Before you sign

In Arts & Life /

Leases are up and residence move-out day looms in your future. Think you’ve found your dream place? Arts and Life editor Gianluca Inglesi offers tips to keep in mind before you put your name on the dotted line

Under your feet

When you step into a room, what are you stepping on? Be wary of carpet. It’s tough to clean, easy to stain and can hide rotting floorboards. Aim for tile in the kitchen and bathroom and hardwood (or a decent derivative) in the bedrooms or living areas. It’s easy to clean and looks the best.

What you’re paying for

Not everyone will be lucky enough to snag an all-inclusive deal. Be sure to ask the landlord what tenants should pay for bills. If you are only responsible for utilities or hydro, check how the place is heated/cooled. That will largely determine the size of your bill.

Enough space

Whether you’re shacking up with five pals or living solo, it’s important to have enough space. Shared living spaces are important for entertaining — no one wants their bedroom to double as a party room. Be sure you have a big closet and won’t be climbing over furniture to get to bed.

The air you breathe

In Toronto’s mosaic of living spaces (basements, attics), windows and ventilation are both concerns. Natural light and fresh air shouldn’t be taken for granted. If you don’t have many windows or vents and you’re behind on cleaning, your apartment will develop a stale and unwelcoming odour.

Hot and cold

Try testing the hot and cold water and check the size of the water heater. To put it simply, the more people meant to live in the apartment, the bigger the heater should be. You don’t want to race out of bed to claim that limited amount of hot water in the middle of January.

Plug it in

Check which appliances come with the place and make sure they work. Count how many outlets are in each room. Having to split an outlet between various electronics will get annoying. And power bars may not be the answer, since some old houses aren’t prepared for the extra electrical demand.

Growths and pests

Look for mould and listen for pests. Check online for bed bug warnings at that address. You don’t want to move into an unsanitary environment. Keep an eye out for water damage on the ceilings and in bathrooms and make sure sealants have been applied to cracks and crevices.

Safety first

Look for updated fire and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as fire extinguishers and an emergency exit. Also ask when big hardware like furnaces, water heaters, or air conditioners were last inspected. You don’t want to be living in a house that functions on standards from the 80’s.

Photo by: Lindsay Boeckl

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