Rental accommodation is usually easy to find throughout Canada, but finding the right place in Montréal can be challenge. Like most things in real estate, it is all about location, location, location and timing. Some of the most popular sections of the city have high demand.
Accommodation is usually let unfurnished and include basic flooring, lighting, and built-in kitchen and bathroom, but not furniture. Leases usually start at one year and it is suggested to arrive by July 1st since the majority of leases end on this day (choices outside of this period are more limited). There are actually three seasons:
Spring prevails over other seasons in terms of heavy transactions
Sharp decline in the month of June
During the fall, there is a second opportunity to find a place.
Online search engines are one of the best ways to get an estimate of the current market and to track new properties. Most sites allow you to set-up alerts to find the best property for you.
Classifieds in print or on newspapers online edition can also be a great resource. . Note that you should call ads that attract you immediately (within daytime hours) as good properties can go fast.
You can also put your own ad in the paper. This may lead to more spam than responses, but this option can be effective.
Many places have billboards offering advertisements for a variety of goods and services. Watch these boards for useful postings. Laundrettes, cafes, grocery stores, community centers, and bars all might have private ads. While property listings are less common than rental announcements, they may offer a useful lead.
An agent can be a useful resource for finding the right place quickly. A good agent knows the legal pitfalls and has access to a variety of housing. An agent will provide you with a description of available properties, escort you to viewings, make sure your contract complies with expected standards.
In most cases, the estate agent is paid by the landlord and so as the tenant you do not have to pay an agency fee. Nevertheless, because landlords have to give up a slice of their rent/selling price to the Estate agent, they tend to have higher asking prices.
It is always best to visit the apartment before renting rather then renting sight unseen. This ensures you will be satisfied with the accommodations and able to abide by the contract. It also establishes a relationship with the landlord.
Set appointments as soon as possible. The longer you wait - even if its only a matter of hours - the greater the chance that the apartment will be rented before you get there. If possible, try to visit the area around the apartment both during the day and at night, or ask around to see what it is like. Perfectly peaceful areas during the day can turn into unbearable residential areas at night if there are bars nearby. Likewise, a calm neighborhood in the evening may be a nightmare during the day due to traffic or construction works
Approach a first visit like an interview: Dress nicely, be prepared, and arrive on time. It is also a good idea to bring a camera to take pictures of the site. This is a helpful tool when deciding between properties, or remembering details. Also be sure to check the infrastructure. Look at elements such as flooring, and the heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing systems. You should feel free to ask questions about the rental.
1) How long is the lease?
2) How much is the security deposit? How is it held and when will it be returned?
3) Are utilities included in the rent? If not, how much are they?
4) Are pets allowed?
Contracts should be in writing. If the owner does not want to write out an agreement - insist. This is a vital step to protect yourself. Technically, a verbal agreement is just as binding as a written agreement, but a verbal agreement is harder to prove in court. What should be include in a contract:
To make sure the contract is adhered to and you are not later charged with pre-existing damage, you should do a walk through with the landlord before signing the contract. This is the time to ask any last minute questions.
A tenant cannot withhold rent from the landlord without risking being evicted. If you have a problem with your apartment and the landlord does not fix it, you are required to pursue legal action through the Régie du Logement.
Most apartments require that tenants submit a termination letter at least 30 days before their move date. Some leases automatically renew, so check the terms and conditions listed on your lease contract to avoid unnecessary charges or fees. It is also usually required that the intention to leave is in writing, so write a lease termination letter to your landlord or management company stating the date you plan to move out of your apartment. Mail the termination letter to your landlord's office and send it certified so that you have a postal receipt or turn it in personally.
If you are leaving before your contract is up, you may incur a penalty. That should also be clarified in the contract. Some leases contain an "early-out" or "early-release" clause, which states under what conditions you can break your lease and the amount you owe the landlord. This may be dependent on a visa not being issued/re-newed, or other unforeseen circumstances. Keep in mind that your security deposit may also be forfeited.
When you reach the move-out date, meet with your landlord to complete a walk-through. Review your contract to find out what repairs or damages are not covered under your lease. Have your landlord check for potential damage or repairs before you move out to avoid surprise fees down the road. Discuss how and when you should expect to receive your security deposit with the landlord.