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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!


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!


How to Write an Effective Rental Listing Advertisement

An effective real estate rental listing attracts attention — the attention of the type of tenant you are looking for.

What’s more is that an effective listing, as a consequence, should help you quickly rent the house or apartment in question.

So, how do you write an effective rental listing advert to create some “noise” in the market? To stand out from others?

You’ll want to accentuate the positives about the property, but also carefully choose the right words to ensure it appeals to your client base. To write great ads and list effectively, follow these great tips. You should be pleased with the responses you get from your future ads.

 

Know which market sector you are targeting

Is the property likely to be suitable for young urban professionals to rent? Or it is ideal for singles or perhaps older, possibly retired couples?  It may be close to a medical teaching university or college and therefore be likely to attract medical professionals and/or their students.

Also, what are the demographics of the area in which the property is located? Are they stable or likely to change (eg. is the area relatively run-down but undergoing a rejuvenation and attracting a new demographic)?

 

Know your neighbourhood: what are its main attractions?

Discuss proximity to good local, essential shopping (grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies), restaurants, cafes and great public transport links (such as bus lines, subways or closeness to highways for travel).  

What about the availability of public amenities such as parks, museums and libraries? And, of course, what can be observed about overall security and crime levels? Be sure to mention any details about nearby locations, landmarks and reputations for overall local safety.

 

Be well-versed in the factual details about the property

Be sure to mention important details, such as how many square metres make up the property’s size (only if you are 100% certain), whether it comes with/without balcony or terraces, how many bedrooms it has or what the general layout is like. Is the kitchen large or small or does the bathroom come with a shower or bath (or both)? If this is for an apartment, does it come with secure parking options? If it’s for a house, what is the garden like (eg. is big or small and can it be easily maintained)?

 

Make the property sound great — be creative and descriptive

Is the property light and airy, with a nice aspect to catch the morning/afternoon sun? Are there large windows or good ceiling heights? Does the property come equipped with well-proportioned accommodation or plenty of storage space?

If this is for an apartment to rent, does the main living space have a view? Or if it’s for a house rental, how many stories does it have and does it come with/without a basement?

 

Photos and videos

As we all know, there is an art to photography — but even getting the basics right can make a property listing so much better.

If at all possible, we suggest using a mid-priced SLR (if you are doing the photography yourself) or the new cameras in the latest cell phones. Or, if you have the means, it’s even better to hire a professional photographer to take some quality shots that’ll truly capture the appeal of the space.

Explore the angles when taking shots and see which works the best (usually from the corner of a room). Always look for the best light to enhance your photos. Usually, the ideal time is early morning or late afternoon for suitable light.

An additional pro-tip is to make sure you avoid photos of cluttered rooms or unmade beds, as this doesn’t offer the best look. Worst of all, definitely don’t show toilets with their seats up! These are some simple, but important things to remember when trying to get some nice shots for your listing.

Nowadays, it’s also easy to arrange videos — and most clients like to view these to get a better idea of a property before viewing. It can be even better if you have a 360-degree camera that can help produce virtual images and let prospects “walk” through the property without physically visiting it. These can save the agent a great deal of time (not to mention that they’ve provided an additional safety measure for property viewings in light of COVID-19).

The real skill, of course, is selecting the right information to entice the reader to want to view the property. Yet, if you follow our tips, you’ll soon be an expert listing advert writer!


Contact Emerald Management & Realty Today

If you are looking for a property management company with a great reputation in the market or for a house or apartment for rent, contact our team at Emerald Management and Realty today. It’s easy to arrange an appointment for viewings or contact us about some other property management related matters. We look forward to helping you!


Top 6 strategies to avoid if you want to find a tenant and minimize vacancy loss

Are you desperately seeking to rent your property and find the perfect tenant?

If that’s the case, here are 6 rental strategies to avoid … unless you absolutely want to make sure your rental property doesn’t rent. 😉

Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. actively manages thousands of tenant relationships and has built its reputation as one of the leading property management companies in Calgary.

Top 6 strategies to avoid to if you want to find a tenant and minimize vacancy loss:

  1. Don’t do minor repairs – Minor repairs show you care. If you want to give prospects impression you don’t care and aren’t interested in how they treat your property – don’t fix anything.  

To find the right tenant, keep your rental in a good, clean and safe repair. This provides tenants the reassurance that you are a responsible landlord and that your relationship with them … is a valued one.

  1. Don’t care about the curb appeal – Don’t mow the lawn, shovel the snow, or maintain the exterior of the property. Curb appeal gives prospects a pretty good idea of what the inside looks like.

If you want to rent out your property, be mindful that first impressions matter! It takes seconds to form an opinion. A well cared for exterior demonstrates pride of ownership. If the outside looks good, it’s a great indication that the inside looks good too.

  1. Make the leasing interactions as awkward as possible. Don’t know anything about the rental or its location and waste your time and that of potential renters.

Looking to minimize vacancy loss? The experience during your appointment is important. Be on time, organized and prepared.   Prospects expect you to know about the property. Again, first impressions matter – the goal is to create a positive experience and rent the property.

  1. Price way above market. If you have overpriced the property – tenants know. Checking comparables can be done right on your phone. If you over price the rental, you run the risk of incurring unnecessary vacancy loss.

In order to rent your unit – price it based on market conditions. Implement a good sales strategy and research your competition. The online culture is strong and tenants are savvy about their options.

  1. Blurry & bad photos – If you don’t want to stand out from your competition – post bad pictures.

To stand out from the competition and get your property, post quality pictures or maybe even a video tour. Use social media to maximize online marketing opportunities. Having good quality on-line material helps to visually communicate the quality or your rental and promote yourself as a quality landlord. As they say, “A pictures is worth an thousand words”.

  1. Feel like you have to do this on your own.

Our team at Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. is here to help! We understand that the decision to hire a property management company can bring immense peace of mind. With over 40 years of experience and voted as the Top Choice in Property Management for 5 years in a row, demonstrates that we have the experience to help make being a landlord easier for you. Let us help you by reducing the number of hours spent finding the tenants, solving tenant-related problems, and dealing with those middle of the night emergencies.

Contact us today to find out how our team can assist you!

Emerald Management & Realty Ltd.

www.emeraldmanagement.com

403-237-8600

 

 

 


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