Genesis Property Management Group Inc.

Phone/Text: 204.619.2295 |

As a renter, it can be intimidating to walk into a rental unit only to have the landlord put a bunch of paperwork in front of you. A rental application, credit check, waiver, and so on. These are common practices in the rental industry, but you do have questions about tenant credit checks and how to manage your credit as a renter.

We’ve heard all the questions: How can I check my credit score? Can I get it for free? And, what qualifies as a good credit score? Whether you are renting in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, or somewhere in between, we are going to demystify tenant credit checks and tell you exactly what you need to know to land your next dream property.

Let’s get started.

An introduction to tenant credit checks

First of all, let’s introduce what a credit score is for those who are unclear. Your credit score is a numerical representation of your credit risk at any given point in time.

The credit reporting agencies – Equifax and TransUnion – employ a sliding scale between 300 and 900. Anything above a 700 is considered a good credit score, whereas anything between 600 and 750 is the consumer average. If you fall below 600, then you have some heavy lifting to do.

lifter weights gym workout

Don’t worry, we’re here to spot you!

Lending institutions, and landlords, use your credit score to determine your creditworthiness  The idea is that the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to pay your bills. In the lending world, this means it’s easier for you to get a loan, with a lower interest rate. In the world of renting, the higher your score the more favorably you’ll be viewed by landlords.

How is your credit score determined? It’s based on your payment history of credit cards, utility and phone bills, loans, car payments, and more. Whoever you are paying these bills to, reports the information to both Equifax and TransUnion. If you’re late on a payment, it is promptly reported and directly affects your credit score.

First and foremost on any landlords mind is whether or not you can afford rent and whether or not you will pay on time. Your credit score is the best way for a landlord to know this information. This is why you need to not only know your tenant credit profile but to nurture it to help ensure you always have the best possible chance to land that new kickass apartment.

Here are a few common questions we hear on a regular basis from renters about tenant credit checks.

How long does a credit check take for renting an apartment, condo or house?

Once a landlord has received your approval, they can apply immediately to receive your credit score. They will require either your date of birth or SIN, but it’s always helpful to provide them with both.

A tenant credit check takes a few minutes online and a report is immediately created for the landlord to view.

If you are serious about a particular property, it’s useful to show up with an updated credit score in hand, so the landlord doesn’t have to do the work. This shows not only that you’re diligent, but that you’re serious about renting their property.

Where to get a credit check in Canada?

You have a lot of options! You can go directly to TransUnion or Equifax to obtain an official copy of your credit score. Typically these reports cost around $20, but they will try and upsell you on monthly credit monitoring products, which aren’t usually necessary. All you need is a one-time credit report.

What if you find an error in your credit score? Such as a credit card you never applied for, or a loan you thought you’d closed. You wouldn’t be the first, according to CBC, 10-33% of Canadians have errors in their credit scores. Simply contact the lending institution to ensure the issue is cleared up.

Can I check my credit report online for free?

Yes! Thankfully for all consumers there are powerful platforms out there that will give you a free personalized credit score. Our favorite is Credit Karma.

Credit Karma is a portal where Canadians can check their credit report online for free.

Once you sign up, you have the option to get an update every single week. Plus, they provide financial education to help you improve your credit profile. Unfortunately for the moment, Credit Karma is not available in Quebec, Nunavut, the Yukon, or the Northwest Territories.

Following the sign-up, you will immediately get a credit score dashboard similar to this:

As this is not an ‘official’ tenant credit check from Equifax or TransUnion, landlords may not accept it, and conduct their own due diligence  That said, many may accept this, and at the very least you are aware of your credit score and it shows the landlord you are proactive.

So what do apartment credit checks look for?

As a landlord, they want to know if you’re conscientious with your finances and if you’ll pay on time. A tenant credit check will tell them if you have any delinquent payments, bankruptcies, or any other financial missteps on your record.

Apartment credit checks look for the following information

  • Your payment habits
  • You have any bankruptcies
  • Your current debt load (which is a reflection on your ability to pay rent)
  • You pay debt accounts on time

Now, it’s worth noting that everyone makes mistakes; forgets to make a payment on time, or maybe even went through a rough patch. That’s OK! Make sure to discuss it up front with the landlord. There’s no shame in saying, “Hey, about the tenant credit check, I went through a divorce a few years ago which did a number on my financial situation, I wanted to tell you this upfront when it comes time for the credit check.”

Or, “I tried starting a business and it didn’t go as planned so I had to declare bankruptcy.”

This type of honesty goes a long way with potential landlords.

How to rent an apartment with bad credit?

Well, it depends on why you have bad credit. The best advice is to be open and honest with the landlord about why you have bad credit.

Did you have a divorce? Bankruptcy? Failed business? Credit card problems? Spent 6 months in jail for fraud? Other than that last one, it’s unlikely that a landlord won’t have a reasonable discussion with you about your unique situation. Be sure to emphasize what you are doing to rectify the situation.

If you do have bad credit, you should do everything you can to change your financial situation. All it takes is a little education. More on this later.

If you have a serious problem with spending and debt, it should be your priority to find a local debt or credit counsellor who can guide you. A simple Google search can help with this.

How to check your credit score at TD, BMO, CIBC, RBC, and Scotiabank

Most major banks will be able to conduct a credit check on your behalf. You can go into your local branch to ask if they will conduct a credit check on your behalf. This you can then bring with you during your apartment search. Here are some resources that are bank-specific that can help.

How strict are apartment credit checks?

Typically, landlords want to know that you’re diligent with your finances, and a tenant credit score gives them a window into that. If you have a terrible score, it could affect your ability to rent an apartment. That said, if you have a unique situation, then discuss it with your landlord up-front; honesty is always the best way to deal with this type of issue.

If you tell them up-front, then the landlord won’t be caught off guard when the credit check stage comes about.

For the most part, if your credit score is 600 or above, you won’t have a problem renting unless you have a large debt load that will affect your ability to pay to advertised rent. If you have a decent income, then most people think they won’t have a problem renting an apartment.

If however, a landlord see’s on your tenant credit check that you have well over $100,000 in credit card debt, they may think twice. Even though you pay on time, meaning your credit score is good, the sheer amount of consumer debt can scare off some landlords.

How old do you have to be to get a credit check?

Typically, unless you are a parent or guardian, you cannot request a credit check for someone under the age of 18. In most cases, this is the when you can start applying for credit products, so below this age, you are unlikely to even have a credit score.

But, it never hurts to start building a good credit score as soon as you can. Get yourself a low-limit credit card and pay it off diligently every month. This will help build your positive credit profile for down the road when you need to show a lender or landlord that you have a good credit profile.

What are some of the top credit score myths?

Credit scores can be difficult to understand if you don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. Here are a few myths to debunk in your mind about credit scores:

  1. You can’t control your credit score.
  2. If you check your score, it will negatively impact it.
  3. If you pay only in cash then it’s better for your credit score.
  4. I can boost my credit score by not using credit cards.
  5. Any time someone checks my credit score, it negatively impacts it.
  6. My income affects my credit score.
  7. There’s only one type of credit score out there.
  8. Only check your credit score if you’ve run into financial problems.
  9. If I’ve co-signed for a loan, it won’t affect my credit score.

What are the best ways to improve my credit score?

In order to improve your credit score don’t take on too much debt, particularly high-interest credit card debt, and make your payments on time. Here are a few other steps to improving your credit score.

  • Tip #1: Always pay off high-interest credit cards on time.
  • Tip #2: If possible, eliminate your credit card debt.
  • Tip #3: …But don’t tear up those cards! Keep at least one or two.
  • Tip #4: If you see an error on your credit report, get on the phone and solve it.
  • Tip #5: Have credit cards, but don’t use them for everything. Use a healthy mix of debit, cash, and credit.
  • Tip #6: Don’t avoid higher credit card limits, just never use them.
  • Tip #7: Set calendar reminders to pay all your bills on time.
  • Tip #8: Pay off bills and/or credit cards twice, instead of once, a month. If you get a paycheck twice monthly, this is a good time to pay bills.

Final thoughts on tenant credit checks

As a renter, you want to put your best foot forward when dealing with landlords and looking for your ideal place to live. It’s important to not only know your credit score, but to improve it at every possible chance. Be proactive by regularly checking your credit score with a free service like Credit Karma, and think ahead when viewing properties by bringing with you a copy of your credit score.

If you follow the tips contained in this article, you will be well on your way to securing the apartment of your dreams, on favorable terms.


