How to Screen a Prospective New Tenant

As a real estate investor, the importance of screening your tenants cannot be underestimated. The very last thing you want to do is to lease to a troublesome tenant who will have a negative effect on your investment. It’s for this reason that tenant checks in Canada are essential.

Female Realtor Shaking Hands With Couple Interested In Buying House

The process of screening a potential tenant doesn’t have to be difficult. Therefore, it’s best to adhere to the following steps when selecting an appropriate tenant for your property:

1. Request an application

To start, every prospective tenant should complete a formal application.

The applicant should be made aware and agree by signing the form that a background check, criminal history report and/or credit check will be requested, and that authorisation for such checks is being granted.

At the very least, the following information is required:

  • Financial information, including bank accounts and credit cards, balances and other major monthly payments
  • Current income level (basic salary plus bonus’ or other add-ons)
  • Current and previous employers
  • Contact information for previous landlords with addresses, details of rent paid and reasons for leaving
  • Number of occupants and number and type of pets
  • Personal references, including names, length of acquaintance and phone numbers

 

2. Arrange a tenant check  

After you have pre-screened applicants and narrowed down tenants who meet your requirements, the next step is a credit check. This will reveal details about the tenant’s previous credit history, going back up to 10 years. It’s possible to obtain a credit report and credit score using the Equifax Identity Report.

When the credit report is available, key items to consider include:

  • Credit history (this includes history of late payments, charged-off credit card accounts or major issues or delinquencies, such as bankruptcy)
  • Current debt (including high credit card balances, major loans for a car or the need for alimony payments or other unpaid debts)

 

3. Perform a background check

A background check can be arranged by using the prospective tenant’s social security number and such tenant verification services  will reveal details of:

  • Evictions from other properties
  • Any criminal record
  • Public records to see if tenant is involved in a legal battle, or has been sued in the past (eg. for unpaid rent, unpaid child support or another serious financial matter)

Many Canadian landlords are subject to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which has recent updated guidelines to clarify landlord rights and responsibilities.

  

5. Ask for references

Two of the main references to seek are from the tenant’s former landlord(s) and current or past employers, with key questions being:

  • Would you rent an apartment to this tenant in the future?
  • Does the tenant owe you any money or have a history of late payments?
  • Did the tenant cause any major damage in their last unit?
  • Did you repay the security deposit with or without deductions when the tenants moved out?
  • Did the tenant disrupt the neighbours or cause any major issues whilst in the unit?

 

For the tenant’s employer:

  • Is the tenant a current employee? If so, from when and on what contractual terms?
  • Does the tenant have a steady, reliable income source? If so, can this be verified?

 

 6. Interview the tenant

The Fair Housing Act stipulates that landlords cannot discriminate based upon disability, family status, national origin, race, religion or sex. You can still ask reasonable questions either in a phone or face-to face interview with the tenant, such as:

  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you have any pets? If so, how many and what are they?
  • What is your typical work day? Do you work night shifts or odd hours?
  • Do you plan on getting a roommate in the future or have any friends or relatives who frequently spend the night in your home?

 

Our team can help

To mitigate your risks as a landlord, it’s integral to screen every potential tenant — as no one wants to go through the hassles and process of evicting a tenant. Sometimes, instinct counts as much as the hard facts from the tenant’s credit report and background information.

In any event, care is needed to ensure you do not break any privacy laws in the relevant Landlord and Tenant Act.

If you are looking for assistance in finding tenants or with tenant screening, why not give us at Emerald Management and Realty a call today? You can also contact us by email.

We look forward to hearing from you!


Holiday Message 2020

With the holiday season upon us and as we approach the the end of a year like no other, Emerald Management & Realty Ltd., would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to those who have entrusted us to provide property management services: our clients, tenants & residents, our team members, contractors, and the communities that we serve. 

Thank you to all our clients and residents for your collaboration and working with us as we continued to provide property management services  during this unprecedented time of challenge and opportunity.  We are grateful for the support of our people. Especially for their resilience and commitment to providing responsive service and looking at innovative solutions.  This helped meet our focused goal of keeping everyone healthy and working.  Markedly, the teamwork provided the inspiration to keep all of us mentally and physically strong so that we could remain responsive, positive and be flexible through the challenges and opportunities faced this past year.

We also wish to send a shout of support to all the first responders, health professionals and every other essential worker for keeping us safe and reminding us of the importance of caring for others and giving back for the greater good.  It has been proven time and again this past year, that together, we are stronger.

In recognition of the support of being made by those working tirelessly to serve some of the hardest impacted in our the community, in lieu of gift cards, this year, donations were made to the Calgary Food Bank, HomeFront Calgary, Make a Wish Foundation, Mustard Seed, Project Warmth and the Salvation Army.

 

Like so many, we look forward to the day where we can get back to business-as-usual and celebrate the lessons learned and the successes achieved.  Until then, we are focused on interacting safely to minimize the threat of COVID-19 and are grateful for everyone’s effort and cooperation to help keep each other safe and healthy.

On behalf of everyone at Emerald Management & Realty Ltd., we wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year. 

