The apartment hunt is on people, and if you need a new place to live come Moving Day 2016, you better get out looking right now. Preparation is the key to success, of course, and well before you even look at a potential pad, you need to know all the right questions to ask.
As we all know, an apartment is only as good as its landlord, and to ensure the quality of both, we've assembled 20 questions that will help you determine the quality of both, no matter where you're looking. Read on and get prepared.
What documentation do you need to see?
A landlord may not really require you to show anything, but they are legally allowed to ask for a government ID such as a driver’s license. Note, however, that no landlord is allowed to make a copy of said documentation, nor ask for your passport or SIN number. If they do try to make copies or ask for documents that provide more sensitive personal information, the landlord may fall into the category of "sketchy."
Do you need a credit report?
This is a good way to start a positive relationship with a landlord, and by asking about a credit report first you're showcasing how you have nothing to hide in terms of your credit/finances. You can provide a landlord with a previous credit report or they can carry one out for themselves (after you've given permission, of course). To circumvent the whole thing, just have a letter of recommendation from a previous landlord saying you made regular rent payments or bill statements showcasing the same.
Is heating included?
If they say "yes" then you may have found a keeper. Unfortunately, having heating included is more the exception than the norm, in which case you should ask...
How much is the hydro bill in January and February?
Obviously these are the worst months when it comes to heating an apartment, so it's a good idea to know what you're in for. The previous tenants will probably be a better resource than the landlord, of course, and you can always call Hydro Quebec directly and ask about the address.
Who owns the appliances?
Ideally the landlord will and they'll just keep everything in the apartment. If the fridge, stove, and other appliances are owned by the previous tenants, it's better to know ASAP. That way you can make an offer to the tenants or figure it out on your own well before you move in.
Is there a washer/dryer in the building?
After you've asked about the appliances (and no washer and dryer were mentioned) then you need to inquire about the building's potential laundry machines. Price and general quality are things to remember, and if the building doesn't have a washer-dryer, find out where the nearest laundromat is located. Being able to easily do laundry is a serious boon.
How much did the previous tenants pay?
As a prospective tenant, it's entirely in your rights to know exactly what the previous tenant paid for their rent. If you notice a serious hike in price without any apparent renovations/improvements, you should get a little suspect.
Who else lives in the building?
Get a sense who you'll be sharing a building with and figure out if their lifestyle will mesh with yours, so as to avoid any potential problems entirely.
How do you handle lease renewals?
In Quebec, leases are renewed automatically each year, but landlords can have different procedures when it comes to cancelling a renewal. Even if you plan on living in a place for a while, it's best to know a landlord's exact procedure well before your lease starts, just so you don't get in a tricky situation later on.
Do you allow pets?
It's entirely up to the landlord should they allow/disallow pets in the building. Get this info right away, along with...
What are the rules of the building?
Like the above, a landlord can create "building rules" that tenants need to live by. If they don't provide you with such regulations before you move in, they technically don't apply, but that might make your landlord-tenant relationship pretty rocky. Just get any rules out of the way early, it will no doubt help you decide if you want to live in a building or not.
What type of rental period are you looking for?
Generally a landlord is looking for a full year, but they could offer shorter (or longer) terms.
How do you handle sublets or lease transfers?
Try to preface this with a "not that I'm planning to need either, but just so I know..." so you don't look wishy-washy. Regardless, this is crucial information if you know you may not stay in a place for a full year but the landlord is asking for that length of a lease.
What's your policy on painting?
Most landlords will pay you for the supplies needed to pain an apartment, but you should find out whether or not a particular landlord will do the same before you redo the place.
Are the tenants selling any furniture?
Of course, you could just ask the tenants themselves if they're around. This'll also save you from having to grab some furniture off the street during moving day.
How do you prefer to collect rent?
Post-dated cheques;interact transfers;cold hard cash; all are acceptable means of rent collection should the landlord choose a particular method. How a landlord collects rent is also a pretty good indicator of their overall personality and professionalism.
How can I get a hold of you for repairs?
And if the tenants are around, ask how long the landlord usually takes to respond, along with any previous needed repairs in the apartment.
Why are the tenants leaving?
Again, if you can ask the previous tenants directly, do so. If it has anything to do with the apartment, building, or the landlord, you have yourself a serious red flag.
Has there ever been pest problems in the building?
A landlord might sugarcoat their response if they have, so you'll need to be extra alert for any fibs or glittering of the "truth."
What are you looking for in a tenant?
This is just a really great way of seeming very respectful and awesome overall from the get-go. Even if you don't quite match up with the ideal candidate the landlord is describing, they'll no doubt appreciate you asking for their input, and you can always just say "yes, yes, that's me entirely" if you really like the place.