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Do you fall into the heroic tidier category? Do you launch into frenzied cleanup mode every few months — only to watch your newly sparkling home slide back into messiness? Build these three simple habits and your home will be comfortably organized before you know it.

1. Think small for organizing success

• Empty the dishwasher.
• Clean a toilet.
• Move dirty clothes from floor to laundry hamper.
• Organize one drawer.

It’s surprising how much you can do in a five-minute tidying microburst. Set your smartphone or kitchen timer, then turn into a cleaning dervish until the bell signals your five minutes are up.

You can: Start with a morning and evening microburst cleanup for your first month. Just 10 minutes of dedicated daily attention adds up quickly, rewarding you with a home you’ll feel proud of! Once it’s become an effortless habit, add another microburst at a different point in the day. You could use it to keep your desk free from clutter or your email inbox under control.

2. Think now

The best way to prevent “mess creep” is to stop the pile from getting started. Once it reaches a certain point, it takes too much energy to tackle the mess. Reclaim your home by building a habit that deals with small tasks immediately.

Interrupt your mess cycle. Is coffee, cereal and a newspaper your morning habit? Put the mug and bowl straight into the dishwasher and the newspaper into the recycling bin. Did prepping dinner leave the kitchen floor dirty? Then sweep it immediately (keep a broom or mini-vacuum handy).

At first, it takes effort. But in just a few weeks, tidying as you go will be on its way to becoming an ingrained habit. No more giant mess clusters in your home.

3. Think specific (clean zones)

Does the thought of trying to clean and organize your entire home immobilize you with panic? Relax. Don’t even try. Pick one spot and mentally declare it a clean zone. Maybe it’s just a third of your desk, one closet, or the vegetable section in the fridge.

Once you’ve decided on a location, clean it up (this shouldn’t take more than an hour). Now do whatever it takes to keep it that way, such as throw things out, create storage and use it and wipe down this self-declared clean zone regularly. It will soon become habit and you can declare a new clean zone (while maintaining the old one).

Elena, a busy mother of two teenagers, declared her home’s entry way a clean zone. She explains, “The mess of shoes, purses, keys and scarves drove me crazy. I bought a small chest of drawers for the entry and gave each of us a drawer. Then I laid down the law. Instead of dumping stuff on the floor, everyone has to put it in their own drawer. No more massive clutter!”

She also uses microbursts. “As soon as any mess built up at the door, I gave them five minutes to get it cleaned up and put away in the right spot! Over time, I moved this idea through the house. I let the girls keep their own rooms as messy as they like, but now I come home and relax, instead of feeling like I need to clean up.”

Tip: If you find yourself slipping out of your new, helpful habits, focus on just one of them for a month and then rebuild the rest of them. You’ll find it much easier to get into the clutter-buster habit the second time around.

— Smartmoves, Canada Post.

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Just as it’s no simple feat to find your soul mate, it can be equally challenging to score a sofa that ticks all the boxes for quality, style, and comfort. And that’s before taking your significant other’s opinion into account.

A recent study found that one-quarter of couples get frustrated when furniture shopping with their partner. The same survey found that 15% actively avoid going to the furniture store altogether if it can be avoided.

Snuggle up, because we’ve got tips that’ll help you shop with your partner to choose a new sofa that makes you both happy.

Find the right fit — for both of you

Even if you and your significant other are prone to disagreements, you can’t dispute the hard facts of room dimensions. Remember this rule above all others: Measure your space before you go shopping. (And then measure again.)

There’s nothing worse than getting your heart set on a sofa that ultimately won’t fit in the space and have to start all over.

And when you break out the measuring tape, make sure you do it together so you agree on the measurements — this will quash any fight over who didn’t measure properly.

Aside from taking measurements of the sofa’s final destination, you should also measure doorways, stairways, and hallways to make sure you can get your new sofa in your condo, around corners, and into the desired space.

Do a little online sleuthing

Before you step foot in a furniture showroom, sit down with your sweetheart and assess your options online. This preshopping exercise will ensure you both have an idea of what a sofa costs — and allow each of you to discuss frankly how much you’re willing to spend. (Don’t forget to factor in delivery fees!)

Starting online also gives you a crash course on the variety of sofa options available, including sectionals and sleepers. Plus, retailers such as Crate & Barrel share dimensions for furniture online so you’ll know whether a sofa will fit your space before you go to a showroom. Send, pin, and share ideas about the kind of sofas you like with your partner.

Decide on your sofa vibe

“A sofa is just one piece of the design puzzle,” notes Beverly Solomon of Beverly Solomon Design. “A couple should first have a clear idea of how they want their living space to look and feel, as well as the image they want to project.”

So if he wants a comfy, overstuffed sofa ideal for football Sundays, you might need to remind him it doesn’t jibe with your home’s midcentury aesthetic. It can be a fraught discussion, but make sure your decor preferences are aligned.

Lay out your lounging style

Consider how a new sofa will be used on a daily basis, including how you and your partner prefer to lounge around. Love to doze off on the couch? A firm sofa with deep button tufts might not be the best pick.

Then, pull out that measuring tape again because you’ll want to consider the depth and height of the sofa seat.

“A sofa should fit the person with the shortest leg length for proper seat depth and seat height,” advises interior designer Steven C. Adamako of Spectrum Interiors.

Keep in mind seat cushion materials play a factor as well. Soft cushions will cause you to sink into a seat more than a firm cushion. A lower seat height can offset a deeper seat depth to help ensure good back support.

Think about who’s going to clean it

There’s form, and then there’s fabric — which is a key factor to consider if you have kids, pets, or just generally plan to use the sofa on a daily basis.

“Pay close attention to the durability and washability of the fabric you choose,” Harris says. An argument about who’s cleaning (or refusing to clean) the new sofa might mean someone might be sleeping on it.

Engineered fabrics such as indoor-outdoor upholstery have come a long way. They’re easy to clean, and many are as supple as indoor fabrics. Protectant sprays (e.g., Scotchgard) can also help keep your new sofa clean.

Canoodle to test comfort

Your partner is the center of your life, and your new sofa will be the centerpiece of your living space. When shopping together, don’t hesitate to spend time sitting, lounging, and stretching out on floor models. Give your bodies time to sink into a sofa and evaluate the feel of the fabric.

Keep in mind that a sofa may feel like the right fit in the showroom, then lose its comfort and appeal halfway into a Netflix binge. With this in mind, do a deep dive into the company’s return policy so you’re not stuck with a dud.

Shop as a team (the same team)

To make it as a team in life, you must first make it past the hurdles of furniture shopping. Neither partner should feel snubbed, unheard, or disappointed.

Set a budget, educate yourselves on options, and get excited about (don’t just settle on) a brand-new sofa to feather your nest.

And remember: You probably didn’t find your partner on the first go, so don’t feel pressured to find a sofa you both love on your first shopping trip.

Source:  /  By Erin Gifford

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There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to buying a property and then renting it out. Talk to an accountant, lawyer, mortgage broker or other financial expert about how it may affect your taxes and financial situation.

3 key advantages

1. You pay less tax

You can deduct certain expenses from your income – reducing the taxes you owe. The list includes:

  • mortgage interest
  • property taxes
  • insurance
  • maintenance/upgrades
  • property management
  • utility bills (if you include them in the rent).

2. You may be able to deduct losses for tax purposes

If your expenses exceed your rental income, you may be able to deduct that loss from any other sources of income you have. This could reduce your total tax bill.

3. You get a regular monthly income

Other kinds of investments may pay out less often or income may be less predictable.

As a landlord, you can deduct certain property expenses from your income – reducing the taxes you owe. If your expenses exceed your rental income, you may be able to deduct that loss from any other sources of income you have.

3 key disadvantages

1. You take on the responsibilities and challenges of a landlord

Rental units need repair – sometimes on an emergency basis. Dealing with tenants can be challenging, especially if they don’t pay their rent on time and cash flow is tight. If you hire a property manager to take care of these things for you, their salary is an added cost.

2. It may be difficult and costly to sell the property later

Real estate is not a liquid investment. That means it can take time to sell, depending on market conditions. It can also be costly to sell due to real estate and legal fees.

3. It may be difficult to finance the purchase

You must have a down payment of at least 20% when you buy a second property. You may need a mortgage. And, you will have high monthly expenses to cover when you own a building. Of course, you hope the income you receive from your tenants will cover this.


  1. Pay less tax.
  2. Deduct losses for tax purposes.
  3. Get a regular monthly income.


You must have a down payment of at least 20% when buying a second or additional property. And you’ll have high monthly expenses to cover.

