Volume 24 - Winter 2016

Renting 101: A Tenant’s Primer

You’ve narrowed down the neighbourhood. You know how to access bike and transit routes, timed your walk to the nearest grocery and coffee shop, and even got several great recommendations for the best pizza and sushi. In short, you’re ready to rent a place of your own. This issue Townline chats with Kelly Hannah, Property Manager at Peterson BC, for her insights into the next steps when you’re looking for a rental home.

Her top tip? Preparation ahead of meeting your potential landlord will reap rewards — especially in a market like Metro Vancouver where vacancy rates are hovering near zero. Arrive with a package that includes everything the landlord is going to ask for — in other words, make it easy for them.

Here’s what your “Impress the Landlord” package should include:

  • At least two, written references (with contact information) preferably from a previous landlord and/ or employer.
  • Copy of your current credit report.
  • Income verification.
  • Photo ID.
  • If possible, an already completed application.

The Bottom Line:

Important Money Considerations

  • Never pay a deposit in cash and always snap a photo of your deposit cheque.
  • If you’re considering a newly constructed, purpose-built residence, do your research and tour their display suite so you can feel confident you will be renting a quality home from a reputable landlord/developer.
  • You may be requested to make your monthly payments by automatic debit or post-dated cheques, but landlords are not allowed to ask for credit card details.
  • Most landlords require a damage deposit in addition to your first/last month’s rental fee. If you’re a pet owner, your damage deposit may be larger and you may have to provide a photo along with a completed Pet Registration Form indicating details such as your pet’s name, age, breed, and weight for the landlord’s approval.

More Insider Tips

It’s no secret, moving is stressful. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make the process smoother. Google “moving day checklists” and you’ll discover a wealth of information, but here are a few more insider tips from Kelly — things she says people often forget:

  • You are required to notify your current landlord one full month prior to moving out. So if you’re moving on November 1st, you must give notice by September 30th. If you wait until October 1st, you could be liable for both October and November’s rent.
  • Order your moving truck early. U-Haul and professional moving companies are often booked solid on the first and last days of the month.
  • Book the moving elevators in both your old and new residences.
  • You can’t transfer hydro, phone, and cable until you’ve taken possession of your new place. The earlier you contact your providers, the more likely you’ll be able to pick a date that works best for you. While free Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop is handy in a pinch, being without internet or cable for a week can be extremely inconvenient.
  • Update or get contents insurance and confirm it covers any damage that may occur during your move. Many landlords will ask for a copy of your documentation so they know you’re covered. And finally, Kelly offers four straightforward ways to help you become the ideal tenant:
  • Pay your rent on time… always.
  • Understand and follow the rules shown in your lease.
  • Be respectful of the building and other tenants.

If problems do arise, keep the lines of communication open and be helpful in working towards a solution.

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