When you set out to live on your own, finding your first apartment might seem a little intimidating. Here are five tips to help you find the perfect rental apartment in Ottawa.

The 30 Percent Budget Rule

They say you should never pay more than 30 percent of your overall income towards your rent. That being said, where you want to live might not fit into that plan. Although this guideline is desirable, it is not always possible. However, it is a good starting point when considering how much you can afford. You also want to look into potential rent increases that could push your monthly payment outside of your budget. When figuring out the overall amount you can afford, remember that often the monthly rent itself does not include utilities. Make sure you don’t sign a lease that is at the top of your budget and does not include the utilities.

Be Ready to Sign on the Dotted Line

When you are looking at an apartment for rent, think positively and bring along everything you would need if you were going to rent the unit. This includes ID, references, SIN numbers and a cheque book. If you are ready to sign on the dotted line immediately you may have a bit of an edge over the competition. Make sure your credit is in order. Bring along a letter from your employer stating how much you make and how long you have worked with them.

Neighbourhood and Common Areas

When you are looking at Ottawa’s rental apartments, check out the neighbourhood and make sure it seems safe. You also want to consider the property and common areas. Do the elevators work? Is the parking lot well lit? Does it appear clean and well cared for? Does it smell good? Also, check for security issues such as lighting and if the front door is locked properly.

Do the Tour

Make sure you do a room-to-room tour to look for any red flags. Water stains, unpleasant odors, leaky taps, poorly maintained washrooms and kitchens are all things that will make living uncomfortable once you move in.

Get a Lease

Make sure you have a lease signed by both yourself and the landlord. This is especially important when renting a condo, house or flat in a privately owned home. If it isn’t in writing, it isn’t legal.

Finding your first apartment in Ottawa should be fun and exciting. These tips will help make apartment hunting a little easier as well as help you find a rental apartment that is safe with a solid lease.