living room rental apartment in ottawa

7 things to look for when apartment searching

Searching for an apartment can feel like a complicated, drawn-out process, and you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the moving parts. We’ve compiled a list of items to keep in mind while you search for your next apartment, so you can rest assured that your search will be a success!  


piggy bank with calculator and papers to calculate how much can I afford to rent


1. Set a budget.

Know what you can afford before you show up to see an apartment. You shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your income on rent. Also keep in mind the cost to move in, the cost of utilities and whether they’re included in the rent, and by how much rent goes up upon lease renewal. You don’t want to set a budget and suddenly face any of these surprises.   


2. Consider the landlord.

Are they too eager to rent out the apartment? Do they glance over the lease? Don’t answer questions about the apartment? These are all red flags and signs that your potential landlord may not have your best interest in mind.  


3. Scan for damage.

Before you negotiate with the landlord or broker, evaluate the apartment, checking for chipped paint, rusty pipes, stains, holes, and even weird smells. You want to make sure the apartment is in pristine condition, and if it isn’t, be careful to take photos to document any damages so that you are not charged for damage you did not cause upon moving out.


man carefully reading his lease for apartment rental


4. Read the lease, carefully.

You may find an apartment within your means, get along with the landlord, and think the apartment looks great – but you also need to be sure that the lease protects you as a tenant. Take into account items like guests, pets, and note if they’re mentioned in the lease. Even if the landlord has said your dog is fine, that doesn’t guarantee that the lease says so!  


5. Prepare your documents.

Say you find the perfect apartment. In a competitive city, a good apartment is swept up quickly. Most brokers and landlords require proof of ability to pay rent costs, photo ID, and a deposit in order to take the apartment off the market. This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be approved for the apartment, but at least you won’t have to worry about other potential tenants applying ahead of you.  



city of ottawa apartments for rent 

6. Location! This is key.

Visit the neighbourhood after you’ve visited the apartment. Get to know the local parks and grocery stores. Consider your commute and consider safety. Is it a location that is safe for driving? Biking? Walking? You want to make sure that even if the physical space of the apartment is right, that the space around it is also convenient and comfortable.  


7. Appliances and amenities.

Do you dread going to the laundromat? Do you want a doorman to greet you whenever you come home from work? Are you looking for a building with a gym? Some amenities may be insignificant to others, but you should keep in mind which amenities and appliances you expect out of an apartment. Something as basic as a refrigerator may not be guaranteed! You should also be sure that all appliances are well-functioning. For example, be sure to confirm that the fridge works. If you catch that the stovetop burner doesn’t spark up, don’t sign the lease, and hold the landlord accountable that it gets fixed before you commit.


Everyone wants to make sure they’ve found a strong match before they sign a lease. Remember to keep this list while you search for an apartment, and you’ll be on your way to finding the right place for you!  




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