How to collect Rent from Tenants

One of the keys to running a successful rental business is collecting rent from tenants on time. At first glance, it may seem like a straightforward and mundane task. But many landlords can also attest to the fact that it can also be frustrating and tedious.

Sometimes, tenants pay their rent late (or downright refuse to pay). Other times, rent payments get lost in the mail or fail to process through online banking. And let’s not forget that managing payments, late fees, and security deposits can be stressful if you lack the time to properly track and document everything.

For these reasons, it’s crucial to establish an efficient, reliable, and cost-effective method for collecting rent from tenants. And most importantly, one that is suitable for your particular rental business.

In general, you can collect rent using one of four methods:

  • Mail
  • In-person
  • Online
  • Drop-off location 

Here’s how each works in practice and its advantages and disadvantages.

Mail

If you choose this method to collect rent from tenants, you’ll most likely receive payment in the form of a cheque.

Receiving rent payments through the mail is convenient because it doesn’t involve any active collections process. You simply wait for the cheques to arrive at your home or office. There’s no need to travel to multiple locations to gather payment from tenants.

However, you’ll need to exercise patience when dealing with mailed cheques. It can take several days for the post office to deliver the mail. And then, you must travel to your bank to make the deposit and wait for the funds to settle and appear in your bank account. The whole process could take a week or longer. 

And, of course, mailed cheques can potentially get lost in transit, which will delay payment further.

In addition, you must also contend with the risk of a cheque bouncing. While you can mitigate this risk somewhat by requiring a certified cheque, your tenants may not appreciate this policy, as banks usually charge a fee to prepare one.

A bank draft is another option to guarantee payment upon deposit. However, not all financial institutions offer bank drafts, and serious problems can ensue should this type of document go missing.

In-person

Another old-fashioned way to collect rent is by visiting your tenants directly.

A notable advantage of this method is that you can briefly inspect your property while you’re there. You’ll also have an opportunity to chat with your tenants and address any concerns or issues they have.

However, collecting rent this way works best if you live nearby your rental properties. Otherwise, it’s a demanding and time-consuming chore.

Also, if you receive payment by cash, there’s no receipt or other documents to use as proof of payment. And should a cheque bounce when you attempt to deposit it, you’ll need to pay another (potentially awkward) visit to the same tenant.

Online

You have numerous options at your disposal when it comes to collecting rent online. Here are the most common:

Direct Deposit – Suppose you own a large number of rental properties. In that case, direct deposit can be an efficient and cost-effective way to collect rent from your tenants.

However, setting up direct deposit can be a hassle, especially for a small rental operation. Your tenants will also need access to online banking to initiate a payment, and you’ll have to supply them with your banking details. The latter requirement poses security and privacy risks.

A bank-to-bank transfer system also lacks various features to verify, track, and manage your payments.

E-Transfer

E-Transfer is a Canadian electronic money transfer service operated by Interac. It works as follows:

  1. The sender creates a payment by entering the recipient’s email address through their online banking.
  2. The recipient receives a notification in their email of a pending payment.
  3. Once the recipient accepts the payment, the funds are deposited in their bank account.  

E-transfers are fast and reliable. It typically takes a day for the funds to arrive in your account, and neither you nor your tenants need to exchange banking details. Most banks also offer the service for free. 

However, this payment method does have its drawbacks. Transactions can be tough to reverse if the tenant accidentally sends the money to the wrong email address. And E-Transfer fraud is quite prevalent, too.  

Peer-to-peer money transfer platforms

Peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfer apps allow you to send and receive funds directly to others, functioning as a middleman. These apps are flexible, user-friendly, and offer more features than e-Transfer.

To enable funds transfers, both the sender and receiver connect their bank accounts to the platform. As with an e-Transfer, the sender would select the recipient’s email address to perform the transaction.

The most popular money transfer platform in Canada is PayPal, which most tenants will likely use or be familiar with at least.

Despite their widespread appeal, payments on these platforms can sometimes take longer to process compared to a standard bank-to-bank transfer. However, you can usually pay a fee to expedite transactions.

