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Top 10 Tips for Packing Early for a Move

Sat, 24 Jan by Pauline Relkey

Top 10 Tips for Packing Early for a Move

These are some quick tips for an organized move, especially tips on what you can do well in advance of moving.
1. Create a box or basket of moving supplies

You want 1 place to hold tape, scissors, labeling pen, etc. You also want an organizational system for all the pins, pens, screws and batteries you’ll come across. (Make sure to separate the working batteries from the dead). You can use little jewelry boxes and small plastic containers to hold these items.

2. Tackle the garage (or wherever your junk space is)
The garage can be the “electronics graveyard”, the “I don’t know where to put this” place or the “I’ll get to it later” storage.

Pull out those “I’ll fix it later” big items and give them away. A client of mine put stuff on her driveway with a large FREE sign and everything was gone within hours or use Craigslist or another selling/donating internet site. You can get rid of everything from a broken TV to wood scraps to toys. When it comes to the free section: If you post it, they will come.

You can also fill boxes for different charity pick ups. Contact me for a list of places in Regina. Doing this will clear space to store packed boxes.

3.  Evaluate your outdoor items
Picture the items in your new back yard or patio and let go of anything you won’t need, won’t work in the new space or isn’t worth the work to move.

4. Go through closets, cupboards and drawers
Try on clothes you haven’t worn in awhile. Try out all those random pens you find. Test batteries. If you see an item you haven’t used in awhile, imagine packing it up, carrying the box in the move, and then unpacking it. If it doesn’t seem worth the hassle, it’s probably not.

Return expired medications to your pharmacy for proper disposal. Garbage old beauty products. Find those T-shirts that you will never wear again and neckties that have never been worn again.

5. Examine your kitchen items
Match lids to containers. Look in the very back of cupboards to find those items you’re probably never going to use again.

Part with random bowls and cups. Your ‘orphan lid’ situation might be worse than you first thought.

6. Pack the items you won’t need until you’re in your new house

Books, china set, vases, board games, extra linens, photo albums and decorative items fall into this category. Use supermarket fruit boxes for books. They hold a fair amount without becoming too heavy. Many have handles, too.

7. Take down anything you’ve put on the walls and take down the shelves from emptied bookcases
You might have special light-switch covers, so swap those back with the standard ones (Real estate hint – if something is attached to your home, it should stay if you are selling your home unless you state beforehand that you will be taking it). Take down shelves that you have put up, the outdoor hanging candle holders, the Christmas lights, etc.

Pack small shelves into a sturdy box with the bag of the shelf screws so everything is in one place and easy to transport.

8.  Create a furniture inventory

List and measure every piece of furniture so as soon as you can get into your new home you can plot where everything will go. This also ensures you’re not moving anything that won’t fit.

9. Pack your priority items — fresh linens, bathroom and kitchen essentials — in easily recognizable containers

These are the things you unpack first, so you don’t want them lost in a stack of boxes.

Use your suitcases to hold a fresh set of bedding, clean towels and the bathroom items that you will need right away. Put aside one bathroom bag to pack the day of, so you will know exactly where your medication, toothbrush and favorite body wash are.

10. Label everything immediately

List the designated room, the contents and the priority of the box.

You will have boxes you want taken to their designated room immediately and boxes that can sit in the garage or basement until you have time to unpack. For example, dishes are a top priority, whereas your box of cookbooks and cookie cutters is labeled “non essential,” because they can sit in the box for a month and you’ll live.


So You Want to be a Realtor!

Sat, 24 Jan by Pauline Relkey

Many times I have either been asked what is it like to be a Realtor.  Some people think it’s a great way to supplement their income while they keep their day job.   Others are interested in a career change.  So here is some info, both positive and negative about the career.

1. PASSING THE EXAM is easy. Creating a business with real income is a different story.

2. Now that you have your license, be prepared to lose friends and get your feelings hurt.  A lot of your  friends and family will avoid using you the first year or two that you’re licensed because you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. Even after you’ve gained experience, you’ll have friends and family who will not work with you because you’re a friend or relative.  Don’t sweat it.  You can’t get them all.  It happens every day to Realtors across the country.  When you first get started everyone will know you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s a fact. This sucks. But if you stick it out, you’ll be okay. 75% of the new agents don’t make it.  Some tough statistics.

