Most residential tenants are long term tenants who pay their rent on time and properly look after a landlord’s property. The trick is to do the proper research in advance so that you do not end up with the tenant from hell. Here are some tips to follow:
When you advertise for tenants, always state “we do background and credit checks.” You will receive a greater percentage of qualified tenants.
Do a proper credit check using Equifax or TransUnion. The cost is approximately $20. Or join a group such as the Ontario Landlord Association where after becoming a member, you can do a credit check for as low as $10, and receive use of all of their supporting materials to assist you.
Call all references, especially prior landlords. Remember that the current landlord may be lying just to get rid of them. Start with the previous landlord.
Check social media. Google the tenant to make sure the information in their rental application checks out with what is online. In addition, if you are concerned about possible pets, check facebook. If the tenant has a pet, there will likely be a picture of them with the pet on facebook.
In a face to face interview, there are signs that may indicate that the tenant is not being truthful. This can include one or more of the following: incomplete answers, not looking at you in the eye when they speak, changing the subject, fidgeting or dropping names of important people.
When interviewing tenants, ask open ended questions such as “Tell me about yourself or why are you leaving your current apartment?” You will be surprised how much you can learn about someone with such simple questions.
Interview the tenant where they currently live. Check their car when they come to see your place. You will see first-hand how they treat someone else’s property. It is also hard to hide the smell of a pet, if you are concerned about that.
Give the tenant a deal. It should not be about charging the highest rent possible. When tenants think they overpaid, they will almost immediately start looking for another place to live. Give tenants a break and they will be happier, and stay longer.
Give tenants incentives. Why not a $10 gift card if the rent is paid on time? Or a Christmas present, just to show that you appreciate your tenant. Treating a tenant with respect often results in the tenant not only paying the rent on time, but they will also take care of your property better.
If you still end up with the tenant from hell, act quickly to serve all notices and use an experienced paralegal to assist you. An experienced paralegal knows the tricks that professional tenants use.
By doing the right research in advance and treating your tenants with respect, you can ensure that your real estate investment continues to increase in value.
Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him at Mark@RealEstateLawyers.ca