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First-time Apartment Renters - 5 Mistakes To Avoid

Moving into your first Montreal apartment can be a liberating and life-changing experience. It could also be one the biggest financial steps you’ve taken so far. On top of having to pay the rent for your new apartment, you’ll be doling out quite a bit of money on utilities, furniture and other essential items.

That said, we’ve detailed mistakes that can threaten your financial security upon moving into your own place. Avoiding these mistakes will ensure a smooth transition whether this is your first move or not.

Underestimating the Total Cost

The first question to ask yourself is: How much can you afford to spend on housing? Once you know, compare it to rent prices for apartments in your desired neighborhood. Browse the newspaper classified ads or check out the listings on This will help you determine whether or not moving will be possible.

Of course, budgeting for rent is just the beginning; there are other "first-time" expenses you’ll need to cover. You may need to pay for:

  • a security deposit
  • your first month’s rent
  • a deposit to turn on the electricity or gas
  • a deposit for pets
  • fees for your telephone and/or cable

Don’t forget that you’ll need to furnish your apartment with furniture and other items like lamps, bookshelves, cleaning supplies, etc. After everything is taken into account, it may end up costing you a few thousand dollars in the first month at your new apartment.

Not Seeing the Apartment before Moving

It’s always a good idea to visit your new apartment before moving day. Bring a measuring tape and try to visualize your furniture inside the apartment. You should also make a note of the location of all the phone jacks and electrical outlets.

Inspect the apartment completely and thoroughly. Visit all the rooms. Test the faucets and flush the toilet to make sure the water is running clean and properly. If the power is on, test the light switches, oven, air conditioner, and other appliances. Take a look at the surroundings -- how noisy is it, is there a lot of traffic or any strange smells? Are the building's hallways, and common areas clean and well-lit? Are there enough washers and dryers in the laundry room?

If you notice any damage to the apartment, make a note of it on paper and ask that any serious problems be fixed before you move in. Be sure to date and sign your list; hand a copy to your landlord. You don't want to be held liable for pre-existing damages.

Not Reading the Lease

A lease is a legally binding document between you and your landlord. It’s suppose to state each of your rights and the rules you must follow while living at your new apartment. It’s worth taking the time to look through it or else you may find yourself on the hook for fees, penalties and restrictions after you’ve already signed.

Every lease includes all the basic information (address, amount of rent due, length of the lease, etc.). It also includes penalies for late rent, policies about pets, what utitilites are covered by the landlord and so on.

To find out more about your responsibilities as a tenant, visit the website for the Régie du logement du Québec.

Forgetting about the Utilities

Before moving in, make sure you know what utilities you are responsible for paying and for turning on. Some buildings will provide the heat and electricity, and leave you to arrange the rest. Others may require you handle everything.

Once you know, find out who you need to call. Your landlord should be able to provide you a list of names and numbers of local utilities. You can also find it in our Online Resources for Tenants page. Call them at least one week before you move in to arrange having your service turned on before your arrival.

Living without Renters Insurance

If you take into account the cost of everything you own – your clothes, furniture, computer, jewelry, entertainment system, microwave, etc., renters insurance can be a real bargain. This insurance policy will cover everything you own in case of theft, fire, and other disasters.

Some landlords may require you have it before you move in.