Seven Things to Remember Before Signing a Rental Contract

Renting in a big city, especially if you’re new, can be a bit of a maze. Once you’ve found a neighbourhood you love and a place that you think you want to make your new home, you’ll want to be ready to sign on the dotted line ASAP. Rental competition can be fierce, so chances are that if you’ve found that perfect space, there is a long line up of people who want it, just like you! The best way to avoid disappointment is to be prepared. Here are six tips that every renter needs to know before they’re ready to sign the lease on their dream space.

For all people who will be on the lease we will require the following documents.

1. All rental agreements need to be signed by yourself, anyone else living with you and the landlord.
Who is on the lease is responsible for rent, damages, and anything else the lease agreement outlines. This means that even if you and a friend or a partner are splitting the financial responsibilities for the property, only the person on the lease is legally responsible for the space. So, make sure that everyone is prepared to sign the lease and present all the relevant documents the landlord might require.

2. Letter of Employment and Two Pay Stubs
A letter of employment helps your landlord rest assured that you can afford the rental rate stated in the lease. It should include where you work, how long you have been working there, and your total annual gross income. If you can, try to have it printed on company letterhead, and be sure to have it signed by a supervisor that the landlord can contact to confirm the information if need be. A landlord may also request two pay stubs from your employer so that they can double check the amount you’re claiming to receive on your letter of employment. If the rental rate is around 33% of your income, chances are that you will be approved. Otherwise, have a guarantor ready to vouch for the rest of the rent (see step 4!)
Lastly, if you’re an entrepreneur or self-employed, a T4 or a Notice of Assessment for the previous tax year is a fine substitute.

3. Credit Report
A copy of your credit report will also be requested, so it’s a good thing to have at your fingertips. You can pull your credit report online from the most commonly used and recognized or website. Be sure to set up your account when you start the hunt for a new place so you’re ready to go when you need the report. A fee of roughly $23.95 applies. While the site offers a few different types of reports, you only need one! Be sure to select the one that includes the score AND report Equifax Credit Score. Here is more information on what you’ll need!

4. Got a Guarantor? They’ll Need to be Ready too.
If for some reason you can’t provide the information above, (maybe you’re a student and not currently working full time, for example) you’ll need a guarantor to sign for you agreeing to be financially responsible for the lease. They will have to provide their proof of employment and a credit report, so it’s a good thing to ask for all of this information from your guarantor in advance so you can be quick on the draw when you find your special space.

5. First and Last Month’s Rent
Once your lease is approved you will be asked for the first and last month’s rent. That means that in the final month of your lease, unless you plan to renew, your landlord will not expect you to pay rent, since you gave it at the beginning of your tenancy. Your new landlord will expect to receive first and last within 24 hours of signing your lease. Be prepared!

6. Insurance
Congrats! You’ve found a new place to call home, and you were ready with all the necessary documents to snatch it up before the competition. One last thing to complete the process before you can kick back and relax is insurance for your belongings. After being approved and prior to receiving your keys, you’ll be asked for Tenant Liability and Contents Insurance. Most banks provide it for a monthly fee.

7. Little Extras
Renting a unit in a condo building can sometimes come with a few extra costs that are good to keep at top of mind. Firstly, upon moving in, it’s not uncommon to be asked for a deposit of approximately $150 – $200 for a key, FOB and garage door opener. Since they’re the key to all the great amenities in your new space, they’re bit pricier than your average house key! Some other things to remember are the monthly, usage-based charges that each condo unit is billed for separately. For example, your electricity (hydro) bill could vary month to month, so it’s not included in your rental fee because it depends on your habits! These types of charges usually range from $50 to $60 per month.