My First Rental: What do I need to know?
Facts, Tips and Worksheets for First-Time Renters
The excitement of renting your own place for the first time is an amazing feeling. Finally, freedom is literally at your doorstep. You probably can’t wait to have your very own space, but you’ve probably got a few questions about how it all works:
Not to worry. We’ve got all the answers to your puzzling questions about renting, as well as some useful worksheets to help you make the right decisions for you.
Before you sign a lease
During the tenancy
Ending the tenancy the right way
Tenancy dispute resolution
BEFORE YOU SIGN A LEASE
A Good Place to Start
Sit down and really think about what you’re looking for in a rental space before you start your search.
Assessing your needs
Print off a copy of the Assessing Your Needs Worksheet to help you get started.
Where to look
Accommodation Comparison Worksheet
Choose the very best apartment, room or mobile home site for you by using this Apartment Comparison Worksheet to help you compare the places you see. With all the details clearly laid out, you'll be able to make a decision easily.
So You Think You Found It
Does it meet all your needs? Looking for apartments or other accommodations can be fun, but it can also be stressful if you don't have a lot of time to look or if you don't know the area. So, be sure to ask yourself if this rental really meets your needs. And be honest. You'll be there for a while.
Talk to the landlord: Walk through the premises with the landlord and inspect it from top to bottom. Be sure to ask the following questions:
Sleep on it: Take some time to think about it. Talk it over with your family and friends. This is a big decision and it's important to be 100% sure before you sign the lease.Lease
Read it carefully!
Make sure you read the lease and rules carefully. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Remember, the lease is a legal contract so it's important you understand what you're signing. This will also help better prepare you to handle any difficult situations that might pop up.
Read it again!
You and your landlord must sign two copies of the lease. You should each keep a copy. Make sure you understand the following information in your lease:
Your landlord might ask you for a security deposit, which can be no more than a full rent payment. (So, if rent is $500 every month, the most you'll have to pay for a security deposit is $500.) The security deposit acts as protection for the landlord against any damage, necessary cleaning, unpaid rent or unpaid utilities (heat, water, electric power or natural gas services, etc.) that are provided by the landlord but not covered by the rent and late payment fees. You can pay the security deposit to your landlord or directly at any SNB Service Centre.
Check out these FAQs on Security Deposits for more information.DURING THE TENANCY
Move In Day
Move In Time: You can expect to move in at a reasonable time on the morning your lease starts. This should be agreed on with the landlord in advance.
Inspection: Before you start moving your things in, you should walk through the rental with your landlord and inspect it thoroughly under good light. Look at the condition of the walls, floors, counters, appliances, and everything else in the unit. Write down any damage in an Inspection Report.
Both you and the landlord should sign and date the document and you should both keep a copy. Taking photos can also be useful.
Tenant’s Insurance: The landlord's insurance does NOT cover the rental's contents. You are responsible for insuring your personal belongings. If you're a student, ask your parents if you are covered under their insurance plan. If not, it is worth looking into. What would happen if the building burned down or your laptop or bike got stolen?Your Responsibilities
Remember that you are living in a rental that someone else owns and cares about. It's important that you keep the rental clean (including things like the fridge and stove). You should also ensure that you and your guests respect your neighbors, and that you repair any damage that you or your guests have caused.
Check out these FAQs on Tenant’s Obligations and Repairs and Maintenance - Respective Responsibilities for more information.Your Landlord’s Responsibilities
Your landlord agrees to provide and maintain the rental (and provided items like stoves and fridges) in a good state of cleanliness and repair and fit for habitation. The landlord also promises to keep the common areas clean and safe and follow health, safety and housing standards.
Check out these FAQs on Landlord’s Obligations, FAQs on Entry by Landlord and Repairs and Maintenance - Respective Responsibilities as well as Health, Safety, Housing and Building Standards for more information.Being a Good Tenant
Developing a strong and respectful relationship with your landlord and other tenants has many benefits. Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind:
Pay your rent on time: A happy landlord is one that gets paid on time, every time. See the FAQs on Payment of Rent for more information.
Fire Safety: Never leave candles unattended and be careful with cigarettes. Check that the smoke alarms work. Plan an escape route in case there's an emergency.
Noise: Keep the noise down. Be respectful of those around you - whether they are old, young, working or relaxing, nobody wants to be unnecessarily disturbed. Remember that others around you may have different schedules than you. Yelling, foul language and loud music are not appreciated by anyone, especially at night.
Garbage: People take pride in keeping their neighbourhoods clean. Make an effort to keep garbage, old furniture, beer bottles, newspapers and cigarette butts stored properly out of sight. Be sure to put your garbage out every collection day to avoid unwanted smells and rodents.ENDING THE TENANCY THE RIGHT WAY
Notice: You need to give your landlord proper written notice if you want to move out. For a fixed-term lease it automatically ends at the end of the agreed period of time. For month-to-month leases, you need to give a month's notice and for a year-to-year lease, you need to give three months' notice before the anniversary date. Remember to check your lease if you aren't sure. For more information, see the FAQs for Ending a Lease.
Subletting: Check the lease to see if you need permission from your landlord to sublet, or if you are simply not allowed. If you are allowed, remember, the subletter must follow the rules as laid out in the lease that you signed. You are responsible for your subletter, so choose wisely. If the subletter doesn't pay the rent or damages the rental, it is your money on the line. See the FAQs on Subletting for more details.
Assigning: If you need to move out before your lease is up, you may be able to assign the lease. Assigning the lease means that someone else takes over your lease, and you would no longer be responsible for rent or damages. Check the lease to see if you need permission from your landlord to assign, or if you are simply not allowed to. For more information, see the FAQs for Assigning.
Viewings: Your landlord must give you proper notice to show the rental to prospective tenants unless it is clearly specified in the lease that no notice is required during the last month of tenancy. More details.
Move Out Time: You must be out of your rental by midnight on the last day of your lease. More details.
Preparing to Move Out: To get your full damage deposit back, you'll need to clean the rental and all the provided items, like stoves and fridges. You'll also need to repair any damages that may have occurred, other than normal wear and tear. Be sure to take all your belongings with you when you leave. More details on belongings left behind.
Final Inspection: On Move Out Day, you and your landlord should do a final inspection of the rental. Use the Inspection Report that you both signed on Move In Day, and photos if you took them, to determine if anything has been damaged. Make notes of any damage, and then both sign the report. Be sure to return all the keys to the landlord.
Security Deposit: At the end of your tenancy, you need to fill in the Application for the Return of the Security Deposit. If no claims are made by the landlord within seven days of the end of the tenancy regarding damages, necessary cleaning, unpaid rent or unpaid utilities (heat, water, electric power or natural gas services, etc.) provided by the landlord but not covered by the rent and late payment fees, the Office of the Rentalsman will send you a cheque for the full amount. For more details, see the FAQs on Security Deposits.
Common Tenancy Disputes
The most common disputes tenants might face during a tenancy often involve:
If a tenant makes a complaint against a landlord, he or she is protected under the Act from being evicted from the day on which the complaint was made until one year after that day if:
(a) the tenant advises a Rentalsman in writing within fifteen days after the receipt of the Notice of Termination that he or she intends to contest the notice, and
The resolution process follows five steps. They are:
Note: In the case of an emergency, you may contact the Office of the Rentalsman immediately without going through the above procedure
Check out these FAQs on the Dispute Resolution Complaint Process for more information. You'll also find information on the process a landlord must follow to make a complaint against you. What can the tenant do if the landlord doesn't live up to his/her obligations? What can the landlord do if the tenant doesn't live up to his/her obligations?
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