RentSeeker.ca Apartment Rental Blog

The Benefits of Renting A Two Bedroom Apartment

April 20th, 2014

2 Bedroom Apartment for rent in Toronto on RentSeeker.ca
On the hunt for a new place to call home? With so many layouts and apartment styles to choose from, it can be a challenge to determine which one would be right for you. While a two bedroom apartment might seem excessive, particularly if you will be living on your own, the extra space can be just what the doctor ordered to truly make your apartment feel like a home. Don’t limit yourself to a studio or a one bedroom suite – two bedroom apartments offer increased flexibility and, yes, even money saving opportunities.

Mi Casa, Su Casa

It might seem counterintuitive to rent a two bedroom apartment if you are living on your own, but trust us – the options that will open up to you with that extra room will be worth it. Have family coming in to visit? Unexpected guests that need somewhere to stay? Come to the rescue with your second bedroom as their home away from home. Don’t worry about going overboard with furnishing the room – a simple bed or even a convertible couch will suffice. Having the option of giving friends and family members a comfortable place to stay is perfect for those who have had to move away from home for school or work.

The Roommate Factor

You don’t want to have a roommate right now, but maybe you will in the future. By renting a two bedroom apartment you will always have the opportunity to rent out your extra bedroom to a friend or a student (particularly if you live close to a university or college campus). By doing so, you will save money on your own rent and have someone to split the utility costs with. If you travel a lot for work, you may even wish to consider subletting your apartment for a few months. With the extra bedroom in your back pocket, your two bedroom apartment will be even more appealing to potential subletters.

The Office of Your Dreams

If you have a home-based business or simply do a lot of work on your computer at home, converting your second bedroom into a stunning home office will encourage you to get more work done (OK, that might be wishful thinking – but it will definitely be a great addition to your home). Having a quiet, tranquil place where you can get down to the nitty-gritty of running your business is a great option that should not be overlooked. When you work from home, it’s important to have a space that is designated for “work” so the rest of your two bedroom apartment can be home.

Hobby Home

Another advantage of renting a two bedroom apartment? You have adequate space to pursue your hobbies, like painting or practising a musical instrument. If you are a collector, your second bedroom can double as a “showroom” for your pieces. Imagine your own personal library that you can retreat to at any time – now that is a dream that can be easily realized with a two bedroom apartment.

Family Ties

Newlyweds or those planning to start a family will relish the idea of renting a two bedroom apartment, because it means that they will not have to move when baby is on the way. Instead of stressing about finding a new home, packing, moving, unpacking and everything else that comes along with the new apartment search, you and your partner can relax and prepare your second bedroom for the arrival of your little bundle of joy.

If you’ve decided to convert the extra room in your two bedroom apartment to a home office, you’ll want to know how to furnish and decorate it. Apartment Therapy has you covered in their piece “5 Mistakes Everybody Makes Decorating Their Home Office”:

1. Ignoring the walls… and the floor.

The difference between a cubicle and a warm, inviting home office is all about what’s on the walls. A fresh coat of bright paint and a few inspiring prints hung in frames on the walls can make all the difference. And don’t skimp on the floors; consider bringing in a coordinating rug to warm things up.

2. Leaving cables undressed.

We’ll defer to the simple words of the fourth rule of Tech Club: Do not show your wires and cables. Keep cords hidden as much as possible, at all times. If you don’t tackle the cable spaghetti behind the desk when you first set up your home office, be honest…you’ll never get around to it.

3. Buying a good-looking but uncomfortable office chair.

Life’s too short to sit in an uncomfortable chair. If you’re going to be spending significant time in your home office, choose function over form every time. There’s 6 things you should look for in a perfect office chair: Adjustable height, a reclining seat back, armrests, a deep seat depth, proper wheels and adjustable lumbar support.

4. Not really thinking about lighting.

Overhead fluorescents? Good enough, right? Wrong. Spend some time thinking about the light in your office. Complement overhead lighting with a bright task lamp on the desk. And think twice about your lighting and window placement in relation to your monitor to avoid annoying glare. Giving your office lighting plan a second thought will save you from (sometimes literal) headaches down the road.

5. Choosing furniture and features without storage.

Sure, that Parsons-desk-and-floating-shelves combo from the showroom looks great, but without cabinet doors and drawers to hide away your paperwork and gear, you’ll be left with a mess on your hands. Plan on having at least one or two pieces with lots of hidden storage space.

There are also good reasons for renting a 1 bedroom apartment or 3 bedroom apartment which we will elaborate on in future apartment living blog posts.

The RentSeeker.ca Team

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The Top 5 Things to Look Out For with Home Rentals

April 14th, 2014

House for Rent - RentSeeker.ca
Whether you’re a student that wants to share a space with multiple roommates to save money or you’re a family with small children who simply want more room, finding a great home rental that will last is easy if you know what to look for. As with an apartment, a home rental can make your life less stressful – you won’t have to worry about things that homeowners do, such as shoveling the walk, mowing the lawn or staying on top of routine repairs and maintenance. But a home rental does come with a few things that you need to be cognizant of to ensure a happy and comfortable place to call your own.

