Can I look at a rental unit before renting?

Yes. You have the ability to do a walkthrough with your future landlord prior to renting the rental unit. In fact, it is best to avoid agreeing to rent or signing a lease unit unless you have had a viewing. If you are out of town or out of the country you should contact a friend to look at the place before the moving in process begins.

Do I need to fill out an application to rent?

Many landlords will request that you to submit an application when you are looking to rent a rental unit. This helps the landlord determine whom they would like to rent the unit to. Your potential landlord can only ask for information that is reasonably necessary to make a decision about whether to rent to an individual. For example, a landlord could ask for a credit reference or a reference from a previous landlord to ensure that you are a reliable tenant, but a landlord cannot ask you if you have medical issues.

Additionally, your landlord cannot charge you an application or processing fee. If a landlord requests you to pay an application fee do not pay it and contact the Residential Tenancy Branch of British Columbia.

What are references?

Landlords will often ask you to provide references when applying to rent a rental unit. These references are people who can speak to your financial stability or your reliability as a tenant. A landlord will often ask for the phone number or email address of your previous landlord and your employer. If you are a student, your landlord will likely not ask for an employer reference.

If it is your first time renting, you should explain that to your landlord and use a family member or a family friend as your reference.

What is a lease?

A lease is an official agreement between you and your landlord. Your lease sets out the rules and conditions for renting a place. It protects you and your landlord from unfair treatment. Your lease should include things such as the amount of rent you agree to pay, the amount of the damage deposit, what services are included in your rent, the day you rent must be paid by, and more. For a copy of the lease agreement produced by the British Columbia government click here. If your landlord asks you to sign a different lease agreement, you should read it very carefully or ask your landlord to use the lease form provided by the Residential Tenancy Branch of British Columbia. Never sign a lease unless you understand all that it includes. If you are having trouble understanding your lease, contact your Students’ Union and we will meet with you to help you. Signing a lease means you are required to abide by it. Never sign a lease unless you are sure you want to rent the rental unit and are comfortable with all of the terms in your lease.

Can my landlord add additional terms to the lease?

Yes. Your landlord can add what is called an addendum to the lease agreement. This is a document that outlines rules or conditions that are not covered in the standard lease. For example, if the place you are renting has a yard, your landlord might add an additional term that states that you are responsible for maintaining the yard. This additional term needs to be a written document, signed by both you and your landlord, and included with the standard lease. You do not have to agree with the addendum and can refuse to sign it free from punishment under your current lease.

What is a move-in condition inspection?

A Move-in Condition Inspection is a review of the place you want to rent. Both you and your landlord will review the condition of the unit and agree on any damage in the rental. For example, if there are small holes in the wall from the previous renter or if your kitchen counter has water damage, you and your landlord will write these things into a report and sign it. To see a copy of what the Condition Inspection Report should look like click here. This report will protect you from paying for repairs of damage to the rental that existed before you moved in.

You should always do you move-in inspection on paper and keep one copy for yourself. It is a good idea to take photographs of the rental unit before you move in to verify the inspection.

A landlord is required to provide clean premises with appliances in good working order at the time of a tenant moving in. To ensure this and to protect you from paying for pre-existing damage you should always do a move-in condition inspection.

Do the locks to my rental need to be changed before I move in?

When you move into a rental unit you may ask your landlord to have the locks re-keyed or changed. If you request it, your landlord must change the locks. This protects you from previous renters who may have made extra keys. A landlord can ask for a refundable deposit for a key or entry device that is not the sole means of access into the residency. This fee cannot be greater than the direct cost of replacing the item.

Can the locks be changed without my notice?

Neither you nor your landlord may change or rekey the locks to your rental unit unless you both agree. If there is an emergency, such as a break-in, your landlord may change the locks but must provide you with a new key immediately.