Tenant rights and responsibilities | helpful tips for when you meet with prospective landlords

When you are going about searching through available rental properties, you will need to ask yourself some crucial questions. The sections below will help you in finding the answer to some of the questions you should be asking before making a final decision of any kind.

Questions to ask Prospective Landlords

When you are meeting with prospective landlords, it is very important to ask these questions:

Are any utilities covered with the cost of rent?

It is definitely important for you to know which, if any, utilities are covered with the cost of rent. There will be certain landlords who include all utilities with rent, including gas, electric heating, or oil, and there are those who include none. You will also need to make a point of asking what the average cost of utilities are for that particular property.

What type of lease do you have to sign?

Another very important question to ask prospective landlords is what the length of the lease you will have to sign is. Make sure to carefully look over any and all tenant terms and conditions before signing any legally binding documents.

Which changes, if any, can you make to the rental property?

You will also need to know which changes you can make to the property you are renting, including doing things like painting and making certain other aesthetic changes that may involve drilling holes or causing some other minor damage.

If you smoke or have pets, are these things allowed?

Many landlords forbid smoking in their rental properties, and in many places only certain types of pets are allowed. Make sure to find out these things if any of them apply to you.

What is the neighborhood like?

It is important that you know what the neighborhood you are moving into is like, so take the time to find this out when looking at rental properties.

What sets each property apart from the others?

Whether it is beautiful landscaping or perhaps amenities like a gym and pool, look for things that set each property apart from the others.

Who is responsible for maintaining the property?

You will need to know what you are responsible for in terms of maintenance, including the landscaping, so make certain you ask each landlord you meet with.

What is parking setup like?

Find out where you can park with each rental property and whether or not there is any additional cost involved.

What is security like?

The level of security in the apartment complex you might be living in will be very important, so take the time to find out what kind of measures they take to ensure the safety of their residents.

Other things to consider.

The following will provide you with a place to start when it comes to what you should consider about each rental property. Make sure to add any other questions you may have that are not listed here.

  • What is the policy regarding overnight or long-term guests?
  • What is the policy pertaining to additional utility cabling, including television jacks, telephone, or satellite dishes.
  • Is broadband/high-speed internet available in the area or specific property?
When you are visiting each property, it is crucial that you take the time to write down detailed notes for your own benefit. Once you have visited a few different properties in the area, you will be able to look back on your notes and narrow down the list of choices. Print out the Rental Unit Evaluation Worksheet and bring a copy with you during a rental property visit

FACT:Renting if you have children

It is against the law to deny a person the right to rent a home, apartment, or any other type of property because they have children. There is a case of a single mother living in British Columbia who was turned down by five different landlords because she had children, and she ended up getting compensation from the courts after taking her cases to the BC Human Rights Commission.

What a Landlord Can ask you

  • Anything that will help them in determining whether or not you are a good rental candidate, provided they do not violate any of your legal rights as a prospective tenant
  • What your income is and where you work
  • How many people will be staying in the unit/property
  • If you will be bringing any pets with you and if you smoke
  • If you could provide them with written permission for a credit check
  • References and current contact information

What a Landlord Cannot ask you

  • Anything that violates your rights as described under the Human Rights Code for your particular province
  • If you plan on having more children in the future
  • If you will have overnight guests, such as family and friends
  • What your ethnic background, sexual orientation, or religion is
  • What your Social Security Number is
  • What your marital status is (single, divorced, married, etc)

Be Aware of your Rights

Despite what you may think, you do have legal rights when it comes to which questions you are required to answer and which you do not have to when speaking with a prospective landlord. The Canadian Human Rights Code has outlined your rights as a tenant or prospective tenant in full, so it is important to know what exactly they are before meeting with landlords of rental properties you are interested in.

If you feel as though any of your rights as a prospective tenant or tenant have been violated, it is important that you get into contact with an advocacy agency or at the very least someone at a provincial/territorial office so you can get the assistance you need. You can also contact your local humans rights office for more information.