In addition, some tenants may not wish to maintain an account on a money transfer app nor go through the trouble of learning how to use it.

Rent collection software

Rent collection software enables landlords to streamline and automate their rent collection process. Some firms offer a basic, no-frills platform, while others include a wide array of features. The latter may provide automatic payment reminders for tenants, real-time updates of payment status, and options to delay or skip payments at tenants’ request.

These platforms facilitate automatic pre-authorized debit (PAD) payments. As a result, they require you to submit your banking information and that of your tenants. However, tenants will never know your banking details themselves, which helps to maintain privacy and security.

Rent collection software works exceptionally well for landlords with many tenants and properties. Using automatic debit payments ensures that tenants always pay their rent on time.

However, it can be a costly and redundant option if you operate a small rental business.

Drop-off location

Letting tenants drop off their rent payment at a designated location can work well for some landlords.

Suppose you maintain an office as part of your rental business. In that case, you can instruct tenants to drop off their rent payments at its location on or before the rent due date.

This method of collecting rent is convenient if most of your rental properties are located nearby your office. However, if you live far out in the suburbs while your tenants live in the downtown core, getting timely rent payments could prove difficult.

In addition, problems can arise if the tenants drop off cash. The funds can easily be stolen or misplaced. And with no paper trail, it can be a real challenge to determine what happened to the money.

Our final thoughts

Choosing and sticking to an efficient and reliable rent collection process is necessary for a thriving rental business. Before you take on your first tenant, ensure you have a concrete plan of how you will collect rent each month. And more importantly, have a plan for dealing with unforeseen issues that may arise with payments.

Be sure to outline your rent collection policy in your rental agreements. Explain clearly to your tenants how to submit payment. Provide instructions as needed and offer assistance to help tenants get set up.

When it comes to ease, convenience, and accessibility, you almost can’t go wrong by collecting your rent online. Using a dependable, secure, and flexible platform will save you from plenty of headaches. And plenty of gas money, too, since you won’t have to visit your tenants!

Singlekey’s Rent Collection platform can help you easily streamline your rent collection. In just a few minutes, you can set up your tenants for automatic payments. You can effortlessly track payments from one location, and the platform will even dispatch reminders to tenants of upcoming rent.

Pros and Cons of Renting to Students

cover image students
cover image students

Depending on which landlord you ask, they may wholeheartedly embrace having students as their tenants or reject the idea outright. The hesitation on the part of some is understandable. After all, the vast majority are young (aged 18 to 25), lack money management skills, and earn little or no income. Not exactly the profile of the most reliable and stable tenant!

There’s no doubt that allowing students to live in your rental property is a bit of a gamble. However, the arrangement can also pay off handsomely if you screen for the right tenant and set clear rules and expectations in the rental agreement.

Still, it’s wise to consider both the pros and cons of renting to students before opening your doors to them.

Pros of renting to students

Consistently high demand

You can count on demand for student living accommodations to remain high as new students enter post-secondary institutions every year.

Enrollment at universities has skyrocketed in the last few decades. According to Universities Canada, over 1.4 million full-time and 266,000 part-time students studied at universities across Canada in 2019.

Higher profit

As a landlord, you can easily extract a higher profit from your property rental business if you opt for students as your tenants.

The reason is that students are more likely to live with roommates than the general population. This arrangement helps keep their living expenses down and maintain a thriving social life. As a result, you can comfortably charge a slightly higher rate per student.

 In addition, studies show that rental properties located near schools generate rents 30% to 40% higher than those located far away.

Lower expectations

Students expect far less from a rental property than the general population. They’re not looking for a unit with fancy architecture, modern appliances, or lavish furnishings. Most will be content with the bare necessities.

This fact bodes well for you as a landlord. You won’t need to dish out thousands of dollars on upgrades and pricey gadgets.

Easy to attract tenants

Advertising your rental property to students is easy and cheap. There are numerous rental sites and apps available, many of which allow you to post a free ad. And since most students are no strangers to apps, they can quickly find your listing.

