Moving to a new neighbourhood can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! You’re taking a big step getting your own place, so take a deep breath and let the adventure begin. Finding the right property takes time, but once you’ve settled in you’ll be glad you took the effort. This guide will help you navigate renting your first flat with handy tips on viewing properties, understanding tenancy agreements, moving your stuff, getting to know the area, and more. We’ll explore what to look for in a good landlord, your rights as a tenant, how to make your new space feel like home, and what to do if any issues come up. You’re starting an exciting new chapter, so get ready to make the most of it!

Whether you’re relocating for a new job or just need some more space, you’ve got this. Now let’s dive in and cover the basics every new renter should know.

Research the Area and Visit Before Moving

Before packing up the moving van, do your homework on the new neighbourhood. Check crime statistics, school ratings, local events, and amenities like public transit options, grocery stores, parks, and entertainment. See what former residents say about the area on sites like NextDoor or Yelp.

Check Out the Neighbourhood in Person

Once you’ve researched online, visit the area in person. Walk or drive around the neighbourhood at different times of day and night to get a feel for things. Are the yards and homes well-maintained? How is the traffic and parking situation? Drop by local cafes, shops, and hangouts to observe the vibe. Strike up conversations with people you encounter to get their input on what it’s like living there.

Talk to Current Residents

If possible, try talking to some current residents about their experience in the area. Ask open-ended questions about things you’re interested in like safety, noise levels, community events, amenities, and more. Their firsthand insights can reveal details you may miss through online research alone.

With some legwork upfront, you’ll gain valuable information to determine if the new neighbourhood is the right fit before signing a lease or purchasing a home. And once you do move in, you’ll feel more at ease knowing what to expect from your surroundings. The time invested will be well worth the peace of mind.

Understand Your Lease Agreement and Rights as a Renter

Once you’ve found a place you want to call home, it’s time to sign on the dotted line. But before you do, make sure you understand your lease agreement inside and out. This legally binding contract outlines the terms of your rental, so don’t just skim it!

Know the duration of your lease

Leases typically run 6-12 months, but can be shorter or longer. Understand exactly how long you’re committing to and what happens when the lease term is up, like whether it auto-renews or converts to month-to-month.

Understand your responsibilities

Your lease will spell out your obligations as a tenant, like paying rent and utilities on time, keeping the place clean, avoiding damage, and not disturbing neighbours. Be very clear on these to avoid legal issues down the road.

Know your rights

Tenants have rights too, like the right to privacy, safe housing, and freedom from discrimination. Your lease can’t take away or limit these basic rights. Don’t be afraid to push back on unreasonable terms before signing.

Additional fees and restrictions

Look for any extra charges like pet fees or parking fees. And check if there are any restrictions on things like smoking, pets, guests, or subletting. Make sure any rules align with your needs and lifestyle before you commit.

The most important thing is making sure you fully comprehend your lease before you sign. If anything is unclear or concerning, ask questions. Your new place may seem perfect, but you’ll want to go in with eyes open to ensure a happy and hassle-free experience as a new renter.

Inspect the Property Thoroughly Before Moving In

Before you sign on the dotted line, insist on inspecting the property thoroughly. Walk through each room and check that everything is in working order. Look for any signs of water damage or structural issues that could become a problem down the road. It’s much easier to get issues addressed before you move in rather than trying to get a landlord to make repairs once you’re settled.

Check the plumbing and electrical systems

Turn on all the taps to ensure water flows freely with good pressure. Flush the toilets a couple of times to confirm they’re in working order. Test that all lighting fixtures, power points and appliances are functioning properly.

Test the locks and security

Make sure all external doors and windows can be securely locked. Check that any security systems like an alarm or security gates are functioning properly. Your safety and security should be a top priority.

Note the condition of floors and walls

Look for any cracks, holes or water damage in the walls, ceilings and floors. Flooring and carpets should be in reasonably good condition with no major stains or tears. Walls should be free of major marks or damage. Minor issues are often easy to fix but structural or water damage can lead to bigger problems.

