Tips on looking for a rental property.
- 1 Before beginning
- 2 Before contacting
- 3 Questions to ask
- 4 Things to have before approaching a rental property
- 5 When looking over a property
- 6 Before signing anything
- 7 Post-moving
Before beginning ∞
You need to give proper notice before moving. "One month's notice" means from the first to the last of the next month. So if you give notice on February 2nd, the month is March. Give notice before the end of the month!
Don't count on getting any of your damage deposit back, especially if you have a spoiled relationship.
You need to ensure that you'll have a full month's rent and the damage deposit for a new place. If this is in question, don't move.
Hiring a moving company can cost a good month's rent, so plan ahead!
There are rules about renting a moving truck that you'll drive yourself, like needing a credit card and a mature driver. Be sure to understand these nuances before you begin.
Before contacting ∞
The advertisement should either directly answer or have clues for all the questions you may ask. Read it carefully. An ad which is missing information says something about the landlord. Use the ad to judge the landlord.
Looking at the ad can tell you enough for you to completely skip over it.
Questions to ask ∞
Ask questions directly and quickly. This should be a quick to-and-fro conversation which conveys your intelligence. Judge the landlord by the speed and the general way they respond.
- Are you the homeowner?
- Why did the previous resident move?
Are there or have there been any pets in the house? Are pets allowed?
- Non-furry, cats, dogs, etc.
- Don't waste your time visiting a house with a yappy little dog.
Is smoking allowed? (including incense and pot) If so, where?
- If smoking is allowed anywhere, be prepared to smell the stuff even the stuff that sticks to the smokers. Open windows will waft the smell in, especially on the ground floor. So if you don't have central air, and you have your windows open at night, nearby smokers (even neighbours) can really bother you.
- If you get unlucky, you'll smell smoke coming from nowhere in particular.
Will English be the only language in the house?
- People who speak in another language have a habit of talking loud because they think others don't understand.
- If the landlord has an accent, consider not even asking this question. Consider not even moving there.
- Is there an official "quiet time" that everyone adheres to?
- Are there any loud-talkers, people who shout across the house, on the phone or webcams, etc?
Do people wear shoes in the house?
- Hard slippers are even worse.
- This is a major consideration if you're living downstairs.
Is there anyone who you'll share the bathroom with who has excessive body hair?
- God damn it's disgusting to have them shed all over the bathroom floor.
Can people close doors quietly?
- Many have a tendency to slam the front door in particular.
Are people up, and making noise, late?
- Are you expected to have extraordinarily-quiet hours?
- If you're not talking to the owner, you can be more direct in asking about the condition of the place, what the repairs are like, etc.
- How many bedrooms?
- How many roommates?
- How many bathrooms? Of what size (with a shower?) Shared with how many people?
Is there a lock on the bedroom door?
- Even when your roommates are trustworthy, a lock lets you avoid trust issues if you misplace something.
Is there storage space?
Is the mail delivery door-to-door, or is there some sort of combined-mailbox down the block?
- Make sure you will be given your own key, or that there is always a mailbox key available (e.g. hanging in the house for anyone to use)
- If you are in an apartment building, and you get mail through a mail slot in your door, you will hear more noise through your door.
- Is there composting?
When is the green, recycling and garbage pickup? What time of day?
- Would it disturb you?
- What's the nearest major intersection?
Is there a bus route / bus stop nearby?
- Look it up. Learn the routes and schedules. Are they delayed or circuitous? Are there night bus routes?
Where is the nearest:
- grocery store
- convenience store
- Is there anything 24/7?
Do the neighbours have dogs?
- Are dogs commonly barking in the neighbourhood?
Things to have before approaching a rental property ∞
- Proof of employment or income.
Rental deposits should be ready.
- Consider having them on you when you visit the place. You may want to make a snap decision and take the place right away.
Past and present references -- property managers and possibly roommates.
- Call those contacts ahead of time so that they won't be surprised with being contacted.
When looking over a property ∞
- Think about wintertime transit. Are there even sidewalks?
- Think about summertime transit. Is there shade?
- What's the lighting, shade and condition near the bus stops? (both directions)
Is there lighting on both sides of the street?
- Consider passing by the place at night to check out the lighting.
Are there actually dogs in the neighbourhood, or even on the way to and from transit.
- Landlords may not actually know, or may have lied about dogs.
Are there any smokers in the area, or to and from transit?
- The stench carries for a block or more.
Your room ∞
- Shelves? Enough hanging space?
- If you hang pants, will they have enough length so they don't touch a shelf or the floor?
How many and where are the outlets in your room?
- Do they show grounds? This doesn't mean they're actually grounded - the wiring might be missing or bad. Shitty old houses may do this. If you use a computer, you really need a grounded outlet. If this is really important, bring something that can check for a ground fault. (a power bar, or a specialized device)
Bring a tape measure and check things out.
- Can you bring your furniture in easily?
- Will your furniture fit where you want?
Which directions do your windows face?
- East is the morning light, west is the evening. West is warmer.
- Consider bringing a compass, but you can also take note of the time and where the sun is before you enter the house. A morning or evening visit makes life easier.
Look at the windows and doors to determine if they'd block insulate well against heat/cold and noise.
- Do they open? Are there screens?
- Are there enough outlets?
- Where would you hang your towel?
- Is the mirror a decent height?
- Is there enough storage for your stuff?
- Is the shower in good condition?
- Judge its cleanliness, this speaks to the quality of any roommates sharing it as well as to the landlord (who should have cleaned it).
Is there a decent fan?
- What is security like?
- If you are near an elevator or entrance you will get more noise. The first floor will get more noise from people passing through the halls than the upstairs floors.
- Make sure the apartment is in good repair before you consider moving in. A lot of maintenance people are incompetent and the super will lie about time lines or quality. Do not trust them.. only go after an apartment which has been completed. Do not give a damage deposit or even the first month's rent until the repairs are done! Do not move in until the repairs are done!
Are there good, large, elevators?
- Consider your furniture.
Are there en-suite laundry facilities? Check them out.
- If not en-suite, are they coin laundry or cards?
Talk with the property manager ∞
- Is the manager on-site?
- Are there any rules which they need followed? e.g. cleaning schedules.
- How are grievances handled?
Discuss your issues and ideas for improving the place.
- Does anything need to be fixed before you move in?
- Are you allowed to paint?
How can internet access be arranged?
- Any internet provider, or only one in particular?
- Only a certain cable provider? For example, there are buildings with just Rogers, Shaw, AT&T, etc.
Talk with another resident ∞
- What's the noise in the building/neighbourhood like? (pets, parties, traffic, etc)
- Is the building cold in the wintertime or hot in the summertime?
- How have they found the maintenance of the place? (is everything in good repair, is there good turnaround on fixing problems?)
- How have they found the landlord/superintendent/security/other staff?
Have they had any grievances? How have they been settled?
Before signing anything ∞
- Read over the document in its entirety. Do you agree with its spirit?
- If there's anything promised, like "all inclusive" or the like, make sure it's documented.
- Compare the original advertisement with the document.
- Documents should be continuous, or every page needs to be initialed by every party.
You should get an original copy with penned signatures and initials and not a photocopy or digital copy.
See Post-moving guide.