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The 2019 rent increase guideline is 2.2 percent, effective January 1, 2019.

Tenants must be given proper written notice at least three months before a rent increase takes effect (ex. if a landlord wants to increase the rent on January 1, a tenant must receive the notice on or before September 30).  A notice to increase rent must meet the requirements of The Residential Tenancies Act.  The branch provides Notice of Rent Increase forms for landlords to use, as an electronic form submission or in fill and print format. In most circumstances, rents can only be increased once a year.

The rent increase guideline for 2019 is set using a transparent method, outlined in the Residential Rent Regulation. The guideline is determined based on the percentage change in the average annual “All-Items” Consumer Price Index(Manitoba only) data, which is published by Statistics Canada.

For an explanation of how the annual rent increase guideline is calculated, click here.  The guideline applies to most rented residential apartments, single rooms, houses and duplexes.  Some units are exempt from Part 9 of The Residential Tenancies Act and do not have to follow the annual rent increase guideline. These are:

  • units renting for $1,510 or more per month as of December 31, 2018; 
  • personal care homes; 
  • approved rehabilitated rental units;
  • new buildings less than 15 years old where an occupancy permit was first issued or a unit was first occupied after April 9, 2001; and
  • new buildings less than 20 years old where an occupancy permit was first issued or a unit was first occupied after March 7, 2005.

Tenants can object to any increase in rent regardless of whether it is at, below or above the guideline.

Landlords can apply for a larger increase if they can demonstrate that the guideline amount will not cover cost increases they have incurred.

The economic adjustment factor for 2019 is 1.4%. The economic adjustment factor helps to offset the costs of inflation.

Source: Residential Tenancies Branch

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Do you dream of owning an investment property? Maybe even several? The idea of a steady monthly income is appealing, and today’s low interest rates and rising real estate prices make the idea even more attractive. Investing in a rental property can be profitable, but it’s not without risks

Advantages of owning a rental property

  • Regular monthly income. Rent collected, minus your expenses, means a steady, predictable cash flow.
  • Appreciation. While you can’t guarantee that the price of your property will increase, historically, real estate does appreciate over time.
  • Tax deduction. You can deduct certain expenses from your gross rental income, including mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, property management and utility bills (unless the utilities are your tenant’s responsibility). If your expenses exceed your rental income, you may also be able to deduct this loss from any other sources of income you have, provided you have a reasonable expectation of profit.

Disadvantages of owning a rental property

  • Responsibilities of being a landlord. You’ll have to deal with repairs (sometimes on an emergency basis), difficult tenants and collecting rent. You can hire a property manager to handle most of these responsibilities, but this will cut into your monthly income.
  • Selling is not always easy. Depending on market conditions, it can be tricky to sell real estate, especially rental property. And you’ll need to factor in the costs of a real estate agent and legal fees.
  • Routine and unexpected expenses. Owning a property can be expensive. Aside from your down payment and mortgage, the cost of utilities, maintenance, repairs and upgrades really add up. Budget 2% of the purchase price of your property for maintenance and repairs. You’ll also need a rainy day fund to cover operating costs if your property is vacated and you don’t find new tenants immediately.
  • Rental income is taxable. Your net rental income is included in your taxable income for the year. What’s more, this extra taxable income might make you subject to a higher marginal tax rate, which would have you paying more tax on every additional dollar earned. The additional income could also reduce your entitlement for government benefits such as Old Age Security.

Seven Tips When Buying Rental Property

If you’ve ever wanted to unleash your inner real estate mogul, consider these tips before jumping into the investment property market.

  • Get your finances in order. Determine what you can afford to buy. Canada’s mortgage rules dictate that you must come up with a minimum down payment of 20 per cent for a small rental property (i.e., one to four units). This minimum does not apply if you occupy part of the property.
  • Assemble a team. Buying a rental property takes a team of professionals, a financial advisor, real estate representative, lawyer, mortgage specialist, appraiser, home inspector and insurance agent.
  • Research average rents and ideal locations. Do some research on the area you’re considering. You’re best to buy where there is good job and population growth. Find out what the going rents are.
  • Choose an appropriate mortgage.  Your financial advisor will help you find the right mortgage solution to fit your financial needs.
  • Don’t forget about insurance. Like your home, a rental property is a valuable asset. Choosing the proper insurance solution can protect your property from the financial impact of an unforeseen event. Your financial Advisor can help you settle on an appropriate insurance solution.
  • Consider hiring a property manager. Not everyone has time to respond to requests for repairs—especially emergency situations. While the cost of hiring a property manager—usually 8%-10% of your rent revenue—will cut into your monthly income, it will also reduce your stress level.
  • Educate yourself on landlord-tenant laws. Good tenants are hard to find. A property manager will market your property and screen potential tenants, but if you’re going it alone, you’ll need to get up to speed on what your rights are.
( Don't forget to call us for all of your Property Management needs!! )

Crunching the Numbers

Of course, you’ll want to consider the bottom line: Is buying an investment property worth it?

Start by creating a cash flow statement for the property. To do this, you’ll need to identify all the costs of ownership, including mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, utilities and property management fees, if applicable. Now, estimate how much rental income you will receive, then subtract the identified expenses. The difference is your net rental income, which is subject to income tax. Once the taxes have been paid, your final number will show either a positive cash flow (you’re making money) or a negative cash flow (you’re losing money).

Keep in mind, this is a very basic calculation and doesn’t take into account the costs of general maintenance, repairs—both emergency and routine—and property improvements.

Owning investment property can be lucrative, but it requires research and planning. 


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When you are viewing a house to rent rather than buy, you're not just looking at a pile of bricks and mortar - remember that it could be your home for the foreseeable future.

Of course you will have an instant emotional reaction, but you should balance this with a rational assessment of living there, including the local area and amenities, the condition of the property both inside and out and any associated costs.

Your own priorities will vary depending on whether you're viewing houses, flats, studio flats or just rooms, but this checklist should act as a basic guide to help keep all your bases covered.

Viewing checklist 1: The outside

  • Is the outside of the property in good condition?

  • Is the property secure - including windows and external doors (check the quality of the locks)? Is there an entry-phone system and burglar alarm? And has it ever been burgled or damaged?

  • Is there a garden? And who is responsible for the maintenance?

  • What is the local area like? Are your preferred amenities and transport links within easy reach?

  • Are there any potential nuisances or red flags - passing traffic noise, a nearby nightclub, situated right on a busy corner?
  • What are the neighbours like?

Viewing checklist 2: The inside

  • Are there signs of damp, flaking paint or infestations of any kind?

  • Are repairs required?
  • Is any furniture unsafe, broken or damaged in any way?

  • Is there central heating? Do all the radiators function properly? Is there air conditioning?

  • Is there hot water, and good water pressure?

  • Is it properly insulated, draught-free, and double-glazed?

  • Is there enough storage space?

  • Is there any sign of dodgy wiring, loose wires or faulty plugs or lights?

  • Do kitchen appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers work?

  • Are there enough kitchen cupboards and work surfaces?

  • Are pots, pans and kitchen equipment in good condition? (if the home comes furnished)

  • Are the bedrooms adequately heated? Are there curtains?

  • Check the bathroom(s) and make sure taps are not leaking. Does the shower work properly?

  • Does the toilet flush and do the bath and sinks drain adequately?
  • Are the sealants around the bath and shower intact?

  • Are you allowed to redecorate?

  • Are there enough electrical and telephone points, and are they in the right places for your needs?

Viewing checklist 3: Safety checks

  • Do all appliances function safely? 

  • Do the mainfloor windows have locks?

  • Is there an alarm?
  • Is there a fire blanket and fire extinguisher in the kitchen?
  • Are there carbon monoxide detectors present (a carbon monoxide alarm is legally required in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance)?
  • Are there enough smoke alarms? Do they work?

  • Is there an easy means of escape in the event of a fire?

Viewing checklist 4: Financial considerations 

  • How much is the rent and what is included?

  • What other bills are there and what are you liable to pay? 

  • How much of a deposit is required? What are the conditions for the landlord deducting money from the deposit?

  • What are the estimated running costs of the property?

  • Can you comfortably afford the rent on top of the deposit and running costs?

Viewing checklist 5: General considerations if you decide to proceed

  • If anything needs to be repaired, ask the landlord in writing.

  • If the landlord agrees to make repairs, ask them to agree it in writing.

  • Double-check the inventory before you move in.

  • Get a copy of the tenancy agreement and make sure you fully understand it.

  • Keep your own signed copy of the tenancy agreement.

  • Ask previous tenants about their experience of the landlord and the property.

