So, you’re ready to move out and rent your first apartment, both excited and terrified of what is happening and what may come. Well I’d first like to start off by saying, congratulations! This is a huge milestone. Moving out and renting your first apartment is the beginning of a new journey to adulthood, legally binding contracts, and bills. Bills for everything. Bills you took for granted before. Bills galore. And perhaps you’re not moving out of Aunt Mary’s and Uncle Joe’s home, but were under different circumstances, such as immigrating to a new country and have never been through the rental process before. And in that case, I would like to say that you’re the real MVP. Now, without further ado, let’s learn about how to rent your first apartment.
What You Need To Know
Understand What’s Included
Sometimes rent is solely paying for the space and the utilities are your responsibility, sometimes everything is included, and sometimes utilities are partially included with your rent payment. Ask the landlord/agency if heat, gas, and electricity (hydro) are included? What about internet? Parking? Storage? Is there a laundry facility in the building?
Read The Lease
Make sure to read the lease very carefully. Be certain that everything that is written in the contract has been discussed and is correct. In my recent apartment rental contract, the agency forgot to check off that water was included with the rent. I suspect this is due to them owning multiple properties with different inclusions, and using the same contract for all of them, so it was an honest mistake by the employee. I contacted the department and they quickly remedied it. A+ customer service is also really important, so be sure that you are receiving quick responses and professionalism! Also, be sure to ask if it’s a 1 year lease or if it’s on a month to month basis!
Fees. And More Fees.
It’s easy to plan out a security deposit and first month’s rent and think you’re set. Surprise! You’re not. You need to consider other costs such as set-up costs for your utilities (if they aren’t included in your rent) — And the crappiest part is, a lot of the time if you’re using their services for the first time, they require a security deposit. You want an internet connection in your new apartment? You won’t just be paying the monthly fee at first. You’ll also have to buy a router and pay for a set up fee. What about groceries when you first get there? Household items? Renter’s insurance? Loads and loads of fees to consider!
Your Neighbours Can Be A Hit Or Miss
Your neighbours can seem great when you first meet them. However, as time goes on, you notice excess noise levels at midnight, smoke filling your lungs in the morning as you try to enjoy your cup of tea on the balcony, and mountains of smelly garbage they leave at the front door… Yeah. You catch the drift. BUT, sometimes you can really luck out with some awesome people who you may eventually be able to call friends. They can totally be at your vibe, share the same interests as you, and may be the sweetest humans ever. Whatever the case may be, don’t go in with any expectations and make sure to give people a chance!
Go to Google, and key in “apartment rentals in (your city/area)“. You will have 2 types of rental accommodations pop up.
One will be a private landlord. This will be an individual who owns a home or building and is offering a space there, for a fee they chose. These spaces range from a basement apartment in their own home, a bedroom in their own home (and you share the rest of the home with them), and a whole apartment to yourself (without roommates or a landlord, in an apartment building they own). These ads will generally be posted on classified websites such as Kijiji and Craigslist, however sometimes they may own their own website.
The other type of rental accommodation available is done by a real estate development/property management company. These businesses either a) buy land and build apartments and/or b) revamp existing buildings to later rent them out to you.
Pros and Cons of Renting from a Private Landlord:
Pros: Usually rent is a lot cheaper, and it’s all inclusive (heat, water, electricity, internet, laundry, etc.), so you end up saving a lot of money. Sometimes it even comes furnished so you don’t have to worry about purchasing furniture. You also have the ability to build a relationship with the landlord and have a bit more flexibility and lenience.
Cons: You could end up dealing with unprofessionalism and a whole lot of ego. I’ve both personally heard and read about horror stories about private landlords, and it really is a hit or miss if you get a nice one or a crazy one. The issues which have been brought up are not repairing things on time, blaming you for things which need to be repaired, no privacy/coming in whenever they please, and not following the law and regulations.
Pros and Cons of Renting from a Property Mgmt Company:
Pros: Professional and complete screening of each applicant’s credit history, rental history, and criminal history. Yes it’s a lot of paperwork, but it’s a great way to determine if you’re a right fit for the neighbourhood, and also (almost) guarantees that you’ll live in a safer environment. Property management firms will also maintain all records needed for legal and tax purposes.
Cons: Property management firms are more expensive than renting from a private landlord and usually only one or two utilities are included in the rent price, which ends up racking up the bills on top of your (already expensive) rental cost.
After contacting the landlord or agency and expressing your interest in the rental, they will ask you to come in and view the property. I would also like to note that it’s best to do all of your communication and agreements via e-mail and paperwork as this is written proof and not a verbal agreement (which don’t hold too well in the court of law as they’re usually not supported by hard evidence).