3. If you don’t spend money, you won’t make money. You need to invest/spend THOUSANDS of dollars to create a business. Yes you don’t have to buy the inventory (houses, condos, etc) but you are self employed and need to buy some stuff to use at work.  You think that a lot of your ideas are great, but then you find out that it has already been tried a thousand times. You will do what every new agent does… spend money (A LOT OF IT) on the wrong things. Over and over again. Spend wisely.

4. You and your phone will become inseparable. You will have to get up from eating, watching a movie and sleeping to take calls, return emails and respond to text messages. Of course you don’t have to do this, but you also don’t have to make any real money in this business. You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Ignoring a call could be a $10,000 mistake. Or more. I have tried to learn that I don’t do brain surgery and there really aren’t too many ’emergency’ calls in this business.  Maybe they are important calls, but there is a time and place for everything.  You do need to learn to control your time.

5. Be prepared to be second guessed, doubted, questioned, accused and lied to repeatedly.  Buyers and sellers have the propensity to lie just like you and the guy next to you at the grocery store. People have perceptions about lawyers, mechanics and police officers. They have them about us too. Even after years of experience there will be clients who will second guess your every move. This will never go away.  Some people you can work with, some you can’t.

6. You will show thousands of properties. Showing a house isn’t just about unlocking a door. Sometimes you get rained on while showing. I wrecked a pair of shoes this summer from wearing them in the rain one Friday afternoon while showing condos.  Sometimes the house says active on the market and you find out later that it is already sold. Sometimes you are late to an appointment because of traffic. Maybe your client will be late. The number of things that can go wrong are practically endless.  And if anyone else says to me “You must LOVE looking at homes” I will lose it because after awhile the novelty wears off.  This is a job people, not a tour for me.

7. Almost nobody will respect your time.  Some people are actually very good about this, but those people are few and far between.  Almost everyone thinks you are over paid. If they only knew the expenses involved.  I have hired a few assistants over the years and each and every one of them has been totally shocked at the expenses and work that go on behind the scenes.

8. Expect people to ask for kickbacks both legally and illegally.  Buyers and sellers will often want to haggle with your commission.  They tend to forget this is your paycheck, your means to make a living.

9. You will pay taxes. A lot of taxes. Expect to pay for the gizmo you use to unlock doors. You will pay for this yearly along with dues to various different associations. You’ll pay for signs, business cards, lock boxes, tools, equipment, cameras, advertising for both you and your listings, leads, websites and on and on and on.

10. You will pay for your own health and life insurance. There is no rsp in real estate. You are an independent contractor. In fact, YOU will PAY to go to work! The broker will take money from you. You will also pay for an office if you want one. Your phone is your cost. Your internet is your cost. So is your paper, pens and everything else imaginable. You’re running a small business. It’s ALL your costs. You’ll also pay for errors and omissions insurance. The list is really long. Yay!

11. You will get screwed in this business. It’s not for the naive, light hearted, ignorant or thin skinned. You will work your rear end off and sometimes not make a dime.

12. You will deal with a number of crazies over the years.  Unfortunately this is true, like in so many other occupations.  It would be nice going to work and not having to fear for your life.

13. You will meet criminals, convicts and felons.  Yup true.  I even worked on a sale in our local jail (not my client but we had to meet the seller who was spending some time there).

14.  Strange men and women will ask you to meet them at houses RIGHT NOW. Listen to your gut feeling.  If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it or at least take someone with you or let someone know where you are going. Yes Realtors get attacked and/or killed when doing their job.

15. You might get a gun pointed at you while showing a house or two. Hasn’t happened to me but I have heard where a seller refused to leave his house and had the gun out.  Sometimes crazy dogs will bite you (now that I’ve converted into a dog person, I blame the owners, not the animals when this happens). You might have to end up chasing a cat to get it back into the house you are showing.

16. Expect to get towed or ticketed at least once.  You’re on a time constraint and yet you need a place to park, so sometimes you might get burnt.

17. Eventually you’ll get into a car accident while showing. You better hope your clients aren’t with you. Is your auto insurance updated correctly?  I got a speeding ticket once going through a school zone.  Was busy talking to my buyers and didn’t even notice the sign.  We need to get our wings clipped once in awhile to slow us down.  I remember having a buyer client who was a driver instructor and I felt nervous with him my car.

18. There is no disability insurance. So, if you break a leg while showing a house you’re screwed. It’s going to hurt your business.  Or you sign up for a plan and because you’re self employed, you pay dearly for it.

