Kamloops Resources – Housing

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Housing

 

Please read Housing:  Renting and the Law in Canadian Newcomer Magazine:

http://www.cnmag.ca/issue-4/706-housing-renting-and-the-law-e04

 

 

Also, please read and listen to Living in Rental Housing, Lesson #29,

http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/eal/2008/10/lesson-29-living-in-rental-housing.html

 

 

 

Find housing (a place to live) through:

 

  • Kamloops Immigrant Services;

 

  • Property management companies; or

 

 

You can ask a settlement worker at Kamloops Immigrant Services if you qualify for subsidized (government-assisted) or low-cost housing.

 

 

Types of housing choices:

 

  • apartments,

 

  • duplexes,

 

  • houses,

 

  • suites (an apartment which is in the basement area of a house) and

 

  • rooms.

 

 

An apartment or suite has between one and three bedrooms, with a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room.

 

Studios or bachelor suites for one person have one combined living room/bedroom space with a kitchen area and a bathroom.

 

A duplex is a house that is divided into two separate apartments.

 

A townhouse is a small house that is connected to other small houses.

 

An apartment building has one owner for the entire building.

 

In a condominum building (condo or strata), each apartment is individually owned by one person or family.

 

A rented room is in a shared house or apartment.  Everyone in the house or apartment shares the kitchen, bathroom and other common areas.

 

 

Renting a place to live means doing business with the person who takes care of or owns the place.  Ask the landlord or landlady or owner  for information about:

 

1)  The Rent

You pay rent on the first day of each month.  The landlord can only increase your rent once a year and only by a certain amount.  The landlord must give you a written notice that the rent will go up three months before the date.

 

2) The Utilities

Ask the landlord about how the utilities (electricity, gas, water and sewer) are paid.  Are all of them included in the rent?  Do you have to pay for them separately?  Landline, TV and Internet connections are paid  by the tenant.

 

3)  The Security (Damage) Deposit

Everyone pays a security deposit to pay for possible damage to the apartment while you live there.  It is usually half of one month’s rent, and paid on the day that you move in.  For example, if your rent is $700 a month, then the security deposit is $350.  Be sure to get a separate receipt for the security deposit.  The landlord keeps this money until you move out, and returns it to you with interest if you leave the place clean for the next tenant.  The landlord must do this within 15 days. 

 

• The number of bedrooms (a bedroom is required to have a closet)

 

• Parking availability, covered space or not covered (a covered space is very useful in the winter, so that you do not have to clean snow off of your windshield)

 

• Appliances, including washer and dryer

 

• The cost of doing laundry, if the washers and dryers are in a laundry room in an apartment building

 

Location: how close is the apartment/duplex/house to a grocery store, school and/or work location?

 

• Is there a play area for children?

 

• Are pets allowed?  Is there an additional fee?

 

 Different types of power outlets (120 vs. 220) for the stove (range), as well as the washer and dryer.

 

The landlord may ask you for references.  These are letters from or phone numbers of people who can recommend you as a good tenant or employee.  Bring references with you when you look at places to rent.

 

 

Have a Checklist before Moving into a New Place

 

Make sure that you have a written tenancy agreement that is signed by the landlord and yourself.

 

A tenancy agreement is a written contract between you and the landlord.

The agreement includes the rules for living in your new place.  Be completely sure that you understand everything in the agreement before you sign it.  Please ask a settlement worker at KIS to help if you do not understand everything in the agreement.  Check www.tenants.bc.ca for more information.  This website describes the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords.

 

Check for any Damage:

 

Fill Out a Move-in Checklist

 

1.  Before you move your belongings into the rental apartment, make an appointment with your landlord to have a “walk-through”  (inspection) of the apartment.

2.  Get a property condition report form from a local office supply store if your landlord does not provide a copy. Take the report form with you to the appointment with the landlord for the walk-through (inspection).

3.  Check each room completely during the walk-through, including the condition of ceilings, walls, woodwork, windows, floors and carpeting.

4.  Check the condition of all appliances, built-ins, electrical outlets and bathroom fixtures.

5.  Check the sinks, tubs and toilets to make sure that they drain properly (turn on the water in each sink, hot and cold, and in the tub/shower). Note any missing or broken parts on the form.

6.  Test the air-conditioning and heating units to make sure that they work properly.  Find out if the heat needs to be set at a particular temperature during the winter if you go away for a weekend or more. 

7.  Check the condition of each item in writing on your checklist during your walk-through (inspection).

8.  Take pictures to document the condition of the property (room, apartment, duplex, suite, house) on move-in day.

9.  If there are any unacceptable conditions that you miss during the inspection, ask for a reasonable period of time (about a week or so) to notify the landlord.
10.  Sign and date the property condition report form.

