How Do I Find A Good Tenant?
We’ve all heard the horror stories of landlords dealing with nightmare tenants – from unpaid rent to damaged property, to noise complaints and yes, even illegal rooming houses to make a profit.
As a landlord, finding the right tenant for your rental property can be a challenging task. Not only do you want to ensure that your tenant pays rent on time, but you also want someone who will take care of your property and respect the rules of the lease agreement.
Ontario boasts some of the most tenant-friendly rental laws in North America, providing renters with excellent protection. However, this can quickly become a nightmare for landlords when tenants exploit these laws at their expense. While most tenants are law-abiding, there are always a few bad apples. Given the slow and costly legal system in Ontario, it is wise for landlords to avoid these issues altogether by finding a good tenant.
So…How Do I Find a A Good Tenant?
Defining A Good Tenant
A good tenant is someone who is reliable, responsible, has a good credit history, a good rental history and has good communication skills. Let’s take a closer look at each of these characteristics
Reliable – A reliable tenant pays their rent on time, follows the lease agreement and communicates any issues or concerns promptly.
Responsible – A responsible tenant takes care of the property and follows the rules outlined in the lease agreement. They also take responsibility for any damages they cause and report any maintenance issues in a timely manner.
Good credit history – A tenant with a good credit history demonstrates a history of paying their bills on time, which can indicate that they will be responsible when it comes to their rent payments.
Good rental history – A tenant with a good rental history has a track record of paying their rent on time, taking care of the property and just being a good tenant.
Good communication skills – A tenant with good communication skills is responsive to the landlord’s requests, communicates any issues or concerns in a timely manner and is easy to work with.
Now that we know what we are looking for in a tenant, the next question is, how do we find that tenant?
Make necessary repairs and improvements – Repairs and improvements to the property make it more attractive to potential tenants.
Offer amenities that tenants are looking for – Amenities like on-site laundry, parking and pet-friendly policies can make your property more attractive to potential tenants.
Price the rental appropriately – Your rental should be priced competitively, based on similar properties in the area and what your property has to offer.
Advertise your property – There are many rental websites where you can advertise your property for free or for a small fee. Some of the most popular ones include Zillow, Rental.ca, HotPads and Zumper. You can also use online classified ads and social media to reach potential tenants.
Write an attractive listing – Your rental listing should be well-written, clear and detailed. Be sure to include information about the property’s features and amenities, as well as any restrictions or requirements (such as no pets or a minimum credit score). Use high-quality photos to showcase the property and make it more appealing.
So, now that you have attracted a pool of would-be renters, how do you screen all these potential tenants to find the right one for you?
Screening Potential Candidates
Use a rental application – A rental application can provide you with some preliminary information about your would-be tenant. Be careful when creating and reviewing rental applications, as there are some questions you cannot legally ask and reasons you cannot use to deny a tenant.
Conduct a credit check – A credit check can help you verify a tenant’s identity and creditworthiness. Understanding credit scores is important when screening potential tenants. Credit files include a history of borrowing and repayment as well as a 3 digit number referred to as a credit score. Typically, scores below 700 should be further examined. Keep in mind credit scores aren’t the be all and end all, young people and new immigrants may have lower scores due to limited credit history. Asking for additional rent up front or a co-signer can be a solution.
Verify employment and income – Verifying a tenant’s employment and income can help ensure they have the means to pay rent. Ask for recent pay stubs and contact their employer. You want to be sure that they have a reliable and consistent income stream as well as easily employable skills should they lose their job. What is their contingency plan should that happen?
Contact previous landlords – Contacting a tenant’s previous landlords can help you learn about their rental history and whether they were a good tenant.
Conduct an interview – An interview can help you get to know the tenant and determine whether they are a good fit for your property beyond the documentation and references you’ve already collected.
Social Media/Internet Search – A lot can be discovered about a person by simply performing a Google search. Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok are great places to look at your potential candidate’s activities online.
Review the rental agreement – Once you’ve identified a suitable tenant, review the rental agreement with them to ensure they understand the terms and conditions of the lease and are indeed in agreement with them.
Use your instincts – Your instincts can be a valuable tool when screening potential tenants. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to pass on a tenant.
As a landlord, a bad tenant can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, so it’s crucial to focus on a comprehensive due diligence process from the start. Don’t cut any corners, screen throughly and save yourself a world of trouble.
Finding a good tenant takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the long run. A good tenant can provide you with steady rental income, take care of your property, and hopefully become a long-time renter. By defining what makes a good tenant and carefully screening potential tenants, you can increase your chances of finding a reliable and responsible tenant. And remember, it’s important to follow the law and treat all applicants fairly to avoid any legal issues or discrimination claims.
Ready to lease your property? Give us a call! Our listing services for landlords go beyond just posting your property on MLS. We can help you get your property market-ready, ensure your property gets maximum exposure and we’ll make sure it’s leased for its full market value with an awesome tenant. We’ll do all the heavy lifting and handle the details, so you can focus on what matters most to you.