19. You might get sued even when you aren’t at fault. It’s a numbers game.  The more work you do, the higher your chances of going to court.  It’s not a case of WILL I get sued, it’s more like WHEN will I get sued?

20. When you become successful your competitors might file complaints against you because they are jealous. You won’t like this. Who would?

21. As you show houses you’ll be in questionable neighborhoods from time-to-time. You need to learn self-defense or to carry a can of pepper spray. Everyone should be concerned about their safety.  Again, how sad is this about our life nowadays.

22. Be prepared to leave a social event early to run and show a house or to get yelled at by one of your clients for something you did not do. It doesn’t matter, you are the pigeon sometimes and the statue at other times.

23. It’s likely you’ll get audited by Revenue Canada. You have too many write offs and once again… you make too much money.

24. Lawyers and mortgage people are annoyed by Realtors sometimes.  I haven’t encountered this too often, but sometimes other people think they are the experts at real estate and make some innocent comments that cause much grief for you to try to explain to your clients.  Professionals in every occupation need to learn to stick to what they know and to ask the professional when they have a question outside their area of expertise.  Plus when people don’t know about all your expenses, they think you make too much money for what they see you doing.

25. Expect to list properties and never sell them. No agent sells every home they list. You will waste time, money and energy.

26. Your signs and lockboxes will be abused – stolen, spray painted and eventually played with by the local kids.  It can be embarassing as to the state of our signs sometimes but yes they get used over and over until the time comes to buy new ones and there go the expenses again.  Our lockboxes haven’t been able to be cut off but I wonder sometimes what the heck people do to them.

27. Your promo items will get abused sometimes.  I used to do trade shows and encountered the people that thought it was okay to take 50 of your pens because they need them.  They think the company paid for your items.  Nope.  You pay for most, if not all things, yourself.

28.  EACH real estate transaction you work means you are likely dealing with at least 8 different people. You’re responsible for 30-40 things. Sometimes you might have 5 to 10 sales that you are dealing with at the moment.  I get a little stressed. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my paperwork, my clients and my business.

29. You will become an unlicensed therapist, divorce lawyer and counselor. You aren’t allowed to give legal advice and you shouldn’t. You aren’t a psychiatrist, but some people will unload their personal lives with you. You will sometimes live their life.  And yet with everything you know, you just can’t figure out some people.

30. Your spouse will at times hate what you do for a living.  A true fact.  The income can be great but the work and time involved can be tough on your home life.  Your spouse and kids put up with a lot.  They will despise the fact that you are always on your phone.

31. When you’re sick or on vacation .. you still work. There are no paid days off.  You can get an agent to cover your business, but NOBODY will care for your business the way you do.  I feel that even though no two people do business the same, you really need to take time off and when you are away, be truly away.  The world won’t stop.  Everyone needs a break to rest and recuperate to get ready for the next bout of work.

32. Sometimes when you make mistakes it costs people money. You can’t just apologize. I’ve ended up paying for a surveyors certificate, cleaning company, repair man and most of these times, it was just an act of good will and not my fault that things happened the way they did.

33. You have to have a nice vehicle. You must wear nice clothes.  Yes we deal with the public and first impressions do mean something.  You have to look successful even before you are.

34. You get to work with agents! Not all of them are put together correctly. A lot of your problems in this business will be because of the other agent. You will get upset, angry, and offended. Ego’s are here too.

35. Wait for it….. friends, neighbors and family will ask you for real estate advice while they are involved in a real estate transaction that YOU aren’t a part of.  Yet they still want free advice.

36. Other Realtors will give your client advice when they aren’t supposed to.   Some might be innocent, some not so innocent when they talk to your client.  Every buyer and every seller knows more than one agent. You have to stay professional at all times.

37. Every market is different. Buyers market, sellers market and a balanced market.  Very different sometimes, but that won’t stop friends and family from influencing your client. Your clients will become confused at times.

38. Don’t work part time as a Realtor.  You have a better chance of meeting Elvis than you do working real estate part-time and being successful. It takes time, effort and money to be a Realtor.   In fact, being a part-time agent can be even more difficult because you can’t be available as much as a full time Realtor.

After all this negative stuff, so why do agents do this?

1. You’ll have the amazing opportunity to reap what you sow.

2. You can work when you want (kind of, remember number 1, you reap what you sow).

3. No matter how bad your boss is (buyer or seller client) you are only working for them for a certain period of time. You get new bosses all the time.   Not all clients are bad. Most of them get it. It’s awesome when everything works out.  Some people really do become friends.

