Many people new to an area choose to rent first while they decide whether the location is right for them or while they save up for the downpayment on their house. Finding a suitable rental can be nearly as trying as finding your dream home, particularly if you have high standards of cleanliness as properties that have been used as rentals for a long period of time do tend to show more signs of wear and tear than a property that has been a much loved home. Here are a few tips for would be renters.

Lets start with something close to our hearts; our furry friends. Most landlords, understandably, request  no pets. Interestingly under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) a landlord cannot evict a tenant on the basis that they have a pet after they have taken up residence. So if your landlord does not want pets, but you move in and subsequently acquire one – he cannot evict you because of the pet.  The tricky thing here though is that you are only covered by the RTA after you are a tenant, while you are looking for a property you are not yet a tenant and the landlord can reject your application if he chooses.  The approach I have taken in this situation is to be upfront with the landlord, explain about the pet and, in every case the landlord has been prepared to make an exception to his rule. It does help if the pet is relatively small and you can convincingly say that it is well behaved. The tenant is responsible for any damage done by the pet and usually for getting the carpets cleaned at the end of their rental period.

A couple of further points to note, if your rental is in a condo apartment building with a no pets policy then that overides the provision of the RTA and the no pets rule stands. Also if the landlord either still lives in the property or is planning on returning when you move out and he has an allergy to animals then he is exempt from the no pet ruling in the RTA. Also if the animal is dangerous or disrupts other people’s enjoyment of their property then the landlord can take action which may result in you being asked to leave.

Now for the financial stuff. Landlords will typically ask for an employment letter, references and a credit check as part of the rental application. As good rentals can get snapped up pretty quickly it is a good idea to have these ready when you go out viewing so, when you find the right place you can act immediately. It is typical to put down the first and last months rent as a deposit which is due upon acceptance of the agreement to lease so make sure you have that money available at the time you offer.

You often see landlords asking for post dated cheques to cover the remainder of the rental term, under the Residential Tenancies Act, they are not permitted to insist on this so if you don’t want to provide them you don’t have to. Having said this, providing post dated cheques is a simple and efficient way of ensuring that your rent is paid on time and so you may choose to accept this payment method.

And finally – Just as in buying a property, there is a great case for using a realtor to help you find your rental. The landlord will be paying a fee to the agent he uses to list and advertise his property, that fee is shared if another realtor finds the tenant, so it will not cost you, the tenant, anything and you will get expert advice and negotiating skills to help you find and secure just the right place.

Full details of the Residential Tenancies Act can be found here

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