It's not like I've never moved before or had to set a place up from scratch. I know what the basic expenses and expenditures are: set up fees for utilities, bathroom & kitchen items, furniture, etc. I know it's stressful and frustrating at times. That's just for an apartment - never mind the legal fees, movers costs, etc. that are involved with an actual house. I also know that, despite that stuff, it's an excellent opportunity to declutter and move with a nominally smaller amount of stuff.
But I've never in my life had to pay estate agent fees on top of that to find a place. I'm not sure real estate agents even deal with rentals in Canada, do they? Certainly, I've never used one to find an apartment before. I thought they stuck with houses and condos and things, not rentals. I've been lucky and things have always worked out for me and I have no reason to think it won't be the same now, but I'm learning that it just might be a bit more difficult.
I've been chatting to a couple of estate agents about the process and am learning that each estate agent has different fees. These range between £200-£600 ON TOP OF RENTAL DEPOSITS which are 6 weeks' worth of rent + first month. There are referencing fees (which are charged PER PERSON); there are Tenancy Agreement preparation costs; there are Pet Addendum fees (if applicable); there are check-out fees at the end of the tenancy; there are Tenancy Extension fees. All are non-refundable. Some may be refundable, but only if the landlord changes his/her mind over you as a tenant, not if you change your mind about being a tenant for that property. I'm afraid to ask whether these fees are charged per flat (at the same agency) or if, once referenced, etc., you are on the books with them and can look to your heart's content. Certainly, you pay more fees if you sign on with more than one agency.
So the minimum I need to rent a place is almost £2,500 before I've even moved in. And if for whatever reason, I don't get accepted, I lose my fees. I can't afford that.
It's criminal. It really is.
I've also learned from one of the agents that the referencing tool they use requires someone interested in a place with a monthly rent of £850 to earn £26k per year. Someone referencing for a monthly rent of £700 is required to earn £21k. That is £5-£10k more than I currently make (and there isn't a great chance that I'll ever make either one of those numbers anytime soon). Which leads me to believe my available rental level is somewhere around £300-£400 per month. I'll be lucky to find a room for that.
I do appreciate, however, that they want to ensure they get the rent. I understand - to a point - why there's a minimum. I don't understand the variously priced fees for the agents. Why not a flat fee for all of that?
How do people rent places? I work full-time and make a very modest wage. Even without my debt payments, I won't qualify (based on the above numbers) for even a studio flat. I'm likely going to start with moving from my room with my cousin to another room in someone else's house. I was hoping to avoid that, but I can't afford to be particularly fussy sadly.
Despite all this, I KNOW the perfect place is out there for me. It may just not be ready yet. I've never failed to find a home - even when I had four cats - so I'm not worried, just kind of disgusted and slightly frustrated. Knowledge is power, however, so it's not a total waste of time learning how the process works. I know what I want, so I just have to be patient. I'm in a very fortunate position, with a job, a comfortable place to live and a cousin who, while itching to get to work on her house and have me out of it, won't leave me homeless and is being kind and generous enough to let me pay a minimal amount so that I can save most of my wage to put towards a place.
In other news, I've paid off a bill from the Canada Revenue Agency which was from 2014. I cashed out one of my RSPs but was unaware that it was subject to 25% tax, as I'm a non-resident (although I thought I wasn't deemed a non-resident until after I'd cashed it out. Anyway...). I got the bill last month and finally got around to calling Ottawa about it a week or so ago. The only place I could pull the funds from was my LOC, so I've done that today. I'm both glad and sad about this. I was one payment away from clearing a full $1000 off my LOC and now I've fallen back down again, but I no longer owe the Canadian Government and I think that's a wiser move. Plus, the interest rate is lower on my LOC.
I was told some complicated way of paying it off through the CRA website, but it didn't give me an option to pay from a Canadian bank account (assuming, I suppose, that you don't have one). I specifically asked if I could pay it through my bank account and was told 'no'. I was surprised but took her word for it - she should know, right?
Well, apparently she doesn't. I wanted to clear it up today and after looking at a couple of options, I went to my bank and checked what bills were available to set up and there it was: CRA NON RES ARR (CRA non-resident arrears).
Once I've moved, I really need to find a part-time job.