Some universities also work with landlords to help find accommodation for students during the start of a new school year. And referrals by other students are common as well.

Safe bet

Some landlords argue that because students have fewer financial resources, they pose a higher risk for non-payment of rent. However, in many cases, the opposite is true.

For example, some students receive financial help from their parents to ensure they can cover the cost of the rent. Their parents may also act as co-signers for the rental agreement. 

In addition, many students have access to a line of credit from a bank or receive funding from a government student loan program. In most cases, the amount is enough to cover their living expenses, including rent.

Cons of renting to students

Little or no credit history

The vast majority of students tend to be relatively young, which means they likely have little or no experience with loans or bill payments.

As a result, if you pull their credit report, you may discover that their credit score is non-existent. The presence of zero or low credit scores will make it exceedingly difficult to vet them properly.

Poor money management

Being young and inexperienced, students can lack prudent money management skills.

Should they splurge on impromptu shopping sprees or frequent nights out with friends, they can quickly deplete their bank accounts. As a result, they risk falling behind on rent, and you may have no choice but to evict them.

Increased risk of property damage

Whether by accident or carelessness, students may cause damage to walls, appliances, floors, light fixtures, and other structures in your unit. They may also fail to keep the property clean and tidy, resulting in an infestation of bugs, rodents, etc.

Higher turnover

With fewer commitments and responsibilities, it’s not uncommon for students to frequently change plans and make hasty decisions. And this includes the place they choose to live. Some students may even refuse to sign long-term lease agreements, preferring to pay rent month-to-month.

As a landlord, you must prepare to deal with a high turnover rate. Should a student cease being a tenant mid-way through the school year, your unit may remain vacant until the next semester or the school year starts. The result is a loss in rental income over many months.

Irresponsible behaviour

Most young people love to party, stay up late, listen to loud music, etc. While there’s nothing inherently wrong or out of the ordinary with students having some fun, excessive noise and rowdiness may disturb neighbours.

These incidents can instigate a slew of complaints and arguments. And in some cases, the police may get involved, particularly if neighbours suspect illegal activity.

What to consider when renting to students

Before renting your property to one or more students, prepare accordingly by drafting a comprehensive rental agreement and setting concrete expectations. Here are some things to consider:

Quiet Hours

It’s essential to set a quiet hours policy when renting to students. As mentioned already, students have a reputation for being noisy, especially at night. Include this rule in your rental agreement, clarifying that excessive noise is prohibited, especially past a specific time.

Security Deposits

As mentioned, students can be notorious for causing property damage. If you’re considering taking on a student as a tenant, never forget to collect a security deposit when it’s time to sign the rental agreement. You don’t want to be left on the hook for expensive repairs once their lease ends.

Lease Guarantor

Asking for a co-signer to sign the lease agreement is a wise move, as it helps to minimize disruption in rent payments. The co-signer will most likely be one of the student’s parents, who’ll step in to cover any rent payments they miss.

What do students look for in a rental property?

Suppose you’ve decided that a student would make the ideal tenant. In that case, you’ll need to ensure this demographic will find your rental unit appealing.

Here are some things that students look for when choosing a place to rent.

Distance to campus

One of the most crucial factors for students is the distance the rental property is from their campus. Most prefer to live somewhere close to their campus, as it reduces their commute time.

Affordability

Since many students don’t work while they pursue their studies, they value affordability when it comes to accommodation. They have a wide range of other expenses to account for other than housing, such as food, tuition, and transportation.

Rather than opt for a luxurious and spacious living space, they’ll likely prioritize affordability.

Access to public transportation

With numerous expenses to cover and little income, students typically can’t afford to own cars and rely on public transportation to get around.

Not surprisingly, many opt for rental properties within walking distance to subways, bus stops, and train stations.

Amenities

While many students are content with fewer amenities, they still require the bare essentials. They typically look for an on-site laundry facility, ample storage space, and basic appliances like a microwave and dishwasher.

Safety

Safety is of the utmost importance for students. Thus, it helps tremendously if your rental property is in a quiet, low-crime neighbourhood.