Discuss any issues with the landlord

Don’t hesitate to point out any problems you discover during the inspection. It’s best to address issues before you sign the lease to avoid potential disputes or unfulfilled promises of repairs down the track. If there are a number of significant issues, you may want to consider finding another rental option to avoid ongoing headaches.

A thorough inspection before you move in will give you peace of mind that your new home is in good shape. Be diligent and don’t overlook any potential problems. It’s worth the effort to start your tenancy with a safe, comfortable and well-functioning place to call home.

Set Up Utilities and Services Ahead of Time

Moving to a new place is stressful enough without having to worry about turning on the power or water. Do yourself a favour and set up all your utilities before you move in. Most utility companies allow you to schedule a start date for when you’ll need services turned on.

Call or go online to set up electricity, gas, water, internet, cable, and phone services. Provide your new address and the date you want everything turned on. For some services like internet or cable, you may need to be present for installation or equipment set up. Try to schedule all installations and service start dates for the same day or within the same week as your move-in.

You’ll also want to update your mailing address with companies who regularly send you bills. Make sure services like insurance providers, banks, credit card companies, and subscription services have your new address to avoid missing important mail or payments.

Once you move in, check that all utilities and services are working properly. It’s not uncommon for installation or start dates to get mixed up, especially if you’re coordinating multiple companies. Walk through your new place and ensure lights, heating/cooling, plumbing, internet, and any other services you set up are functioning as they should. Contact any companies right away if there are issues to get them resolved quickly.

Getting your utilities and services established ahead of time is one less thing to worry about on moving day and ensures you’ll have everything you need as soon as you walk into your new home. With some pre-planning, you can get set up and avoid service interruptions or confusion. Make setting up your utilities a priority and your move will go that much more smoothly.

Get to Know Your Property Manager and Their Responsibilities

As a renter, one of the most important relationships you’ll have is with your property manager. This is the person who will handle the day-to-day of your rental and be your main point of contact for any issues. When you first move in, schedule a meeting to chat with your property manager face to face. This allows you both to get acquainted, and gives you a chance to ask any questions you may have about the property or their role.

Maintaining the Property

One of the property manager’s main jobs is ensuring the rental unit and any common areas are well-maintained. This includes handling repairs, cleaning, lawn mowing, and snow removal. If there’s ever an issue with anything in your unit like the plumbing, heating, or appliances, contact your property manager right away. It’s best to notify them of any problems in writing, whether that’s through email, text, or a formal letter. That way you have a record of reporting the issue in case it becomes a bigger issue down the road.

Collecting Rent and Issuing Notices

Your property manager is also responsible for collecting your rent each month, as outlined in your lease agreement. They can issue notices on behalf of the landlord regarding things like overdue rent, lease violations, or entry into your unit. It’s important to understand that while you should develop a friendly working relationship with your property manager, they represent the interests of the landlord. If you ever receive an official notice, be sure to respond to it promptly and in writing.

Renewing or Ending Your Lease

When your initial lease term is nearing its end, your property manager can help facilitate either renewing for another term or ending your lease. They can provide all the necessary paperwork and ensure proper notice is given according to your lease and local regulations. Maintaining positive communication with your property manager from the beginning will make this process much smoother for all parties involved.

Following these tips will help get your rental experience off on the right foot. Keep in mind that while issues may arise, approaching your property manager with a spirit of cooperation and understanding will serve you well as a renter.


So there you have it, the basics to get you started on your renting adventure. Finding the right place in a new neighbourhood can seem daunting, but staying organised, asking questions, and doing your research will set you up for success. Don’t be afraid to push for what you need. This is your home after all! Remember to make time for fun in your new community too. Introduce yourself to the neighbours, explore the local parks and shops. Making connections will help you feel at home in no time. The move itself will be a whirlwind, but once you’re settled in, this next chapter promises to be an exciting one! Enjoy exploring your new surroundings and making memories in your first solo space. The freedom to decorate it just how you want and host friends is not to be taken for granted. Happy renting!