Potential Leaks

If your home rental is older, you need to be aware of the potential for leaks to develop in the roof. Before deciding on renting the house, discuss the state of the roofing with the landlord or property manager. If it is clear that a problem may develop of the course of your tenancy, you may wish to ask that preventative measures are taken before you move in. Further, and this is true with any home or apartment you rent, you will want to strongly consider purchasing tenant’s insurance to cover your belongings in the event of a leak.

Electrical Overload

Ah, the dreaded electrical overload. If you have multiple people living in an older home rental, particularly a group of students who are all using computers, televisions and other electronics, overloading the (possibly) outdated electrical system is a real issue. One person might be running the microwave while another is using their computer and suddenly – poof! – a fuse is blown and both machines shut off. When you decide to rent a home, ask for an overview of the electrical system and where the fuse box is located. If it’s a simple matter of throwing the switch back, you can remedy the problem yourself without having to involve the landlord. However, if a blown fuse is a frequent issue you may want to discuss an upgrade of the entire electrical system with your landlord.

Sufficient Smoke Detectors

While having up-to-date batteries in your smoke detectors is technically the responsibility of your landlord, having extra batteries on hand is always a good idea. Periodically test the detectors to ensure they are in good working order (most fire departments suggest checking them when you move your clocks forward and backwards twice a year). If you have a fireplace in your home rental, you’ll also need your landlord to provide you with a carbon monoxide detector. Finally, see how many smoke detectors are located throughout the home. If it’s just one, ask for more to be installed.

Breakaway Windows

For your safety, breakaway windows are a necessity in a home rental. In the event of an emergency, a breakaway window will ensure that anyone that is not on the main floor of the home can get out quickly. While you’re inspecting the state of the windows in your home rental, you should also look for potential leak areas where mold can grow to prevent problems down the road. If you spot any issues, don’t be afraid to bring them up with your landlord – remember, it’s your health and safety that is on the line. The majority of landlords will be more than happy to take care of these issues for you immediately.

Doors and Windows that Lock

This may sound like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised at the inefficiency of some locks, particularly in an older home rental. Is the front door as old as the home itself? Ask for it to be replaced or, at the very least, for the doorknob and lock to be re-installed. Your windows may be truly “old school” in nature and not have any locking mechanisms at all. While they may look pretty, function is also an important feature when you’re looking at a home rental. Make sure your belongings will be secured and safe when you’re not at home.

By creating a checklist of issues to watch out for, you will find the perfect home rental for you in no time. Now you can sit back and enjoy that yard that you don’t have to mow.

The RentSeeker.ca Team

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The Landlord Tenant Act: A Brief Overview

April 7th, 2014

Apartment Living Lease Agreement Whether you’re a property manager or a renter, knowing your rights and responsibilities when it comes to your apartment is extremely important. While it’s not reasonable or expected for everyone to know everything about the Landlord Tenant Act in their particular province, being aware of the basics to some of the most commonly asked questions will make for a harmonious rental experience for all involved. Before we delve into these frequently asked-about issues, remember that the laws in your province may differ from those we discuss here (for ease of explanation, we will focus on Ontario). If you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact your provincial Landlord and Tenant Board for more details regarding your specific issue.

Issue: Privacy

One of the biggest questions tenants have when it comes to the Landlord Tenant Act has to do with privacy. More specifically, when and how landlords can enter your suite and how much notice they are required to give. In Ontario, the Act states that a landlord must give a tenant 24-hour written notice before entering your suite. This notice must include the time (it can legally be anywhere between 8 am and 8 pm) and the reason that they need to enter your suite. Routine maintenance, like changing filters in your HVAC system, is just one of the reasons a landlord would need to enter your suite. If it is an emergency, such as a water leak coming from your suite, the landlord does not need to provide you with any notice to enter.

Issue: Pets

Another common question for many animal lovers is if they are allowed to have a pet in their apartment. Ontario’s Landlord Tenant Act ensures that “no pet” clauses in a lease are invalid. This means that a landlord cannot force you to get rid of your pet even if it is written into your lease that you are not allowed to have one. However, this doesn’t mean animals have free reign in your apartment. If your pet is dangerous, causes allergic reactions in other tenants or causes problems in the building, you must get rid of your pet or move elsewhere. In extreme cases, the Landlord and Tenant Board may issue a written order that you must get rid of your pet. But if your beloved furry friend is not causing a problem for anyone, you are free to live happily in your apartment with your animal companion.

Issue: Lease Agreement

The majority of leases signed in Ontario will be for a duration of one year. When you are ready to vacate, your lease most likely stipulates that you must give a written notice 60 days in advance. If your lease expires and you have not signed a new one, your tenancy is considered “month-to-month” and the 60 day notice period still applies. If you give your notice late, you will still be responsible for paying for the extra month of rent. Your lease will also include important information specific to your building and apartment, such as legal information about using an on-site gym, for example. It may be a dry read, but the information contained in your lease agreement is very important.

