Are you a first-time renter? Are you unsure about what to expect when renting? You're not alone! Renting can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be.  

In this blog post, we'll walk you through everything you need to know before signing your lease. From finding and securing your dream rental, to move in day, and everything in between, including some quick tools! 

The First Step:

The first step in your rental journey is knowing what you can afford. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation recommends that your housing costs should be no more than 32% of your gross income. Start by making a list CLICK HERE FOR TEMPLATE of your monthly expenses and deduct that from your monthly earnings. Make sure to account for things like savings and emergency expenses. 

Now that we know what we can afford, let’s start creating a list CLICK HERE FOR TEMPLATEof must-haves and nice-to-haves. This will help narrow down your search and make it easier to find a place that checks all your boxes.  

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the flashy and new, but make sure to be honest with yourself. If you have no intension on using the amenities (i.e., gym, etc.) perhaps find yourself a rental property with lower rates that don’t offer all the amenities. These things are nice to have – if you’re going to use them.  

Scheduling Showings:

Now that you have narrowed down a few places you like, it's time to start scheduling showings! 

When touring potential rentals, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, pay attention to the condition of the unit. Is everything clean and well-maintained? Are all the appliances and fixtures in good working order? Take note of the residents in the building and get a sense of who lives there and is it the demographic you are looking for.

Make sure to check out the building amenities (if applicable) and be sure to confirm what is and what is not included with your rental cost. Is parking included or not? What about visitor parking stalls? 

The Application Process:

Now that you found a place you love, it's time to put in an application! 

The application typically consists of a submitted application (usually online), a credit check, income verification and a security and pet (if applicable) deposit. Some rental communities may even ask for rental references. Be prepared to have your 2 most recent paystubs and government issued photo I.D. ready when applying.  

For security and pet deposits (if applicable), most rental properties will expect half months’ rent. In Manitoba, your security deposits cannot be more than a half months rent. Your pet deposit (if applicable) is separate from the security deposit and can be as much as one months rent. These deposits will be held by the rental property until you move out and should be fully refunded to you so long as there was no damage caused in the rental suite. See below for tips on how to get your full deposit back!  

Approval can be as quick as same day but may take up to 2-3 business days if you have a lower credit score, no rental history, or a lower income.  Be sure to line up a guarantor or co-signer just in case. They will act as a surety if a rental payment is missed and can greatly increase your chances of approval. 

Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to read the lease in its entirety. This document outlines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, so it's important that you understand everything that is written in it. Is your lease a fixed term, or monthly? Does the building allow smoking? Is furniture or any utilities included in the rental cost? Once you're ready to sign, make sure you get a copy of the lease for your records. 

Moving Time!

It’s moving day! This can be a very stressful time if not properly prepared for.

Be sure to schedule a move in time with your new property as soon as possible so you can coordinate movers. Ask if there is an elevator for move in and know the size of the elevator so you can make arrangements for large items that may need to be brought up the stairs. Try and avoid high traffic times to move in if moving to an apartment. Scheduling your move when everyone is coming home from work and school will only add to the stress. Getting yourself organized ahead of time will save you down the road.

Take a look below for a list of moving day tips to help make the process a little easier!  

  • Create a categorized list of everything you need to pack. Make it room specific or item specific. 

  • Use this time to declutter and donate things you don’t need! 

  • Clearly label your boxes with what’s inside for a quick and easy unpack. 

  • Keep sandwich bags handy for the small junk drawer items you cant throw away just yet. 

  • If you’re not tech savvy, take a picture of how all your electronics are plugged in for easy set up. 

  • Pack your plates vertically instead of one on top of each other. This will reduce the chance of them shattering. 

  • Check if your home owners/renters insurance policy covers your items while you’re moving. 

  • Schedule your new services to be installed ahead of time 

  • When possible, arrive at your new home before move in day to clean  

Now that we’re almost all ready to go, make sure you remember to change your address with work, your bank and any delivery services you have. It’s always a good idea to set up mail forwarding with Canada Post for those items you forgot were coming to you, or didn’t expect to receive. An address change on your drivers license and cheque books may also be required.  

It’s move in day! When arriving at your new rental, be sure to meet with your property manager for your move in walk through. This should always be conducted together, and not separately. Sometimes, you might be moving into an older unit. Some damage or wear and tare is to be expected. Ensure that all your findings are recorded on your condition report before you sign, and keep a copy for your records. It’s never a bad idea to take photos of your new home before you accept keys and move in. 

When it comes time to move out, your property manager will deliver a lease renewal to your door, no later than 90 days prior to your lease expiry. You are required to follow up with a yes or a no and plan accordingly to your decision. You may notice a rent increase on your renewal. Did you know that rental buildings older than 20 years are subject to rent control(hyperlink to RTB page) increases, where as buildings newer than 20 years are not. When you eventually make the decision to move, you will want to ensure you leave the best impression in order to receive your security deposits back, and receive a rental reference if required by your next rental community. Take a look at the list below for a few tips on how to receive your full deposit refund back. 

Tips Receiving your full Damage Deposit back 

  • Ensure any damage to walls is properly fixed. If you hung a picture frame or mounted a TV, ensure the holes are mudded, sanded and the wall paint has been fixed accordingly. 

  • Clean all appliances after the final use. 

  • Make sure that all electrical outlets and connections are in good working order. 

  • Shampoo your carpets if applicable. 

  • Leave no furniture or garbage behind when you leave your suite. 

  • Return your keys on time. 

  • Be sure that there are no clogs in any drains. 

  • If you changed a light fixture or shower head, be sure to change it back. 

  • Always refer back to your move in condition report and compare the suite status to then versus now.