Whether you intend on living solo, renting with friends/strangers, or are simply curious about the do’s and don’ts of the rental-sphere – you’ve come to the right place. Housing can be a minefield and adding other people to the mix, well, things can ugly real quick. But, if you arm yourself with my carefully crafted list, you may just get through the rental-sphere unscathed. And maybe, just maybe, you may make a few friends along the way.
1. Landlords take no prisoners – organize your finances
Rule number 1. Unless your parents are your landlords or you are benefitting from some serious ‘mates rates’, it is highly likely that you will have to pay rent. Not only will you have to pay this privilege every month, you will most likely be required to put down a six week security deposit. On your departure, should the property not be as it was found, expect this deposit to return to your account looking considerably leaner.
And if you have been a terrible tenant, then don’t expect anything back at all. Those parties were a really bad idea, on reflection, weren’t they? Make sure you keep on top of your finances and only buy frivolous fashions knowing that your rent is already accounted for. And be good! Future landlords may require a reference from a previous landlord and no one wants to take on a bad tenant.
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2. Vet your Landlord – not all are created equal
Will Ferrell’s hilarious sketch The Landlord sums up everything that can go wrong with a bad landlord. From harassments over money, bad language, intimidation and abuse – the landlord does all this and more in response to her tenants late rental payment. While this is largely for comic value, there is an element of truth.
Be sure that you vet your landlord before you sign on the dotted line. Ask questions – if they’re not able to answer now, then they sure as hell won’t when they’ve got your cash. So be smart and don’t get scammed. Do your research and be confident in this new financial relationship.  If there are red flags then it may be smarter to walk away.
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3. Visit the property – in person
As attractive as the photos may appear on Craig’s list, it is very foolish to put a deposit down on a property that you’ve not seen. We all know the camera lies and there are plenty of scammers out there waiting to take your six week security deposit.
Go to the property – and go with a friend/agent so that you are not alone and potentially in an unsafe environment. Inspect the property – does it have everything the ad details? If not but the landlord says it’s coming, then get this in writing. At this stage you have the upper hand – so take advantage!
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4. Don’t just sign the lease – read and understand it
The lease is a contract between the tenant and the landlord. This is a legally binding document and it’s hugely important that you understand it. Typically there are two types of tenancies – fixed term and periodic. Understand your tenancy and its implications so that you are well informed to know your rights. For example, periodic leases are commonly monthly or weekly which may suit your situation but if you’re looking for stability and a longer lease, then fixed term is the one for you.
Love your furry friend more than life itself? Well make sure the lease allows pets and if it doesn’t then it’s back to the drawing board.  For more information on what to look out for when signing a lease read this informative article from CIBC.
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5. Put your stamp on it
You’re probably two steps ahead and already know that before customizing your new home, you need to check that the lease is OK with you painting a wall and inserting a few nails to hang up your art. Assuming this is the case, then awesome. Create away! If your landlord is less than OK with you recreating Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, then there are other options. Free standing art, lamps, throws, rugs and pillows can all add colour and texture to a room.
So don’t leave your personality at the back door – express yourself and create a space you love coming home to.
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