Issue: Documentation

Now that you’ve signed your lease, you’re probably wondering if you even need to bother keeping a copy of it around. While the answer is technically no, it would be wise to have a copy on hand. You can refer to it throughout your tenancy, specifically if you have a question about what is allowed and what isn’t (like if you can paint the walls, for example). If there is ever a dispute between you and your landlord down the road, having signed documentation on hand will help to protect you. The same can be said for any written notices you may receive from your landlord, like warnings about late rent or information regarding when they will be entering your suite to perform maintenance work.

Issue: Rent

The amount you pay each month in rent will be written into your lease agreement. The Landlord Tenant Act in Ontario states that a landlord has the right to raise your rent every 12 months, but they must give you a written notice of 90 days before doing so. However, your rent won’t be raised to any number the landlord wants – the Annual Guideline Increase ensures that your rent can only be raised by a certain amount each year, as set out by the Government of Ontario. Your specific lease may have perks attached that will prevent you from being subject to a rent increase, such as signing a lease that is longer than the typical one year.

Issue: Eviction

Finally, the issue of eviction can be a thorny one. Hopefully it is not one that you will ever have to deal with, but there are cases that can be grounds for your tenancy being terminated earlier than your lease stipulates. This can include non-payment of your monthly rent, the use of your apartment to conduct illegal activity or the impairment of the safety and enjoyment of other tenants in the building based on your actions or the actions of your guests. Quite simply, this issue has many variables and permutations. If you receive a Notice of Termination, it is imperative that you contact the Landlord and Tenant Board in your province immediately for guidance.

The RentSeeker.ca Team

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Determining the Cost of Living in Canadian Cities via INFOGRAPHIC

March 19th, 2014

Determining the Cost of Living in Canadian Cities via INFOGRAPHIC presented by Osgoode Properties:

Osgoode Properties INFOGRAPHIC about the Cost of Living in Canadian Cities by RentSeeker.ca

*INFOGRAPHIC designed by RentSeeker.ca

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Benefits to Renting Furnished Apartments

March 11th, 2014

Furnished Apartments for Rent
If you have ever scoured through online apartment rental ads in the quest to find the perfect place to call home, you’ve likely seen furnished apartments advertised prominently alongside the “traditional” apartment-for-rent ads. Furnished apartments have become so popular that they often warrant their very own sections on websites like Kijiji, Craigslist and RentSeeker.ca So what’s all the fuss? Put simply, furnished apartments offer numerous advantages for people of all ages and from all walks of life. If you’re looking for a new home and want to find out if a furnished rental apartment would work for you, read on to learn about their many benefits.

Easy, Breezy Moving:

Let’s face it – no one likes moving. Lugging couches up flights of stairs is a chore that we’d all like to avoid. With furnished apartments, there is no huffing and puffing and struggling to fit your coffee table into an elevator – the furniture is already set up and waiting for you to come in and relax. There’s no need to worry about renting a truck or hiring a moving company, either. All you need to think about is bringing in your personal possessions, like clothes and books, while everything else is already there for you. Many furnished apartments even come complete with a fully stocked kitchen, including plates, glasses and cutlery. Instead of it taking months for you to get settled in, you’ll be living large in only a day or two. It doesn’t get any better than that.

First Apartment? No Problem!:

Ah, the first apartment move. It can be stressful trying to find the perfect place to live, let alone figuring out how you’re going to afford all that brand new furniture. This conundrum is particularly acute for students, who generally have their attention focused elsewhere (like studying for that mid-term). Wouldn’t it be nice to just move in and have your bed, television and microwave already there? Furnished apartments will afford you that luxury and help to reduce the impact that buying furniture would have on your financial bottom line.

Bright Lights, Big City:

If you’re one of the many people who has to move to a new city for work, you already know what a headache it is to arrange shipping your furnishings for a long-haul move. With a furnished apartment, you can ensure that getting settled in your new city is simply a matter of figuring out the public transit system. Further, if you plan on bringing out your own furniture at a later date but need to start your new job right away, furnished apartments help you through the transition phase of the move. Whether you live there for only a few months or for a year, a furnished apartment gives you a comfortable place to hang your hat at night while you sort out the logistics of the big (eventual) move.

Decor for Dummies:

If decorating is not your forte, furnished apartments will be right up your alley. Having an apartment with art on the walls and little knick-knacks scattered throughout is what really makes it feel like a home. Bare walls give the feeling of temporariness, while tasteful decor gives your apartment that lived-in vibe. The vast majority of furnished apartments come finished with decorations already in place. While they may not necessarily be completely your taste, it is comforting to move into an apartment that has a ready-made homey feeling.

