Did you hear about the story about the Calgary property owners who had to pay damages after their tenant skipped out? Or the frustrated building manager who wrote to their local paper about how hard it is to evict delinquent tenants?
Renting a property comes with risk. Delinquent rent payments, loud music, threatening behaviour, damage to the property and garbage piling up… these are just some of nightmare aspects of the less-than-reputable prospective tenants landlords are looking to avoid. So, how to do separate the good eggs from the bad eggs?
Here are ways to tighten up your application process to lessen the risk of high-risk tenants.
Better Ads for Better Tenants
Create an accurate description of your property that positions it in the best possible light. Be very clear about your terms and conditions and what you expect from a tenant (non-smoking unit, no pets, etc.). Outline in no uncertain terms that your application process is thorough and that prospective tenants will be required to provide valid documentation. It’s a good idea to mention in your ad that there will be a credit and reference check for all applicants with no exceptions. “Professional tenants” are looking for an easy mark. Don’t be that mark.
To increase the pool of tenants from which to choose, be sure to know your market. Price your rental a few dollars below market to attract more leads. If you overprice your available unit you will scare off potential renters. If you underprice, you will have the wrong target market showing up.
Consistently Capture All Information
Collect all the details you need to determine whether your prospective tenant is a good fit. If you let information about co-applicants, guarantors and employment history slip, it could come back to haunt you. Professional tenants often provide false employment information or offer up a slick story and avoid giving much information on paper, so be both thorough and consistent when following up with references and past employers.
Keep It Looking Current
Longer than average vacancies can be scary. And, often trickster tenants are trying to sniff out any whiff of desperation to rent a property that has been on the market for more than a few weeks. Ensure that your property looks clean and tidy and has good curb appeal. This will attract renters you want and ensure that your rental looks up-to-date. If a potential renter asks why it has been vacant for X amount of time, let them know that you are looking for the best fit for your property.
There’s no time like the present. When you start getting inquiries and having people ask to see the rental unit, be sure to send some qualifying questions by email. You might want to see if they are currently renting and ensure they will be able to produce references. Let them know again that you will be performing a thorough background check, and ask them if they have any objections.
Don’t Accept Cheques, Partial Payments or Cash
It’s way too easy for a disreputable tenant to hand over a year’s worth of fraudulent cheques, knowing they are going to bounce and be returned NSF. Of course, this slows your valuable cash flow and ends up costing you a ton of time and money chasing down new (and hopefully legitimate) rent payments. Sometimes the high-risk tenant wants to pay only in cash, which is more difficult to track Instead, use a secure payment system that features bank transfers, credit card payments, or other reliable, automatic methods of payment.
Professional tenants are smooth operators and often have a sob story or a slick excuse about why the rent is late. “I’ll have the rent to you in a few days” is a common promise. Keep your relationship professional and don’t wait to start the eviction process if the tenant has broken promises and the terms of your lease.
Keep Accurate Records
Having all your paperwork in place from the very start will help you significantly if you ever need to start the eviction process. Have all inspections and the associated photos of your property in one central repository. (Professional tenants will sometimes try to claim that the rental is uninhabitable.) Keep records of all communication and interactions with your tenant.
How Property Vista Helps
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