Thinking of renting out your condo, basement or house? Here is some advice for small landlords and how to avoid difficult situations with your tenants.
It’s important to be prepared. Familiarize yourself with the Landlord and Tenant Board, the paperwork required to evict someone, and the standard lease agreement, before even advertising the unit.
You should have a financial cushion that can cover at least six months of the mortgage and other costs of the unit in case you don’t have rental income, as well as a little extra to cover legal fees. A month-to-month rental agreement instead of a lease with a fixed term, is also recommended, as it gives you more flexibility.
Screening is key when choosing a tenant, as you’re assessing risk. You need to look at the applicants’ income, employment, credit check, references and previous tenancies, and it’s important not to take any information, such as phone numbers, for granted. Always Google a person or workplace to check that the available information matches what’s on the application.
Assessing a potential tenant is a balance of intuition and looking at the facts. You can tell a lot about an applicant by meeting them in person, but you should still check everything even if you think the person seems trustworthy. “Do the math” yourself to see whether the applicant’s income seems like enough to cover their monthly costs.
As soon as something seems off — whether it’s a global pandemic or a late rent payment — the landlord should reach out to the tenant to figure out a compromise. However, you should also serve notice just in case, as that can always be withdrawn once the tenant pays rent or agrees to a payment plan. Throughout the tenancy, it’s important to have all agreements in writing.
Above all, the landlord needs to be professional and nice, regardless of the situation, as expressing one’s frustration or anger won’t help solve a difficult tenant situation.