If you’ve made the decision to go for a furnished apartment, you’ll probably want to make it feel like your own once you move in. Apartment Therapy shows you the way in their piece “Making a Furnished Sublet Feel Like Home”:

1) When you put all your things in storage, leave out some photos, books, your favorite lamp shade, kitchen items you use often – just any of your favorite home decor items. Place these things in your sublet and surround yourself with familiar things.

2) Rearrange the space to your liking. If you need more space in the bedroom, turn the bed the other way or, if you don’t love the decor, place it in a closet during your stay. Just take photos of the place before you move or change anything so you can put it all back when your lease is up.

3) Buy some plants for your space. Nothing fancy – just buy a few plants and place them in your temporary home. This will give you the feeling that you are “making a home” for a little while.

4) Use your own bedding. Even though a furnished sublet should come with everything, including bedding and towels, consider bringing or buying your own.

5) Entertain friends. Once you are settled in, invite some friends over for some wine or a small dinner party. Entertaining is a great way to feel comfortable and having close friends around you will make you feel good.

6) Unpack everything you brought with you. Forget leaving your things in your suitcase or boxes. Unpack all of your things, find a new home for them and store your suitcase and boxes for when you leave. You’ll feel better immediately.

You can find both furnished apartments and unfurnished bachelor 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments on RentSeeker.ca, so start your search online today!

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RentSeeker’s Top Ten Student Rental Tips

March 6th, 2014

Student Rental Housing Tips by RentSeeker.ca
It’s here – the year you go off to college or university. Along with securing student loans, saying goodbye to your friends from high school and nailing down the perfect first-year schedule, you’ll need to also squeeze in searching for a student rental to call home. Don’t let the excitement and big life changes overwhelm you – use our top ten tips to score the best student rental apartment for your needs with ease.

1) Decide on a Budget:

First and foremost, you’ll need to figure out how much money you can afford to spend on rent and utilities each month. Take into account if you’ve received a student loan, a scholarship or bursary or if you will be working a part-time job during school. Once you know how much money you will have on hand, you can determine how much you rent you can afford for your student rental.

2) Land the Perfect Roommate:

Don’t worry if you can’t afford to live on your own. Find the best roommate for you by putting up an ad on your school’s student rental housing message board (both online and on campus). Your program may even have its own Facebook page where you can immediately network with students who will be entering their first year, just like you.

3) Inspect Your Student Rental:

Think you’ve found the place for you? Before you sign the lease, do a walk-through of the student rental with the landlord or property manager to ensure everything is in working order. Kitchen appliances, door locks and windows should all be checked out. It might help to bring someone with you, like one of your parents, who has rented an apartment before and will know what to look for.

4) Come Prepared with a Deposit:

When you’re looking at student rental apartments, competition can be fierce. Bring with you the rental deposit – depending on the province you live in, this can either be first and last month’s rent or a damage deposit. Once you’ve found the place you want to call home, you’ll be able to secure it immediately.

5) Check Out Nearby Amenities:

Before you sign on the dotted line, scope out the neighbourhood you will be living in. Does your student rental have a grocery store nearby? What about public transit? Can you walk to campus from your apartment? Also of importance – make sure you feel safe and comfortable in the neighbourhood.

6) All-Inclusive:

You may have seen ads for student rental apartments that state they are “all-inclusive”. This means that your monthly bills, like heating and electricity, are already included in your rent. It may also mean that cable and internet connections are included, too. Check with the landlord to see what is included in the rent. All-inclusive can make your life all the more comfortable.

7) Pet Policy:

Bringing your beloved pet with you into your student rental can make the transition to post-secondary life a little easier. However, not all apartments will accept pets. If you plan on bringing an animal with you, make sure that it is permitted and, if it is, ensure it is written into your lease.

8) Laundry Time:

Unfortunately, laundry is a chore that no one can escape from. Check what the laundry situation is in your student rental. Older homes may not have a washer and dryer on site, meaning that you will want to make sure a laundromat is easily accessible.

9) Finishing Touches:

If you want to make any modifications to your student rental, such as painting the walls, you will need to speak with your landlord or property manager before doing so. While these touches can make your student rental feel like home, undertaking them without permission can mean a loss of your damage deposit.

10) Know Your Rights and Responsibilities:

If it’s your first time living in a student rental, you may not be familiar with what is permitted and what is not, both on your behalf and the behalf of your landlord. Take the time to read and understand the Residential Tenancy Act for your respective province, which can be easily found online.

By following these ten tips, you’ll be well on your way to experiencing tenant bliss in your student rental in no time. Take the worry out your search with RentSeeker.ca!

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Take Control of Your Condo or Apartment’s Web Presence by Investing Time Online and on Social Media

February 18th, 2014

Real Estate Marketing
By Jessica Green, Director, Cursive

In 2011 alone, YouTube reported more than 1 trillion views. That’s 140 views for every person on the planet. Facebook’s following of 750 million users is nothing to scoff at either. Having more than doubled its number of Canadian users to 6% to 14% since 2009, LinkedIn is no slouch. And you know that networking site that forces you to craft a thoughtful statement in 140 characters or less? It’s called Twitter and it hit more than 140 million users last year, so stop pretending that you don’t know how to pronounce it and start getting chatty.