To enhance safety measures for students, consider installing deadbolts on doors and adding a smart doorbell. And ensure all locks work correctly. Around-the-clock security monitoring and proper street lighting are valuable, too.

Our final thoughts

It’s essential to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of renting to students. You’ll need to decide whether you’re comfortable leasing your property to young people who earn little or no income. And not to mention, who may party a little too hard from time to time!

But as with any tenant, building a good rapport is crucial as is maintaining open and honest communication. Ensure you treat students with respect and periodically check in on them to address issues they may have. Doing these things can help establish a strong tenant-landlord relationship.

For many students, it’s likely their first time living away from home independently. You can help make the transition smoother by doing little things to help make their lives easier. One way to do this is to allow them to pay rent online. Being young, they’re likely tech wizards already and pay their bills online – they’ll appreciate the convenience.

Luckily, online scheduled rent payments are super-fast and easy to set up with SingleKey’s Rent Collection tool. You can be up and running in just five minutes. Simply provide the lease details, connect your bank account, and invite the tenant to do the same. And as a bonus, your first three tenants are free!

SingleKey Partners with Raising the Roof to Fight Homelessness

SingleKey Partners with Raising the Roof to Fight Homelessness

We are thrilled to announce that we’ve partnered with Raising the Roof, a Toronto-based non-profit organization recognized as a national leader in homelessness prevention.

For over 25 years, Raising the Roof has delivered effective social programs and fundraising campaigns to curb homelessness in Canada. They also help raise awareness about the issue and passionately engage in open dialogue with communities and public/private institutions to implement long-term solutions.

We’ll be engaging in various promotional activities to bring attention to the organization’s campaigns and projects, helping to spread the word about the solid work they do. We’ll also be active volunteers, supporting them in their noble mission of squashing homelessness across Canada.

Why we support Raising the Roof’s mission

Being in the business that we’re in, we work closely with landlords, but we understand the needs of tenants as well. Tenants come from various backgrounds and circumstances, but they all share a common goal: finding a place to call home.

For some, however, acquiring a safe, stable and affordable home isn’t always easy or possible. Due to a wide range of factors, often outside of their control, they may be unable to secure this basic need.

Here are some startling statistics about homelessness in Canada:

  • About 235,000 people experience homelessness each year
  • On any given night, 35,000 people experience homelessness
  • Young people aged 16 – 24 make up 20% of the homeless population
  • Aboriginal people are over-represented in the homeless population – 1 in 4 identify as Aboriginal or First Nations
  • Children and families increasingly make up a growing segment of the homeless population:
    • 10% of Canadian families live below the low-income cut-off
    • 4% of Canadian children live in poverty

Raising the Roof has pledged to help such individuals and families. They do so by offering programs aimed at upskilling and constructing affordable housing through partnerships with local agencies and sponsors.

We believe that all people deserve access to adequate housing and a chance to improve their lives. As allies of Raising the Roof, we hope to contribute to their efforts to create long-lasting solutions to homelessness.

How Raising the Roof helps to combat homelessness across Canada

Raising the Roof is an organization marked by hard work, dedication, generosity, and compassion. Their tireless commitment to tackling homelessness in Canada is evident in the programs they run.

The iconic Toque Campaign is among the organization’s initiatives, which has raised an astounding $10 million for over 200 homeless prevention programs.

In 2018, the organization launched the Reside Program, a pilot project based on a successful model from the UK. The program aims to acquire and renovate vacant or under-used real estate properties into affordable housing units.

After launching the program, the organization found that most vacant properties were in desperate need of repair. In the process, they also discovered an excellent opportunity to provide hands-on construction training for individuals struggling to secure employment.

To kickstart the program, Raising the Roof partnered with Building Up, a GTA-based social enterprise contractor that trains and employs people facing barriers to employment.

The organization offers work opportunities, training, and career support to women, Indigenous people, newcomers, visible minorities, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, individuals with past incarceration records, and many others.

Building Up pays all trainees for their work through the organization, helping to remove a significant barrier to participation.

