Top 10 Questions Residents and Landlords Should Be Asking

There are many ways to protect yourself and your property when you decide to sign a lease.  This goes for both sides of the table – a landlord should be just as covered as the renter when it comes to personal property and honoring the agreement ratified in the lease.  The most important things to know will be outlined below, but they generally touch on insurance and safety for the renter and property and preservation for the owner.

  1. Personal PropertyShould I get renters insurance? The short answer is if you value your belongings, then yes you should get renters insurance.  This form of insurance is relatively cheap and more common than it has ever been.  Many landlords actually make it a requirement these days.
  1. How much notice does a landlord need to provide to move a tenant out of the property? The answer to this question typically varies province to province, but is generally 30 to 60 days depending on if the tenant has already been at the residence for a year or not.  There are things that could allow a landlord to request a tenant to be out sooner, but they usually entail using the residence for illegal activities.
  1. What is the amount of a standard security deposit? Generally speaking, the landlord is within their rights to ask for the amount of one month’s rent to hold as a security deposit.
  1. Should I agree to a background and credit check? This depends on if you actually want to rent the house or not.  All landlords or property managers should request these checks to ensure the tenant can pay rent timely and take care of the property. This is typically a non-negotiable part of the application process.
  1. Are the utilities included in the rent? The utilities can be split between the landlord and tenant and many times something can be negotiated, but it is important for the tenant to understand their responsibilities upfront so as not to become delinquent on a bill he/she is expected to pay monthly.
  1. Is there a property manager that services the building or house? As a renter you will want to ask this question to ensure there is someone that can be contacted quickly in the event that there is a fire, flood or other maintenance issue at any time of the day or night.
  1. How much should be charged for a pet deposit? The renter and landlord can typically negotiate whether to include a pet deposit at the start of the lease, or pay a monthly charge in addition to the rent.  The amount varies but usually is either $50/month or $300/lease.
  1. Who is responsible for property maintenance? In some provinces, the tenant may be responsible for basic yard maintenance if the landlord provides equipment.  In other places the landlord or property manager would be required to perform all upkeep.
  1. Should I get a signed check-in list from the incoming tenant? This is a must for the landlord, but it also protects the tenant from being blamed for any damage that they did not cause.  This generally relates to a video, series of photographs or a printed and signed checklist.
  1. Are “House Rules” really necessary for a new renter? For the sake of full transparency, it would be a good idea to provide some general rules as guidance for new tenants.  This would include quiet hours, authorization to change the interior/exterior of the home and the allowable number of parking spaces or cars the tenant can use.  That way, the landlord can document the notification for future reference.

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