Tag Archives | renting

Image by Toms Bauģis, Flickr

Image by Toms Bauģis, Flickr

The 2014-15 school year is already underway, so most of you may have already established your living situation, whether you’re staying near or in residence, or living at home. For those of you who are still in the process of deciding where to stay, or future post-secondary students looking for advice, this article is for you. There are positives and negatives to both living at home and away from it, and hopefully most of them will be detailed here:

1. Money
There is no question about it, living away from home is much more expensive than staying at home. If you’re tight on money or don’t want to spend too much, try not to move out. However, you may not have a say in the matter depending on your location and school of choice.

2. Location
If you’re living in Edmonton and you want to attend OCAD in Ontario, your ability to move closer to school is the main factor you want to consider. If you’re not extremely far from your future school, you won’t have to move. Nonetheless, consider how far and long you will have to commute to and from school. Waking up two and a half hours before class to commute as opposed to waking with 20 minutes to spare can put a damper on your health, motivation, and attitude toward school. If you’re concerned about this, you may want to consider moving.

3. Desire for Independence or New Experiences
By staying at home, there can be fewer opportunities to socialize and get out on your own. If you move near your school, it is much easier to meet new people and separation from your family provides a good learning experience. If you have roommates or live in residence, bonds can develop quickly with other first year students or those in the same situation as you. No matter what you choose to do, keep in mind that there are always chances to make new friends if you look for them: clubs, classes, and school events like Frosh Week are all hubs for getting to know potential friends.

4. Other Options
If you don’t fancy living at home or in residence, look into renting or buying an apartment near your school. Try splitting the cost with friends and living with them, or look into classified ads for anyone looking for a roommate. You might not have the opportunity to socialize as much as you would in residence, but if you prefer to live alone and desire independence, moving into an apartment may be the way to go.

As is the case with everything, circumstance is key. Factor in your options, your school location, your budget, and what you want when making your decision, and chances are you’ll be satisfied regardless of what you choose.

Image by Jeff Croft, Flickr

Image by Jeff Croft, Flickr

Everyone has their “first apartment” story, usually embellished with cockroaches, mice, nasty landlords, or other foul creatures. Avoid the typical mistakes students make with their first apartment by observing these tips:

1. Scout out multiple places

Even though the first apartment you see seems wonderful, and it seems like nothing could be better, give yourself options. View at least three places. While you’re hunting, be wary of irritable landlords. If the landlord shows you the apartment and is aggressive, irritable, or unpleasant while doing so, you would have to deal with the same attitude throughout your entire stay.

2. Don’t sign on the spot

Even after looking at multiple locations and narrowing it down to one, do not sign anything on the spot. Ask for the paperwork and read it over on your own time. Envision yourself living in the apartment and compose a list of questions to ask your landlord based on what you might need, or be concerned about. Even if it wounds your independence, show the contract to your parents along with pictures of the apartment. They could know something about old, leaky radiators that you don’t, or could catch something in the contract that could have ripped you off.

3. Protect yourself with paperwork

Congrats! You were meticulous about the apartment, the landlord, and the paperwork. Now you have to protect yourself by keeping copies of everything you sign, and making sure the copies are signed and dated by the landlord as well. This way, if the landlord claims you owe them money, or some other recompense, you can back up your protests with documentation and the exact date on which it was made legitimate by your signature.

4. Avoid infestation

Apartments, especially when it comes to student housing, are notorious for insect and rodent infestations. Protect yourself by buying a can of Raid and spraying the apartment before you move in. By spraying before you move in, you can get into all those tricky corners, and none of your stuff comes into contact with the poison. Spraying for bugs is especially crucial during or directly after the summer months.

5. Remember to pay rent

Forgetting to pay rent is a lot easier to do than it seems. The next month can sneak up on you. Set an alarm on your phone for the last day of each month to remind yourself. You can also give your landlord post-dated cheques to save yourself multiple trips to their office.

6. Know your rights

Sometimes you do all the right things, and sign on to what seems like a good, clean apartment with a reasonable landlord, and it still goes wrong. If you’re stuck with a year’s lease and a bad situation – your landlord could be refusing to help you deal with an infestation, which you don’t have enough money to take care of yourself – don’t be afraid to wield the appropriate paperwork and force them to help.

There are laws that require a landlord to provide a safe, clean space for their tenants. A lot of the laws that ensure tenant rights are available online, as are the processes and accompanying documents to enforce observation of these laws. Google “rental tenant’s laws,” and your area, to find out what laws apply to rentals in your region. You can even try asking a student housing advisor at your school for help if you’re having real trouble.

7. Move out properly

Some year-long leases turn over automatically unless you give your landlord proper notification that you are moving out. Go to your landlord and ask for the proper documentation for notification of termination of lease. In Ontario, this form is called an N9 form, and can be found on the Landlord and Tenant Board’s site.

Usually the tenant is supposed to give two months (60 days) notice before they move out, even if their lease is only for a year (remember, automatic turnover). If you do not give proper notice that you are moving out, the landlord might hold you responsible for rent until you do. This means you might have to pay three full months of extra rent! Again, be sure to date your documents when you sign them.