11.  Give one copy to your landlord and keep a copy for your personal records.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_8074_fill-move-checklist.html#ixzz2c4

 

Before you move anything into the new place, make a list of any damage that you may find.  You and the landlord should sign the list.  This signed list is to make sure that the landlord returns your damage deposit to you at the end of your tenancy.

 

It is always a good idea to take photographs of any damage that you find in the apartment or house.  For example, there may be a stain on the carpet or vinyl floor. If you note the stain on your signed list before you move in, then you cannot be held responsible for it after you move out.  If you want to paint the walls a different color or put holes in the walls to hold up shelving, then you must get written permission from the landlord before you make the changes.

 

Arrange to Have Utilities Connected

 

If the responsibility for paying for utilities, such as hydro (electricity) and gas, then you have to get these services connected.  The cost of connecting the services is usually in the first month’s bill.  To get these services connected, check with BC Hydro (www.bchydro.com), FortisBC (www.fortisbc.com) or the companies that provide oil, gas or hydro in your community.  You can find their phone numbers listed in the telephone book or online.

 

Buy Renter’s Insurance

 

If you are a tenant, then you should buy tenant’s insurance for the things that you own (your belongings).  If there is a fire or a robbery, then the insurance company will pay for most of the cost of the belongings that you lose in a fire or robbery.  Look in the Yellow Pages, under Insurance Agents and Brokers.

Your landlord has property insurance for the building, but the insurance policy does not include your personal belongings.

Take pictures of each item for insurance purposes, make a list and keep all receipts in a file.  For example, you can take a video of each item, room by room.  If the item is expensive, then include the make, model and serial number.  If you need to make a claim for any items, then you will have a record to present to the insurance company.

 

Arrange for Cable TV, Phone and Internet Service

 

To get telephone and Internet service, look in the Yellow Pages under Telephone Service-Local.  Cable TV, landline and Internet services are often combined.  Understand what services you will get, how much they cost, and how long the contract lasts before you sign a sales contract.  Some companies require you to pay a fine in order to leave a phone contract before it ends.

 

 

Repairs to an Apartment or House

 

A roof that leaks, a toilet that does not work, or no hot water are all situations that need repairs.  The www.tenants.bc.ca website says that the landlord must make these repairs.  In addition, the landlord must give you the name and phone number of someone who can make repairs in an emergency, at night or on the weekend.  If your landlord needs to come into your apartment or house, then he or she must ask you, the tenant.  You can say no.

 

The landlord can come in if he or she has a good reason and tells you 24 hours before.  If there is an emergency, then the landlord can come in without a tenant’s permission.  For example, an emergency can be a fire or a broken water pipe.

 

 

Make a Checklist before Moving Out

 

Give Notice

 

You must give a written notice to your landlord before you move out of a rented apartment or house.  This is called “giving notice.”  If you are renting your place month-to-month, then you must check the calendar and give notice one entire month, 30 days, before you plan to leave.  If you want to move out on December 31, then you must give notice on or before November 30.  Giving notice means that the landlord must be notified by a certain date that you plan to move.  It would be a good idea to send the written notice to him or her by registered mail so that you have a record.

 

 

Clean your Rented Apartment or House

 

You must clean your rented apartment or house before you move out, so that it is ready for the next tenant.  You must clean the kitchen and bathroom, including the stove, refrigerator, bathtub/shower, toilet and light fixtures.  Look at your tenancy agreement to see if you are required to clean the carpets and/or drapes.

 

 

Cancel the Telephone and Utilities

 

If you have a landline, then call the telephone company to have the phone disconnected or transferred to your new address as of a certain date, when you plan to move into your new place.  You may have to pay a continuing phone bill if you do not disconnect the phone.  The same is true for the electricity, gas or oil utilities.  Phone the utility companies and tell them to disconnect your service as of a certain date, when you plan to move into your new place.

 

 

Change Your Address

 

Go to the post office and fill in a change-of-address card.  The post office will send your mail from the old address to the new address.  You must pay a fee for this service.  It may take a few days for your mail to arrive at your new address.  Give your new address to:

 

  • your  bank,

 

  • employer,

 

  • school,

 

  • medical plan,

 

  • Driver Licensing Centre,

 

  • credit card companies,

 

  • Canada Revenue Agency,

 

  • cable TV company, and any other contacts.

 

Phone them or mail a change-of-address card.  You can buy these cards at the post office.

 

Arrange for a Moving Company or Rent a Truck

 

Look in the classified advertisements section of the Kamloops Daily News or Kamloops This Week or in the Yellow Pages, under Movers.  A moving company will send a truck and people to move your belongings from your old place to the new place.

