Do: view the apartment before signing the lease
Apartments can look very different in-person than online. To make sure you don’t end up moving in somewhere that looks completely different than what you were expecting view the apartment in-person!! Make sure to ask questions about the apartment; this may include asking about pet and smoke policies, for example. While you’re at the apartment check cellphone reception, test the shower pressure, look at the view, and check if the outlets work. If this is not possible due to location restraints, see if a friend or family member can view it for you, and possibly FaceTime you while visiting.
Don’t: forget to utilize your resources
There are so many different places you can look for apartment listings. An amazing resource that is exclusive to Ryerson students looking for an apartment is the Off-Campus Housing Office Search Tools. This webpage can help you find what you need whether you are looking for long-term housing: residence style, long-term housing: apartments & condos, short-term housing: exchanges, or overnight stays. As well, make sure to check out other resources such as Kijiji and Facebook groups like Bunz Home Zone.
Do: research the area
Google the area you are looking to live in, and see if any reports come up that would convince you against living in that area. If you can, explore the area in the day and at night, as it may be very different during one of these times. Again, ask your friends in the area if they can check it out if you cannot. You can even try reaching out to upper-year students in Facebook groups to see if anyone has any experience with the area.
Don’t: assume everything is included in the rental
A apartment may not be a good deal if it does not include wifi, hydro, air conditioning, or cable and is only slightly less than an apartment that includes these things. Ask for the expected prices for utilities, and if you can see past bills. Another thing to note is that you may decide that you’d rather pay more to live closer to campus or vice versa. If you’re living far enough, you may need to get a monthly subway pass, and consider if the apartment is still a good deal after factoring in this cost. Make an informed decision by looking at ALL expected costs!
Do: find a roommate with a similar budget that you can see yourself living with
Your friend who seems like the perfect roommate may not work out so well if one of you have different interests while apartment hunting. One of you may prefer to live farther from school, in order to have more living space, but the other may feel quite the opposite. Overall, make sure you have similar apartment goals before deciding to live with someone! If you are not sure where to find a roommate try utilizing Ryerson’s Off-Campus Housing Roommate finder resource.
Don’t: wait ’til the last minute
Apartments fill-up quite quickly, especially if you’re trying to move in somewhere for September or January. If you’re hoping for an apartment that isn’t too far from Ryerson, but that is also a good deal, you will most likely need to sign your lease months in advance.
Do: learn your rights
Study up on your rights, and don’t let your landlord deceive you. Make sure you actually read your lease and understand what you’re agreeing to. You can find legal community resources on the Ryerson Off-Campus Housing Office website. This includes things such as a tool that summarizes tenant law in easy to understand steps, an official resource to help resolve a dispute with your landlord and a free tenant hotline.
Finding what you’re looking for in an apartment can be a hard task, but not an impossible one if you are reasonable about your wants and needs. You’ve got this, take a deep breath and don’t give up on the hunt!