How to Find the Perfect Tenant for Your Rental Property
Selecting the right tenant for your property is crucial in protecting your investment. Even tenants with high incomes and refined demeanours can cause untold damage to furnished and unfurnished rentals. This is why our Property Managers follow stringent protocols when it comes to finding qualified tenants and selecting the best ones.
TOP PRO TIPS FOR SELECTING THE IDEAL TENANT FOR RENTALS
BEGIN WITH THE APPLICATION FORM
Before you consider a prospective tenant, they will need to fill out an application form. A well-thought-out, comprehensive application form will give you some insight into your prospective tenant’s financial viability, as well as their employment history and previous landlords.
Sometimes the application form itself has enough red flags to save you the time and trouble of going further. (We once received an application form that, incomprehensibly, included a copy of a fake passport with a photo of a well-known singer taken from the internet.) Needless to say, that person never made it to the next step in the process – the interview.
CONDUCT A THOROUGH INTERVIEW
An interview can be done over the phone or through an online option like FaceTime. However, whenever possible, invite the tenant for a face-to-face meeting. This is a good way to gauge his or her temperament (is the person aggressive, dishevelled, loud?) and to ask key questions not addressed on the application.
However, the following questions should already be in the application:
Do you have any pets? If so, what kind of pets, how many, how old are they, and are they trained?
Do you work odd hours? Do you bring tools or equipment home with you?
Sometimes an applicant will provide a false address so you cannot perform a credit check, for instance. Or so you won’t discover that they’ve been staying with parents or friends, or that they have no actual place of residence.
Protect yourself by doing an online search of addresses to determine that they are, in fact, real residences and not commercial spaces, for instance.
Also, look for gaps in the periods of time spent at each address. Sometimes an applicant will fudge the dates to keep you from discovering how often they’ve moved or to keep you from talking to some of their former landlords.
NEXT STEP – A CREDIT CHECK
Try to get written permission to perform the credit check. Most legitimate tenants, especially those in the luxury rental sector, understand the importance of a credit check and are open to it.
You must have an account open through Tenant Verification Service or Rent Check Bureau for doing credit checks with Equifax or TransUnion. The report will confirm your applicant’s identity (fraud happens more often than you might think). You’ll also receive the applicant’s financial and employment history, as well as legal judgments, bankruptcies, collections, late payments and delinquent accounts over the previous seven years. However, if you do not want to open an account with Tenant Verification Service or Rent Check, as it can be a lengthy and cumbersome process, Rent It Furnished provides credit checks for their clients for an additional small fee.
WHEN IT COMES TO REFERENCES, BE DISCERNING
Real story: John Houston had the perfect tenants – a mature couple, semi-retired, who wanted to spend three months in Vancouver over the summer. They were soft-spoken and their credit rating was good, but what really gave him peace of mind was that they came recommended by a business associate. He couldn’t have been happier – until he inspected the unit after they moved out. His glass coffee table was cracked and, although they claimed to be non-smokers, there was a cigarette burn on his $8,000 leather daybed. The kitchen had dirty dishes, not just in the sink, but on the floor too. Meanwhile, the bathroom had feces all around the toilet and on the faucets. All told, the income he made barely covered the damages.
Not all references are equal. A business associate’s good opinion is not enough; he or she might have only met this couple briefly at a social gathering. For a more accurate picture of a prospective tenant, you need to check a number of sources:
- Previous landlords
Be sure to go back farther than the most recent one. Sometimes an existing landlord will provide a good reference to a bad tenant just to ensure that they move out! Find out everything you can – from whether or not your prospective tenant paid their rent on time, to whether or not other tenants have complained about them.
Check through their employment history and speak to the Human Resources department, as well as their direct supervisors. Together, these two separate sources can give you a broader perspective.
Also, go back a few employers so that you get insight on patterns of conduct. As a rule, landlords only ask for two employers – current and the previous one, unless those are short-term jobs. For instance, find out if the applicant has a history of missing deadlines or being late, or has other behaviours that could indicate they aren’t reliable. Are they accountable? Do they get along with others?
When you collect the contact information of former employers, make sure that the emails and phone numbers are work-related . If you’re supplied a Gmail or Hotmail address or other types of personal contact information, you could actually be contacting a friend, not a former employer.
WHEN SELECTING A TENANT, STAY WITHIN THE LAW
As professional Property Managers, we’re knowledgeable and up-to-date on residential tenancy and privacy laws. There are numerous ways in which a landlord can get into trouble. Here are some precautions:
- Don’t use social media accounts like Facebook or Instagram to verify your client. It goes against our privacy laws.
- Be careful when asking for personal information about religion, disability, ethnicity, age, etc. Certain questions violate a person’s human rights and can end up being grounds for discrimination. Confine your questions to information related only to a person’s suitability as a tenant.
- Criminal record checks are allowed, but only in very limited cases.
- You can ask to see identification like a driver’s licence, but you aren’t allowed to photocopy it or keep a written record.
- You’re legally bound to do everything necessary to prevent unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or destruction of any personal information that you collect. For instance, personal information should be stored in a locked filing cabinet in a locked room or stored on an encrypted computer or secure server with robust security protection.
- Any information you have on a tenant should only be kept for a year or for as long as it’s needed (for legal purposes, for instance). When disposing of the information, you should cross-shred it or have a reputable document disposal company destroy it. You also need to securely destroy any electronic records that are no longer required.
Property management is a full-time job. It’s also why we’re able to provide you with professional advice to make renting your property a safe and rewarding experience. If you’ve bought luxury property for the purpose of renting it, we suggest you protect your investment and save yourself any number of hassles, by simply hiring us.
Learn more about our property management services at Rent it Furnished.