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How to rent a house or apartment

Renting an apartment or house can be a different experience depending on the city and the season you are house hunting. However there are basic steps you can follow to make things easier.
  1. Location
    Deciding on the location is one of the most important aspects to your search. Many factors come into play such as the distance to work or school, the cost of rent in that neighbourhood and the lifestyle you would like have. For example; you might be interested in a quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs or a vibrant downtown area. Nowadays, finding the right neighbourhood is much easier due to the availability of online tools such as Google Maps or Bing. RentCompass is also a great resource since you can have a general idea on the cost of rent in the different neighbourhoods by searching for rental apartments in the areas that are most convenient for you.
  2. Cost
    You will need to decide the amount of rent you are willing to pay in order to narrow down your search. A good rule of thumb is no more than 30% of your take home income should be spent on housing.
  3. Searching for availability
    There are multiple methods of searching for available rentals, the old fashion way; newspaper classified sections, college campus bulletin boards. These days, online apartment rentals websites (like RentCompass) provide a better tool, since they provide an interactive way for searching apartments. You can find the location on the map and know exactly where it is , see photos, and detailed information or even explore the neighbourhood using the StreetView. Having a smart phone like the iPhone or iPad will make the experience even easier, you can find your rental apartment or house on the go while commuting to work or school, or even when you are walking in an area that you liked and decide to look for available vacancies. You are even able to email or phone the landlord right on the spot if you find something that interest you.
  4. Rental agent
    In most places, real estate agents provide a free service to find rentals based on the criteria you provide to them like number of bedrooms, amenities and location. Generally speaking agents are better suited to find houses or condo apartments because they usually get their commission from the landlord, but would not be able to help you if you were looking for an apartment from a property management company.
  5. Inspection
    Once you find a place to rent you need to inspect the property with care. Make sure to have the landlord fix any damages to the property before you make any agreements otherwise you may held responsible for these damages. If possible, try to find out about the landlord from existing tenants(if you know any) or just by searching online for reviews about the property, there are a few review resources available online.
  6. Application
    Fill out the rental application and submit it to the potential landlord. In most cases you are required to have references from previous landlords or relatives before a landlord accepts your application. You may also be required to submit a proof of income and a credit check might be performed on you as well.
  7. Signing the deal
    Depending on the market, some landlord will negotiate the price, especially if they are independent (not property management company). If the price is not negotiable, try to find out if the landlord can include some services or utilities (such as cable TV or internet) in the rent. Once you receive the rental agreement, make sure to inspect the lease in details for things like the security deposit, or the termination notice period. In most regions there are guidelines set by the government to protect both tenants and landlords. Visit the Resources section for province specific related rental resources.
  8. Enjoy your new home!