A GUIDE TO BECOMING A FIRST-TIME RENTER

Lifestyle & Wellness | 6 MIN READ | 2023-10-17

If you're a first-time apartment renter, you're in for an exciting journey, but it can also be a bit nerve-racking. Navigating lease agreements and understanding your financial capabilities seem overwhelming, but not impossible! This blog post can help guide you through the process and make the transition into your first apartment as smooth as possible – no need to thank us!
 
After discussing popular questions with Minto Apartments Leasing Consultant, Lauren Stroud, we’ll give you the inside scoop on apartment renting. With 5 years of experience in the Ottawa area, Lauren shares her expertise on how to accomplish a seamless search, application, and move-in process. Let's dive in and discover the keys to a successful renting experience! 
 

How can you make the most out of a tight budget? Someone doing taxes on computer

First thing’s first – make a list! Compare your must-haves versus your nonessentials to better understand what you are willing to compromise on in an apartment. Working with a tight budget means you won’t always get everything you want; but if you hone in on what’s most important to you, you can make the most of your budget. 

Here are some features you may want to compare: 

  • Location
  • Square footage
  • Central A/C
  • In-suite versus in-building laundry
  • Dishwasher
  • Newly renovated
  • Two bedrooms minimum
  • Types of amenities
  • Parking options
  • Proximity to public transit 

Is rental insurance necessary? How does it work?Apartment living room

Rental insurance works to protect the personal belongings and liability of renters by providing financial security and peace of mind in the face of unexpected events. This means that in the event of fire damage, theft, vandalism, water damage, property injuries, or more, expenses will be covered. 

Rental insurance is primarily very affordable, but it’s recommended to get a few quotes (most quotes are free of charge) before deciding which package to chose! If you already have an insurance plan such as car insurance, you may be able to add rental insurance to it. 

Depending on your belongings, as well as your lease, you may be required to purchase specific types of rental insurance. At Minto Apartments, it’s required that tenants have liability and personal contents coverage, although additional coverages may benefit you. 

What does the typical application process look like for first-time renters?

Couple on laptop

Step 1: Get in touch with a property leasing agent. 

Reach out to the contact associated with the property, and you’ll be directed to a knowledgeable agent. At Minto Apartments, apartment seekers can call, email or submit a form to our Infoline team, who provides connection with an agent. Then, schedule a viewing of the unit & learn more!  

Step 2: Receive an application 

Once you have selected the unit you would like to apply for, the leasing agent will provide you with an application to complete & send back. At Minto Apartments, the application is accessed and completed with ease through RENTCafe - an all encompassing resident portal that allows you to apply, submit rental payments, submit service requests, connect with your property management team and share information with your neighbours – how fab!  

Step 3: Prepare information for an application

Most applications will ask for a standard information. The following is asked for on Minto Apartments rental applications: 

  • Contact information (including sin #)
  • Emergency contact information
  • Employment information
  • Proof of income, typically in the form of a recent pay stub (different provisions exist for self-employed applicants, students, retirees or newcomers)
  • Two pieces of photo ID
  • Present renting address OR credit check
  • Additional occupants

Step 4: Renter selection 

Now you wait! Applications are screened for criminal background and credit checks to be reviewed for tenant selection. 

Step 5: Congratulations! 

Upon approval, applicants are required to pay a last month rent deposit. 

What is important to the leasing agent when working with first-time renters? How can renters make agents jobs easier?

Couple shaking agents hand

Honesty!

Know your situation, and communicate it thouroughly with your leasing agent. Whether its about financial capabilities or apartment preferances, let your agent know. It won’t hurt your agents feelings to let them know that you think the unit is too small, or not your style. In fact, that’s what they want to hear! Financially, let your leasing agent know the full picture. Tell them if you’re working part-time, or receiving funding, or self employed, or a student – the more information, the better! 

What are the most important questions first-time renters should ask their leasing agent?

Two mothers walking their kids across the street in a city

There will be a few, and not everyone cares about the same things, but here are some of the important ones we think you should ask:

  • What are the demographics of the community or building?
  • What are the neighborhood highlights? (I.e., best shopping, restaurants, coffee shops, schools, transit etc.)
  • What does the monthly rent bill include? Does it include utilities such as water, electricity, gas, and if not, what are the expected monthly rates?
  • Do you have any design or layout recommendations? (Leasing agents can usually speak to how we have seen tenants furnish suites of different shapes and sizes.)
  • What amenities or additional facilities does the building or community have? (I.e., gym, pool, outdoor space, concierge.)
  • How can I make a maintenance or repair request?
  • Can you confirm the lease terms and explain the increases year over year?
  • How does move-in work? How can I book an elevator? 

What are the most common mistakes that first-time renters make?

Women on cell phne with a confused expression

Over applying: Rental applications can be extensive, so it’s recommended to only pick a couple you’re serious about and put your effort into them. Don’t overwhelm yourself! 

Considering other expenses: It’s easy to forget that you aren’t just paying rent! Ask your leasing agent what other expenses are associated with a unit. Often, this includes: 

  • Application fee
  • Moving costs
  • Parking spaces or transit services
  • Utilities such as water, gas & electricity
  • Internet
  • Appliances (may need to purchase an A/C unit, washing machine, etc.)
  • Rental insurance 

What is the most common reason that rental applications are denied? How can first-time renters avoid this?

Women on Laptop upset and confused

Credit income is the primary reason rental applications are denied. This could be due to poor credit history or insufficient income which may create doubt about a tenant's ability to meet their obligations. That being said, as long as these issues are communicated to the leasing agent, there may be ways around them. It may be recommended to include a guarantor, someone who lawfully agrees to pay rent if the tenant isn’t able to. Communicating any doubts with a leasing agent because there are always alternatives to strengthen an application!

Who is Lauren Stroud?

Lauren Stroud Headshot

Lauren Stroud has worked as a Leasing Consultant at Minto Apartments for two years, receiving the 2022 Greenberg Award for Accomplishemnt for her work leasing apartments at Fifth + Bank in Ottawa, ON. She began her career in real estate and leasing through co-op’s offered at Carelton University, in Ottawa, where she studied a Bachelor of Honours in Communication & Media Studies, with a Minor in Business. 

As of 2023, Lauren has spent five years as a Leasing Consultant. What she enjoys about the job is “the rewarding experience of helping people find their new home, meeting and interacting with new people.” She says that her favourite part about working for Minto Apartments is “The people! Minto has great, diverse teams where innovation is encouraged.” 

Looking for an apartment? Check out our websites’ listings! 

Got some important advice you want to share about leasing? We’d love to hear it - let us know on our social media channels!

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