4. You can make a real difference in a lot of people’s lives. You literally help shape dreams. YOU can be the difference in someones life as they look to sell and/or buy a home.

5. And sometimes the money is really good.

Should You Buy a House?

Sat, 24 Jan by Pauline Relkey

MoneySense magazine editor did the unthinkable – he bought a house!

Read about his 3 checkpoints to see if you should buy a house or not.

Interesting Real Estate Facts

Sat, 24 Jan by Pauline Relkey

Interesting Real Estate Facts a great article from Seth Williams with Inman News.

Link below also for the article.…

What did I learn from this article?

1. We could all learn from Warren Buffet.

2. It’s okay sometimes to be out of style (brass doorknobs).

3. I’ve heard about hanging up butterfly decorations on the side of your house when mortgage free, but not the red door idea.

4. I like Pretty Boy Floyd.

How Safe is Your Home?

Sat, 24 Jan by Pauline Relkey

Have you ever thought about how safe your home is? There are many different aspects of safety to consider.  Is it safe from thieves? Is it safe for children? Is it free of environmental threats?

Accidents will happen, but prevention really does begin at home. Here are just a few areas that you should consider when it comes to your home’s overall safety.

Steal some time
A good burglar alarm and monitoring system is a first step to deterring criminals. Other ways are to install good outside lighting and to eliminate hiding places by trimming back overgrown shrubs around doors and windows. Join the neighbourhood watch program if you have one in your area or consider starting one.

Look up
What’s loose up above will come down. Check for decaying or broken tree limbs that could fall on someone or onto electrical wires. Also look for loose bricks, eavestroughs or shingles.

Make it fire safe
Ensure all fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in proper working order and replace them when they are 10 years old.  Inspect for other potential fire hazards such as faulty electrical wiring, dryer lint filters (I discovered the silver hose from my dryer to the outside was really full so  check that too) and items stored too close to the furnace or a heating source. Never leave candles or portable space heaters unattended.

Be environmentally friendly
Test to ensure all your paint is lead-free. Get ride of any asbestos but use a company that does asbestos removal as it is dangerous when disturbed. Check for mold by looking for black or white powdery, or fuzzy growths, and excessive moisture or condensation. Use vinegar and water, or borax and water, to clean and disinfect naturally.

Bath beware
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in the home. Use nonslip mats inside the bathtub and shower and grab bars for the elderly.

Do You Smell Something Odd?

Sat, 24 Jan by Pauline Relkey

If you smell natural gas, report it 1-888-700-0427 (Sask Energy’s 24 hour emergency line).

The smell is similar to skunk or rotten eggs.

If you see frosting on the ground near brown vegetation or continuous bubbling in ground water,

 call Sask Energy.

If you hear high pitched hissing or a roaring noise, you may have a natural gas leak.


Healthcare Options in Regina and Saskatchewan

Sat, 24 Jan by Pauline Relkey

Emergency Department – for immediate and serious risk to life or limb. Examples: difficulty breathing, uncontrolled bleeding, chest pain, numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg.  Call 911 for First Responders and ambulance.

Meadow Primary Health Care Centre, 4006 Dewdney Ave, Regina 306-766-6399 or toll-free 1-855-766-6399 – for treatment of repeating illness or injuries, minor injuries such as sprains and strains and stitches, physicals, prenatal care and disease and illness prevention.

Family Physicians and medical clinics, a current list of physicians accepting new patients and medical clinics can be found at

Full range of Programs and Services from the Regina Qu’Appelle Health – info and contact details for rural and urban medical clinics, physicians accepting new patients, facility maps and more.

Well Wishes – send a hand delivered electronic greeting to a friend or loved one in a RQHR or long term care facility. Click on the yellow roses image on the main page of their website.

HealthLine toll-free 811 – free confidential health advice from registered nurses 24 hours a day. – reliable health info website to help you better understand and manage your health and the health of your family.

Facebook page and green pages of the phone book – Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region.

Regina City App – on your smart phone. Regina info under the RQHR sails button.

Linkedin – search for RQHR jobs.

