Know your rights and responsibilities when renting

467226471To help you through each stage of the rental process, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following tips on how to find the right place to call home, and what you need to know after you move in:The first step in looking for a home is to identify your needs as a renter. What’s your budget? Which neighbourhood do you want to live in? How many bedrooms do you need? What amenities are important to you? If you haven’t already created a list of your needs and preferences, CMHC’s Rental Search Worksheet can help give you a head start.Once you’ve identified what you’re looking for, it’s time to start looking for your new home. There are a number of resources available to help you find a place to rent. These can range from newspapers, apartment listing websites and bulletin boards in local libraries or community centres, to asking friends for recommendations or simply visiting neighbourhoods you like and looking for signs that say “For Rent.” [Ed’s note: And magazines like Renters Guide are a great go-to source!]When you look at a prospective rental, have a list of questions ready to ask the landlord. For example, you may want to know if the rent includes parking or utilities, what type of lease will you be asked to sign, whether or not you can make any changes to the premises, and whether pets or smoking are allowed.When meeting a landlord, try to make a good impression. Dress neatly and arrive on time. Respect the current tenant’s privacy. And make the landlord’s job easier by bringing your rental history and references, a letter from your current employer, and a cheque so you can leave a deposit in case you’re interested in the home.If you will be viewing more than one apartment, write down the key features of each place so you can compare them later. CMHC’s Rental Unit Evaluation Worksheet can help you evaluate your options and make an informed decision.couple packingWhen you rent a place, the landlord will usually ask you to sign a rental agreement, commonly known as a “lease.” Rental agreements vary from one province or territory to another, but they generally include the names of the landlord and tenant, the address of the property, the amount of the rent and what it includes, the date when the rent is due each month, the amount of any security or damage deposits, the term of the rental period, as well as things like who is responsible for maintaining the property, whether there are any restrictions on the tenant, and when and how the landlord can enter the premises. You should know your rights and responsibilities when renting before you sign on the dotted line.Once you’ve signed your lease, it’s time to move in! Moving can be a hectic time. A planning checklist, such as CMHC’s Three Weeks to Moving Day, can help you keep track of all the details, and help make sure your move goes as smoothly as possible.Before you move in, you and your landlord should inspect your new home together. Use an Initial Inspection Worksheet to document everything you notice, so you won’t be held liable for any preexisting damage when you leave.Once you’re living in your new home, make sure you and your landlord are clear on who is responsible for what, especially with issues such as emergency or regular repairs, rent increases, or how to handle any complaints that might arise. In the event of an emergency (such as a leaking roof or broken furnace on a cold winter day), try to contact your landlord or emergency contact at least twice, and give them a reasonable amount of time to respond. If you can’t reach your landlord and have to authorize emergency repairs yourself, make sure to document and keep all paperwork related to the repair for later reimbursement.If a problem arises that you can’t work out directly with your landlord, check with your provincial or territorial rental authority to find out if there are any tenant advocacy groups in your community. Do not withhold rent to pay for repairs, as this can be grounds to have you evicted.When your lease ex177134281pires, you may sign a new lease, or you might shift to a month-to-month lease. Depending on where you live, your landlord could also give notice that they will be increasing your rent. For more information on renewing a lease and rent increases, read the CMHC Provincial and Territorial Fact Sheet for your area.Eventually, the time will come when you’re ready to end your tenancy and move out. When this time comes, you and your landlord will again inspect the property together, to see if any repairs are needed above and beyond the usual “wear and tear.” Your landlord will also have to return any damage or security deposits you paid when you moved in, plus interest.Remember: you may need your old landlord to give you a reference in the future, so do your best to leave under good terms. Give them the proper amount of notice in writing. Make any necessary repairs. Allow the landlord to show the home to potential new tenants. And leave the place in as good a condition as you found it, so the next tenants will be able to enjoy their new home as much as you did.To find out more about renting a home in Canada, visit CMHC’s online Guide to Renting a Home or call 1-800-668-2642. For over 65 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada’s national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing information.

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