  • Check and note all meter readings on the day you move in.
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Every real estate investor will ask themselves this question at some point. There a few factors that usually push investors one way or the other. Take these items into consideration:

Size of portfolio - How many properties do you own? The larger the number the more difficult it becomes to manage. If you are not willing to devote increasing amounts of time to managing your properties, and do not want your investment options to be restricted to what you can personally manage then you might want to consider using a property management company

Location of properties - The further they are from you and the further they are from each other the more time you spend traveling to each the higher the likelihood you will not keep as close of an eye on each property as is needed. Additionally, if you have considered buying property in other parts of the country, or other countries, you will likely be forced to hire a property manager in that area (landlording from afar is generally a bad idea).

Experience - Landlording requires a number of distinct skills that you may or may not have experience with. Things like maintenance and repairs, understanding of landlord tenant law, book keeping, marketing, etc. If you have previous experience in any of these areas you will have a leg up, if all these things are new to you it can be a lot to take on at the same time. While many landlords learn these skills and self manage the reality is that a professional manager will always have the advantage over part time landlords because they have years of experience performing these tasks on a daily basis.

Willingness to deal with stress - Some say good landlords are born others say they are made. Either way it takes a special kind of person to be able to handle dealing with tenants. You may consider yourself a tolerant or thick skinned person, but ask yourself how you would deal with the following scenarios:

  • Domestic disputes
  • Tenants damaging your unit
  • Getting sued by your tenant
  • Habitual late payment of rent
  • Tenants disturbing or getting in fights with the neighbors
  • Dealing with a professional tenant
  • Overzealous maintenance requests
  • Dealing with someone who is angry or just generally difficult

Does this stuff happen all the time? No, but when it does it has to be dealt with a in efficient and professional manner. If you feel like you can handle the stress these situations would present, and you think doing so is worth saving on the management fees then it may be in your best interest to manage your own properties.

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It’s a common scenario: a resident has moved out of a rental home, leaving the property a mess or damaged. On top of the necessary cleaning the house badly needs, you discover that interior elements like the carpets and walls have sustained damage beyond normal wear and tear. Frustrated, you may console yourself with the thought that your resident is responsible for the cost of the repairs.

Or are they?

Depending on how long ago you installed the carpet or painted the walls, they may not be responsible to pay for or replace anything.

Who is responsible to pay for repairing damaged interiors depends almost entirely upon the “useful life” of the damaged item. Home interiors are made up of many elements that have a range of life expectancies. Paint, carpet, and other flooring wear out over time, and so their useful life can be quite short. This is particularly true for rental homes, as the standard number of years is shortened when the home is lived in by multiple occupants not just one family.

Most carpets used in rental homes have a useful life of about five years. If your resident manages to damage the carpet within the first five years after the date of installation, they may be responsible for the pro-rated share of the cost of replacement, or for cleaning costs if the carpet is simply very dirty.

But if the carpet is older than five years and needs to be replaced, chances are that no matter how negligent your resident has been, the courts will almost always rule in their favor. Generally speaking, if the damaged carpet is over five years old, you probably won’t be able to make a convincing case that your resident is responsible for the repairs. If that is true, then you will bear the full cost of repairs yourself.

The best course of action is to replace the carpet in your rental home on a regular basis. It’s also important to do regular property evaluations to monitor the condition of the property, including the carpets and other interior features. At Real Property Management, we take a proactive approach to property maintenance and repair. That means that we will work with you and your resident to keep a close eye on the property, complete necessary maintenance when needed, and inform you to replace worn items when their useful life is over.


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When you’re a renter, you have more flexibility in moving and deciding where to live. There are other pros—and cons—of renting, though, so here are our top 10 tips to make life as a renter easier.


10. Don’t Let Poor Credit Limit Your Ability to Rent

Poor or no credit can make renting an apartment more difficult, but it’s not impossible if you come armed with things like a letter of recommendation from former landlords or agreeing to a larger security deposit. Then you can work on improving your credit (even without credit cards). Regular rent payments can help improve your credit history too.

9. Choose Between a Managed Property or Renting from a Landlord

Managed communities and individual landlords both have their pros and cons. With a management company, it’s easy to contact someone if there’s a problem and there’s a maintenance staff to help you out. With an individual landlord, however, you have more neighborhood options and more room to negotiate rent. Either way, pay close attention to who you’re renting from so you don’t end up in a difficult relationship.

8. Start Your Apartment Search with the Right Tools

These days we have tons of tools to help you find the perfect next place to live. The five most popular ones among Lifehacker readers? PadMapper/Craigslist, Hotpads, Lovely, Tulia, and WalkScore. When you’ve found a potential place, ask the right questions to make sure it’s a good fit (talk to neighbors, ask the landlord about maintenance requests, and so on). Bring along some essential documents if you find a place you want to grab right away.

7. Upgrade Your Rental Without Pissing Off the Landlord

When you rent, you’re usually prohibited from making major changes to the place, but you can still customize just about every room without upsetting your landlord. Add more storage organization in the kitchen, for example, or replace ceiling light covers and light switch covers. Bathroom fixtures, such as towel bars and mirrors, can also be easily replaced (and taken with you when you move), quickly changing the look of your bathroom.

6. Know Your Rights as a Tenant

As one landlord advised us, your state likely has a tenants’ rights handbook available online. This will tell you what your rights are and services that might be available to you if your renting situation gets bad. This is especially important if you’re a first-time renter and don’t know the ins and outs of renting yet and how to hold your landlord accountable if something goes wrong.

5. Pretend That You’re Buying a Home When Hunting for an Apartment

If you plan on renting for even a few years, the condition of the building will matter to you, so you might want to think as if you’re buying the place to make sure you really want to live there. For example, you could ask questions like if there’s lead paint on the walls and how old the appliances are. Thinking like a homeowner can also help you save more money: If your mortgage payment would be greater than your rent, take the difference and invest it.

4. Know How to Deal with Noisy Neighbors and Difficult Roommates

Unfortunately, you can’t choose your neighbors. If yours make too much noise, send them a subtle message or contact management if need be. If you’re sharing a pad with roommates, you’ll want to make sure early on that you’re compatible and set some ground rules to make living together easier. (If worse comes to worst, you can evict them, so to speak.) Let’s assume that your roommates (or future roommates) aren’t terrible, though, and you do want to live with them. Split the rent and divvy up the rooms fairly with this calculator.

3. Save Space (Even in a Tiny Apartment)

Many apartments, especially in big cities, don’t offer a ton of living or storage space. Simple storage hacks, like raising your bed to get more storage space or using over-the-door shoe hangers to store just about everything, can go a long way in even a small place. Also, command hooks can do wonders in a home.

2. Save Money on Rent by Moving at the Right Time

Spring and summer offer more rental space options, but there’s also more competition for renters. Winter, while offering less choice, is a slower season for apartment hunting, so landlords might be more open to negotiating the monthly rent. There might not be one absolute “best” time to shop for an apartment, but if you know the neighborhood and how scarce apartments for rent are, you can plan when to look for a new place accordingly.

1. Avoid a Rent Increase and Negotiate Your Rent

One last thing you can’t control as a renter: The rent. Or can you? Rent prices are all over the map and rising across the country, but landlords still want to retain good renters like yourself. Exchange something you don’t care a lot about for a decrease in rent or to prevent a rent increase, things like: a longer lease or prepaying the rent months in advance. You might also convince a landlord not to raise your rent by reminding him or her how good of a tenant you are, both in terms of paying on time and being low maintenance.


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Renters insurance   also called home and contents insurance   covers your belongings from theft and damage. It provides liability coverage if someone is injured while in your apartment. Part of that liability coverage, which is typically about $2,000, is to pay the injured person's medical bills. It can also pay for any lawyer fees and settlements.

Renters insurance will pay for the loss of use of your apartment, meaning you can receive payment to stay in a hotel or other place if your apartment is damaged by a fire, storm or other covered event. It covers your belongings while off premises, which means your belongings are covered while you are traveling or if you leave them in your car. For example, if your laptop is stolen from your car or if your luggage is stolen while on vacation, you can file a claim and receive payment.

There are a few broad reasons for you to purchase contents insurance. They include theft of your belongings and damage to your belongings caused by fire, lightning, windstorms, hail, explosions, smoke, vandalism and plumbing leaks. Let's review a few specific scenarios that emphasize the top reasons to purchase renters insurance.


