Archived — A Roof Over Your Head (2)

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Personal Property Insurance

Tenants often don't think about insurance until after a calamity strikes.

Tenant's insurance covers your personal property such as furniture, wardrobe, sports equipment, sound system, musical instruments, camera, computer, etc., as well as your legal liability if you accidentally cause damage to the premises; for example, by fire, explosion or smoke.

How much would it cost you to replace all of your possessions if your rented place went up in smoke? You may find monthly insurance relatively inexpensive when considering what it would cost you to replace all of your possessions.

Unless you purchase a replacement value endorsement, your claim for loss will be settled on the basis of the depreciated value of your property and not on the replacement cost.

For more information and rates, talk with an insurance agent or broker, or visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada's Web site (www.ibc.ca)

Living with a Roommate

Sharing an apartment with one or more roommates is an alternative to bearing all the expenses of renting by yourself. Living with a roommate can be a tremendous amount of fun, but also has the potential for trouble. You will need to make sure that you and your roommate establish some rules and keep the lines of communication open.

As tenants, you need to know what your provincial/territorial landlord and tenant legislation says about sharing a rented unit. For example, do both names need to be on the rental agreement for both people to be considered tenants?

For those sharing accommodations, the person who signs the rental agreement is the person responsible for meeting its terms. Whether your roommate's cheque is sent back from the bank, or he or she has a big party at which the sliding doors are broken, if it's your name on the rental agreement, you're the one responsible. Find out if you would still be held responsible if both names are on the agreement, should your roommate refuse or be unable to pay rent.

Sharing expenses

You will need to keep two budgets: a personal budget and a shared household budget. Apart from rent, consider the utilities, telephone, cable TV, food and cleaning supplies.

Figure out how you divide expenses fairly. Do people sharing a room pay the same rent as a person with a private room? If one person owns most of the furniture, should that be taken into consideration when deciding the rent? What about the person who only sleeps at home – does he or she contribute for food and cable TV?

Moving In: What Is the Cost?

Moving expenses

How do you plan to move your possessions from your current living space to your new home? If you plan to rent a truck for the move, calculate the rental fee and cost per kilometre, as well as the cost of gas and insurance.

First month's rent and security deposit

You will have to pay the first month's rent and the security deposit when you move in. The landlord or a rent review officer holds the security deposit, also called a damage deposit, in case of damage to the premises, unusual cleaning required, or non-payment of rent. Find out if there is a maximum amount the landlord can charge for the security deposit, and what the rules are for getting it back when you move out.

In some places the security deposit is referred to as last month's rent but could be used to cover any damages caused by the tenant. Your landlord will likely require both first and last month's rent to be dated on the day you are signing the lease.

Utility Hookups

Having utilities hooked up can be costly. Companies may ask for a deposit if you've never been a customer before or if you or your roommate has missed utility payments in the past. A word of warning: if the utilities and telephone are connected in your name, you are legally responsible for payment. You may decide for convenience that one roommate will be responsible for paying the bills, and the others will pay him or her accordingly. You'll need to talk withyour roommates about how these arrangements will be made and what happens if someone can't pay.

Utility companies often charge an extra fee for discontinuing or reconnecting services if bills aren't paid. You may also be asked for a deposit.

The telephone can be another source of strife. Long-distance calls are often easier to dial than pay for. Agree to review your long distance bill at the end of each month to allocate the expenses.

Staple food items and first week's groceries

Allow money for staple food items such as flour, sugar, condiments and beverages as well as for your first week's groceries. Set aside enough money for groceries between moving in and your next pay cheque.

Other expenses

How much will you spend on kitchen utensils, dinnerware, linens, bedding and furniture?
Item Estimated Cost
Moving Expenses  
First Month's Rent  
Utility hookup/deposit Telephone  
Power  
Heating  
Water  
Cable  
Staple food items  
Groceries  
Kitchen utensils and dinnerware  
Linens and bedding  
Furniture  
Other costs  
Total moving costs