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Finding a home to rent

If you’ve ever tried to find a home to rent, you know how hard it is to find just the right home, in the right location, at the right price.

Before you even start looking, you should ask yourself a few questions:

  • What can you afford? Are you a student living off your student loans, or do you have a good paying job? What other expenditures do you have, such as car payments?
  • How much space do you need? Are you looking for a bachelor suite, or a 3 bedroom house?
  • Where do you want to live in? Is it important to you to be close to work, or close to family, friends, or recreation? If you don’t have a car, maybe proximity to public transportation is important to you.
  • Will you live alone, or with a roommate?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you will be able to start narrowing down your search. If you know how much you can afford to pay, the type of property you want, and the area you want to live in, you can weed out all the unsuitable properties.

Searching for options

There are many ways to start looking for a home to rent. It’s often best to try a few options, rather than relying on just one. Here are some different options as you search for your next home:

  • Rental listing websites: Online rental listing sites are great because it’s usually free for landlords to place ads on these sites. That means landlords can include plenty of information about the property, and lots of photos. This ad should give you a very good idea of what the property is like, and whether you’d be interested in living there or not. The most popular sites are probably Craigslist or Kijiji. Depending on the city you live in, there may be other great sites. Some examples are rentseeker.ca, zumper.com, or rentals.ca. Just Google “Apartments to rent in Vancouver” (or whichever city applies), you’ll see a number of rental property websites.
  • Social media: Post a message to Facebook or Twitter stating you’re looking for a place to rent, and asking for recommendations.
  • Newspaper: Check the classified ads. Newspaper ads will usually give you the bare minimum. It’s not free to advertise here, so landlords tend to be brief. Watch for abbreviations, such as BD for bedroom, W/D for washer/dryer.
  • Walk around: If you know the neighbourhood you want to live in, try going for a walk there. You may spot a “For rent” sign on an interesting-looking property, or you may just spot an apartment building you really like. Check with the building manager, and if there’s nothing available at the moment, maybe they’ll take your name to let you know if something comes open.
  • Word of mouth: Let your friends and family know you’re looking for a place to rent. They may know somebody who’s looking for a new tenant.
  • Local bulletin boards: Check the bulletin boards at your neighbourhood community centre, grocery store, or library.

Calling the landlord

If you find a property you think may be suitable, call the landlord and find out any information that may not have been provided in the ad. Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • When is the unit available?
  • How much is the rent?
  • Who is responsible for paying the utilities, like gas, electric, hot water, and cable? What is the usual monthly cost of the utilities? If you’re responsible for these, make sure you know how the unit is heated. Also keep in mind that the electric and/or gas bill will be much higher in the winter.
  • Is a parking spot provided, or will you need to find a place on the street?
  • What kind of deposit is required?
  • What sort of lease is required? Month to month, 6 months, or annual.
  • Do they allow pets?

If everything sounds good, arrange a time to see the property.

Viewing the home

When you are viewing the home, be sure to take a close look at everything to make sure the unit is clean and everything is in good repair.

  • Ask questions, like “How long has the home been vacant?” “Do any of the other tenants have pets?” “What is the noise level usually like?” “Has this home been smoked in?”
  • Check out the neighbourhood. How safe is it? What amenities are nearby? Make sure it’s the kind of place you’d like to live in.
  • Get details regarding any damage deposit, lease terms, amount of rent and payment due dates, policy regarding pets, and so on.

When you’re meeting the landlord at the property, be on time. If you’re late, he/she may think you’re also the type to be late paying your rent. You want to make a good impression. After all, you may not be the only prospective tenant the landlord has to choose from. Once you find a place you want to rent, the next step in the process is completing a rental application.

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