The do's & don'ts of signing a lease

Advice from Queen's students on renting in Kingston

A standard lease agreement.
Credit: 
Supplied via Wikipedia

With February behind us and the end of the semester in sight, there are many items on the docket for Queen’s students – one of which is looking for houses and signing leases.

Whether it’s your first time signing a lease in Kingston or you’ve been through this before, there are definitely lessons we can all benefit from learning about this process.

Most information comes from the process of trial-and-error so The Journal reached out to Queen’s students and compiled a list of the tips and tricks they had about signing a lease.

“People should be careful when signing a lease with your friends’ parents. In my second year, I signed at a place with my friends and one of my housemates’ parents owned the place. Since we were living with a member of the owner’s immediate family and sharing a bathroom or kitchen, the Residential Tenancy Act didn’t apply to us. This meant that my landlord would show up without 24-hour notice and sometimes stay the night. He would also implement weird and strict rules, like we weren’t allowed to have friends stay the night without asking permission.”

— Rosetti Li, Kin ‘19

“Don’t be afraid to stay in residence – especially if you can get a Donship or house representative placement.”

— Laura Bailey, ArtSci ‘96

“You can become a month-to-month renter at the end of your lease. It’s great for people who sign leases in September [to know] because it allows them to only pay eight months instead of the full year during their last year at Queen’s. [It’s] also good for someone who wants to stay an extra semester.”

— Richard Hum, Sci ‘18

“Keep a copy of all documents and notices given by your landlord. Notice what they don’t give you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to student housing services if anything seems fishy.”

— Amanda Fibi Attar, ArtSci ‘19

“[Don’t] be afraid to cite the law when there are concerns over the lease. I was in a situation where my landlord insist[ed] that I give him post-dated cheques – it is illegal to demand that as a form of payment. When I emailed him back with the link to the law, he apologized saying he was unaware (which could plausibly be true as it is such common practice) and the issue was never brought out again.”

— Sam Condrington, Sci ‘17

“Know your lease better than your landlord does. My landlord just printed one off from the internet and tries to constantly get away with doing nothing, even though his duties are outlined in his own contract.”

— Neva Nader, ArtSci ‘20

“Read the Residential Tenancies Act. Many landlords in Kingston write things into their leases that are illegal and people tend to sign without knowing their rights as tenants. Know your rights.”

— Christopher Jeffrey, ArtSci ‘15

At the end of the day, signing a lease for a new house can be very exciting, but preparing for the possibilities of what could go wrong is sure to help you in the long run.

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