Rental Guide

Sat, 24 Jan by Pauline Relkey


General tenant responsibilities include:
1. Paying rent on time.
2. Keeping the rental unit clean and sanitary.
3. Using all gas, electrical and plumbing fixtures properly.
4. Paying for, or repairing damages incurred by the tenant.
5. Not to remove any items from the structures or buildings without permission.
6. To use the premises for its legal purpose.
7. To keep all smoke alarms in good working order and notify the property manager if any repairs to the alarm are needed.
8. Obtain approval before making any changes to the rental unit or installing any alarms or security systems.
Tenant Rights
The tenant has the right to expect a livable rental unit. Livability means that the unit
. Be weather and waterproof.
. Have working plumbing.
. Provide hot and cold running water.
. Have a working heating system.
. Have an electrical system in good working condition.
. Be free of rodent/insect infestation.
. Have sufficient trash cans.
. Have floors, stairways and railings in good condition.
. Have working windows that open at least halfway or mechanical ventilation.
. Have safe fire or emergency exits leading to the street or hallway.
. Have a working deadbolt lock on the main entrance.
. Have working security devices on windows.
. Have working smoke detectors.
Tenants also have the right to quiet enjoyment and exclusive possession of the rental
Researching Your Prospective Property Manager
Just as a property manager conducts due diligence on prospective tenants in the form of tenant screening, background and reference check, so should a tenant conduct some due diligence on a prospective property manager.
1. Who owns or manages the rental?
Get the full name and address.  You will need to know this information for rent payments or if there are any disputes. Look them up in the yellow pages or online.
. How long have they been in business?
. Are you dealing with professionals?
. How many vacancies are there? If too many, that might be indicative of management problems.
. Were you interviewed in an office?
. Did the property manager conduct him/herself in a professional manner?
. Did he/she have a business card?
2. Are they current on the mortgage? Have they ever filed for bankruptcy or had a
The property managers may refuse to disclose this information, but you should ask nonetheless. If you are looking at renting long term, you will want to confirm that the property owner is up-to-date on all payments with no prior problems to ensure long-term security.
Be upfront and let them know this is why you are asking. This will also let the property manager know that you are serious about renting.
RED FLAG: Possible indicators of financial deficiency can be lack of maintenance, minimal or no upkeep to the property or rental accommodations, no tenant screening and refusal to spend money on rectifying any existing deficiencies.
3. Is the property owner planning on selling?
Again, if you are looking for a place to live long term, ask the property manager if the owner is planning to sell the rental property. You do not want to move in first, and find out later, especially if any potential buyers do not plan to use the property for rental purposes.
4. Has the rent be discounted, if so why?
Having discounted rent may sound appealing, but you need to find out why.  Quite often, this means that the property manager has had problems renting out the property. This could be due to a number of factors such as:
. An increased number of rentals in the area
. Unsafe neighbourhood
. Problems with the rental property
. Problems with the neighbours
. Rowdy tenants, especially if the dwelling is an apartment building
RED FLAG Seeing a discounted advertised rate should serve as a red flag for you, so conduct your due diligence and determine if it is a suitable rental.
Know Your Information and Have It Ready
These days, most property managers conduct tenant screen and reference checks when deciding on a renter. It is best to be prepared, have the property identification available and know your information.
1. Filling out a rental application
It is standard procedure for property managers to have prospective tenants fill out a rental application. Here are a few of the most common pieces of information you will need to have:
. Name
. Address
. Date of birth
. Driver’s license
Make sure the rental application form is legible and filled out in its entirety. If the information cannot be read or if you leave spaces blank, the property manager may reject your application.
Also, be prepared to show two pieces of identification, one being a picture ID, as the property manager may want to confirm the information filled out on the rental application.
RED FLAG: When a property manager does not conduct due diligence on you, then you can bet he does not do it to other applicants either. Therefore, you must ask yourself, who are my neighbours and what is their background?
Are my family and I safe?
2. Know your credit history
As part of a tenant screening, property managers may run a credit and/or eviction search on a prospective tenant. Usually at the bottom of the rental application, you will see a consent area that you would sign and date giving permission to the property manager to do so.
Before meeting with the property manager, you should order a copy of your credit report. Know and understand the information on it so you will be prepared should the property manager have any questions or concerns. Be up front about any late payments, delinquencies, or derogatory information and discuss this with the property manager.
FYI, it is a good idea to run your credit report once per year to make sure everything is correct and up-to-date and to protect yourself from identity fraud and theft.
3. References
