Going alone to find a property to rent can feel just as daunting as buying a home without professionals to help. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), properties for lease are currently in high demand, making the rental market increasingly competitive. From their expertise of the market to overall negotiation skills, having a REALTOR® in your corner can make all the difference when it comes to loving your next home.
We spoke with Stephan Gauthier, a REALTOR® with Ottawa Property Shop Realty Inc., to get his insights into the advantages of using a REALTOR® to rent a residential property.
“Renters working with a REALTOR® are entitled to professional guidance, expert advice and assistance throughout the rental process,” explains Gauthier. “They’ll also benefit from having a property expert by their side throughout the process. There’s no cost to have a REALTOR® on your side [as a renter] but the benefits are substantial.”
Expert knowledge and guidance
Did you know renters are given the same benefits and protections as buyers and sellers when they work with a REALTOR®?
“REALTORS® have knowledge about the local rental market, including fair rental prices, neighbourhood trends, and available listings,” says Gauthier. “They can also help you find the right property more efficiently by narrowing down options based on your preferences and budget.”
Not all REALTORS® take on rental clients, but many do, so this will be one of the first questions you’ll ask when interviewing REALTORS®. Working with renters helps a REALTOR® expand their client base, generate referral business, and build long-term relationships with clients who may eventually become homebuyers.
According to Gauthier, some REALTORS® even work exclusively with renters. Often referred to as rental agents, these professionals help renters find and secure properties that fit their needs and budget.
Access to more listings
Typically, renters who don’t work with a REALTOR® use a variety of channels to access listings, including websites, social media pages and groups, and classified ads. While many people find success navigating these platforms on their own, they may be overwhelmed with the options. When a REALTOR® is involved, they curate listings that fit most, if not all, of the renter’s criteria, giving them an upper hand in finding a property. This is especially helpful in places where the rental market is saturated.
“When you work with a REALTOR®, they set you up to receive emails the instant a potential listing that meets your needs becomes available,” Gauthier explains. “Some listings may not be publicly available yet, but a REALTOR® may have access to pre-market properties.”
Outstanding negotiation skills
Believe it or not, you can actually negotiate the advertised rental or lease price just like you would when purchasing a home. This may be harder to accomplish if you’re doing it on your own, but REALTORS® are skilled negotiators. They take into account several factors, including your budget, the property’s size, condition and history, the current market, neighbourhood, and amenities to ensure the landlord gives the renter the best possible price.
If the property has any issues such as mould, pests or other maintenance problems, the REALTOR® would be able to negotiate repairs or solutions.
Gauthier adds the negotiation isn’t always just about lowering the price.
“They can also discuss the condition of the property and request repairs or improvements before signing the rental agreement,” he explains. “The REALTOR® would help with these negotiations and also ensure they’re put in writing to avoid any confusion or disappointment.”
Peace of mind
Rental applications and agreements contain a lot of information (usually written in legal jargon) about renter responsibilities, security deposit information, rent and early lease termination terms, conditions around repairs and modifications, and pet allowances.
“REALTORS® understand rental agreements and can help you navigate the process and avoid potential issues,” Gauthier says. Even your deposit is protected when you work with a REALTOR®, thanks to their insurance.
Given the frequent occurrence of scams and legal complications, it’s important to protect yourself from financial trouble, and ensure your rights as a renter won’t be violated. When you work with a REALTOR® you’re guaranteed legal and contractual support that gives you peace of mind. They “ensure everything is done correctly and in accordance with [your provincial or territorial tenant act],” Gauthier explains.
This vetting of the agreement on behalf of the renter can offer protection if the landlord decides to sell the property while the renter is living in it. For example, in Ontario, a landlord “cannot simply evict a tenant because they’re selling their home,” says Gauthier.
“If the property has sold and the new owners want to move in, there are specific provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act to consider,” says Gauthier. “There are many factors involved with ending a tenancy and landlords must follow these rules as per the [Ontario] Residential Tenancies Act and they must respect any active lease.”
No extra costs
“There is no cost to have a REALTOR® on your side but the benefits are substantial,” a fact that, according to Gauthier, may come as a surprise to many people.
Renters may shy away from the idea of using a REALTOR® because they don’t want to pay for the service. As a renter, you are not responsible for any fees or premiums. All you have to prepare for are any payments related to the lease agreement, such as deposits.
Landlords or property owners are usually the parties responsible for any fee agreements with REALTORS®. Typically, this payment is calculated based on the value of the lease or on a flat fee to avoid any surprises down the line.
Using a REALTOR® also saves you the time that would otherwise be spent searching through listings, scheduling viewings, reading complicated documents, and paying higher than normal rent.
If you’re considering a commercial or residential rental property, you should definitely enlist the help of a professional REALTOR®.