Don’t Sign a Lease Without Reading this First!

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When searching for a rental, it can be tempting to pounce on the first available, semi-decent listing you find, but hold up. Before you sign that lease, take the time to make sure that the rental suite is as good as it seems.

1. Read the entire tenancy agreement

Make sure that all relevant details are included here. Are you expected to pay utilities? How much? What about parking? Additional storage? Get the full breakdown of what your monthly rent covers and what will cost extra.

2. Document the current damage and general state of the unit

Take your time when going through the move-in inspection. This initial inspection is important so don’t skip it! Check for damage, signs of wear and anything broken or out of place. Did the previous tenants leave nail holes in the walls or nicks in the hardwood? Be sure these are detailed in the inspection report so you won’t be held responsible when you move out. This step is crucial to ensuring you receive your entire damage deposit upon moving.

3. Check out the area

Make sure that the surrounding area works for you and your lifestyle. This can be tough to do if you are moving to a new city (or a new country). If you are searching remotely, take advantage of Google street view. Use online maps to determine the unit’s proximity to amenities, grocery stores and other locations you frequent. If you have friends or family in the new location you may be able to get them to check out the rental on your behalf. Is the unit on a busy street? Near the train tracks? If you are able, visit the unit at different times of day. Consider your commute and your current lifestyle- can you imagine yourself living here?

4. Breaking the lease

No one signs a rental agreement with the intention of breaking it off early. Circumstances can change and you should know the penalties for breaking your lease. Do you have the option to sublet? Figuring these things out up front can save you trouble down the line.

5. Know your rights

The best thing you can do when preparing to rent is knowing your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Education will give you the knowledge and confidence to determine what rental is right for you. RentSmart offers a great introduction to the local rental laws and will give you a solid foundation when searching for rental housing. Take the course today to help you find and maintain rental housing!

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