Finding townhouses for rent in your area or condo can be challenging. On your hunt for the perfect new place, you may run across professional leasing company agents as well as unprepared homeowners who need to rent for a variety of personal reasons. Knowing what to expect from your lease paperwork in advance will help you navigate both types of rentals with ease, while getting you the lease that you deserve. 

1. Utilities: Not only should you know when the trash is collected, but you should have it in writing which utilities are your responsibility and which are the responsibility of your landlord. Some landlords take care of the water bill for the entire building, but expect you to pay for everything else. On the other hand, there are newer, hi-rise units that cover everything in the monthly rent, including basic cable and high speed internet. 

2. Roommates: You may automatically assume that the choice to have roommates or not is solely yours, but you would be wrong. Many leases ban roommates, going as far as specifically stating that tenants cannot allow a guest to stay longer than two weeks. In fact, one woman found out the hard way that her lease did not allow for roommates when her own husband was forced to leave her apartment while home on military leave.  

3. Repairs: It is inevitable. Something will break in the middle of the night. Knowing exactly who to call is important. In fact, it should be spelled out in your lease. While most landlords and leasing companies will handle the problem in a professional manner, some don't. Read carefully. Your lease should also state what a reasonable amount of time is for repairs. No one wants to be without air conditioning during a heat wave or be forced to eat out for a week straight because the refrigerator broke. Rather than get in an argument later, get it in writing now. 

5. Parking: In larger cities, like Toronto or Quebec, parking can be a big consideration. A townhouse or apartment for rent in those cities can charge a premium if there is an assigned parking space that accompanies the lease. Be sure to discuss all your parking options with your potential landlord before signing your lease. Cheap rent is not that cheap when you end up circling the block looking for a place to park every night or, worse, when you have hundreds of dollars in parking tickets each month

6. Quiet Hours: While it seems abnormal to tell a grown adult that they have to keep quiet hours after a certain time of the night, it is common practice in multi-family units. This may be frustrating to the wanna-be garage band with dreams of stardom, but the family with small children probably appreciates the silence. Knowing in advance what the rules are in your potential new place can help you understand if it is the right move for you. 

7. Move Out: Knowing when you can move out is just as important as knowing when you can move in, if not more important. While you may not mind now, it is always wise to have a lease that allows you to move out with a 30 day written notice. Unexpected moves happen. Whether you are transferred across the country after an unforeseen promotion or are surprised with the birth of quadruplets, you need to know that you have a legitimate way to get out of your lease. Terminating your lease early, without going through the proper channels, can be a negative mark on your credit history for years to come. Avoid the hassle and get it in writing up front. 

The greatest take-away is to actually take the time to read and understand your lease before signing it. Doing so can save you both time and money later.

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