On the day of the viewing, come prepared with questions such as:
- When were the fixtures last replaced?
- How old are the appliances?
- Is parking included? Where is guest parking?
- Do any of the neighbours smoke?
- How often does the rent cost rise?
The landlords and agencies will also ask you questions such as:
- Where do you work? What is your income? Are you in school?
- Who will be living here including yourself?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- Why would you be good tenants?
Questions landlords and agencies are not allowed to ask you:
- How old are you?
- Are you disabled?
- What is your sexual orientation?
- What is your ethnic background? What about your religion?
- Do you plan to have children (or more children)?
If you’re happy with how the rental looks, you’ll be given an application to fill out.
In the application you will find:
- The application for tenancy
- All of the lease terms will be stated here, so make sure to read over everything meticulously.
- Once you have completed reading over the contract, you will sign off with your name, your signature, and the date.
- Application for acceptance as a residential tenant
- Here they will ask you for all of the necessary information such as: Your full name, your date of birth, where you have lived in the past 2-3 years, how much you paid, how long you were there, why you’re leaving, and the building manager’s or landlord’s name and contact information. They’ll also ask you about your employment history for the past 2-3 years, your hourly/yearly income, the name of your supervisor, along with their contact information.
- Again, you will need to sign off with your name, your signature, and the date.
- Authorization to verify and contact your references
- Pre-authorization form for direct withdrawal for your monthly rent payments
- They may ask you to attach bank statements from the past 3 months
The agency will now perform the verification of both your references and finances, and if everything checks out well, you will receive an e-mail or phone call that your application has been approved, and ask you to make a security deposit for the apartment or first and last months rent to secure your position in the apartment. You will then receive an approved/signed application for the rental. Keep all of the paperwork for your records.
Get organized with move in date and time with your property manager for keys! If you’re renting an apartment from a building, make sure to book an elevator to move all of your furniture.
I think there’s numerous times there’s no way of getting around making a list. Planning a party or wedding, who you’re buying Christmas gifts for, and what you’ll need when you’re moving into a new place. Why? Because lists make everything less stressful.
*high 5s all around* Anyways, there’s quite a few things you need for a new apartment, so the chart below details the essentials. Don’t forget to shop for these home basics at thrift stores, dollar stores, and off of ad listings like Craigslist and Kijiji for really inexpensive prices. You’ll be surprised of what you can find!
Not sure how to live within your means? Here are the first 3 steps you can take to become a minimalist.
Address Changes To Make
It’s very important to notify authorities and businesses of your address change as it’ll prevent any confusion or missed correspondence, benefits, and pay checks.
- Federal government/Tax office
- Ministry of transportation
- Place of employment
- Credit card companies
- Doctor or any other health care provider
- Insurance companies
- Phone, cable, and internet provider
- Family members & friends… Only if you want 😛
Apartment Rental Dictionary:
Application Fee: Rental agencies may require an application fee (typically ranging from $20-$50). This usually covers a partial amount of the cost involved with processing the application such as running a credit check.
Amenities: These are the fun or useful features of a building or place. Examples include an indoor pool, access to a fitness centre, or a laundry room.
First and Last Month’s Rent: A last month’s rent deposit may be required, depending on where you live. This means that if your rent is $1200, you have to pay $2400 up front, prior to your move-in date.
Landlord: The individual who owns property/land and is allowing you to occupy their space for a monthly fee.
Lease Agreement: A lease agreement is a legal document which outlines all rental terms and conditions. This contract guarantees the renter the occupancy and guarantees the landlord their monthly payments.
Leasing Agent: Leasing agents speak to existing and potential tenants on behalf of the landlord or agency.
Property Management Firm: Property management companies are responsible for the day-to-day activities of a real estate property. This includes seeking tenants for the building, maintaining the property, and collecting monthly rent payments.
Prospective Tenant: A potential client. Someone who is likely or expected to occupy a rental unit.
Security Deposit: A security deposit is a certain amount of money which is held in the case of damage. You will receive this amount back when you move out, if of course, you did not damage the property. :]
Sublet: The original holder of the lease offers the apartment to another individual, under the landlord’s approval.
Utilities: Businesses that provide a public service such as electricity, water, and gas.
All in all, whether you’re moving for the first or thirteenth time, it will always be stressful. From the moment of finding a place, to packing, to unpacking, to finally settling in — There’s an entire process and a million and one things which need to get done. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, so I hope that this article gave some of you some clear insight on the ins and outs of renting an apartment, without losing your mind. Best of luck and congrats!