Making the decision to live in a rental can be a difficult and important one. There are many factors to take into consideration, such as price, location, space, landlords, roommates, lease clauses and more. As with anything, it is important to consider the positives and negatives of renting. This page is designed to give you an insight into what it’s like to live in a rental and things you need to know and consider before you do so.
Living in a Rental
Potentially wide range of neighbors; opportunity to develop relationships with neighbors; wide choice of neighborhoods.
Renting is often a more stable option in a sometimes uncertain real estate market; varied options in terms of price, commitment and neighborhoods.
More urban - rentals tend to be closer to city centers than homes, giving renters better access to shops, work and schools.
Maintenance and repairs are performed by someone else; depending on the rental, some are furnished or have access to additional facilities such as swimming pools.
Short-term or transitional living options; saving more money (no taxes or maintenance); flexibility in terms of relocation and commitment.
Explore the wide range of rental rentals and discover the available options.
Things to consider when renting
Moving to a new rental might seem stressful at first, but it doesn’t have to be. If you do your research, and have a list of necessary amenities in mind before you start looking, it will make the process much easier. Here are some things to consider when searching for a rental (there will, of course, be more, but these are a great place to start).
- Size Determine what size rental you need first. How many bedrooms? What is the size of the bathroom? How about the kitchen? Will your current furniture fit the space?
- Price Research neighborhoods and rentals that are within your price range. Look at other rentals in the area to see if the one you like isn’t over-priced.
- Location Is the rental in a neighborhood you can see yourself living in? What are the nearby streets like for cars/pedestrians? Is there easy access to local transportation? Are you close to work/school/shops, etc?
- Utilities Find out which utilities you will be responsible for, and how much they will cost you. Some rentals include heating or central air, others don’t.
- Parking Find out where you can park your car. Is there off-street parking? Will you require a permit to park on the street?
- Amenities Is there a dishwasher included in the rental? What is the washer/dryer situation? Is the rental furnished?
- The landlord This is the person who will be responsible for performing maintenance. Make sure you can trust your landlord.
- Check everything Open cupboards and storage spaces: you will want to check there is enough space for all of your belongings. This also allows you to check for any signs of damage or pests. Test that the windows open easily. Make sure the taps work properly and check for water heat and pressure.
How to read a lease
One of the most important things when renting is reading and understanding the lease. It may be tempting to skip past the legal jargon and just sign on the dotted line, but you must know what kind of deal you are signing in to. If you don’t read the lease carefully, you could end up in serious trouble later. Here are some things to think about when reading the lease.
- Is all the necessary information included? A lease should include basic information such as the landlords address and contact details, the rent cost and payment deadlines, security deposits, clauses for breaking the lease and any penalties for late rent.
- What about roommates? Is there a limit to the number of people allowed to live in the property? Some leases only allow visitors for a set number of days per year. Are you able to sublet an open room?
- Maintenance and modifications It is important to know who is responsible for
making any repairs in the rental. You should also find out if you are allowed to make any modifications to the unit.
- Utilities Are utilities such as gas, internet and heating provided, or will you have to pay for them all yourself?
- Get some help If you are struggling to understand some of the terminology, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Show the lease to a family member or friend who is well-versed in these things, or even a broker if you are working with one.
How to negotiate rent
When looking for a rental, it may seem like the listed price is set in stone. However, a landlord needs to fill an apartment or home just as much as you need a place to live. By doing some prior research, and coming in with a realistic price in mind, you may be able to get a better deal than you thought possible. Using these strategies could help you:
- Do your homework Before viewing the rental, discover what the local market is like. Have a look at similar listings in the area and see what prices they go for. Investigate the state of the market. How long are listings staying active?
- Be flexible in your commitment If you are open to signing a lease that lasts longer than the typical 12 months, this will benefit the landlord greatly. When a landlord has to rent their property out every year they encounter significant costs. If you’re planning on staying for a while, highlight this early in the negotiations.
- Sell yourself as a tenant Landlords will look for stability in their tenants. Be prepared to show recent pay stubs that prove you have a stable income, maybe even a recommendation from a previous landlord.
- Stay calm If you believe you are negotiating from a position of strength, this doesn’t mean you should be confrontational, nor does it mean appearing too timid. Be respectful to the needs of the landlord and remember that this is the person who will be managing your property.
- Use effective negotiating techniques Support your price with arguments as to why it is reasonable. Ask for a lower price than you have in mind. If you’re lucky, you may get it. If the landlord wants to negotiate, meet some way between the listing price and your opening offer.
Understanding Renter’s Insurance
Most renters insurance policies have a number of standard coverages, but you may want to select a number of add-ons to make sure you are fully covered. You will also want to make sure you understand all of the language used in the policy as well as the claims procedure involved with your policy.
- ‘Perils’ Most standard renters insurance policies cover what are known as “named perils”. If these perils are listed in your policy, you are covered against it. The most common perils are: fire or lightning, smoke, windstorm, theft, vandalism or malicious mischief and accidental discharge of water (a burst pipe for example).
- Personal Property Coverage Choosing a dollar amount for personal property in the event that a peril occurs will cover your belonging up to that amount. For example, if you take a policy with $20,000 in coverage and your rental is damaged by fire, you will have up to $20,000 with which to replace your belongings.
- Personal Liability Coverage This part of a policy covers any injuries sustained by someone on your property as a result of your negligence - i.e. if someone trips over a ball that you left in the yard or in the hallway. This also covers against accidents away from the premises.
- Loss of Use In the event your rental is damaged by a covered loss and you are unable to live there for the time it takes to make repairs, this type of coverage pays the expenses for your temporary residence as well as your regular monthly rent and expenses.