Written by Elisa Krovblit
Renting is a very particular experience that comes with its own set of idiosyncrasies -- every renter is sure to recognize these -- and there are many, many more. Share yours!
You need them. Everyone else has moved to modern transactions, from e-bank transfers to credit card and online payments, but there are still a lot of landlords that like cheques.
The word "Deposit" means different things depending on who you're talking to. Some provinces allow for pet and damage deposits, some only allow a last month's deposit -- which cannot be applied to anything but the last month of tenancy. Make sure you know what "deposit" means, because you're going to have to pay it. Having just enough money to cover your first month is not enough.
Inclusive *usually* means that all of the utilities are included. It generally refers to things like hydro, gas, oil, water, garbage removal -- the utilities that make the house function. But now you may find that inclusive also includes things like cable, Internet and even alarm systems. Just ask. If cable and Internet are included, this may add the value you want for the price you'll pay.
While it generally means you will be able to clean your clothes on site, find out what the situation is with laundry as it can get frustrating. Are they coin operated? Are you restricted to how many loads you can do? Is the laundry room available 24/7 or are you restricted to certain times and days? Are the machines reliable and in good working order? Is the laundry in your suite or is it in the building and shared with other tenants?
5. Street parking only.
Sure, you've found the perfect pad, and then you're told "Street parking only." Do your research. Is street parking limited or prohibited at specific times of the day or week? Do you need to get a permit to park on the street? Is it a neighbourhood where you may experience break-ins and vandalism to your car? Have you considered how far you may have to park from your home? Will this get worse with snow? Will it make grocery shopping difficult?
6. Share with owner.
It may seem like a good idea, the owner may even be a friend, but if you live with the owner -- defined by sharing either a kitchen or a bathroom with the person who owns the property -- then you're not protected by the Residential Tenancies Act. From eviction to rent increases to privacy, the homeowner isn't bound by the usual rules, which could present a renter with little support should issues arise.
7. Moving day.
Everyone thinks that moving day is on the first of the month, and generally it is -- for the person moving in. When you're moving out of an apartment, you technically have the apartment until 11:59 p.m. of the last day of your tenancy: the last day of the month (or cycle).
While many landlords accept the convention that outgoing tenants leave in the morning and incoming tenants arrive in the afternoon on the first of the month, technically the outgoing tenant has no right to be on the property. Talk to the landlord to make sure your moving times align. The tenant who stays without permission until the morning is technically "overholding" and can be held legally responsible for any expenses or issues that they cause.
The elevators belong to everyone. Most buildings won't put up with you taking one out of circulation without notice. You need to book the elevator for a move -- whether moving in or moving out. And book it as soon as you know you're moving. If there are a few moves on the same day you could be out of luck with a late request.
9. The Super.
When there is a site manager, a super or an on-site repair person you might think things will get done right away. Truth is, you need to have some patience. Unless water is pouring out of places it doesn't belong or some other dire issue requires attention, it may take a few hours to a few days to get an issue taken care of. Change your own lightbulb, plunge your own toilet, but let management know that the stove stopped working. Some apartments are set up to react much faster than others.
10. How clean is clean?
Ask how clean your apartment is -- the person that signs that lease and takes your cheques can tell you what they do to prep your suite between residents. Some property management companies renovate suites between residents, but on the flip-side, there are a lot of apartments that have outgoing tenants moving in the morning and incoming tenants moving in on the same day. The outgoing tenant must leave it clean -- usually considered "broom-swept" with no signs of garbage.
Get the gloves on and get to work if that's the case. There are cleaning companies that specialize in 'move-in/move-out' deep cleans. The landlord is only required to give you possession in "good repair" which doesn't include fresh paint. Some elbow grease, some good cleaning products and some hot water should hit every surface. And don't forget the carpets -- which probably deserve a good steam cleaning.
So, what did we miss? Share yours!
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According to Niccole Schreck of Rent.com, timing makes all the difference. “Although apartment selection in the winter months tends to be a little tighter,” she says, “property managers and landlords are often willing to come down in price during the slower period in order to help fill vacancies. Conversely, while there may be a wider selection of apartments available May through September, high demand often results in higher rental rates.” The same applies to movers’ fees. “Moving during the winter is cheaper, as is moving before the end of the month — demand skyrockets when leases end, so prices skyrocket, too,” says Mateo Prendergast of Brooklyn’s Rabbit Movers.
If you’re opting to transport your own goods, consider scheduling van or truck rentals for a weekday. “Save money on your rental equipment by avoiding the weekend rush,” says Sperry Hutchinson, a moving and product expert for U-Haul. “Typically, Sunday through Thursday offer greater equipment availability at a better cost. Plus, banks, government services, and utilities offices are open.” Hiring movers? Just remember: “Book with a company you trust — don’t just go with the cheapest quote," says Prendergast. "I can’t tell you how many calls we get at the end of the month when the cheaper movers have canceled on someone but we’re already booked to capacity. Struggling to find a mover at the last minute is stressful — and probably expensive, too.”
“This sounds obvious, but taking time to make sure that everything you pack is something that you actually want to take with you is my best advice," writer (and small-space expert) Erin Boyle says. "It stands to reason that moving less stuff means spending less money, whether you're moving yourself or hiring someone to help.” Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo agrees that purging with purpose can help pad a limited moving budget. “We’ve held a stoop sale every time we’ve moved,” she says. “We do a major cleanse of our place and try to pare down to only the things we love and need most. When my then-boyfriend, now-husband Alex moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan to live with me, his stoop-sale earnings covered the entire cost of the movers.”
The stress-reducing benefits of a head start are myriad. After all, says AptDeco founder Reham Fagiri: “There are a ton of moving parts to consider, no pun intended.” To begin, sort through your things — decide what’s coming with you and what you’ll leave behind. "Have your movers handle only the largest, heaviest items you can’t move on your own," says Prendergast. "And, if you can do assembly work — taking apart bed frames or wardrobes, for example — you’ll avoid having to pay movers to do it.” Trulia's Monica Ma cautions: “Make sure to label the content of your boxes, and to indicate what rooms you want them to end up in. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to open a few dozen boxes to get to your extra rolls of toilet paper.”
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