Social Media by Numbers:

According to Ipsos’ most recent Canadian Interactive Reid Report special feature on Social Networking, half of Canada’s population, or 17 million people, is involved in some form of social networking. Since 2010, the number of Canadians who visited a social media site at least once a week has climbed from 35% to 50%. And it’s not just pimply teenagers getting their kicks while mom and dad are out: The majority of 35-54 year olds and more than 40% of those over the age of 55 are pinning, posting, liking and re-tweeting Honey Boo Boo lines in real time. That number is only expected to increase—dramatically.

Step it Up:

Steve Mossop, President of Ipsos Reid’s Western Canada practice, explains that social media users have spent the last several years building brand awareness. Now, it’s time to commercialize this awareness by engaging consumers. But there’s a right way to do it. The first step is determining whether social media is right for your business. Let’s rephrase that: Are you a B2C company that wants to expand your reach, bring people to your website and nurture leads into sales? If you answered yes, then you’ve completed the first step.

Do: Due Diligence:

Next, take some time to research what other companies are doing. What platforms are larger developers using? Are boutique firms doing it better? How are they engaging potential buyers? Whether they’re running contests, microblogging or posting basic building updates, the competition is already ahead of you. So find out what they’re doing, read some tutorials and do it better. Just make sure that the platform fits the purpose, which is to reach your intended audience with frequent, practical, relevant information that initiates conversation.

Put in Some Face Time:

Build a Facebook business page by using the step-by-step instructions and user support provided right on the site. In addition to built-in statistics, which help you monitor the efficacy of your campaign, Facebook is a great way to connect with current and prospective buyers for several reasons. For one, it builds community: Feature a site super or a photo of the board; post photos of owners who have made interior changes and enhancements to their units; launch a balcony garden contest and showcase images of the winner and runners up. Remember, Google takes cues from social media votes of confidence, meaning that the more people share content from your website, the more your search engine ranking will improve. \

Find Your Voice:

After Facebook, Twitter is the ultimate social tool. With its own vernacular – hashtags, DMs, re-tweets – it’s daunting on first click. But perhaps it’s the forum’s simplicity that’s throwing us off. What’s so difficult about crafting one or two targeted sentences a couple of times a day? Not much, if you have a plan. That is, what you want to say and who you want to listen will determine your tweets, so mix it up by striking a balance between promotional content and general interest content. The more you tweet, the more your account will be viewed, thereby increasing the probability of more followers. Once you have created your account, promote it via newsletters, email signatures, corporate website, property website, Facebook—everywhere.

Get Reel:

Does your property have a video? If not, it should. Online marketing firms like Rentseeker.ca can produce a property video for about the same price as one print ad. The difference? “Video is a one-time investment and the second it’s online, it’s there to stay,” says Chaim Rivlin, Rentseeker’s CEO. Once you have the video, make sure it’s hosted on YouTube. “Every video posted on YouTube can be optimized with titles, descriptions, keywords and tags,” Rivlin adds. “The payoff can be immense, particularly when it comes to driving traffic to your website and increasing your brand’s search engine visibility.”

While traditional corporate videos are informative, light and entertaining behind-the-scenes videos can be particularly influential. Creating videos on topics like amenities, pride of ownership, financing options and price ranges is a relatively easy undertaking. Uploading the videos to YouTube is even easier, so have fun with the process. Interview residents and staff who are willing to be spokespeople for your property. Just ensure the message clear: You must live here.

Connect More:

Like many people, you probably think LinkedIn is only for promoting yourself. However, LinkedIn now has Company Pages, which are becoming increasingly popular marketing tools. The fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn is recent graduates, many of whom are looking for places to live. Try engaging them by encouraging the participation of condo owners, who can talk about operations, property types, prices, locations, sizes and amenities available.

LinkedIn also has a useful feature that allows users to recommend a product or service, which is then sent out to all of their connections. Talk about an organic and efficient way to promote your company! Among its many benefits, LinkedIn functions as its own search engine for finding companies and jobs. As an added bonus, all information posted publicly shows up in search engines.

Final Answer:

Finding your niche, stimulating conversation, and converting leads to web traffic and, ultimately, sales can take up to a year. It’s time consuming and utterly demoralizing when you can’t find that “thing” that bridges the gap between your brand and your market. However, with time, persistence and some trial/error, you’ll start making friends. You might even start using social media to provide online property tours and schedule showings—through an app.

In the meantime, don’t retire those glossy print ads, towering storyboards and backlit signs just yet. They’re all a part of today’s marketing matrix and each piece is just as important as the next. And those once-pimply teenagers? They make up the 48% of the population that checks Facebook the second they wake up. They’re also the ones in suits looking to buy.