 

You can also rent a truck and move your belongings by yourself.  Look in the Yellow Pages under Truck Renting or Leasing.  You can also rent a dolly to help you move heavy pieces of furniture.

 

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Fire Safety

 

In a house fire, smoke alarms and an escape plan can be the difference between life and death.  A smoke alarm alerts you that a fire has started.  An escape plan helps everyone get out quickly.

 

The safe escape time in a fire is only one to two minutes.

There are five types of home fires:

 

1)  Kitchen fires, usually caused by someone leaving a pot or pan on a hot burner on a stove and forgetting about it; a lid will help put out the fire.  Put on an oven mitt and then cover the flames with a large metal lid.

Turn off the stove.  Do not pick up the pan, because it could make the flames spread.  Do not put water on a grease fire because water can cause the hot oil to splash out of the pan.  You can also pour baking powder on the flames or use a kitchen fire extinguisher.  If the fire is in an oven or microwave, turn off the oven or unplug the microwave to allow the fire to burn out.

 

2)  Home heating fires, usually caused by:

 

  • Sparks from a wood stove;

 

  • A chimney catching fire; or

 

  • Flammable objects which are left near baseboard heaters or space heaters.

 

 

3)  Electrical fires are caused by wall outlets overheating, worn or broken electrical cords, or faulty wiring.  Do not use electrical cords with several appliances plugged in at the same time.

 

 

4) Careless smoking fires can be caused by one lit cigarette.  A lit cigarette can smoulder for hours in a couch or mattress, and then fire can begin in the middle of the night, when people are sleeping.  Does anyone in your home smoke in bed?

 

 

5) Candle fires usually happen when someone forgets to put out lit candles and leaves the room.  Does anyone in your home burn candles?

 

 

Smoke/Fire Alarms:

 

  • How many smoke/fire alarms do you have? How old are they?  Older smoke detectors do not work as well as newer ones, so it is important to replace them every ten years.  If you don’t know how old the smoke detectors are when you move into a new home, then replace them.

 

  • Where are the smoke/fire alarms located?  A smoke/fire alarm should be outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.

 

  • Talk to your children about the smoke/fire alarmsAllow them to hear the sound that they make by testing them, so they know what to expect in a fire emergency.  Sound the alarm and see if everyone follows the plan.

 

Be sure to practice it during the day for the first time.  After that, tell everyone that you are going to test them at night.  Try a Friday or Saturday night after the children are asleep.  If they do not wake up, then use the buddy system so you know that they can get out.

 

Everyone should be out in less than 60 seconds.

 

  • Who checks the smoke detectors/alarms to make sure that they have working batteries?  Does he or she check them once a month by using the test button?  Keep the smoke detector clean, without dust.

 

  • How can I change the batteries every year?  You can change them every spring on the day when the clock moves ahead one hour.  If the alarm starts to making a chirping or beeping sound, then replace the batteries at once.

 

  • How can I find out if the smoke/fire alarm is connected to an automatic system that notifies emergency operations when it goes off?

 

  • Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home?  If the fire is small and not growing, everyone else is already out of the house and the fire department has been called.  Then use the fire extinguisher.  Point it at the base or bottom of the fire and sweep the nozzle/spout from side to side.

 

  • Do you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home?  Carbon monoxide gas (C02) is a colourless, odourless and poisonous gas which comes from your furnace if there is a problem.  A carbon monoxide detector alarm sounds if there is carbon monoxide gas in the air of your home.

 

  • What emergency number would you call if you had a fire in your home?  Call 911.  Be sure that all family members know the emergency number so anyone can go to a neighbour’s house to call for help when everyone is out of the house.

 

 

When you call 911 to report a fire, remember to:

 

  • Stay calm.  Speak clearly.

 

  • Explain the emergency.  Provide the address and telephone number where the emergency is happening.

 

  • The 911 operator will ask questions to find out what kind of emergency help that you need.  Listen carefully to the questions.  Ask the operator to speak more slowly or repeat information if you need to.

 

  • Let the telephone operator control the conversation.

 

  • In some situations, the 911 operator will give you instructions to follow.  Listen and follow the instructions exactly.

 

  • Always stay on the phone until the operator tells you to hang up.

 

  • It is a good idea to keep 911 emergency information near all of the landline phones in your home.  You may know this information by heart, but a visitor or babysitter may not know it.

 

 

Make a 911 Phone Call to Report a Fire

 

911 Operator:  Hello, this is 911.  What is the nature of your emergency? (What kind of emergency is it?)

Caller:  (Tell the operator that your home is on fire.)

