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Renting? Top things to consider before you sign the lease

(NC) For those of us who rent, the time to renew your lease may be coming up. You may also be looking at renting for the first time. Here are some things you should know before signing on the dotted line.

Consider the total costs
Aside from paying the rent, you could be responsible for paying utilities (heat, water and electricity) depending on the place you’re renting. And if this is your first place, think about the other costs you may have to pay, such as parking, laundry, transportation and major one-time costs like hiring movers or having to buy new furniture.

Typically, you don’t want to spend more that 35 per cent of your gross income on housing costs. To make this easier to calculate, use a budget calculator like the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s Budget Planner.

Know what you’re signing
The rental agreement, also called a lease, is a contract between you and your landlord. It includes the terms, conditions and duration of the agreement. If you ever have a dispute with your landlord, you’ll need to refer to the lease, so it’s important to understand everything that’s in it. It’s also important to know that laws governing landlord and tenant relationships vary by province. Do your research to understand what terms a landlord is allowed or not allowed to include.

Security deposits
Among other requirements, many landlords require some type of security deposit. There are different rules on this in different provinces. It’s usually not more than one month’s rent and may also be referred to as “last month’s rent.” It’s an amount of money set aside in case damage occurs to the rental unit. At the end of your lease, if you leave your unit in the same condition as when you moved in, that money is usually used to pay rent for your last month there.

Credit checks and guarantors
Some landlords may require checking your credit report to make sure you’ll be able to pay rent consistently. If you don’t have a credit history, or you’ve had credit trouble, a landlord may require a guarantor, which is a person who agrees to pay your rent if you can’t.

Beware of rental scams
While on the hunt for a rental unit, be wary of what is offered. Some signs that could point to fraud or scams include:

  • Offering very cheap rent compared to what is on the market.
  • Asking for a deposit without a formal agreement in place.
  • Ads that show pictures of the outside of the unit only, or pictures that don’t match the actual property.

Get more tips about renting a home at

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