Cursive is a Toronto-based communications consulting firm. For more information, email Jessica@CursivePR.ca.

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Found A Rental Apartment You Like. What’s Next?

February 12th, 2014

Apartment Interior
You’ve narrowed down your rental apartment search to your preferred criteria (location and price chief among them) and you’ve made an appointment to view the suite. Now what? Once you’re in the apartment itself, it’s time to put your thinking cap on. Come armed with questions and your list of must-haves to ensure the rental apartment you are viewing will be the best home for you for years to come. Here are the top five things you should be looking for once inside your potential new abode.

Light Up Your Life

Check out the lighting situation in the rental apartment. Is there adequate lighting provided throughout the suite or will you need to purchase some extra floor and table lamps? What about the number of electrical outlets – are there enough to give you the power you need to run your home entertainment system and computer? These are the little details that will make a big difference when you move in. There is nothing worse than setting up your bed only to realize that there is no outlet nearby for your alarm clock.

Windows and Balconies, Oh My!

Are you a morning person? Perhaps you’d like to wake up with the sun shining down on you. An east-facing rental apartment would be a perfect fit for you, as would large, picturesque windows. If you come alive in the nighttime, you’ll want to ensure that your windows are either not facing east or that the rental apartment comes complete with thick blinds or draperies. Either way, inspect those windows to ensure they are properly sealed and won’t be the cause of any chilly drafts when winter rolls around. If you enjoy sitting outside and taking in the day, a balcony would be a wonderful addition to your rental apartment. As with the windows themselves, double check that the sliding doors to the balcony are in good repair.

Space Savers

Sure, the rental apartment is one bedroom – exactly what you’re looking for. But how is the space set up? The kitchen might be an open concept, leaving little room for a dining room table. The closets might be of the walk-in variety or the, well, too small variety. Make sure the layout of the rental apartment works for you and suits your lifestyle. If you find that you absolutely love everything about the suite but that it’s too small to fit everything you own, inquire about storage lockers onsite. Otherwise, it’s time to get creative with your home storage solutions.

Building Amenities

Now is the time to do a quick scan of your wish list. Does the rental apartment have a fitness centre? What about indoor/outdoor parking? Ask to see the laundry room, the mail box area, the parking garage – anything that is important to you. Inquire about public transit stops nearby and the type of stores that can be found in the neighbourhood. It’s these seemingly small conveniences that will help to make your rental apartment feel like a home.

Flexible Leasing Options

You’ve decided that you love the rental apartment and are ready to take the plunge. But before you do, make sure the leasing options available work for you. For example, if you sign a lease for more than one year you may be entitled to discounted rent (or your current rent being locked in with no increases). If you only need a rental apartment for a short period of time, inquire about the possibility of a month-to-month lease. Don’t forget to take the time to read the leasing agreement to prevent any issues or misunderstandings down the road.

Apartments.com provides you with even more things to look for when scoping out rental apartments in their blog “10 Things to Look for in Your Next Apartment”:

Location:

Even more important than living in the hottest neighborhood is how close your place is to things that are important to you – public transportation, work, family and friends, and conveniences like grocery stores and restaurants. If you see a place you like, pull up Google Maps and figure out how long your commute will be to your favorite places.

Storage:

During your showing, don’t hesitate to open the closets and check out how much space there is. Once you pack everything up, you’ll be surprised how much stuff you’ll need to find room for in your next place. Be sure to ask if there is additional storage in the building, and take a look at it while you’re there

Appliances:

Things like dishwashers and laundry facilities may not be essential, but they sure make daily life easier. While some people are fine with laundry in the building, others can’t live without machines in the unit. Figure out which type you are and add it to your checklist.

Heat and air conditioning:

Depending on what climate you live in, heat and/or air conditioning are comforts renters shouldn’t have to live without. Find out if the A/C is central, room by room or nonexistent, and ask if you can install window units if necessary. If the current tenants are home during your tour, ask them about the temperature control and average heating bills to avoid any unexpected surprises come winter.

Pet policy:

If you have a pet, you need to find out the landlord’s policy before you even set up a showing. If they don’t allow pets, don’t waste your time looking at the place. On the flip side, if the building is pet friendly and you have allergies or don’t want to risk moving next door to an incessantly barking dog, it might not be the place for you.

Outdoor space:

Another nice-to-have is a yard, deck or small patio to get some fresh air when the weather’s nice. This especially comes in handy for people who like to entertain, and those who go stir crazy being stuck inside all day. If your potential place doesn’t have this perk, find out if there’s a park or public pool nearby.

Parking:

If you have a car, being able to park without too much hassle is crucial. You don’t want to spend 20 minutes circling the block every day after work, no matter how nice your place is. If you check out a unit you like on a weekend, swing by on Monday after work and see how easy it is to find a spot, or ask the current renters if they have trouble.