If you have a computer, you know how valuable it is for storing data, running applications, scrolling the web and entertainment purposes such as streaming video. The documents, data, photos and videos you keep on your computer are irreplaceable. Most renters insurance offers a standard payout, often replacement value, if your computer is stolen or damaged. If you feel you need additional coverage, you can purchase an endorsement, or extra coverage, for your computer, as well as other items such as jewelry, silverware, firearms, business personal property and almost anything you want to insure.


You come home one evening and fire trucks and firefighters are wrapping up hoses and stowing their firefighting gear on the fire truck parked outside your apartment building. Your neighbor fell asleep with a lit cigarette. Your apartment did not burn, but it and everything in it   including your clothes   were damaged by smoke. Renters insurance can pay you for your loss and pay for a place to stay while the damage is repaired.

Water Damage

A pipe bursts in your ceiling while you're at work and pours water onto your great grandmother's Stickley rocking chair. The leather upholstery is ruined. It's a notable antique and worth a pretty penny. Your renters insurance will pay to repair the rocker. It's important to have renters insurance because your landlord's insurance doesn't usually cover your personal belongings.

Personal Injury

While visiting your apartment to introduce herself, your nosy neighbor who plays her music too loud and can't seem to park between the lines in the parking garage slips on some raspberry yogurt and knocks herself unconscious. She hits her head on the counter and needs a few stitches. Your renters insurance will cover your liability for her injuries. It typically provides liability coverage from $100,000 to $500,000, which is ample. If you desire more, or less, you can purchase up to $2 million or as little as $50,000 in liability coverage.


Renters insurance is affordable and worthwhile. You can get renters insurance quotes online, which makes shopping for this must-have insurance simple and easy. If your belongings are stolen, damaged or destroyed by fire, storms, smoke, vandalism or other covered causes, renters insurance provides you with peace of mind because you know they'll be replaced.


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The dream of home ownership is one that is swiftly becoming unattainable for many Australians, leaving them with no option but to rent. Although technically your place of residence, renting can sometimes mean living in a space that never really feels like home, especially if you’re struggling with an incredibly outdated space that’s in desperate need of a makeover. Here’s a few tips to get you started on making your rental feel like home, without risking your bond.

Work with what you’ve got

Once you get into your new place, take stock of the visual situation. What colour are the walls? What kind of flooring do you have? Is there plenty of natural light? Once you know what you’ve got, spend some time researching interior trends and see which one your current property most lends itself to. If you’re lucky enough to end up with white walls and timber floors, the world is your oyster. If you’ve been left with a sea of cream, beige and brown, a monochromatic modern style might suit your space. Or, you can brighten it up with complementary shades such as dusty pink. Working with a retro palette? Go with the flow and employ a bohemian vibe.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Don’t be afraid to put questions to your landlord, the worst they can say is no. Ask about installing a couple of shelves, using adhesive wall hooks or even painting a wall here or there. You can negotiate by agreeing to return it to the original colour at the end of your tenancy, or find a colour palette you and the property owner can agree on.

Maximise every space available to you

Just because you can’t have hooks in the walls doesn’t mean you can’t have mirrors or art works around your space. Large floor mirrors that can be propped against walls or stand freely are a great option for creating the illusion of space. Utilise existing shelves, mantelpieces or picture railings to lean or hang mirrors and art from.

Make it personal

If you have a couple of big bookshelves with enough space to style up little scenes with your trinkets and treasures, now it the best time to do it. It’ll put things you love on display, speak to your personality and make the space feel lived-in.

Rethink the flooring

If you’re unfortunate enough to end up with threadbare carpet straight from the eighties, an entirely tiled floor or draughty floorboards, pick up some large rugs to disguise the eye-sore or reduce the coldness of the space, visually and physically.

Experiment with lighting

Most rentals have the most basic, lacklustre downlights possible. Create some ambience with good-looking lighting like statement floor lamps, desk lamps, candles and other ambient lighting options.

Use your greenthumb

Just because you don’t own the place doesn’t mean you can’t have a garden. Pick up some hardy indoor plants or start your own portable garden bed on your balcony. If space is lacking, try window sill-sized gardens for herbs.

Dress those windows

Dreadful curtains are one of the easiest things to replace, yet they seem to remain attached through endless tenancies. If you end up with some drab window-wear head over to Ikea, Spotlight or Lincraft and pick yourself up some simple, neutral coloured curtains in a shade that will elevate the space.

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If you've got a little under-used space in your home and need to make some extra money, chances are you've considered renting it out to a friend in need or maybe to an out-of-town student.

Some people call them income suites or secondary suites, but granny suite is probably the most popular term.

There are a couple of ways of doing this - the legal way, and the not-so-legal way.

The no-so-legal way is simply giving your new tenant a key a letting them move all of their stuff in, in exchange for some post dated cheques. That extra cash will help you cover some of your living expenses, including your mortgage, utilities or your telecommunications bill.

The legal way requires getting some building and zoning permits ,and perhaps even alittle bit of renovation work. Ken Clark, president of WinnipegREALTORS® and a REALTOR®, said WinnipegREALTORS®' official position is that any agent listing a property that advertises a suite should be "very careful" that its zoning and allowed use are on side.

"Some of these suitesare not compliant," he said. "If you're advertising a property as a certain use, say a basement suite for rental, and it doesn't comply with zoning and use bylaws, that's false advertising."

For example, if your tenant is going to be able to cook in your extra suite, whether it's in your basement or on top of your garage, they can't simply fire up a Coleman stove or even an Easy Bake Oven. You've got to ensure the elctrical, plumbing, mechanical and ventilation systems are installed to code first.

"it's a preservation of life issue. You don;t want to sell a property to somebody when there's a risk to life and limb," he said.

Clark estimates it could cost homeowners from $5,000 to $7,500 to bring their granny suite up to code, including proper windows and smoke protection.

"It's not inexpensive but it's protecting human life. It's irrelevant what the costs are if you're going to harm someone," he said.

Clark admits that it would be immpossible to go door-to-door throughout the city to check on every possible not-to-code income suite. In certain parts of the city, however, there have been some pretty obvious hints.

"The property would change hands and the new owner would start renting out parts of the basement and there would be six or seven cars in the driveway. Usually it's the neighbours that notice the change and call the city," he said.

There are also strict privacy laws that need to be adhered to, so unless there's a complaint ,the authorities are limited in what they can do.

"You hope that the property owners follow the rules. The risk to them is if somethign happens, like the basement catches on fire and there aren't mulitiple means of getting out, the risk to the owner is huge," he said.

Granny suites became a news item back in 2011 when the provincial government announced a number of initiatives in support of them. Peter Squire Vice-President of External Affairs and Market Intelligence at WinnipegREALTORS®, said it did a position paper in favour of them because they were needed to help with the city's super-tight rental market.

"Back in 2010, we had one of the tightest housing markets in the country. Our vacancy rate was below one per cent in Winnipeg and other communities in the province. One of the solutions was allowing secondary suites within homes," he said, noting the vacancy rate has since bumped up to about three per cent.

"The city is embarking on a residential infill strategy now. How do we build more density in our city? Secondary suites are seen as one of the ways of doing that."

Source: Winnipeg Real Estate News

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It’s a question that arises sooner or later for most landlords: “Should I manage my own rentals, or outsource the work?”

Keeping on top of rental maintenance is vitally important for any landlord. But for most, it’s not exactly something they enjoy. After all, being on call 24/7 for any repairs and maintenance issues that arise can get tiring after a while, even for the most resilient landlord. Then there’s the issue of time. While in the beginning, doing cleaning, painting and small plumbing jobs might be fine, once you’ve got a few rentals under your belt you’ll quickly find that management can escalate into a full-time job. No wonder 62% of landlords in one recent survey claimed that maintenance was their biggest pain point.

If you find yourself struggling to fit it all in, hiring a property manager is something that may have crossed your mind. But is outsourcing your property management always the best solution? When does it make sense to go it alone, and when should you think about bringing someone else on board?

If you’re on the fence, here are a few questions to ask yourself that can help you determine whether a property manager is the best option for you.

Do I have time to manage my property?

If you’ve reached a stage where you dread answering the phone because you don’t want to deal with yet another tenant maintenance request, it may be time to outsource.

In this line of work, you see it all the time: landlords running themselves ragged, trying to do it all. They have a few properties, but instead of creating passive income streams for themselves, they’ve simply acquired another job — a full-time one at that.

Don’t let your dream of owning rental properties become stifled because you can’t afford to put any more hours in at your properties. Instead, consider outsourcing to a reputable rental management professional who will be able to oversee the properties in your stead.

Do I want to expand my rental property portfolio?

