Top 10 Rental Tips

Top 10 Rental Tips

Ten Tips Every UBC Student Should Know

1. Consult your friends, peers and social networks

Before searching for places to rent, it is always a good idea to talk to your peers (i.e. friends and classmates) who have experience with renting in your preferred area. Maybe they have recommendations on where to rent or know somebody who is finding a sublet. At AMS Housing, we are also here to give you expert advice on renting in the city!

2. Decide the location of your rental

When it comes to rentals, it is important to know which area in the city you’d like to rent. UBC currently has 13 bus routes, which makes it extremely convenient for students living in different areas in the city to come to campus. Neighbourhoods such as University Village, Wesbrook Village, and Point Grey are within walking/biking distance to the campus; whereas Kitsilano, False Creek, and Downtown are all within one bus away!

Here is a great article helping you learn a little bit more of each of Vancouver’s neighborhoods and more!

3. Know your budget and preference in type of housing

In Vancouver, the common types of properties are houses (either the entire house, a bedroom, or a suite) and apartments, each has its pros and cons. The rental pricing varies quite a lot depending on the type of housing you’d like to rent. For example, the cost of a 1-bedroom apartment suite is usually double the price of a 1-bedroom basement suite in the same area. Some students may choose to rent with a peer to share some housing expenditures.

4. Start your search a month earlier

The rental market in Vancouver is fierce, especially during the weeks leading up to the start of the school year. Starting your search early allows you to be exposed to more options. You can find rental opportunities starting to pop out as early as 4 to 5 weeks before the start of the school year, as tenants often need to give at least 4 weeks of notice before moving out. 

Here are three websites to help with your search: 

  1. UBC Room Rental: Room Exchange – A Facebook page to provide a resource for people looking to rent, or share a place at UBC, or around UBC campus.
  2. Global Education City – Vancouver’s largest student residence and accommodation website that offers flexible monthly rentals, all-inclusive amenities, and off-campus solutions
  3. VANCOUVER | Places For Rent – A public facebook group of over 68000 members with new posts 20+ every day. You will be able to find housing resources in Great Vancouver.

5. Understand what is included in the rent

When looking into rentals, it is important to make a note of what is included in the monthly rent that you are paying. Some rental fees may cover bills like Internet and BC Hydro, while others may need you to set up and pay for your own. The cost of bills can quickly add up and add an extra couple of hundreds to your monthly expenditure.

6. Never be afraid to ask questions

Many times, a landlord would tell you all the good aspects of the place you are inquiring about renting. However, never be afraid to point out the flaws and ask questions when you need to. Some questions to consider are: What is covered by the rent? Are there any hidden fees associated that are not being discussed yet? What are the parking options? Is there a secure area for mail and packages? Are there any on-site maintenance, security, and/or property managers? Who are the emergency contacts when the landlord is unavailable to answer an urgent question?

7. Always check the place first (and pay multiple visits if possible)

When looking for a place to rent, it is important to visit the place more than once to get to know the area more. Visiting at night or during a rainy day would help you paint a better picture of the place. It’s also a good idea to walk a few blocks around the area and see how safe and secure the neighborhood is. 

8. Understand rental agreements

Most landlords may need you to pay a deposit (usually worth a month of rent) to them. Read the contract thoroughly to ensure that you know how far in advance you need to inform them of your move out, so you are able to obtain your deposit back. For many apartments in the city, the building may also charge you a move-in and/or move-out fee. You need to know whether this amount will be deducted from your deposit, or whether it is an amount that you need to pay out of your pocket upfront.

Additionally, please be aware at the end of your tenancy, you can re-negotiate a new lease on a month by month system and annual rent, if all tenants remain the same, should not exceed BC’s annual allowable increase. Learn more about rent increases here.

9. Protect yourself from scammers

College students are one of the most easily targeted groups by rental scammers. When you see a rental ad that is too good to be true (i.e. extremely low rental price compared to the market) or a landlord that is unable to provide thorough answers to your questions, it is often better to be safe than sorry. Check out any apartment in person before you give your deposit. 

10. Know your rights as a renter

In most cases, the landlord would ask you to sign a tenancy agreement that outlines the responsibilities of the landlord and the renter. It is important to have a thorough read-through of the agreement and ensure that it is legal and you are comfortable with signing what is presented to you. Additionally, if there are any repair jobs needed in the apartment it is within your duty to report and your landlord’s duty to fix the repair in a timely manner. 

Check out TRAC for more information about your rental maintenance rights here.

The Government of BC’s Starting a Tenancy page is also a great resource, providing detailed information on tenancy agreements, deposits, pets, and moving in.