much did tenants pay before for utilities each month? Use this as a guideline only since the previous tenants' could have had different energy needs than your own.
- Is there parking? How much does it cost? What about additional vehicles? ,including guest parking?
- Is there additional storage? Is this included in the rental cost? Does this include bicycle storage?
- Is parking or laundry extra? If so, how much does it cost?
- Is there rent control in place? If not, how will future rent increases be handled?
- Who handles installing or moving telephone jacks, satellite dishes, or television cables?
- Is there high speed Internet available?
- Can changes be made to the premises, including painting?
- Why are the current tenants are leaving?
- If pets are allowed, what kind? Does the property need to be professionally cleaned at the end of the lease?
- Is smoking permitted?
- What are the neighbourhood and other tenants like?
- What makes the property unique?
- What security systems are in place? Have the locks been changed recently? Are there parts of the building that require key access?
- Are there policies on overnight guests or long-term visitors?
- Can vehicles be maintained or repaired on the property? (If applicable)
Step 5: What to expect during your visit
A visit to a rental property is as much about getting to know the prospective tenant or landlord as it is about touring the space.
This will help both landlord and tenant decide if they would like to enter into a lease agreement together.
For this reason, landlords can legally ask:
- About income and where the prospective tenant works.
- How many people will be living in the home, and if there are any pets.
- If anyone who will be living there smokes.
- For written permission to run a credit check.
- For references and contact information, including from previous landlords.
Landlords cannot legally ask:
- Questions that infringe on a tenant’s Human Rights as outlined in the Code for their province.
- If there are plans to have (more) children.
- About a tenant’s ethnic background, religion, or sexual preference.
- If family will be visiting.
- For a Social Insurance Number.
- If the tenant is married, single or divorced.
If you feel that your human rights with respect to rental accommodation have been infringed upon, or if you need more information, discuss the situation with an advocacy agency or your provincial / territorial human rights office.
Step 6: Safety & healthy living considerations.
Safety, security and healthy living are also important considerations when looking for a place to live. Before deciding to rent, make sure to:
- Consider the nearest transit stop and parking areas if you have a vehicle. Are they isolated, or are there enough people around to walk to and from safely?
- Scan the local news for any reports of crime in the area, or call the local police station to ask.
- Look for added security beyond what you would expect for the area as this could signal a higher crime rate.
- Check the locks on the windows and doors, and ask the landlord to change them at their expense before you move in. (They are, however, not legally obligated to do so.)
- Examine sliding glass doors, like patio doors, for a reinforcement rod in the track that prevents them from being forced open.
- Check for working smoke detectors, fire exits and/or fire escapes, and fire extinguishers. For basement units, make sure the windows are large enough to crawl through.
- Look for properly vented space heaters and fireplaces with plenty of room around each for furniture to be placed safely.
- Look for the presence of mould (stains on the walls, musty smells, or rotting wood) to make sure the air you are breathing is clean.
Looking for a rental property in a rural area?
Rural districts have their own unique situations to consider, such as:
- Wells, septic systems and hard water might need more hands-on management than in the city.
- Well water will need to be tested before moving into a property and at regular intervals after.
- Large barns, sheds or outbuildings might be included in the rent and might need to be maintained by both you and the landlord.
- Road conditions vary depending on the season.
- Well water requires frequent testing for potability.
- Proximity to a fire department and hospital.
- Cell phone reception and Internet may not be as strong.
Always take detailed notes when visiting properties and interviewing prospective landlords. To help with your search, we’ve prepared a tool for you to download and take to your appointments.
Step 7: Lease and Rental Agreements
Rental agreements between a landlord and tenant are commonly referred to as a “lease”.
In Ontario there are two types of rental agreements:
- Written lease
- Verbal rental agreement
A written lease is a good idea because it clearly specifies what a landlord and tenant are agreeing to when renting a property.
It outlines terms for:
- The rent.
- Parties responsible.
- What is included and what is not.
- Conditions for terminating the lease.
Both written and oral rental agreements define the legal rights and responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant. This is important as they can be referred to if a conflict arises between either. Note, however, that verbal consent makes it much more difficult to refer to in the event of a dispute as each party might remember things differently.
It’s important to note that the types of dwellings covered by tenancy legislation varies by province and territory. In some provinces mobile home park residents, for instance, are protected under the provincial tenancy legislation, while in others they are excluded.
Step 8: Signing the Lease
A lease should always outline the, terms, conditions, and duration of the rental agreement. It is important to review all 3 before signing. Some leases may contain unexpected requirements. It is important to consult a lawyer before signing if you do not understand everything in the lease, or if you are creating a lease that you want customized to your terms.
The lease should stipulate the following:
- The names of the landlord and tenant(s)
- The address of the rental property
- The agreed-upon monthly rent, with or without utilities, parking, cable, etc.
- When rent is due each month
- The amount and terms of the deposit (if applicable)
- Which repairs are your responsibility if requested by the landlord
- The term of the rental period, typically one year (but may be month-to-month or week-to-week)
- The notice period required to terminate the lease (usually this is 60 days)
- Subletting rules
- Allowable rent increases
- Restrictions such as no boarders, pets, smoking, waterbeds, etc.
- When and how a landlord can enter the residential premises
- Conditions for termination of a lease
- Terms for dispute resolution: late payment, damage and repairs, eviction, etc.
- Emergency contact information for both the tenant and landlord (including phone, fax and email)
If you are sharing accommodations, consider the following:
- The person or persons who sign(s) the lease is/are legally responsible for any other roommates.
- If 2 or more tenants sign the lease, they are responsible for paying the whole rent, and the landlord can enforce the terms against either person or both people
- If each person has a separate lease, that individual is only responsible for what is contained in theirs.
As of April 30, 2018, landlords of most private residential rental units – from individuals to property management companies – must use the standard lease template, for all new leases. The standard lease does not apply to care homes, sites in mobile home parks and land lease communities, most social and supportive housing, certain other special tenancies and co-operative housing. Get the standrard lease.
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