If your goal is to own 5, 10 or more rental properties, outsourcing is the fastest way to get there. This is especially true if you’re finding that maintenance and repairs are starting to keep you from high-level tasks like finding and assessing new investment opportunities and properly overseeing your property portfolio.

Will I invest in markets outside of my local area?

While many landlords start out with properties in their own hometown, if you’d like to grow your portfolio, you may wish to take advantage of up-and-coming markets or opportunities that are better than what’s available in your own backyard. However, being a long-distance landlord can bring its own set of unique challenges, even for experienced landlords.

If you’re thinking of investing in an out-of-town property, hiring a professional property manager who will be your eyes and ears on the ground can free you up from the stress that’s often associated with long-distance landlording.

Will a property manager help me be more profitable?

Finally, is hiring a property manager a financially smart decision? If you have one or two local properties, it might make more sense to oversee them yourself. But often, professional landlords find that hiring a property manager to oversee their rentals enables them to invest in more properties than they’d be able to otherwise, helping to maximize returns.

Finding A Reputable Property Manager

Much of your rental property’s success is contingent on how well it’s managed. For landlords who are thinking of outsourcing management or maintenance, finding a reputable and qualified professional is crucial.

Be sure to do your research upfront. Read online reviews. Ask for referrals. And, much like conducting an interview, ask your prospective property managers qualifying questions to ensure you end up with a great match. Here are a few questions you should ask:

1. How much experience do you have?

First, you’ll want to ensure that you find a professional who’s experienced and knowledgeable — one with a proven track record of success. Consider asking how many rental units they are currently responsible for. A low number could indicate that they’re new to the game, or perhaps struggling.

2. How do you structure your fees?

Concerns about cost is one of the main factors that keeps people from outsourcing. And naturally, this should be one of the first questions that you ask. Generally, monthly fees are either fixed or a percentage of the rental yield, often 8-12% of the monthly revenue. Optional packages and additional services could impact the cost, though, so make sure you’re aware of their fees before you commit.

3. Are there any fees when the property is vacant?

If you find a company that charges you while the property sits vacant, be careful. Property managers should have an incentive to keep your rental occupied, and if they’re being paid regardless, then that incentive goes away. 

4. How do you screen tenants?

Any property manager worth their salt will not only screen tenants thoroughly, but also have airtight policies and procedures in place to ensure that they do so in a way that’s in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

5. What’s your average vacancy rate?

Reducing vacancy times is key to maximizing your returns. A reputable property manager should know their average vacancy rates, and will be more than happy to inform you of them. Anything within the two- to three-week window is outstanding.

At the end of the day, the decision to outsource comes down to your personal preferences and investment goals. While first-time landlords can certainly benefit from the cost savings of doing their own work, for experienced landlords, offloading the day-to-day tasks to a professional is something that often makes sense. Many landlords find that it’s a pivotal turning point in their investment career — the decision that’s responsible for allowing them to reclaim their time and focus on growing their investments.


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Here are some important things to know and ask when it comes to renting.

This information is straight from the Residential Tenancies Branch, which is a sector of the government that can help you by providing information on matters such as rent, repairs and deposits and mediating disputes between tenants and landlords. We provide information on your rights and responsibilities during a tenancy, investigate problems, and hold hearings to make decisions and issue orders on certain issues.

Before You Rent - A Tenant's Guide

Whether you are moving into an apartment for the first time, or you’re looking for a new place to live, there are questions you need to ask yourself before you decide on a place.

- What can I afford to pay for rent each month?

- What area do I want to live in?

- What type of housing am I looking for (for example, high-rise, town house, house)?

- What services are important to me (for example, parking, laundry, storage, and elevator)?

- Does the landlord allow pets?

- Do I need public transportation close by?

Starting your search:

There’s a lot to think about before you decide to lease an apartment or house. Once you know what area you would like to live in and the amount you can afford for rent, you should ask some questions and keep your eyes open when you start looking at places.

- What’s the condition of the inside and outside of the building? Is it clean and in good repair?

- Is there enough storage space in the unit or is there extra space available in the building? Is there a cost for the extra space?

- Does the unit come with appliances like a fridge and stove?

- What kinds of services are available (for example laundry facilities, parking, cable,security)?

- Does the unit have air conditioning?

- Is the unit fully furnished?

- Does anything need to be fixed before you move in?

- Is there a caretaker living in the building? If not, how would you contact the landlord?

- Ask the landlord to show you the actual unit you would be renting.

Finding the right place:

Once you have decided on a place to rent, there are some questions you should ask before you sign a tenancy agreement or give a deposit in order to avoid any misunderstandings.

- Is the tenancy agreement month-to-month or fixed-term (for example, one year)?

- How much is the rent and when is it due?

- What’s included in the rent (for example, storage, water, cable, parking)?

- Are there any costs in addition to the rent such as parking, heat, or cable?

- When is the next rent increase?

- Will the next rent increase be for more than the government guideline?

- If the next increase is for more than the guideline, ask why.

- Is the building exempt from rent regulation? (for more information on this, contact the Branch or visit our website)

- What kind of heat is there? If you are responsible, call the utility company and get an estimate on the monthly bill.

- How much notice is required if you want to move out?

- What’s the landlord’s policy about pets? If they allow them, are you required to pay a pet damage deposit?

- What’s the smoking policy?

- Are there any other house rules that you should know about?

Signing the lease:

When you decide that you want to rent a unit, you may have to complete an application form and give the landlord a securitydeposit. If you have a pet, you may have to give a pet damage deposit as well. Do not sign the application or pay a deposit unless you are sure that you want the unit. You could lose your deposit if you decide not to move in and the landlord could file a claim against you for loss of rent.

Property Inspection:

Before you move into your new unit, the Residential Tenancies Branch suggests that you and your landlord do an inspectionof the property together and fill out a Rental Unit Condition Report. Either you or the landlord can ask to have a condition report done. Make sure you keep your copy. Some things you should look for during the inspection include:

- are all taps and plumbing, such as the shower and toilets, working properly

- are all lights and electrical in good order

- do the appliances, such as the oven, dishwasher and refrigerator work

- do the windows open and shut properly in each room

- are there holes or markings on the walls, floor and ceiling of each room

- are there working smoke detectors

- Make sure that you agree with the Condition Report before you sign it. Either you or the landlord can use the report as evidence to support or respond to:

- a claim against a deposit

- a claim for compensation for damage or cleaning

- an application for an Order of Possession

Contacting the landlord after you move in:

Your landlord must tell you how you can get in touch with him/her after you move in. If the landlord doesn’t do this, you should ask:

- what is the best way to contact the landlord

- is there someone else you can contact in case of emergency


There are scams that have occurred online involving people trying to sublet or rent out “fictitious” rental units or units that they have no authority to rent out.

To avoid online rental scams when looking for a unit:

- Ask to see the unit before you agree to rent it. If this is not possible because you are moving in from out of town, try to get a friend or someone you trust to view the unit.

- Contact the actual landlord or property manager directly to arrange to sign a tenancy agreement (lease) and give a deposit.

- Pay the deposit and rent only to the landlord or property manager. Do not send it to the individual tenant. Only the landlord or property manager has the authority to accept you as a tenant and to accept rent from you. This fact sheet is only a brief explanation. For more information on tenancy agreements and other renting information, contact the Branch, or visit our website at

Source: Residential Tenancies Branch
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Whether you're new to renting or rethinking your current living situation, the process of searching for a rental home can be time-consuming. Roughly one-third of all Americans rent, and while many of them are in early adulthood, many are also families, empty nesters and seniors. Fortunately, there are rentals for all household types and budgets. But to make your search smarter and more efficient, work through the process following these steps:

STEP 1: Determine what you can pay
STEP 2: Brainstorm the features you're seeking
STEP 3: Map your day
STEP 4: Choose your rental type
STEP 5: Tackle the application and approval process

Follow these five steps to find a rental home that's the right fit for your budget and lifestyle.

STEP 1: Determine what you can pay.

Before hunting for a rental, draw up a budget and take a hard look at where your money is going.

Generally speaking, it's recommended that most people spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. Does that seem doable to you, factoring in debt, commuting and grocery costs, savings and other expenditures? Regardless how you feel about the 30 percent recommendation, many landlords specify income limits -- like that your annual income be a specific multiple of monthly rent, or that your rent shouldn't exceed a specific percentage of your monthly income (say, 28 percent).

