Renting 101: How to Rent After a Home Sale

How to go about renting your new place when you just sold your house

You may have thought you left renting behind for good after university, but sometimes renting instead of buying is unavoidable – and even beneficial.  It can make good sense to rent for a while if you are not sure of your home buying goals, if you want to get to know a neighbourhood before committing to buying a home there, if you want to remain financially liquid.  If you want to rent but it’s been awhile since you had to find an apartment, these steps should help you do your homework and get a desirable rental unit:

Search

Be prepared:  Write down your current address and previous two addresses, along with any landlord contact information; your employer and length of employment; your current salary; and personal references.  Some landlords don’t have formal application forms for you to fill out, but they will want to know about you to differentiate you from other applicants, and having the information at your fingertips can facilitate that.

Newspaper by 24oranges nl
Newspaper by 24oranges nl

Look for apartments online (if you Google ‘Toronto apartment rentals’, for instance, pages of websites spring up), in apartment magazines (often free for the taking at major intersections) and don’t forget the newspaper classifieds – many landlords, especially those renting spaces in their homes or above stores, don’t advertise online due to lack of web-savvy!  Ask friends about openings in their buildings.  If you’re moving to an unfamiliar city, get a map and try to find out where the desirable neighbourhoods are, so you don’t waste time applying for apartments in the suburbs when you want to be downtown for instance.

Consider how much you can afford to pay – the amount should definitely be no more than 30 percent of your monthly net income, or less if you want to save money for an eventual purchase.  Turn to a roommate service if you're looking for an even cheaper space to share, but be clear on what you’re willing to share and also on what qualities you desire in a roommate, as well as types of people or habits you'd prefer to avoid, such as smokers.

Inspect

Inspect the apartment carefully. If there's any damage, you not only want to ask that it be fixed, but don't want to be blamed for it later. Make sure such problem areas are addressed in a lease, either by your agreeing to live with it, or the landlord agreeing to fix it by a certain date.

Consider whether the entrance is common or private (if renting a floor in a private home, for instance) thinking about how much privacy is important to you.

Ask about any amenities or perks such as covered parking or a garage, a backyard you can use, storage room, laundry facilities, pool, gym or concierge services.

Negotiate

If you find an apartment you love, but it’s a bit of a stretch financially, don’t be shy to negotiate; depending on the rental housing market, landlords might be only too happy to throw in a free month or reduce your monthly payments in exchange for you signing a lease. Or if you find a great apartment, but it lacks included utilities, laundry facilities, or cable TV, ask the landlord to provide these at no charge.

Learn

Examine your lease in detail before signing it: How much notice is required prior to moving, how large a deposit do you have to make, how much cleaning is required upon leaving to get your deposit back? Some agreements require first and last months' rent plus a security deposit – which can add up to a lot of money. Is the lease month to month, or for a whole year?

Find out what kinds of cosmetic changes you can make if any, such as painting walls, adding shelving, or putting flowers in the garden.

Now all you have to do is move in!

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