The life list: car, job, marriage, kids, house.
By Samantha Emann, special to the Times-Herald
That’s the traditional milestone list many of us live by. Some of us might add different things to our lists or not include others, but there is one thing that many of us also put on our lists: apartments.
From that embarrassing over-sized closet you had in college to the slight upgrade you got when you got your first full-time job apartments can be the ultimate expression of you as a person and are what you make them.
The rented apartment is that half step you take on the list where all the funny stories and nightmares are made that you look back on, shudder and wonder how you spent that year in a basement that was well suited for neither ventilation nor human habitation.
I have had a number of those experiences myself and I am sorry to say that my apartment horror stories extend to my time here in Moose Jaw.
Let’s rewind to when I found out I was moving to Moose Jaw. I had to find some places to look at so I could have an apartment to stay in when I got here. And I found one. That’s where the problems began.
That is not to say there were not good things about living in Moose Jaw, but this is supposed to be a cautionary tale.
From shady, privacy invading landlords to the rickety wooden stairs of death, I learned a lot of lessons from my first apartment in the city.
To be fair I now have an apartment and landlord I am very happy with but it was a long, hard journey to get to it. And now I have some tips to pass on to any young professionals looking to make a go of it.
1. Make sure you ask your prospective landlord as many relevant questions about their experience and their property as they ask you about your own situation. There is no such thing as too many questions and the landlord should be able answer all of them.
2. Read the lease and then read it again. You want to know exactly what the landlord expects from you as the renter and what you can expect your landlord to do for you. This will help you avoid things like “surprise inspections” and unwanted hassles.
3. Take pictures. Take them as soon as you sign the lease. This protects you from future disputes over damage and the costs. If the landlord has a problem with you doing this, that is a red flag. Keep records of all correspondence and transactions.
4. Make sure you have multiple ways of getting into contact with your landlord. An email, a home and mobile number. If there is an emergency or something breaks down or floods, you need to be able to get in touch.
5. Do your research and make sure you see the entire property before you sign anything. What amenities does the apartment have and better yet what are you paying for? Will you be sharing any spaces or appliances? (ie. Laundry room and machines) What necessities are near you? Also, if it is your first apartment make sure you research your rights as a tenant and make sure you get all that you are paying for. As well, you will be able to protect yourself and your privacy by finding out exactly what a landlord can and cannot do with respect to coming in or changing anything in your apartment.
6. Know your responsibilities and your landlord’s. Who is responsible for backyard and appliance maintenance or shovelling? That way, when you live on the second floor and the old, rickety, wooden stairs are covered in ice you will know what to do and have the supplies to do it.
Simply put, every person should feel safe and comfortable in their home, whether they rent or own it.
As long as you respect their property, landlords should respect your privacy and your rights as a tenant.
Anything less is not ok and should be dealt with. Take it from me and expect nothing less than ideal, or you will have more horror stories than funny ones to tell.
If you have any stories to tell horrific or otherwise, or even any questions about the renting experience feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And remember: renting might be a necessity, but it does not have to be a battle.