Most property managers will do a reference check on their prospective tenants. This may include personal, employment, and previous property manager references. Decide whom you will be listing as a reference and ask each one if they will give you a positive report. Never assume this. Advise them that they might be contacted prior to you meeting with the prospective property manager. Make sure you have their full name and contact information ready to provide when
Other information that you may be asked to provide include a pay stub from your employer or a T4 or bank statement if you are self employed.
How to Conduct Yourself
Treat your interview with a prospective property manager the same as if you were meeting a potential employer. A great first impression can make all the difference.
1. Dress appropriately
Present yourself in a neat and clean manner. You do not need to dress formally, but make sure you appearance is respectable.
2. Speak professionally
Always speak in clear, calm and courteous manner. Try to ask questions in a polite and professional manner.
3. Setting policies that discriminate against families
Even though it is illegal to discriminate against families, many property management practices are far from family-friendly and are downright illegal.  Excluding families because you feel children will cause more wear and tear and you prefer a “mature, quiet” environment is illegal. And while you’re permitted to limit the number of residents in a unit (in most situations, two occupants per bedroom), you may not apply that standard differently when dealing with families.
4. Be organized
Again, it is important to arrive at your interview with the prospective property manager fully prepared. Have all information, references and identification available with you and if possible in an organizer or binder of some sort.
What to Ask the Prospective Property Manager
When you are looking for a place to rent, you should have a clear idea of what you want and expect. Have a list of questions ready to discuss when you meet with your prospective property manager.
Some questions or concerns you may want to address are:
. How are repairs and maintenance handled?
. How is rent collected? In person, by mail, online or post-dated cheques?
. Will the lease agreement be a month-to-month or a fixed term? Ensure confirmation in writing.
. Who pays the utilities? Tenant or property manager?
. What kind, if any, security is available? Do windows and doors have proper locks that ensure personal safety and security?
. If you wish or need to end the tenancy early, are you allowed to sublet?
. Modifications; is any personalization of the rental unit allowed, such as paint and wallpaper? If a yard is available, can a garden be planted?
. Are pets allowed? You may not have one, but what about your neighbours? And maybe it is something you want to look into in the future?
If you do end up signing a lease with a property manager and these issues are covered,
make sure you get them in writing in the lease to avoid any confusion.
Tenant Advocacy Groups
There are numerous tenant advocacy groups across Canada. These groups have been around for many years and are beneficial and informative for tenants, especially if a tenant is experiencing problems with a property manager.
The following is a list of topics to address when consulting a tenant advocacy group:
. Tenants’ rights information
. How to resolve disputes and conflicts with a property manager
. Legal information for tenants
. Information on evictions
. Information regarding low income housing
. How to handle repairs with your property manager
. Information on rent control and stabilization
. Information on security deposits and how they are managed
. Information on affordable housing
. Information on safe, healthy living
. Publications and news items
. Changes in the laws with regards to tenants and property manager
. Information on municipal and local bylaws
. Workshops that are offered to educate on tenants’ rights
Joining a tenant advocacy group joins your voice with others. If you live in an apartment building or condominium, you may want to form your own association or group within the building if one does not already exist. Voice your ideas and concerns and as a group approach the property manager with these. Being reasonable and making every effort to work with the property manager to settle an issue is usually the best solution.
Breaking a Rental Lease: Planning Ahead
Even the most fastidious tenant might at some point have to break a long-term lease
because of a job transfer, health problem, or even eloping to Ethiopia. If you have any
suspicion that you might have to move out before your lease term is up, the best way to
head off problems is to tailor your rental search accordingly. Even if you are midway
through your term, these tips will help you through the process of an early break up with
your rental.
1. Look before you lease
While you are perusing that crisp new lease, on the verge of committing yourself to a year long rental, hold that teetering pen a minute. If the term of your lease seems dicey for any reason, consider a shorter-term rental or a month-to-month contract. You will sacrifice some security – rents can rise between renewals, or your property manager may decide not to renew – but the bucket of money you will save versus breaking a long-term lease is worth the price of some nail
chewing, or even a slightly higher rent. (This type of agreement is also riskier for property managers, since it costs them extra time, energy, and money to fill more frequent vacancies).
Another solution may be to rent from an individual rather than a corporation. Despite their best intentions, managers of rental complexes often have less flexibility to negotiate when a property manager has to vacate before the lease is up.
2. Negotiating an Early-Release Clause
Any lease agreement worth the price of admission will spell out your and your property manager’s obligations if one of you breaks a lease term. However, even if you hope to stay in your rental until death do you part, it is smart to add an “early-release clause” in case an emergency arises.
