Searching for housing can be a stressful process but it doesn't need to be. If you are prepared, know what to do, and where to look the process can be quite smooth. So how do you prepare?
- Select the right housemates - for more information on picking the right housemates, check out October's Off-Campus Newsletter
- Know what you and/or your housemates are looking for - what are the requirements that you need for your house? (Example: budget, number of bedrooms, parking, laundry on site, location, etc.)
- Have documents ready for your application - Landlords will ask for a variety of documents for their application. This can include filling out an online/paper application, providing proof of enrollment, and having a co-signer/guarantor ready
- Diversify your search - there are a large number of websites, listing services, management companies, and buildings that post properties for rent. In order to see everything that is available to you, you will want to make sure you are looking on all of the websites available to you. If you are not checking all of the websites at your disposal, you are not seeing all of the properties that are available.
What you need to know about Lease Agreements
In Ontario, all landlords are to be using the Ontario Standard Lease Agreement. If a landlord is not using the Ontario Standard Lease Agreement, this could be an indicator that they do not fully know their rights and responsibilities as a landlord or your rights as a tenant. They may be aware of their responsibilities but are choosing to ignore them. If you sign a lease that is not the Standard Lease, you may request the landlord to provide you it at a later date. You should always read your lease agreement thoroughly to understand what you are agreeing to and signing. Important things to note and/or look for;
- Ensure the details of the rental are correct (rent amount, start date, rent deposit amount, contact information, etc.)
- Your lease agreement should normally include your landlord's contact and payment details
- Check what is required of you prior to move in date (utility accounts set up, tenant insurance, guarantor form, etc.)
- Fixed lease term - most lease agreements in Kingston are either eight or twelve months. Unless your landlord is Queen's University or registered in the Landlord Contract Program (LCP) your lease will automatically roll into a month-to-month lease at the end of your term. This means you DO NOT have to sign a new lease, if you do not want to. If you plan to move out at the end of your lease term, you just need to notify your landlord sixty days before. If you are renting from Queen's University or a member of the LCP, your term will end as indicated by your lease
- Know your rights - landlords may sometimes include unenforceable lease conditions in the lease agreement. Common clauses may include: guest restrictions, telling your landlord in October/November if you plan to re-sign or not, breaking clauses will lead to immediate eviction, no pets allowed on premises, etc.
- Do not sign an "Agreement to Terminate" or Ontario N11 - Some local landlords and companies will attach an agreement to terminate to your lease or ask you to sign it. This will effectively make your lease a fixed term lease, requiring you to re-sign or move out at the end of your term. Unless you are renting from Queen's University or a member of the Landlord Contract Program, a landlord cannot include the agreement to terminate as a pre-requisite of your move in. Both parties must fully understand what the agreement to terminate means and agree to it
- There is no easy way to break or get out of a lease agreement, every situation is different. Please contact the Off-Campus Living Advisor if you have questions or concerns about your living situation, housemates, landlords, or your lease
- Did you know that the Off-Campus Living Advisor offers Lease Review? Schedule an appointment to review your lease with the OCLA today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org