Here at IGNITE, we know that being a student comes with a wide variety of responsibilities to juggle.
Being a student that’s looking to rent, or is already renting a house or apartment, comes with whole extra set of responsibilities. We know this can sometimes be a little bit overwhelming (and confusing), so we’ve come up with a simple list of renting tips to help you out.
Check the distance to school and your transportation options
First things first, you’ve got to research a few neighbourhoods that you think you might want to live in. Once you’ve done this, look up the walking distance or public transportation options that you can use to get to your campus. Trust me, having a short commute to school makes everyday life so much easier. If you’re lucky enough to find a place that’s near your campus, you might even be able to wake up, roll out of bed, and make it to your class in less than half an hour!
Come up with a budget and compare prices of living in the neighbourhood
Now that you’ve located an area you think you might want to live in, make sure to come up with a budget of what you’re willing to pay. Make sure you compare prices of similar living styles (for example, the number of bedrooms in the unit). You should also include what you’re willing to pay for utilities (if they aren’t included in the rent), what you plan to spend on food on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, transportation costs (depending on distance to the school), and a little extra room for miscellaneous costs.
Visit the apartment/house in-person before signing a lease
Alright, so you think you’ve found the perfect place and you don’t want to lose it to another renter, so you start considering signing a lease before even looking at the place in-person. STOP. Of all the things that I can recommend, going to visit the place that you want to live in before signing a lease is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you. This is crucial for so many reasons; maybe the place isn’t as nice as the photos you saw online, or maybe it’s a lot smaller than the landlord claimed. Bring a parent or a friend with you, and go see where you plan on living to ensure that there aren’t any surprises when you move in.
Don’t be afraid to make a list of questions and ask the landlord(s) you meet with. Remember, most rental contracts require a minimum of one full year, so you don’t want to end up wishing you had said something before signing your lease. For example, ask about security measures, such as whether or not there’s an alarm system in place. As a tenant, you want to feel comfortable and safe, so if there’s anything that you see that seems concerning, or you’re simply wondering about, just ask!
Make sure you know details of the lease before signing – and your rights
Lastly, read your lease agreement thoroughly, and have a friend or parent look it over as well. Being informed and prepared is your responsibility as a tenant, so do yourself a favour by also familiarizing yourself with the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act prior to signing a lease. Once you’ve done this, you can make sure that your lease is fair, and you’ll be able to negotiate terms with your landlord before signing (if you want to). After all, you don’t want to end up in an unfortunate situation.
We hope this gives you a good idea of what you need to think of when you’re looking to rent. If you have any questions and feel like you could use some more help, IGNITE’s got you covered.
Moving in with a roommate? Check out our Roommate Survival Guide.