Renter Rights: What to Know Before Renting

“Home is where the heart is” – a phrase most of us are familiar with. Even though the term was originally used over 2000 years ago, this phrase is still very true today. No matter if our ‘home’ is an apartment, house, duplex, condo, or shared residency, it is where you, your family, and your friends find shelter, comfort, and safety. 

If your home is a rental property, it is very important to be aware of your rights, regardless of whether you are a first-time property renter or an old hand at renting a home. Each province in Canada, and sometimes each city, may have different rules and guidelines. For Alberta, take a moment to visit “Information for Tenants and Landlords” on the Government of Alberta website and the Helpful Links on the RentFaster.ca website. It is a good idea to access as much information as possible BEFORE you rent to ensure that you are well informed.

Things to Consider Before Renting

Have a clear picture of your needs: how long do you need to rent (monthly, yearly, multi year), will there be children in the home, will there be pets in the home? Knowing your needs and requirements will help avoid issues down the road.

How much your home will cost is often a primary consideration. Rental properties have various types of leases (contract). A Periodic Tenancy has no end date, allowing the tenant to continue to live until either the tenant or landlord ends the lease. A Fixed Term Lease provides a fixed end date in the lease. 

Read your lease! This is not only protection for your landlord but most importantly, for you. The lease should fully state: 

  • All names of the persons to live in the rental- what if Aunt Betty stays for a year?
  • Full and correct address of the rental with the Landlords correct name and contact information 
  • Rental rates, when they are due and how the rent is to be paid 
  • Any security deposit or other fees payable and their due dates
  • Any utilities included in the payment of rent, and who is responsible for payment of various utilities
  • Responsibility for maintenance and repairs, including yard work (what is covered, when repairs will be done, and how often)
  • Clauses outline whether or not the rental property can be sublet or sub-leased
  • What insurance the renter requires, and who pays for the property and home insurance in the case of a house rental

Though verbal agreements can happen, it is strongly advised to protect yourself with a written agreement. In the event of a dispute in the province of Alberta, the Residential Tenancies Act will be enforced over any agreement between the renter or landlord. Protect yourself by having a signed and witnessed copy of your lease!

Responsibilities of Renters and Landlords

What are your responsibilities as a renter? As mentioned, these should be included in the contract, but there are some common sense items such as following the lease, paying your rent, and not damaging the property. Your landlord also has responsibilities. For example, your landlord or property manager cannot just drop in for a visit. Your landlord must provide prior notice of at least 24 hours before visiting the property. Not only do you need to be aware of your responsibilities as a renter, but it is equally important to be aware of the responsibilities that your landlord has to you. Take the time to check out the links included in this blog and talk to your RentFaster agent to learn more.

Discrimination

As Albertans and Canadians, discrimination is not something anyone wants, but unfortunately it does happen. As a renter in Alberta you are protected by the Alberta Human Rights Act. Factors such as race, sex, religion, ethnic background, and disability, should never impact your ability to rent a property, and it is illegal for a landlord to discriminate against you on these grounds. 

Where we go after a long day of work or play is a priority in our lives. Taking the steps to protect yourself not only provides peace of mind, but a sense of belonging and relaxation in your new home. Take the time to know the facts and never hesitate to ask questions before you sign any lease or pay any fees. To learn more about the rights and responsibilities of renters and landlords, contact your RentFaster.ca agent.