6 keys to a good rental

Whether you’re moving cross-country or crosstown, do your homework before renting an apartment or condo. According to Mark Kenney, vice-president of the Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Trust (CAP REIT), here are questions you need to ask and what you need to consider before you sign.

Explore thoroughly.
Nose around, but be respectful of the current tenant’s property and privacy. Look under the sink for water damage, turn on the shower to check water pressure and temperature and check for leaky faucets. Open cupboards to get an idea of storage space, look for electrical outlets and assess the amount of light in the apartment. Is the smoke detector working? How small things are maintained can tell a lot about the building and what you can expect once you move in.

Be safe.
How well lit is the front entrance of the building? How secure is the parking garage? How easy is it for visitors to enter the building? Would you feel safe alone in the laundry room at night? Will the lock be changed when you move in? Remember that this is your home — the building, not just your individual apartment — so look at the environmt as a whole.

Interview prospective neighbours.
Are they pleased with the management? Are the tenants noisy? Are requests for repairs addressed? How long did the previous tenants live there and why are they moving? Are there organized activities or associations for residents? Answers to these questions will tell you what life will be like if you move in.

See your super.
Take a standard list of questions to ask the superintendent. How long has he been working in the building? Who owns it and how involved are they in the daily running of the property? What maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord and what is that of the tenant? Will the apartment be painted or floors refinished before you move in? Are laundry and dishwasher hookups allowed? What is the policy for submitting a work order for the apartment?

Location, location, location.
How close is the building to transit, your doctor, a hospital and general shopping?

Know your rights.
For information on renting in Canada, go to www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca and www.capreit.net.