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Helpful tips for students and first-time renters

Over the next few weeks, thousands of Albertans – many of them students leaving home and heading to out-of-town universities and colleges – will rent their first accommodations.

Gather solid information before you start your search. Service Alberta has prepared a helpful resource – A Roof Over Your Head – with information for people renting their first apartments, signing up for utilities contracts, hiring movers, insuring their belongings, etc.

A number of other Service Alberta resources for tenants contain handy checklists, including many common questions would-be tenants should ask a prospective landlord. For instance:

  • Is the lease for a fixed amount of time or month-to-month?
  • When/where will the rent be paid? What happens if it is late?
  • Who do you contact if there is a problem?
  • Are sublets allowed? What about a roommate?

Signing a lease before exchanging keys and rent cheques can avoid most misunderstandings. Renters are advised to beware of potential scams. For example, be cautious about relying on online photos or answering any urgent requests to pay deposits through online money transfers.

Once you’ve chosen accommodation, there are rules in place and dispute resolution is available.  Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) sets out rules when the lease involves a self-contained rental unit such as an apartment or a basement suite in a private home.

The RTA does not apply when renting a spare bedroom if you share common areas such as kitchen and bathroom with your landlord. Get the RTA Handbook and Quick Reference Guide for more information about what types of accommodations are covered.

First-time renters should be aware there is no cap on rent increases, but rent for both periodic (month-to-month) and fixed-term tenancies can only increase once per year. Three months’ notice is required before increasing rent on periodic tenancies.

More information about landlord and tenant legislation is available on the Service Alberta website or by calling the Consumer Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-427-4088.


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