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What to Look for When Renting

It’s the season of lease signing! Whether you’re moving out of residence, or your parents’ house, there are a lot of questions that need to be asked and a lot to take into consideration. Here’s a quick guide to get you started and help you find the perfect home!

Is it near a bus route?

While you may find a house close enough to school to walk, you will probably have to get on a bus at some point. Checking how far a bus stop is from the house/apartment can make or break the rental. You don’t want to be walking ten blocks with heavy grocery bags that could rip at any second. Don’t only look for the closest bus stop but also what buses go by. Will you have to transfer often? Easy access to transportation is important.

What is the landlord like?

Your landlord, in my opinion, is the most important part of the rental. Ask them if they have any other rentals and how long they’ve been renting for. This is the person you call if something goes wrong such as your air conditioning breaking or water pressure being low. They need to be reliable and easily contacted. Ask if you will have a cell number for them and if they live in the city (if not who will come when something breaks). If you are renting through a property management company then who will you be talking to directly? Do a google search and read the reviews.

Will you have enough space?

Take note of the size of each room. You have to be able to fit your desired bed size, most likely a desk, and a dresser depending on the size of the closet. You will probably be signing a one-year lease, so you have to be able to live in this area comfortably.

Will you have upstairs or downstairs neighbours?

This was the number one mistake I made when renting for the first time, there was a 2-bedroom apartment upstairs and the girls that lived there were the worst neighbours. They constantly had music blaring despite being asked to turn it down, they never helped to shovel, and I’m pretty sure they walked around with weights on their feet because you could hear every step at all hours of the night. If you have neighbours above you, meet them first. If you are able to, ask the current renters how they are as neighbours.

Ask for a copy of the lease before signing.

Some landlords will have contracts drawn up that have a renew date. Contracts around Universities often start in May as this is the end of the school year. Some leases will state that you have to decide if you are going to renew your lease for the next year in November and sign the new lease. If you choose not to do it at that time they can start showing the house to possible new tenants. You do not want this because a lot can change from November to March (when you usually renew a lease) and your roommates if any, are often still on their best behavior in November, and by January you will probably know if you want to keep living with them or not. If you choose to not sign the lease the landlord will be bringing people through your house starting in November until they find someone, which may not be for months.

Are utilities included?

It is a lot easier for everyone if the utilities are included in the rent, however, sometimes they are not. Ask the landlord and the current renters approximately how much the utilities cost every month. This expense could put you over your budget. Remember that cable and internet are often not included in rent or utilities.

Check the basics.

Make sure the space is clean, open drawers and look at baseboards. Keep an eye out for spiders, if you are terrified and you see a few this could be a deal breaker. Look for blinds on windows, I missed this when looking at my first rental and ended up having a huge front window with no blinds so at night everyone could see in. We ended up using a bed sheet, it wasn’t the most aesthetic addition to our living room. Is air conditioning included? You don’t want to add to your expenses by having to purchase your own window air conditioner. How is the water pressure in the shower? You might feel weird turning the shower on in someone else’s house, but water pressure is important! Can you put nails and screws into the walls? When planning on how to decorate your room you need to know if you can hang items with nails or if you have to stick with command strips.

Always bring someone with you when looking at a place to get a second opinion, whether that is a parent or a friend. Make sure you enjoy the process, don’t rush into signing a lease if you don’t absolutely love the place. There are always spaces that need tenants. Good luck!


Emma Rock

UWindsor '20

Emma Rock is in her third year of university with a major in English Literature and a minor in Gender Studies at the University of Windsor. During her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, taking American Sign Language classes and spending time with her family. Reading is the only thing she has loved her entire life. She can not wait to turn it into a career by pursuing a job in the publishing and editing industry once she graduates. 
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