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Choosing the right apartment

Published on by Hélène Chebroux
Filed under: Tenants

for-rentAre you interested in renting an apartment and are wondering where to begin? Do you want to ensure you find the accommodation that suits you perfectly and also comes with the guarantee that you will not encounter any problems throughout the duration of your lease? In other words, accommodation which will ensure you have as much peace of mind as possible?

The first thing you would need to be aware of is that leases usually start on the first day of the month, and in rarer cases, on the 15th. About 50% of leases start on the first day of July while the other 50% are distributed over the rest of the year, with most occurring from April to October.

Next, in addition to relying on your intuition and common sense, there are several important factors which must be considered when renting an apartment:

Prepare in advance

There is nothing more frustrating than having to make an emergency decision. Ideally, make a schedule for your rental process: search according to criteria, as well as viewings, deadline for making your decision, ‘papers’ and signing of the lease if your application is accepted; your moving plan and finally the moving process itself (inventory, returning your keys, etc.). If you are reluctant to do so because it seems like steep task, split it into sub-tasks, which will be more motivating for you.

Focus on your criteria

In the same vein, make sure you carefully focus on your criteria (location, renovated VS new, number of rooms, etc.) before booking your viewings. Avoiding spreading yourself too thin is actually important in order to save time.

Ask all your questions              

Ask all your questions during a viewing, and believe me, you can never ask too many. It is necessary to do so if you do not want to end up with problems later on! Another very important factor which you must pay attention to when viewing an apartment is the landlord/landlady. They may be considered the hidden face of the property which will soon become your home. Because although your aim is certainly  finding  a place to live in, a small cozy nest, your home, it is worth keeping in mind that you are indeed bound by a contract to someone,  who happens to be the landlord/ landlady, when you rent.

It seems obvious, but many people forget that this is a relational element (landlord/landlady-tenant) that must be taken into account when making your decision. I agree that it can be difficult to gauge, especially with only one brief meeting, but you should discuss with them as much as possible and try to see if you are on the same wavelength. There is nothing worse than an unreliable landlord/landlady especially when it comes to making repairs at home, holding viewings when you are leaving, and so on. Important points:

  • Does the landlord/landlady live on the premises (things will be more complicated if they live in Dubai throughout the year)?
  •  Is there a caretaker or a manager on the premises who handles repairs and other tasks? One important point you need to be aware of is that you are NOT bound to the caretaker or contract manager (unless you are renting from a management company), so find out the possible room for maneuver with that person.
  •   Have you met them (ideally)? Do they seem to have values that match yours?

The current tenant is the person who is in the best position to provide you with information on all these points. They have actually interacted with the landlord/landlady all year round and will certainly have a lot of important information to share with you. Some people may prefer to ask the tenant for their contact information, in order to speak privately rather than in front of the landlord/landlady (which might be daunting). Otherwise, there are also landlord/landlady and accommodation reviews published on Should You Rent?

On the other hand, you certainly cannot expect your landlord/landlady to be pleased with you if you damage their property. Even though your  apartment is a really nice one located in the city center with a swimming pool and a sauna on the roof, there is nothing worse than an landlord who is reluctant to make repairs, or who performs them after a lengthy delay… beware of a landlord who fails to inform you beforehand whenever carrying out viewings in your apartment, stalls each time you ask a question, or is impossible to contact for months… all that is worth considering carefully since it does make a difference on a lease of 12, 24 months or more!

Surround yourself with quality resources

Someone who is well acquainted with the process and who can advise you or even accompany you on viewings is always a good idea. You should ideally speak with a real estate broker, who will not only be able to give you a lot of helpful tips, especially on how la Régie du logement works, the documents you would need to provide (and what documents you should not be asked to), how to protect yourself if your landlord/landlady unfairly reproaches you for anything, what elements of the housing may be lacking (electricity which is not up to standard, mold, good ventilation, etc.), but also refer you to a whole range of other important resources.

Obviously, if you enlist the services of a broker for renting your accommodation, they will represent your interests and will ensure you benefit from such legal protection from the outset. It should be noted, in general it is only a minority of dwellings that are listed on the famous “MLS” inter-agency system, those in principle which are above $800-900, but this minority is of course a guarantee of quality.

This list is certainly non-exhaustive, and these elements are to be adapted on a case-by-case basis, but it may be said that neglecting its importance due to time or other constraints, might later on result in several undesirable issues (and which, are certainly guaranteed to take up all your time!)

Hélène Chebroux is a residential real-estate agent and has been in the field for 8 years: now affiliated to Via Capitale du Mont-Royal, and proud owner of a Masters in Management from HEC Montréal, her professional activities revolve around her core values of sustainable development and eco-responsibility