Landlord availability:

This one can be hard to scope out before you’ve signed your lease, but do some sleuthing about your potential landlord. If it’s a big rental company with dozens of buildings around town, they can sometimes be hard to get a hold of when something breaks. Find out their policy on how long they take to respond to a problem, and make sure it’s included in the lease.

Security:

If the door to your potential apartment opens right onto the sidewalk with no fence or common entryway, safety may be a concern. Especially if you’re living alone, look for a building with a lobby or even a doorman. If it’s a smaller building, higher floors are usually safer than first floor or garden units.

Noise:

Everything from the location to the thickness of the walls can affect how much noise you’ll have to endure in a potential pad. Being on a busy street, above a bar or next to train tracks should raise alarms. Also pay attention to how many surfaces you share with your neighbors – walls, floor and/or ceiling. At the very least, being on the top floor means you won’t have any upstairs neighbors walking around in high heels.

Especially if you’re planning on staying where you’re renting for a while, it’s worth doing as much research first to ensure your satisfaction.

The RentSeeker Team

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How to Find the Best Apartment Rental to Match Your Apartment Search Criteria

February 5th, 2014

Apartment Search
Finding the perfect apartment rental for you doesn’t have to be a time-consuming venture. Simply making a list (and checking it twice) that encompasses all of the amenities and services that are important to you will allow you to narrow down your apartment rental search quickly. Not sure where to start on your master wish list? Keep it short and sweet and put RentSeeker.ca’s how-to guide to use.

Set Your Price:

The best jumping-off point for your apartment rental search is the price. How high are you willing to go to get the amenities you want? Even more important – how much rent can you afford? There are a number of handy rent calculators available online that will help you to determine the ideal monthly rent you can handle based on your income and other financial commitments. Once you’ve got your number in mind, you can begin your apartment rental hunt online by narrowing down your search to apartments that are within your specific price range.

Want It, Need It, Can’t Live Without It:

It’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of your apartment rental search. Jot down your preferences, such as an in suite washer/dryer, indoor parking or even an on-site gym. Once you have your wish list created, it will help you to sort out what you absolutely need to have in your apartment rental (if you have a cat, for example, it’s a must that your dream apartment accept pets) and what you can afford to live without. While it would be nice to have an in suite washer and dryer, it is not necessarily a deal breaker if the apartment rentals you are looking at do not have the feature.

Have Car, Will Travel:

Depending on your usual mode of transportation, you’ll want an apartment rental that accommodates you. If you have a car, onsite parking (underground or street level) would be an ideal addition to your list of must-have amenities. If the building is situated close to major thoroughfares, making it easier to get to and from work and your daily errands, even better. If you’re usually on foot, scope out the transit situation near the building. Are there bus or subway stops close by or will the daily hike to catch your bus make living in the building a chore? Depending on the city you live in, most apartment rentals will have some form of mass transit close by.

Love Thy Neighbourhood:

Finally, the location of the apartment rental is important. What are you looking for in a neighbourhood? If you have children, proximity to a school or playground would be an ideal addition to the neighbourhood you choose to call home. If you love the nightlife, being within walking distance of a wide array of restaurants and bars might be more up your alley. No matter what your lifestyle, having amenities like grocery stores, cafes and shopping malls nearby will make life easier and more enjoyable. Use online tools like WalkScore to determine just how close these conveniences are to your new apartment rental, or simply take a walk around the neighbourhood and see how it feels for you.

With any successful apartment rental search, there are always a number of factors to consider. Apartment Guide provides more tips in their blog “How to Find The Best Apartment For You”:

Before you can figure out how to find the best apartment, you’ve got to know yourself — your home lifestyle, that is. A good way to start an apartment search is to think about how your lifestyle affects your apartment needs. Ask yourself: what kind of apartment dweller are you? Do you need a quiet apartment where you can relax or study all day long? Or do you need a place to rest your head at night in between work and an active social life?

All of these questions will help you pinpoint exactly what you need and want in an apartment, which is important. In any given city, you’ll likely have a number of apartment hunting options, so it’s best to know what you want before you search — that way you stay focused and don’t get overwhelmed by choices.

The next step in finding the best apartment is to set apartment hunting priorities. Once you know what you need from your next apartment, it’s good to get all of your needs and wants down on paper. As you start your apartment search, you can refer to this list to ensure you only consider apartments that meet your criteria.

Once you determine the location, amenities and price that make up the best apartment for you, an important way to make sure you get what you want is to stay organized. That means planning your moving schedule, taking detailed notes while you are on apartment visits and keeping all of the related paperwork in one handy place. Creating an apartment search file is a good way to stay on top of all of the brochures, references and applications you’re going to accumulate.

Keep in mind that while you’re apartment hunting, so are many others. In areas where competition for the best apartments is stiff, you can give yourself a leg up on other renters. First, have all of your references and application items ready to go so that when you do find the apartment of your dreams, you’ll be ready to submit an application on the spot. You’ll likely also need to have your checkbook with you so can write a check for the application and security deposit.

