Before You Sign
We strongly encourage you to view apartments in person if possible. Make note of any new questions you think of during the tour and add them to the ones that are important to you on a personal basis.
A lease is a legal contract that defines your rights and responsibilities in terms of a rental property. It is important that you understand and know what you are signing. By understanding the terms of your lease, you will be better prepared to handle difficult situations if they arise. Remember, if you don’t have a lease then you don’t have any protection from the Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Act. Once you sign your lease, you (or your co-signer) are responsible for paying rent for the time outlined in your contract. After you sign your lease, your landlord/property manager is required to give you a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act within 10 days.
You should always conduct a formal walkthrough with your landlord or property manager before signing a lease. When you view the rental property:
- Double check the addresses to make sure you are visiting the correct unit. Some property managers oversee lots of dwellings, and it is possible they have made a mistake.
- Make sure the amenities match what is advertised in the listing and ask questions regarding missing or damaged items.
- Test out light switches, locks, doors, windows, and other features to identify current or potential problems.
Review the Lease
Always read your entire lease. You may very well discover restrictions and procedures counter to your assumptions of how the terms of a lease agreement work. Most landlords will provide lease agreements with a high level of detail in order to protect both parties. For example:
- What are the penalties if you are forced to break a lease due to work, school, or family responsibilities?
- What charges are you liable for?
- If you decide to move away during summer break, are you allowed to sublet your room for two months?
- Are you allowed to add roommates to your lease?
- What are the rules regarding pets?
Be sure to get contact information for the landlord, including a proper mailing address and a cellphone number. Make sure you have a phone number to call in the case of emergency.
If your landlord cannot meet most of these basic requirements, you might want to continue your search and look for alternate accommodations. If you are unsure about your landlord, you might want to ask for tenant references. These current or past tenants may be the deciding factor to signing a lease or deciding upon another property.