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So. You’ve decided to move out of residence and venture out into the great big world to find a place you can call your temporary home. Here comes independence!

However, that oh-so-sweet freedom comes at its own price. Although living off-campus in a house or apartment will release you from the bonds of dons and deans, moving and maintaining your own place is a ton of work.

I furnished my new apartment this week to get it ready for my subletters, and boy was I unprepared. Here are some tips that I wish someone had waved in front of me a couple of days ago.

1. Prepare yourself for disaster.
Seriously. When my roommate and I started to move our furniture in, we were greeted with a welcoming inch of dust, dirt and all other types of filth in every possible corner of our tiny apartment. We armed ourselves with disinfectants and bleaches galore, and proceeded to choke on toxic fumes for the remainder of the day. You might get lucky and end up with a habitable apartment, but chances are if its rented, disaster can’t be prevented.

2. Talk to your landlord.
The correct course of action for my roommate and I to take would have been to leave the apartment in the state it was, and call the landlord. As a new tenant, it isn’t your responsibility to clean the apartment – something we realized only after attacking the washroom and kitchen. Additionally, your landlord is in charge of taking care of all repairs, paint jobs, and even things like a burnt out bulb.

3. Don’t get bullied!
By either your landlord or the people you’re subletting the apartment to. Landlords can be tetchy people, but make sure you stand your ground. Because we’re students, most of them think they can take us for a ride – prove them wrong! You should try to make friends with him/her… but we all know sometimes that just isn’t possible. As long as you pay your rent, you should be fine. Also, if you’re subletting your place to someone for the summer, remember that you get to dictate what goes and doesn’t go. It’s your place, they’re just guests.

4. Make a contract for your subletters.
Things can seem pretty sketchy when you’re subletting your apartment on your own instead of through your landlord. Especially when you end up finding them off of Kijiji. Make sure you have some legal binding and cash to hold them to, in case they end up flopping at the last minute or damage your place. Draw up a contract modelled on the one you signed when you leased the place. And make sure they’ve sent you the first month’s rent before they move in!

5. Know how much to furnish.
My roommate and I were at a complete loss as to what extent we should furnish the apartment. Our subletters are living there from mid-May to mid-August, and we had no idea what the etiquette was for providing a “furnished” apartment. Do we need to give pots and pans? Cutlery? Bedding? We ended up settling on a desk, bed, chair and chest of drawers for each room with bedding and some decorative artifacts. Retrospectively, it would have been smart to have decided how much we were going to provide with the subletters beforehand. And maybe given them a dining table. Oops.

Image courtesy of storebukkebruse (CC BY 2.0).