Keep in mind that in addition to rent, you'll need to budget for utilities (unless your landlord covers some or all of them), cable and Internet, and other potential extras available to renters such as parking, storage and coin-op laundry. And that's in addition to your fees for moving and furnishing your home -- which, in some cases, could require special furniture (say, long curtains and room dividers in a loft with tall ceilings, patio furniture for a balcony or house with a deck, storage accessories, etc.) to make the place livable.

STEP 2: Brainstorm the features you're seeking.

Beyond a basic bedroom and bathroom count, ask if there are other "nice-to-have" versus essential features:

  • Do you want a patio or deck, or access to a backyard or shared outdoor space?
  • Do you want a fireplace?
  • Do you need a full bathroom, or would a shower do?
  • If you're a foodie, do you want a gas stove in the kitchen?
  • Will you be setting up a home office, and do you need electrical outlets or a nook within one of your home's rooms where you can place your workstation?
  • Would you be willing to live on a ground floor, use stairs or take your chances on street parking?

And consider your compromises:

  • Would you give up some space and a yard in the suburbs in exchange for a smaller, close-in place that had a park across the street?
  • Would you live with a roommate in order to tap a pricey but trendy neighborhood, or would you rather fly solo somewhere quieter?

STEP 3: Map your day.

No, really -- do it. Cross-reference your geographic locations and schedule, and take a look at where you spend your time. Then check out what's available in those locations using tools like PadMapper (which uses mapping technology to plot listings from sites like Craigslist onto maps); HotPads, which offers "heat maps" that let you compare rental and for-sale home inventory across neighborhoods; or MyApartmentMap. What's your schedule like? What neighbourhoods do you travel to and from daily or weekly? Do you drive to work, bike to work or use public transit -- or would that vary depending on your choice of neighborhood? What do you do on the weekends, and do you want to live near those places and activities or is it OK to live elsewhere? If you work late, or if you rise early, are there grocery stores and drugstores open during the hours you need to shop?

  • Hang out: Spend a weekend day, an after-work evening or a pre-work coffee and early-morning commute in any neighborhood you're considering as part of your search. Do you like the vibe, the drive, the mix of friends in the area, the school choices for your kids? Is the commute doable at the hours you'd be making it? If you work from home, are there services convenient for you, like copy shops, co-working spaces (try Loosecubes to find out) and sandwicha nd coffee spots?
  • Investigate services: Will you be close to the services that matter to you? WalkScore lets you run searches for a given address or neighborhood so you can see its proximity to coffee shops, restaurants, grocers, public transit and schools. Aside from grocers, drugstores and coffee shops, consider how near you are to public transportation (not just for you, but for friends who rely on it), schools for your children, gift and apparel stores and services particular to you including churches, veterinary or medical offices, package/mailing centers, a fitness center, etc.
  • Research crime: Regardless of whether you choose a downtown or suburban place to live, get a read on where and what types of crime are happening in your area. In an area with a lot of car break-ins, maybe you'll want to garage your car. If home invasion is common or late-night muggings occasionally take place, maybe look for a building with a doorperson or 24-hour security. Perhaps residents who can walk to restaurants and nightlife feel the downside in terms of noise complaints or the occasional closing-time episode. Check sites like Neighborhood ScoutSpot CrimeCrime MappingCrime Reports and Nixle, as well as neighborhood blogs.
  • Education: If choosing a rental in a specific school district is important, or if you want to evaluate school districts to narrow down your list of potential neighborhoods, check out School Digger or GreatSchools.

STEP 4: Choose your rental type.

This step will depend on how long of a lease term you're after and how big of a place you need. Depending on your market and your needs, you can rent a wide variety of home types from a variety of types of landlords. If you're looking for a short-term rental (six months or less), you may want to investigate a sublet (taking over someone else's lease or renting direct from an owner) or corporate housing, which is more expensive but convenient for someone new to an area. For longer-term rentals (typically 12 or more months), you'll find a wide variety of options on listings portals.

As for unit types, here's a look at the pros and cons of each:

Apartment in a high-rise apartment building 
Pros: You'll live among lots of neighbors, maintenance is typically via a professional management company and your building may be centrally located in a walkable, urban area. You can probably also research large buildings more easily on blogs or apartment commentary sites. 
Cons: Your unit may be smaller than options in suburbs, townhouses or single-family homes. It may be too small for a family. You will likely pay extra for parking in the building or a nearby lot. Management companies may be less flexible about credit scores or lease negotiation than small-fry landlords.

Pros: You'll have more privacy, with only one or two units on either side of you. You may have a yard, and the home's layout may be on two or more floors, meaning that despite the square footage residents can spread out and enjoy privacy within the home. You may have a patio or yard. 
Cons: If you're subletting a townhouse directly from its owner, maintenance may not be predictable. You may be trading space for location, as some townhouses are in more suburban areas. Utilities may run slightly higher.

Accessory unit in a single-family home 
Pros: These units are relatively private, likely situated in a cozy neighborhood and may be one-of-a-kind spaces. Renters may feel safer since landlord-owners live upstairs or next door. Laundry is often nearby or in a room shared with the landlord, and yard access is often included. 
Cons: These units may be even smaller than the average apartment, and some landlord-homeowners create accessory units illegally -- meaning they haven't registered them with the city or may have used unlicensed or under-the-radar contracting work to renovate them. If utilities aren't separately metered, it may be hard to sort out bills with owners.

Single-family home 
Pros: If you have a larger household, children, noisy habits (like playing music loud late at night) or pets who could benefit from a yard, a single-family home may make more sense than other rental options. You'll get a higher bedroom and bathroom count, as well as privacy. 
Cons: Single-family homes can cost more to rent, and they may also carry expensive utility bills, especially if they are older and non-energy efficient. If owned and managed by individuals (versus a management company), it may take longer to get maintenance concerns addressed.

STEP 5: Tackle the application and approval process.

You've determined your budget, narrowed down a neighborhood and found a place you want to call home. Your work is almost over, but now it's time for the landlord to determine if you're qualified to rent the property. Here are some things to expect during the approval process:

  • The background check: When you find a property you want to rent, landlords or property management companies will typically ask for an application authorizing them to run a background check on you and requesting permission to verify your employment, income and bank accounts or requesting that you supply this information in the form of pay stubs and phone numbers for references. It may take a few weekdays to hear back from the landlord.
  • Lease: Assuming your background is acceptable to the landlord, you will then negotiate a lease for a particular property. This is essentially a contract spelling out the terms of your rental, including when it begins and ends; the amount of deposit and how it is to be treated; who (if more than one resident will live in the unit) is responsible for payments; rules on the use of space (smoking or no smoking, pets or no pets); under what terms the landlord can enter (typically with a day's notice); what is and isn't included (utilities, for instance), etc.
  • Negotiation: Keep in mind that many aspects of a lease are negotiable -- ranging from the lease term (or length of time you'll live there) to a laundry list of concessions or perks a landlord might throw in -- like one month free on a 12-month lease, free cable TV or reduced-price parking. You could even possibly negotiate that the landlord tackle a little light remodeling or let you paint the walls for a fee. Landlords may also place conditions on a lease before accepting you as a renter: Perhaps they want a guarantor or co-signor because of your youth or low credit score, or an extra deposit because your pet is heavier than the building's pet weight limit. Maybe a landlord would prefer to rent for a particular set of months due to seasonality of the unit or is interested in finding a month-to-month renter because of a pending change to the building (such as a sale or remodeling effort best accomplished when units are empty.)
  • Deposit: Typically, when you move in you provide a landlord with a security deposit equivalent to one month of rent, as well as the first month of rent. The security deposit must be returned to you at move-out within the number of days or weeks set forth in your lease or as required in your local municipality or state. Knowing that paying two months of rent at once is tough for some renters, occasionally a landlord will let you pay your security deposit over several months. Keep in mind that if you damage the home beyond "normal wear and tear," the landlord may retain part of the deposit. What's "normal wear and tear"? That varies by landlord. But generally, normal wear and tear might mean the place could use a light carpet cleaning or some paint touchups at move-out, while excessive wear and tear might mean the carpet is so stained it needs to be replaced or that walls have holes in them where you installed a heavy piece of art or furniture.
  • Other fees: In some markets, if you use a broker or real estate agent to locate an apartment, you will need to pay these professionals a fee for their services. Depending on the market, brokerage or agent you choose, your fees can vary from a flat, set amount to a proportion of your first year's rent. (In New York some agents are paid 15 percent of the first year's rent -- often more than two months' rent.) If you are hunting for a rental in a market where rentals are brokered, the longer you stay the less these fees hurt.