Most early-release clauses state that in case of early departure, the tenant owes one or two months of extra rent or will be responsible for payments until a new tenant is found, whichever happens first. The tenant’s security deposit may also be forfeited, if allowed by the state. This may sound painful, but keep in mind that we are talking about breaking a legally binding contract, and try to be humble. In most cases, property managers are not required to negotiate terms not covered in the original lease or subsequent written amendments. This gives you extra reason to be polite and reasonable during lease negotiations. If a problem does occur in the future, your property manager will know that your heart is in the right place.
3. Running on empty
Suppose you signed a boilerplate lease with no early-release clause, and you have been in your new place for three month. Suddenly you have a job offer you cannot refuse, but it is in Toronto and you are in Vancouver; or you take a sudden, fatal hit on your income and cannot afford your monthly rent; or your apartment turns out to have mildew problems and your property manager has ignored your health complaints.
Here are some dos and don’ts to help you make the best of things when you are running on empty.
… Take off without notice. Think of every rental experience as being married to your credit report. If you skip out, not only do you lose the chance to build up your credit, but it can also create a deep, dark gouge in your credit report, affecting your future ability to qualify for a credit card or buy a house or car.
… “Pretend” you are still a tenant. Your property manager deserves to expect that his property is occupied, and it is almost certain that your lease states that as a condition. Believe it or not, it’s not all about money: if you vacate, the law is rarely on your side, even if you’re religious about sending payments. You can be held in default, and your property manager may have legal claim to your belongings.
… Be defensive about negotiations. The point here is to accomplish 3 things: 1) move; 2) maintain a good property manager – tenant relationship; and 3) avoid blemishing your credit history. The quickest way to guarantee a bad ending is to come out of the wild blue threatening a lawsuit, especially since you probably would not come out as the winner.
… Be straight up. If you reason for wanting to move might be fixed with a putty knife or an honest conversation, make an appointment to talk with your property manager. Do not be shy; this is your home.
… Treat your property manager with respect. Let him/her know as soon as possible that you might have to break your lease, so that you can discuss the possibilities and they can get started on finding a replacement. In most cases, property managers are required by law to make an earnest effort to fill vacancies, even if a tenant breaks a lease.
… Ask your property manager if he/she is amenable to a new leaseholder or sub lessee taking over the remainder of your lease. (The new tenant would be subject to his/her approval, of course). If this is disallowed in the original lease and he/she agreement to an amendment, be sure to put it in writing, with both of your signatures, and do not walk away without a copy. A cautionary note; if you sublet, as the primary leaseholder you will still be responsible for future rent payments, property damage, and the like if the sub lessee defaults on payments.
If a new tenant becomes the leaseholder, you are out of the picture. While that might make you happier, either option is preferable to being unprotected.
Show your property manager that you care. Offer to locate a new sub lessee or leaseholder yourself. Contact friends, family, and coworkers for leads, and be willing to pay for ads.
Be first to bring up compensations for your property manager for the trouble your situation presents to him/her, using the early-release clause guidelines as a starting point.
4. Disputes and other worst-case scenarios
If your efforts to negotiate go bust, what is the worst that could happen? You could end up being forced to stay or forced to pay, depending on the wording of your lease. If you vacate without an early-release clause, in addition to continuing responsibility for monthly rent you might have to pay for your property manager’s advertising, cleaning, and other costs.
When a tenant breaks a lease, the law is almost invariably on the property manager’s side, so you can be sure that pursuing a solution in small claims court would add to your debt rather than come to your aid. If you have tried negotiating and your property manager still will not give an inch, your final option may be to contact the Office of Residential Tenancy (previously Rentalsman). Mediators are usually publicly funded and available free or at low cost. To find out whether one is available in your area, contact the office of your mayor or city manager and ask to talk with someone about housing disputes or Landlord-Tenant mediation.
If your dispute stems from your property manager not abiding by the lease terms – example, by not fixing a leaky ceiling or ignoring an environmental hazard – again, try first to iron it out with a discussion. If this ends in a standoff, for health-related issues contact your local health department. They will do an inspection and, if necessary, pursue action against the property manager themselves, without your having to get involved or break your lease.
5. From stress to success
Moving is stressful even under the best circumstances, if you have to break a legal contract, address you property manager with respect and willingness to compromise. You might both get what you want.
The 4 Keys to Great Credit
Your credit history can make or break you when trying to convince lenders you are a good risk. Here is how to build the best record you can – before you need it.
Getting credit when you do not have any – or when you are recovering from credit disaster, like bankruptcy – can be daunting.
