A Renter’s Checklist: What To Look For When Renting

The rental market is incredibly active these days. With rising housing prices, it makes more and more economic sense for people to rent. As a property management company in Midland, we have seen firsthand how confusing the rental market can be, especially for first-time renters. Even if you have rented before, it is likely that you will still be caught off guard by a few curve balls due to the current state of the rental market. 

Tips From a Rental Property Management Company

Here are a few things to consider before dipping your toes into the rental pool.

1. Set Your Budget

We are starting the list with a budget because it is the most crucial step. Know what you can afford in advance and don’t fool yourself. There is no sense in even searching for something outside of your budget.

Sit down, sharpen your pencil, and get ready to do some math. What can you afford? Remember to consider the cost of utilities and internet in the equation. This will help you limit your options and determine your long term goals. Ask yourself if you are planning on renting permanently or just until you save and find the right property to purchase.

Remember these additional costs:

  • First AND last month’s rent
  • Installation Fees for internet and cable
  • Moving Expenses: boxes, movers, truck rental, etc.
  • Outfitting your place with furniture, appliances, utensils, etc.
  • Any time off work you may have to take

2. Location, Location, Location

Once you have narrowed your search based on budget, you can now search based on location. Do you have a neighbourhood in mind? Is there a school zone that you need to be in for your kid(s)?

Be sure to consider things from the area’s census, such as average income, average age, percentage of renters, employment rates. Ask yourself how far you are willing to travel to work. Now consider the location in terms of points of interest. You want to be happy and comfortable in your new living space. Are you close enough to external amenities that suit your lifestyle? If you’re excited about farmers’ markets in the summer, but the closest one is a few hours away, is this the right place for you?

3. Dwelling Specs

Some people are after an apartment, others a detached house. There are a significant number of options out there, and you need to consider the pros and cons of each. For example, an apartment building may offer a greater number of amenities and ease of living, but less privacy. While a detached house may provide greater privacy and space, but you may be left to take care of things like snow removal and lawn maintenance yourself (unless you give us a call 😉).

4.The Right Amenities

Figure out what you need to be included with your rental. Basically, you should make a list of things you couldn’t live without. Do you want to be on the ground floor, have laundry on-site or have parking available? These critical questions will further narrow your search and help you find the best property to suit your situation.

Determining your wants and needs will help with this process, but make sure you’re realistic. Don’t expect to have 4 cats in a bachelor apartment. Don’t expect to get a 4 bedroom house with a garage for the price of a bachelor. Be realistic and understand your ‘deal-breakers’. 

5. Legal Mumbo Jumbo

This is often an overlooked aspect of the rental process. The reasons are simple: it’s boring and irritating. Nevertheless, it is a crucial point to consider before renting a property. Quite often, people will spend limitless time looking for a place, but are willing to sign a contract without even reading it! Remember, if there’s a dispute later, the rental agreement may help to settle it. Know what you are signing up for.

Our contracts adhere strictly to the residential tenancy act, and we certainly don’t try to pull any fast ones. But that’s not to say that some landlords won’t sneak something into the paperwork that hurts you in the long run. Ask if you can view a copy of the lease early on before you get your heart set on a place and get burned.

The Government of Canada has this helpful list of what is typically included in the agreement: 

  • What your rental agreement includes
  • The landlord’s and tenant’s names, addresses, and contact information
  • The rental term, the length of time you agree to stay in the unit before ending your rental agreement
  • The monthly rent amount
  • The date you must pay rent
  • Services, such as electricity or parking
  • Any separate charges
  • The conditions for the termination of a rental agreement
  • When the landlord can increase the rent and by how much
  • The deposit amount and any conditions
  • The rules that the landlord requires all tenants to follow

6. Renter’s Insurance

You have your rental. Great! Now protect yourself with renter’s insurance (or tenant’s insurance). It protects your personal property and includes personal liability coverage too. Rates are usually reasonable and can be a lifesaver.

Consider these 6 helpful tips, and above all, remain realistic. The market is volatile and you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize your long term goals and happiness. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the process consider choosing a property management company to help you along. We are more than happy to look over a rental agreement, give you an estimated cost of maintenance, do a property inspection, or whatever else you need. Give us a call and we’ll determine how we can help you.