Housing Dos and Don’ts: A Guide For First Years
With the end of first term approaching, there is constant chatter around finding a house and securing housemates. The thought of having to contact landlords, signing a lease and all things “adulting” has finally arrived, and you are not alone in your feelings of stress or fear. Here are some DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to all things housing.
Make a list of your priorities in a house before you begin your search
To avoid feeling overwhelmed or viewing houses you have no interest in living in, it is important to decide what you want in a house before you start looking. Are you willing to sacrifice the size of the house for a good location? How many bathrooms are ideal? Do you want to live on a quieter street or a street known for big parties? Thinking about all these things beforehand will narrow down your house search and will help landlords take you to properties they think match what you are looking for.
Set a price range with your housemates
Living on your own can be expensive. Everyone has different financial backgrounds and a maximum amount they are willing to pay monthly for a house. Sitting down with your housemates and determining a price range to stay within will not only narrow down the house search but will prevent conflict and ensure every housemate feels comfortable.
Make use of the Queen’s House Listing Service
The Queen’s House Listing Service is there for students to search through houses up for rent and contact landlords. The website has a search engine that allows you to narrow your house search based on number of rooms and lease types. Each house description tells you its distance from the JDUC, the price as well as information on laundry, air conditioning, parking, and amenities.
Be aware of property management companies you can lease with
Companies like Varsity properties or Frontenac Property Management have many houses available for lease for perspective students. If you rent through these companies they each offer different amenities. For example, Varsity offers a cleaning service for their properties.
Try to talk to the previous owners
You might be surprised how much insight talking to the previous owners of a potential house will give you. The people living in the house have dealt with every up and down of the property and they know what living on that specific street is like. Getting information from previous owners can help you make a decision on whether the property will work for you.
Sign a lease without reading all of it
This may be your first official document you are signing as an adult, which is why it is very important you read the whole contract. You need to know and understand what you are agreeing to. Ensure the prices listed on the lease are the ones you agreed to. Do not be afraid to ask the landlord questions regarding the lease, this is a large decision so gathering as much information as possible before signing the lease is the way to go.
Rush to find housemates
The people you house with are going to be your family away from home, and living together as students means you will be too close for comfort a lot of the time. You want to live with people you are comfortable and happy around. Do not settle on housemates because you fell behind on securing a house. You have time to find and pick people you actually want to live with.
There may be people you know who have already signed the lease to their house, but there are also houses that won’t go on the market until February, so if you do not have a house picked yet do not feel behind. Houses come on the market in waves starting in November and ending in February. Starting your search now is smart because you can ease into the house hunt process but do not stress if you cannot find the perfect home. Renting a house takes time, and you have it. So, don’t rush and you will see the pay off when in a short year from now you are happily living in your new house wondering what you were so worried about anyway.