1. Open a chequing and savings account
Having these bank accounts establishes you as part of the financial mainstream.  Lenders want to know you have a chequing account available to pay bills, and a savings account indicates that you are putting aside something for the future.
Opening bank accounts is something you can do even if you are too young to establish credit in your own name. Until you are 18, you cannot legally be held to a contract, so any credit you get will have to be through an adult – either someone who co-signs a loan for you, adds you to their credit cards or opens a joint account with you. Having bank accounts, though, gets you started on the right path and give you practice in managing your money.
2. Get your credit report – if you have one
Next, you need to find out how lenders view you. Most base their decisions on credit reports, which are compiled by for-profit companies known as credit bureaus. You are entitled to a free credit report from the 2 major bureaus each year.
Typically, a credit report include identifying information about you, such as your name, address, social insurance number and birth date. The report may also list any credit accounts or loans opened in your name, along with your payment history, account limits and any balances you owe. If you are young or newly arrived in Canada, you may not have a report or it may have little information. If you have had credit problems, your report will list them.
3. Fix any errors or omissions
Some credit reports include errors-accounts that do not belong to you or that include out-of-date or misleading information. You should read each of your 3 reports and note anything that is incorrect.
Negative information, such as late payments, delinquencies, liens, and judgments against you, should be dropped after 7 years. Bankruptcies can stay on your report for up to 10 years. Once you have a list of problems, ask the bureaus to investigate errors listed on their reports. You can use the form that came with your report if you received it by mail, or use the web link if you
accessed your report on the internet.
4. Add positive information to your report
The more information you can provide about yourself, the more comfortable lenders may feel extending credit to you. In addition, certain information – such as having the same job or address for a few years – can make you appear to be more stable in the lenders’ eyes. While this information isn’t used in creating your credit score, it’s often used by lenders in addition to credit scores to make lending decisions. You may also find that your report does not include credit
accounts for other information that it should.
Information to Look For When Reviewing Your Credit Report
1. Is your employer and your job title listed? If you have had the job less than 2 years, your previous employer and job title should be listed as well.
2. Is your address listed and correct? If you have been there less than 2 years, is your previous address listed as well?
3. Is your Social Insurance Number listed and correct? This is the way most lenders will identify you.
4. Is your telephone number listed and correct? Many lenders may not extend credit if they cannot call you to verify information.
5. Does your report include all accounts you have paid on time? Some lenders do not report regularly to credit bureaus, and some report to only one. You can ask the creditor to report the account to a bureau that does not list it. If a creditor refuses and does not respond, you can send a letter to the bureau with a copy of your latest statement and cancelled cheques to prove you are paying on time.
There Are Three Common Routes for Establishing New Credit
1. Apply for department store and gas cards
These are usually easier to get than major bank credit cards such as Visa or MasterCard.
2. Consider taking out a small personal loan from your local bank or credit union,
and paying the money back over time
The bank may require you to put up some collateral – such as the same amount you are borrowing, deposited into a savings account. But the loan, if reported to the credit bureaus, can still help build you credit history. Make sure that it will be reported before you borrow the money.
3. Apply for a secured credit card
These work something like the loan described above: You deposit a certain amount at a bank, and in return, you are given a Visa or MasterCard with a credit limit about equal to the amount you deposited. Avoid any card that charges a big upfront fee for processing your application or a high annual fee.
Once you have credit, use it right:
. Charge small amounts on each card – but never more than you can pay off each month. You need to use credit regularly to establish your credit history, but there is usually no advantage to paying interest on those charges.
. Once you have been approved for one card or loan, do not rush out and apply for several more. Applying for too much credit will hurt, rather than help, your score.
. Pay your bills on time, all the time. This includes household bills such as utilities and telephone as well as your credit card bills and loans. Late payments on any of these accounts can wind up in your credit report, and can really hurt your credit score, the three-digit number widely used by
lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness.
. Do not max out your credit cards. In fact, do not even come close. Try to avoid using more than 30% or so of the credit you have available to you – even less, if you can. Your credit score measures the difference between the credit available to you and what you are actually using. The smaller the gap, the more it hurts your score. Lenders will worry that you are becoming overextended and will not be able to pay your bills if you charge too much.

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The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Association of Regina REALTORS® Inc.. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.