A Guide for Tenants

Looking for a great pad to rent? Find out what it takes to be an A++ tenant, so landlords can’t wait to have you move in.

How & Where Do I Find Rentals?

DIY – There are tons of online resources to help potential tenants find a rental. Note of caution, always physically see a home and confirm that you are talking to the person who owns it before giving a deposit.

Use a REALTOR – Of course you can always work with a licensed REALTOR to help you find a rental. There are loads of rentals listed with real estate agents and a good agent can help you identify great properties and neighbourhoods, as well as help you negotiate the price and terms of your lease. The best part? The landlord pays the agent’s commission, so you can have an expert represent your interests for free!

Tip – Properties that get listed with real estate agents tend to be on the higher end of the price scale, so if your budget is less than $1,000 a month, they may not be able to find you something.

When Should I Look for a Property?

Most rentals come on the market two months before they are available for rent (e.g. an apartment will go on the market July 1st for a September 1st occupancy). If you aren’t ready to move for six months, you won’t likely have any options to look at.

How Much is Rent?

The best way to price your rental is by finding out what other nearby apartments have rented for (‘comparables’). Real estate agents have access to a ton of rental history so if you hire an agent, you’ll be able to gauge if the rental is overpriced.

How Important is the Lease?

The lease is the document that summarizes your relationship with the landlord – how much rent you’ll pay, the dates of the lease, rules around pets and smoking, what happens at the end of the lease, etc.

Leases are typically for 12 months and after that (unless a new lease is signed), tenants are automatically considered to be ‘month-to-month’, meaning that they don’t generally need to commit for another 12 months. Month-to-month tenants are required to give 60 days notice before moving out (counting from the first of the coming month, e.g. if they give notice March 19th, then they can move out on May 31st).

Starting April 30, 2018 landlords of most private residential rental units – from individual landlords to property management companies – must use the standard lease template for all new leases.

Understanding Rights and Responsibilities

A tenant has the right to:

Security of tenancy – You can continue to live in your rental until you give your landlord proper notice that you intend to move out, you and your landlord agree that you can move, or your landlord gives you a notice to end your tenancy for a reason allowed by the Act.

Important: If your landlord gives you a notice to end your tenancy, you do not have to move out. Your landlord must apply to the Board to get an order to evict you and you will have the right to go to a hearing and explain why your tenancy should not end.

Privacy – Your landlord can only enter your rental unit for the reasons allowed by the Act. In most cases, before entering your unit, your landlord must give you 24 hours written notice. There are some exceptions, however, such as in the case of an emergency or if you agree to allow the landlord to enter.

A tenant is responsible for:

  • paying your rent on time. A tenant should not withhold any part of the rent, even if the tenant feels that maintenance is poor or a necessary repair has not been done. A tenant could be evicted if they withhold rent without getting approval from the LTB.
  • keeping your unit clean, up to the standard that most people would consider ordinary or normal cleanliness.
  • repairing any damage to the rental property caused by you or your guests – whether on purpose or by not being careful enough.

A tenant is not allowed to:

  • change the locking system on a door that gives entry to your rental unit unless you get your landlord’s permission.

Also, note that all new tenants by law must be given a copy of the Landlord and Tenant Board’s ‘Info for New Tenants Brochure’ with a summary of landlord and tenant rights & responsibilities.

How to be an A++ Tenant – Be Prepared

  • Have your deposit ready;  To rent an apartment, you’ll need to provide first and last month’s rent. Most landlords will require it to be a certified cheque or bank draft.
  • Prepare your references;  Any good landlord will check your references before agreeing to rent their unit to you. And please provide cell numbers for easy reference checking!
  • Get a Confirmation of Employment letter;  You’ll need to prove that you’re employed or otherwise financially viable to rent.
  • Do a credit check on yourself and have it ready to provide to a prospective landlord;  Most landlords will require it – you can order one online at Equifax or TransUnion for $23.95 (or order one via mail for free–it just takes longer).
  • Scope out neighbourhoods;  You’ll be there for at least 12 months, and your neighbourhood WILL affect your quality of life.
  • Be flexible;  It’s not easy or cheap to rent. Keep an open mind and be prepared to make compromises. You won’t likely get location + size + cheap rent.

Contact the Landlord and Tenant Board for further information: 1-888-332-3234 or visit www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/

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