Participants begin the program in the classroom and workshop. They go through eight weeks of soft skills (math, literacy, job skills) and trades skill training as preparation. Then, they receive hands-on experience on job sites to practice what they’ve learned.

The training is personable, with individualized wraparound support for each trainee. For example, if a trainer doesn’t have a driver’s license, they receive assistance acquiring it and purchasing a vehicle. Thus, they can then travel to job sites inaccessible by public transit.

Through the Reside program, Raising the Roof has completed several housing projects. As a result, many previously homeless people now have access to safe and affordable housing. In addition, 125 people who worked on making these homes move-in ready, who were at risk of being homeless themselves, now enjoy well-paid, stable careers in the construction industry.

Raising the Roof is currently scaling up the Reside program intending to complete 5,000 units over the next ten years across Canada. Their efforts will help provide housing and employment opportunities for many vulnerable people.

This year, Raising the Roof is starting property renovation projects in Winnipeg, Sudbury, and Orillia. The projects will provide hands-on construction training for at least 120 people, with the support of social enterprise contractors. And once construction is complete, many people who are currently homeless will have access to a safe place to live.

We’re honoured to partner with Raising the Roof and help stem the cycle of poverty that grips so many people across Canada.

If Raising the Roof’s mission resonates with you, we encourage you to visit its website. Here, you can find more information about the organization and the inspiring work it does to enrich the lives of those struggling with homelessness. Consider donating, becoming an active volunteer, or simply helping to spread their message. Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe to their newsletter for news on upcoming events!

How Can Tenants Improve Their Credit Scores

Credit score tenants
Credit score tenants

How Can Tenants Improve Their Credit Scores

As a landlord, a credit score is one of the most crucial factors you’re likely to examine when pulling up a tenant’s credit report. This three-digit number provides valuable insight into their finances, including their ability to meet payment deadlines.

A high credit score indicates the tenant has solid money management skills, including timely bill payments. Conversely, a low credit score suggests they have a habit of missing payments, overspending, and taking on more debt than they can handle.

 Tenants with low credit scores routinely struggle to secure rental agreements, as landlords don’t want to assume the risk of delinquent rent payments. In addition, they also face hurdles in obtaining credit cards, mortgages, and other loan products.

However, tenants can improve their credit scores over time by adopting prudent and time-tested financial habits. And with the help of a service like automated rent collection, you, as a landlord, can even help them achieve this goal!

Here are some tactics a tenant can employ to boost their credit score.

1. Make Timely Payments

Making timely payments consistently for an extended period is the best way for a tenant to raise their credit score. In fact, payment history accounts for a whopping 35% of an individual’s credit score. Thus, tenants should aim to pay their bills on time, without fail.

Given how vital on-time payments are for credit health, it’s wise for them to use automated payment processing wherever possible. By doing so, they can ensure they never miss a payment. And as long as payments are reported to credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion), tenants can gradually improve their credit scores.

As a landlord, a great way to help tenants reap the rewards of on-time payments is by using SingleKey’s Rent Collection tool. This platform reports all payments made to credit bureaus, whether on time or late. It acts as an excellent incentive for tenants to pay their rent on time, as each payment will work to enhance their credit.

Not only that, but the platform saves you time and effort each month when rent collection rolls around. That’s right – no more fumbling around with cheques and keeping track of endless e-Transfers!

2. Keep A Low Credit Balance

Credit utilization is another critical metric credit bureaus measure when assigning credit scores. It refers to the amount of credit a person uses relative to their credit limit.

Suppose a tenant has a credit card with a $5,000 limit and their current balance owing is $2,800. In that case, their credit utilization is 56% ($2,800 / $5,000). 

High credit utilization suggests the person is charging too many purchases against their credit limit. As a result, they may face difficulty paying down their balance, especially if they face a steep interest rate. Not surprisingly, high credit utilization will decrease their credit score. 

A good rule of thumb that tenants should observe is to keep their credit utilization between 30% and 35%.

