Having a good relationship between the landlord and their tenants is important for a successful tenancy. It’s not only up to the landlord or property manager to ensure a smooth transition into a new unit. Renters should also do their due diligence about an apartment they are considering for tenancy.
Asking questions not only removes the guess work about what is to be expected but will also establish the expectations of both parties moving forward.
Who will be paying the bills?
If the tenant is expected to pay the utilities, they should find out what type of heating source the unit has and when it was last serviced. Tenants shouldn’t feel shy about asking to see the bills or at least get a summary of them so they can better manage those first few months. Landlords should anticipate this and have these ready at the earliest available time as well. This not only helps to build trust between landlord and tenant, but also allows for longevity in renting as there are fewer surprises moving forward.
What is the best method of communication?
Discussing early on how is best to reach each other and when is appropriate will set both parties up for success in the future. If there is a maintenance issue or an emergency what is the preferred method of receiving requests. Both landlords and tenants should document any defects with the property prior to moving in (we recommend pictures of each room and draw attention to those details early on and have the tenant sign the back of each photo for later reference). Find out what a reasonable timeline to expect these issues to be taken care of.
About the deposit
The most tenants should be asked to pay as a deposit is the equivalent of 1 month's rent. Tenants should be aware that in Ontario, Canada the landlord cannot make you pay a pet deposit. However, you could offer one, as many property owners are hesitant to rent to people with pets.
Finally, the potential tenant may want to ask the landlord if there are any policies they should be aware of. This gives the landlord a last chance to share anything they may have left out. Most leases have caveats built in and the landlord and tenant should go over these prior to signing to ensure that both parties understand.
As a property manager and landlord I am not discouraged by applicants asking these types of questions. In fact, it demonstrates to me that they have given thought to affordability and manageability and that they intend on making this work.
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Glenn Brown is a Property Manager, Landlord, Spouse and father.