June is fast approaching, a time that usually means the renewal of your current lease (if it hasn’t been done already) or the signing of a new lease! Whether you are shopping for your first apartment or looking for a new one, it’s always a good idea to remind yourself of the important points of this famous rental contract!
So, ready for a little 101 reminder?
What Is a Lease?
Let’s start by reminding ourselves what a residential lease is and why it is crucial to sign one.
A lease is a contract between a landlord and a tenant that consolidates their relationship, rights, and obligations for the duration of the rental period. It is valid regardless of the type of accommodation rented (house, apartment, condo). It can take two forms: written or verbal.
The written form is the most known and secure one. On one hand, this classic form allows each party to have its own copy of the lease. All the conditions of the lease are written on it, including your obligations and those of your landlord, as well as what is allowed or forbidden to do and/or have in the dwelling.
On the other hand, an agreement without a lease, called a “verbal lease” is also valid, but not recommended. Not having a written lease can be fine, but can easily turn sour, and with good reasons!
Indeed, the conditions of the lease not being defined in a clear document, it becomes difficult to manage conflictual cases. Thus, when a problem arises, we find ourselves in a grey zone and it will be difficult to determine responsibility and how to find a solution quickly.
For all other more specific types of leases, we invite you to consult the site of the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL) where you will find all the details.
How to Fill It In?
With the pandemic, the traditional ways of doing things have changed a little, but not too much. There are now online TAL approved leases that replace the paper lease, allowing you to sign everything remotely and much more easily. CORPIQ’s Electronic Lease is also an excellent example.
It is up to the landlord to fill out the lease according to what was agreed upon between you during the visit. Once the paper lease is completed, the landlord must make an appointment with you to get your signature. It will be your responsibility to make sure that all the information on the lease is accurate. All you have to do is read it, sign it, and take your paper copy. This is not the best way to avoid contact these days!
As for the Electronic Lease, you will receive an email with the completed lease and you will have to confirm that you have read the contents of each page in order to sign it virtually. Convenient because everything is done online!
For a better understanding of the options included and the things not to do, you can make a phone appointment with the landlord to make sure you don’t have any bad surprises once you receive your copy to sign!
A Questionnaire to Address All Your Questions
We have prepared a list of pertinent questions for you to ask when you sign your lease or even when you visit your future apartment:
- Is the apartment non-smoking?
- Are pets allowed? Especially if you already have one!
- What is the best way to communicate with the landlord? By text, email, or phone?
- What about the neighborhood, are they elderly, families, or others?
- What are the electricity bills like?
- Are there any inclusions (appliances, furniture, etc.);
- Is it possible to have parking?
Some landlords require that the balcony or certain areas be cleared of snow. This should be specified in your lease in Section E. Bring a shovel if this is your responsibility, you’ll have one ready in case of heavy snow!
Final Details on D-Day
Make sure you leave with a copy of the lease signed by the landlord and yourself. Then, add it to your important papers so you can find it quickly when you need to refer to it! You can even take a picture of it or scan it in case you lose it.
According to the TAL, your future landlord may ask you for several documents for verification purposes before initiating the lease. Here are some of them:
- A valid photo ID (which they can’t photocopy, without your permission of course);
- Contact information for your current landlord if you have one;
- Your full name, current address, SIN (in some circumstances) and date of birth if they want to do a credit check.
Before accepting your application, it is possible that the landlord will decide to do a credit check on you, for example, to verify your rental references. Expect to fill out a rental application, which you will have to sign as an agreement.
Reminder Tip #1
You visit an apartment, and you are interested in it: you tell the person who is showing you around, but he or she informs you that no lease is necessary to rent the apartment? WARNING SIGNAL! It is crucial for you to sign a lease before moving in. You may feel more secure and protected when you move in!