Difficulties with tenants can often be avoided before they begin. If you speak to experienced landlords who have been managing tenants for years or even decades, they’ll probably tell you it’s impossible to avoid the occasional bad seed, but careful screening of and proper communication with potential renters can help minimize problems.
During the early stages of a new tenant relationship, due diligence is incredibly important. At the end of your first meeting, prospective landlords (and even renters) need to ensure their interests are met before entering into a tenancy contract. When you’re screening future tenants, you obviously want to ask for proof of identity and conduct a credit check. Some other steps in screening include:
- Ask for references (from past landlords or even character references).
- Contact previous landlords and ask about past renting behaviour – did the tenant pay rent on time, were there complaints about the tenant.
- Confirm the renter’s income by contacting their current employer.
- Confirm the number of people that will be living in the unit and don’t be afraid to screen them as thoroughly as the main tenant.
It’s your Business
Remember that your rental property is a source of income for you and you should treat it as any other business. Rental income doesn’t just magically appear every month with no effort from you. You need to maintain the property and conduct necessary repairs, not only to meet your tenant’s rights but also to ensure the quality of your property. Repairs and maintenance are tax deductible, and also give you an opportunity to inspect the property for other signs of damage. And speaking of inspections, your yearly fire alarm inspections are the perfect opportunity for you to review the property and check for any problems.
Reviewing the Property
Once you have chosen your tenant, you should always review the property with the tenant before they move in. As part of any rental agreement, you should outline current damage in the home or suite and include it in the rental agreement. If you want to be certain of proof of pre-existing damage (or the lack thereof) in the unit, you should consider recording your tour of the property with the tenant.
A Signed Agreement
Always, always, always get a signed rental agreement from your tenant. This should include all the necessary elements of the agreement including the number of parties allowed to live in the property, the cost of rent, the length of the agreement, the amount of damage deposit, and other landlord and tenant responsibilities. Many Canadian provinces, including British Columbia have strict guidelines about tenancy agreements, and you can often download free agreements online. Just remember to screen your renters properly, care for your property, and always sign a rental agreement and you should have fewer problems with bad tenants.