Q1: Is it legal to be charged a security deposit for my lease?
A1: ABSOLUTELY NOT! The only amount of money that your landlord is allowed to request from you before or at signing of your lease is the 1st month’s rent. That being said, some landlords may charge you an “application fee”. This fee is generally used to see if an applicant is serious. If the applicant is accepted then this fee should be applied to the first month’s rent payment, not kept as an additional deposit! If the tenant is not accepted then the fee is returned to the applicant at their request.
Q2: Why do you need my Social Insurance Number (SIN) for an apartment application?
A2: Most landlords will do a preliminary credit check on prospective tenants to check payment habits, employment history and previous residence. This gives us a chance to see if you pay your bills on time, if you are honest about your employment status and where you have previously rented. The credit check can be performed without a SIN, however the information we receive is not nearly as in depth as when we have a SIN available.
Q3: What was the last rent paid for this apartment?
A3: Most prospective tenants aren’t asking this question and quite frankly it’s the most important question you can ask a landlord before signing a lease. There is even an entire section for this on the new lease forms that I’m sure most of your landlords aren’t filling out. So why is this important? Landlords are limited on how much they can increase the rent from year to year. So before moving into a new apartment, make sure that your rental value makes sense compared to what the previous tenant was paying.