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As a renter, you’ll have good landlords and you’ll have bad ones. There’s not much you can do when it comes to the person at the other end of your leasing agreement, but there are things you can do as a tenant to keep things copacetic and maintain a good relationship with the person who you rent from. Figuring out how to be a good tenant goes even a step further than that, helping you foster positive relationships with your neighbours and the other people in your community. There’s a lot of incentive to consciously do what you can to be a good tenant, and fortunately, it’s really not all that difficult. Here’s where to start;

Be honest in your application

There’s a lot of competition out there for the best apartments or condo rentals. And when it comes to positioning yourself at the top of the application pile, it may be tempting to fudge the truth a little. Saying you don’t have a pet when you really do or that you don’t intend to have regular guests over when you know your significant other will essentially be living there along with you may seem like small fibs, but they’re likely to catch up with you. As with pretty much everything else in life, honesty is the best policy when you’re wanting to be a good tenant, and it all starts with your application.

Actually read the lease

Knowing what you’re agreeing to before you sign your lease is crucial for being a good tenant. There may be something in there that you wouldn’t otherwise know to adhere to, such as noise regulations that state you can’t play loud music after 10pm or rules around how to make sure you get your security deposit back at the end of your rental term. The more well versed you are in the (legally-binding) agreement between you and your landlord, the better tenant you’re going to be.

Don’t rent more than you can afford

The golden rule of housing costs is that they shouldn’t account for more than 30 percent of your expenses every month (or put another way, no more than 1/40th of your annual income). With rental prices continuing to climb, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the large majority of renters to stick to the 30 percent rule.

Only you really know how much you’ll be comfortable spending every month, but agreeing to an apartment that will require an unreasonably significant portion of your income can lead to late payments and missed payments. Part of being a good tenant is renting within your means, even when your means don’t get you that in-unit washer/dryer you really want. And on that note….

Pay your rent

Paying your rent—and paying it on time—is one of the most basic rules of how to be a good tenant. Your landlord should never have to hunt you down and ask for your rent to be paid. And unless your lease dictates that you have some flexibility in when lease payments are due (say, up to five days from the first of the month) make sure your payment is dropped off on or before the due date. This will go a long way toward maintaining a strong relationship during your tenancy.

Not sure about something? Just ask.

The saying “it’s easier to apologize than ask for permission” does not apply to the landlord-tenant relationship. If you want to paint a wall, adopt a cat, or upgrade an existing light fixture and you’re not sure if you’re allowed to, ask your landlord before making a move. Any exceptions to what is stated in your lease will need to be agreed upon between the two of you in writing. Failure to do so can result in some serious penalties, including fines or an eviction. It will also erode trust in your ability to be a good tenant. The guidelines surrounding your relationship with your landlord are business-focused, not personal, so don’t make assumptions about what your landlord will be okay with just because you’re on good terms.

Keep it clean

Cleanliness in both your apartment and any shared common areas is a hugely important quality of a good tenant and neighbor. Landlords want tenants who will take good care of their properties and leave them exactly as they found them. While normal wear and tear is acceptable, it’s on you to ensure that you do your part to keep the space clean and in good condition. That’s not to say you have to deep clean your apartment once a week if it’s not in your nature, but be reasonable about how clean you keep your unit, and always be as neat and tidy as possible in the common spaces, both indoor and outdoor.

Submit maintenance requests right away

While you may think your landlord doesn’t want to be bothered with maintenance requests, it’s actually much more preferable on their end to know about—and fix—a problem as soon as it occurs rather than let it fester and potentially turn into something else. This is especially true if it’s a problem with heating, cooling, or leaking, all of which can get more difficult and expensive to solve the longer the problem goes on. If something’s broken, let your landlord know so that he or she can address it.

Be friendly

Kindness goes a long way. You don’t have to build a friendship with your landlord or your neighbors, but acknowledging them with a smile and a “hello” is a small gesture that can make a big difference in how they view you as a tenant. Being friendly during your tenancy will make the whole experience more pleasant, and it can also mean that if a problem does arise you’re treated a bit more generously.

Communicate openly and directly

Speaking of problems, just like with maintenance requests it’s always better to communicate what is going on rather than letting things build up and get worse. Let your landlord know if you’re having roommate or neighbor issues or if there’s some other issue that’s affecting you and your satisfaction with your living environment. It’s always better to speak up and let your landlord know what’s going on, especially since they’re not necessarily on the ground at the property very often. The best tenants are the ones that don’t bring a ton of drama. Openly communicating about things that are going on shows that you’re focused on solutions.

Try not to be too high maintenance

Chances are you are not your landlord’s only tenant and they have a lot going on. While it’s perfectly acceptable (and definitely preferable) to bring up any serious issues that you’re having, not every problem is worthy of a complaint. For example, if the property’s landscapers tend to loudly mow the lawn at 11am and you like to sleep in until noon that’s really more of an inconvenience than a problem that your landlord needs to solve. Find a balance between what’s worthy of reaching out over and what you can handle on your own (or just deal with) so that you’re not constantly barraging your landlord with things that you want them to fix.

Making an effort to be a good tenant is pretty much always in your best interest. It will make your tenancy go a whole lot smoother, and it will also make your landlord much more likely to give you a stellar recommendation when it’s time to move on to your next rental. In general, treat your apartment as you would treat your own house and treat the people around you as you would like to be treated.

It’s easy to do, and appreciated by all!


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When looking to rent a new place to call home, it is important to know what features are non-negotiable for you. So before you decide on Apartment Sweet Apartment, here's 5 things to keep in mind, and maybe you will want to to call it Condo Sweet Condo instead;

1) Ensuite laundry

It’s one of the most overlooked—and most time-saving—aspects of condominium life: Instead of hauling that laundry basket down to a laundromat or basement laundry room full of paid machines, all you have to do is open the laundry closet door, start your load, and go about your day.  No hoarding quarters or keeping track of a building-issued chip card; no need to set a timer to switch loads or camp out with a book; no showing up after hauling the laundry bag out to find zero free machines.  And no running into your Modern Lit professor in the elevator with a basketful of very visible underwear balanced on your knee.

The small convenience of ensuite laundry adds up to a lot of saved time and comfort, and if you have a small child, a sick partner, or just a very busy schedule, having that washer and dryer in your unit becomes a lifesaver.

2) Air conditioning, guaranteed

Climate control isn’t always a given in an apartment rental: to economize, most purpose-built rentals were built with a central system, and no thermostat to adjust the heat or cool air in each unit—which is why half the renters you know have a window AC unit, or know where to get one.  But with condominium units built for owner occupation, there’s a practical guarantee you’ll have AC during those three muggy weeks in August—and that, amortized into the condo fees, it won’t cost you your whole August paycheque.

3) Upkeep that’s aimed at the long term

Common area upkeep is another of the subtle—but crucial—elements of living in a high- or mid-rise building.  If the lights in the lobby don’t always work, if the elevators are frequently out of service, if the hallways are never really clean, there’s an impact on your day-to-day life that adds up.

Condo buildings, who put that upkeep in the hands of the residents—and fire property management companies that don’t meet those day-to-day standards ( We meet those standards though! )—have a lot of reasons to be exceptionally conscientious about their state of good repair: any faults or major issues that start with slack upkeep will be showing up on the condo board’s bills—and the people who live there will be the ones putting up with the repair.

4) The ever-present amenities

It’s the most harped-on point when it comes to discussing the condominium decision, but it’s a valid one: Renting in a condo building isn’t just renting your unit, it’s renting a party room, a swimming pool, a workout room, a rooftop space, and more, up to and including meeting rooms, dog wash stations, cinema-style home theatres, rock-climbing walls, and urban gardens, or whatever other amenity the condo complex may feature.

Taking full advantage of the amenities in your building can save you a bucket of money and time compared to searching them out in the city while living in a rental-geared apartment.  What you save on the commute to the gym alone is worth a second look at condominium living.

5) Security

Good building security is an investment: It means decent pay for the security staff ( if applicable) so that desk isn’t a revolving door of uniforms, a good coverage of operating hours, building relationships with the people living in the building, and having a strong awareness of what issues the neighbourhood around the building faces, and how they change.

Not to mention that a stable security presence is a great way to keep arguments inside the building from getting too far.  A concierge or security officer knocking on your neighbour’s door to ask them to keep it down past midnight is a problem solved—one without noise wars, bad blood, and stress for everyone involved.

As ever, everyone’s deal-breakers when it comes to renting their new home are different—and they should be!  Weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully, and if these five factors are important ones for you, a condo rental might be the best way to set up your new home.


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