What to know before renting an apartment

Just like buying a property, renting an apartment or a house must be planned and requires steps that should not be overlooked.

Here is a list of things to know before renting an apartment.


Considering all the costs associated with renting an apartment
Determining your criteria for renting an apartment
Not visiting the apartment alone
Asking questions
Listening to your instincts
Understanding the rental agreement (lease)
Knowing your rights as a tenant

Considering all the costs associated with renting an apartment

The rent is the most important expense to consider when renting an apartment, but we must not forget the other costs: moving costs, security deposit, Internet, electricity, heating, tenant insurance, furniture and others to buy, etc. Before you start looking for a place to live, take the time to establish a budget.

costs to consider when renting an apartement

Determining your criteria for renting an apartment

It is important to know before renting an apartment exactly what you are looking for and what your needs are. By knowing your criteria, you will be able to focus on apartments that will be closer to your reality.

The criteria to be evaluated for the apartment

  • Maximum rent you are willing to pay monthly (considering other costs)
  • The number of bedrooms
  • Inclusions such as appliances
  • The availability of a washer/dryer connection or a laundry room in the building
  • Space: to accommodate all your furniture and belongings, as well as for your day-to-day activities (remote work, cooking, dinners with friends or family, etc.)
  • Storage space in the apartment or storage unit in the building
  • Animals accepted or not
  • Access to elevators or for people with reduced mobility
  • Parking spaces included

The criteria to be evaluated for the location

  • The neighbourhoods that interest you according to your lifestyle
  • Accessibility to public transport or ease of getting around by car
  • Nearby service points (schools, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.)

To buy or to rent, it is important to establish clear criteria from the start. See our article on how to define your real estate purchase criteria for more details.

Take into consideration that your budget may not allow you to find the apartment that will meet each of your criteria. A list of the essential criteria and the concessions that you are ready to make will allow you to broaden your horizons and not miss out on a great opportunity.

 For example, you want to find an apartment with a second bedroom for your office. Perhaps you can compromise with an apartment that only has one bedroom, but has enough space to set up your office.

Not visiting the apartment alone

Bring a friend or family member with you for apartment viewings. This person may see some things that you missed. They will also be able to give you a more objective opinion because of their emotional detachment from the situation.

Asking questions

Do not hesitate to ask questions. It is better to know everything now than to have unpleasant surprises. So, make a list of questions or criteria that you want to validate.

Questions to ask when finding an apartment

  • What is included in the rental price (services offered, furniture, etc.)?
  • What type of heating is used? Are heating costs included in the rent? If not, what are the expected costs?
  • Is the unit well insulated (thermal and soundproof)?
  • Is snow removal the responsibility of the tenant or the landlord?
  • Are there reserved parking spaces for residents and visitors? Is there space for parking on the street (free, paid or with vignette)?
  • Etc.

It is not a matter of drawing up a list of all your questions to ask the landlord one after the other. Just make sure you have clear answers to all your criteria and questions, whether by asking or analyzing.

Listening to your instincts

Another thing to know before renting an apartment is the importance of trusting your instincts.

  • Do you think the offer is too good to be true? It possibly is.
  • There is probably a reason why the rent is way below market average.
  • If the landlord does not inspire you trust, do not enter into a contract with him.
  • An ad that does not show any photos of the interior of the apartment may indicate that there is something to hide.

Listen to yourself and take the time to do your research to find an apartment that will suit your needs.

Understanding the rental agreement (lease)

A rental agreement, or lease, is a contract between the landlord and the tenant. On the one hand, the landlord allows the tenant to occupy the unit. On the other hand, the tenant agrees to pay the rent.

This agreement contains all the information concerning the duration and conditions of the lease, the amount and payment of rent, the services included, the rules, etc.

Before signing, it is important to fully understand the lease and all its conditions. You can ask a trusted person to accompany you for the signing of the lease to be more comfortable.

 This agreement is a legal document that can be used if you ever have a dispute with the landlord.

Knowing your rights as a tenant

Many tenants are not aware of their rights and sometimes find themselves in bad situations without knowing how to protect themselves.

The landlord, like the tenant, has obligations and rights that they must respect.

To learn more, visit the Tribunal administratif du logement (Régie du logement) website.

Whether this is your first apartment or not, take the time to prepare yourself well before renting an apartment.

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