These tips should help you find the best apartment rental to match your search criteria!

The RentSeeker Team

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Winter Parties for Residents Living in Rental Apartments

January 22nd, 2014

Winter Party Ideas for Residents of Apartment Rentals
The weather outside may be frightful, but landlords and property managers still have a number of fun options for throwing parties and gatherings for residents in their rental apartments. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 15% of Canadians experience the “winter blues”, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. By encouraging your residents to get together, especially during the winter months, you can help to raise the spirits of those who otherwise would not be able to get out much to socialize. So don’t let Mother Nature hamper your rental apartment building – let’s start planning some winter parties with these tips and ideas from RentSeeker.ca!

Let it Snow:

Canada is having quite the winter, with large snow accumulation and very cold temperatures. You can use this to your advantage when planning a party, particularly if your building has a number of young families. Organize a snowman building competition, rewarding the most creative (and biggest!) entries.

Organizing a trip to a local skating rink is a fun and inexpensive way to encourage your residents to get to know each other outside of the building. Take to your Facebook page to ask your residents to vote on a day that they would like to hit the ice. Many outdoor rinks offer free skating, so bundle up and take advantage of the Canadian winter.

Charity Drives:

Ask your residents to submit suggestions for charities they would like to give to, then hold a charity drive to benefit the top vote-getter. Wintertime is perfect for bake sales and clothing donations. Start by posting a sign-up sheet in the lobby or on your Facebook page where residents can indicate what they would like to contribute in the way of baking or clothing. Determine the best day for holding your event (Saturday or Sunday afternoons usually work best) and get set up in your apartment rental’s common area.

If you receive a number of suggestions for charities to give to, you may wish to consider making charity drives a monthly or bi-monthly event in your building. The spirit of giving is a wonderful way to bring people together!

Game Night

When the sun goes down at 5pm, the nights can feel long. Organizing a game night is a great way to encourage your residents to socialize with each other without having to leave the comfort of the building. Cards, board games and even charades are just a few of the options to get your residents together. Provide refreshments in the way of soda, coffee and snacks and you’re bound to have a great night of laughs with residents of all ages.

Indoor Exercise Groups:

When it’s cold, windy and icy, it can be difficult for residents to get outside to get enough exercise. Organize a weekly or monthly exercise group that allows your residents to get together in the warmth of your building and get their stretch on. Activities can range from simple yoga moves to a low-impact step class. However, you’ll want to ensure safety for all who participate – consider bringing in a personal trainer who understands the needs of people of all fitness levels. Many city-run gyms have affordable trainers that can come to your rental apartment to run a monthly class, so it’s best to determine the interest of your residents first before committing.

If your apartment building has a entertainment room complete with a television, hosting a movie night is a perfect way to use the space on a cold winter’s night. Here’s some ideas for getting the party started courtesy of evite.com

What to Watch:

Give your viewing party a little direction by choosing movies or TV shows with a common thread. This can be as simple as watching movies with a favorite actor or director, screening movies in a trilogy or series, or watching a season of a TV show.

Or for a less straight-forward approach, try one of these themes for your next movie / TV night:

- Screen a classic and follow it up by a recent remake.

- Have a before-they-were-stars party and watch George Clooney in Facts of Life and Leonardo DiCaprio in Growing Pains.

- Narrow down a theme to a specific time and genre, such as Disney blockbusters from the late ’80s and early ’90s. You’ll marvel to think that the animation was actually done by hand.

Activities:

Your movies or TV shows are sure to be the main event, but not all life has to revolve around the television. Take a break between showings with a few games to keep people interested (and awake).

Make your own trivia game about the movies or shows you’re watching. After each ends, quiz your guests on what they just saw. This adds a new dimension of excitement to movies your guests have seen several times and fuels everyone’s competitive spirit. Hand out prizes after each round to reward those with a keen eye.

If you’re screening cult classics, play a game of movie bingo: design your own cards, put famous phrases or expressions in different squares, and see who calls out “Bingo!” when they match four in a row. For example, if you’re hosting a John Hughes marathon or simply screening Sixteen Candles, the squares can feature “geek,” “dude,” “underpants” and other quotables.

Food:

A movie without popcorn is like a day without sunshine. Let your guests customize their corn with a popcorn bar. Pop a few bags of plain popcorn, and set out various accompaniments like the standard melted butter and salt. Then display dishes or shakers of savory popcorn seasonings like sour cream and onion, ranch, or white cheddar salts. Grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and freshly chopped herbs add an offbeat, homemade touch.

For those who crave a little sugar, pop a batch of kettle corn for your bar. Include M&Ms, bits of toffee, and honey-roasted almonds and peanuts in the selection of toppings. A dusting of powdered sugar and chocolate sprinkles will satisfy any sweet tooth.

So beat those winter blues back by turning bummed out into funned out :-)

The RentSeeker.ca Team

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