Happy Holidays! 

 


Covid19 Calgary Property Management Update: December 2020

December 2020

New restrictions were announced by the province last week that came into effect on December 13, 2020 to further help manage the rising cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.  Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. has reviewed the information provided and offers the following updates as it impacts property management in Calgary & Area. 

These updates continue to be in line with Emerald’s focus of protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees, families, customers, suppliers and our communities.  As it has since March 2019, we continue to be proud of everyone’s support and focus on staying safe while continuing business operations.

Emerald is following the guidelines of Alberta Health Services and while this information continues to change and evolve, we believe we are well positioned to meet the challenges of this pandemic.  In response to the recent Government of Alberta restrictions:

  • Emerald is deemed an essential professional services and as a result, our office will continue to remain open.  We will be available to guests by appointment only.
  • All employees & guests are required to wear a mask and social distance, unless there is a medical exemption.  Masks will be worn in meetings with others, working on-site and when walking in the common areas and at all properties.
  • Managers are working with their teams to monitor safety and risk management protocols with respect to remote and rotational in-office work schedules.  Where operationally required and safe to do so, team members will continue to work in the office and at the properties.
  • Property showings, inspections and maintenance must continue to follow the physical distancing, masking and PPE requirements in place. Property showings are now limited to two family-unit members at a time. 
  • Whenever possible, showings and meetings will be conducted virtually.
  • All employees must continue to adhere to all safety precautions, follow all provincial public health guidelines, and municipal orders. 

The above protocols and restrictions are in accordance with Alberta Health Services and supported by the Alberta Real Estate Association and the Real Estate Council of Alberta.

While the situation continues to evolve, our team is poised to take swift action to ensure we are in line with the new measures and can continue to offer the service and responsive experience we are known for.  To assist our customers and team members with information about how we continue to adapt, we will continue posting regular information on our website at: www.emeraldmanagement.com/blog  This has proven to be an effective tool and resource for our community. 

Should you be interested in learning more about Emerald Management & Realty Ltd.’s efforts or current protocols, please contact us. 

From all of us at Emerald Management & Realty Ltd., thank you for your support during this challenging time.  Stay healthy! 


A Landlord’s Guide to Early Lease Termination

In any lease agreement signed between a landlord and a tenant, the agreed, fixed period of occupancy will be specified therein.

Although the landlord and tenant may have every intention of allowing the lease to continue for the period specified, sometimes situations arise to prevent or change this and breaking a lease is not uncommon.

The landlord may wish to recover possession or the tenant may be forced to move out earlier if certain circumstances arise. And, so, the question of how to terminate a lease early often comes up.

Therefore, let’s have a good at some of the key issues to be considered in the event of early termination of a lease:

 

Firstly, establish the reasons for early termination

Fundamentally, the reasons to early terminate can be separated into landlord and tenant related issues. The landlord may want to:

  • sell the property and the buyer wants to have vacant possession without the encumbrance of a tenant;
  • undertake extensive decoration and/or remodelling or renovations or repairs to the property, and which require it to be vacant for a certain period of time;
  • live there him- or her- self

On the other hand, the landlord may wish to early terminate the lease as the tenant:

  • has failed to pay rent and meet other financial obligations in the lease agreement, despite appropriate warnings and notice periods;
  • is failing to meet his repair and maintenance obligations which may mean that the property is becoming uninhabitable, with possible health and safety and liability consequences for the landlord;
  • is breaching other lease conditions such as keeping a pet when this is expressly not allowed, disturbing neighbours with excessive noise, damaging the property, using the property for an unauthorised use, or participating in illegal activities on or near the premises.

 

Then, review the lease agreement

Carefully go through the terms and conditions in the lease signed by both the landlord and tenant. You need to establish exactly what language has/has not been included in the clauses of the agreement as this will form the basis for your next actions.

The provisions in the lease for any early termination can also be grouped into two parts:

  • Default:

Refers to the failure (by the tenant) to comply with the terms and conditions of a signed lease. Often, written warnings are given by the landlord to the tenant to “cure” the default before early termination due to default can proceed.

In the case the default is not cured, the due legal process will have to be followed in order to enforce early termination, probably requiring statutory notice periods. It’s also necessary to record all relevant correspondence leading up to and during the termination process. In some cases, the matter may end up in civil court.

 

  • Express or special conditions in the lease

If, in advance of granting a lease to a tenant a landlord plans that the property may be sold, extensively renovated or may, one day, become his/her residence, then such provisions can be written into the agreement. This will include how much notice is required to terminate the lease.

It’s in the best interests of a landlord to include as many contingencies as possible, as the more opportunities there are to early terminate a lease, the more flexibility there will be in the future.

 

Always take advice from an experienced professional

If you are thinking about an early termination of an existing lease or want to make such provision in a new lease to give you more options, just give us a call at Emerald Management and Realty. We’re specialists in working with and advising clients about leasing matters.

It’s easy to arrange an appointment to meet or you can contact us via email about your lease issues or other real estate related matters.

We look forward to meeting up!


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