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Becoming a renter for the first time is an exciting time in someone’s life. It’s your first time out on your own, outside the home you’ve always lived in. All that freedom comes with a big side of responsibility, though. Once you’ve settled in, it’s time to learn all you can about what it means to be a renter in your neighbourhood.

Join your local tenant advocacy group. If you search through Facebook groups, it’s quite likely you’ll find a tenant advocacy group for your area (particularly if you live in a big city) where you can ask all the questions you might have as a renter. It’s a huge benefit as a new renter, when you might be unfamiliar with many of the rules and laws that exist to protect you.

Get to know your landlord or superintendent. Everyone knows landlords tend to get a bad reputation, especially in big cities like Toronto where rents are skyrocketing overnight and things like fake “renovictions” happen to excellent tenants as an excuse to increase the rent. But that doesn’t mean they’re all bad. Most landlords take pride in their property and want to take care of it. This person is responsible for the property you live in, so it’s always nice to have a friendly relationship from the start.

Reread your lease. Of course you read it before you signed it, but a lease can be a very long, very dry legal text and it’s easy to forget certain rules and things you might have agreed to. Once your boxes are unpacked and you feel comfortable in your new home, it’s a good idea to go over it once again just to refresh yourself of all the various rules and expectations on both ends.

Familiarize yourself with your local Landlord Tenant Board. As a first-time renter, there is one number you should have programed into your phone—the Landlord Tenant Board (it may be called something different depending on your province). Bookmark their website and read as much as you can so you’ll be able to protect yourself against illegal renovictions and other issues that could potentially happen to you now that you are a renter. At the end of the day, if there is any conflict both landlord and tenant answer to them.

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