 

911 Operator:  What is your address?

Caller:  (Tell the operator your address.)

 

911 Operator:  What is your name?

Caller:  (Tell the operator your name.)

 

911 Operator:  What is your phone number?

Caller:  (Tell the operator your phone number.)

 

911 Operator:  What is the current situation? (What is the situation right now?)  Is everyone safely out of the house?

Caller:  (Tell the operator yes, everyone is out of the house.)

 

911 Operator:  The fire and paramedic service is on the way.  Do not go back into your home.

Caller:  (Tell the operator that you understand and will not go back inside.)

 

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Do you and your family have an escape plan on paper and posted on the refrigerator to exit your home if there is a fire?  Draw your home escape plan with the entire family.  Walk through the house to demonstrate the ways out and clear items away from escape routes.

 

Be sure that everyone can open the doors and windows.  Create a buddy system for small infants or the elderly who need help to exit the house.

 

Make sure to tell your children that even if they are scared, they should NEVER hide under a bed or in a closet.

 

Keep heat and smoke from getting through the door of the room that you are in by blocking the cracks around the door with sheets, blankets, and/or clothing.  If there is a window in the room that it is not possible to escape from, then try to open it wide and stand in front of it.  If you can, grab a piece of clothing or a towel, placing it over your mouth to keep from breathing in the smoke.  It works better if you wet the cloth with water first.

 

Once a fire starts, it can spread and grow very quickly, in one to two minutes.  A flashover can happen, when a room gets so hot that everything in it catches fire.  You may have very little time to escape.  Close the doors behind you as you are leaving to slow the spread of the fire.

 

Do you have a meeting place outside where everyone can go when they left the burning house?  NO ONE should ever go back into a burning building.  Practice it twice a year, so that you can be out of the house in under one minute. 

 

If you are leaving your home, turn off the clothes dryer before you leave.  To prevent a fire in your dryer, always clean the lint filter before and after you use the dryer.  Remove any link that you can see on the dryer door.  Keep the area around the dryer free of clothing, paper, etc. that could easily catch on fire.  If you have a gas-powered dryer, have it inspected regularly by a professional.

 

These websites have fire safety information in different languages:

 

www.toronto.ca/fire/prevention/index.htm

 

www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/Fire_Dept/Fire_Safety_Resources/ESL.htm

 

 

Rental contracts:

 

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) publishes an information guide for new immigrants.  Much of the information is in eight languages.  You can find it at:

http://www.cmhc.ca/newcomers/

 

Learn about landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities to avoid misunderstandings (problems that are caused when someone does not understand):

 

First, look at the Dial-A-Law website for Script # 410, Landlord and Tenant Law, available in:

 

  • English;
  • Chinese; and
  • Punjabi.

 

 

Also check TRAC Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre, which has multilingual publications and videos (www.tenants.bc.ca).

 

You can also check MOSAIC Multilingual Legal Publications (www.mosaicbc.com/multilingual-legal-publications).

 

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation  (CMHC) has an information guide in 8 languages.  You can find it at:  http://www.cmhc.ca/newcomers/.

 

A tenant is a person who can use an apartment, room or house as long as rent is paid to the landlord.  A landlord is a person who rents an apartment or room to someone else.

 

Next, look at the BC Residential Tenancy Act: A Guide for Landlords & Tenants website online, paying attention to:

 

  • Residential Tenancy Agreement

 

  • Security Deposit

 

  • Condition Inspection

 

  • Paying the Rent

 

  • Repairs

 

  • Quiet Enjoyment (especially being quiet from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m., including weekends)

 

  • Ending the Tenancy

 

  • Eviction

 

Complaints:

 

How can I complain to the apartment caretaker or landlord?

 

Write a request for a repair.  Your landlord may ask you to fill out a form or write a letter.  Always write the date on the request and keep a copy of it.  The copy will help you if you need to contact the British Columbia Residential Tenancies Branch to resolve a repair issue.

 

 

Problem situations include:

 

  • Broken window

 

  • Clogged sink

 

  • Roof leak

 

  • Television reception

 

  • Noisy neighbor

 

  • Cat allergy

 

  • Broken refrigerator

 

  • Bed bug problem

 

  • Neighbours:  Getting to know them may be different than in your country.  Canada is more individualist and private than many countries which are more group-oriented.  Public and private are defined differently in cultures, as well as friendship.

 

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For References, please go to the Kamloops Education section.

 

Disclaimer
Kamloops Immigrant Services does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external website sources.  Although we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy, currency and reliability of the content, Kamloops Immigrant Services accepts no responsibility in that regard. Informational materials are for educational purposes only, and are of general value.