3. Limit The Number Of Credit Checks

Hard credit checks are a routine part of lenders’ vetting process for evaluating loan applications. However, they also impair the applicant’s credit score, at least temporarily, as each one appears on their credit report. 

For this reason, tenants should be mindful of the number of credit products they apply for. A slew of hard inquiries incurred during a short period suggests they may be in desperate need of credit – not good.

However, there’s one notable loophole. Credit bureaus record several hard credit checks done over a brief period (usually between two and six weeks) as a single inquiry for specific loan products. These are mortgages, car loans, or student loans. Credit bureaus understand that borrowers like to shop around and explore their options before signing up for such loans, so they judge these types of checks less harshly.

4. Consolidate Debt

Too much debt (especially the kind that charges high interest rates) can be overwhelming, leading to missed payments and an increased risk of default. A strategy tenants can use to ease the financial strain is to consolidate their debt.

Consolidating debt under a single loan low-interest loan is beneficial for three reasons:

  • You save money on interest charges
  • You pay off debt faster
  • You only have one loan to track and manage

 Two common ways to merge debt are through a personal loan or a balance transfer credit card.

5. Use A Variety Of Credit Products

Credit bureaus take note of the type of credit products individuals use when they assign credit scores. This factor is called the “credit mix.” A borrower using a wide array of credit products signals that they can comfortably manage different types of debt. 

Let’s assume a tenant needs access to additional credit after maxing out their credit card. In that case, it would be better for them to apply for a short-term installment loan rather than a new credit card.

6. Use Credit Building Products

Credit building products are geared toward individuals looking to establish or fix their credit score but otherwise don’t qualify for standard loans. Two commonly-used products are secured credit cards and credit-builder loans. 

A secured credit card is a unique type of card where the borrower must contribute a deposit before being able to use it. The credit limit is often limited to the size of the deposit.

A credit-builder loan allows borrowers to build their credit while saving money simultaneously. Instead of receiving money from the lender upfront, the borrower services the debt by making fixed monthly payments and interest. Once they repay the loan in full, they receive the principal amount from the lender.

7. Keep Old Credit Accounts Open

Experience matters when it comes to credit. The longer you’ve maintained one or more credit accounts, the better.

The average age of a credit account is a factor that credit bureaus consider when setting credit scores. As a result, tenants should never close credit accounts, even if they don’t have immediate plans to use them.

Final Thoughts

A high credit score is vital for anyone wishing to obtain a loan, be it a mortgage, line of credit, or auto loan. And, of course, it’s also necessary when applying for tenancy in a rental property.

With the right tools, strategies, and habits, tenants can work to improve their credit scores over time. And the best way they can start is by making on-time rent payments (it’s no accident that we listed this method as number one in this article!)

As a landlord, you can help them boost their credit – and, at the same time, make your job managing rent payments a breeze. By signing up for Singlekey’s Rent Collection tool, you gain access to a platform that allows you to collect rent payments from your tenants online, quickly and conveniently.

The platform is fully automated, which means you can forget about needing to take multiple trips to the bank to deposit cheques. You’ll receive your money in your account within two business days – that’s faster than some banks! And if tenants miss payments, there’s no need to send dozens of text messages and voicemails. SingleKey will do the job for you by sending them automatic reminders.

Setting up your account with SingleKey takes just five minutes – and there are zero fees for your first three tenants!

SingleKey Spring and Summer Cleaning Checklist

Spring Cleaning For Landlords and Tenants

As the warmer weather approaches, it’s time to start thinking about completing a spring and summer cleaning at your rental property. This will ensure both you and your tenants can rest easy knowing that everything is in working order. SingleKey has created a step by step checklist for both landlords and tenants to help get your unit ready for the summer months ahead.

Landlords

A thorough spring and summer cleaning will make sure that your property is well maintained for the rest of the summer. Regular exterior maintenance of your property can prevent issues for both you and your tenant as you can find and fix any maintenance concerns before they become larger issues. Tasks such as cleaning the eaves and gutters will help prevent any pooling of water that could potentially lead to leaks or flooding down the line. Before going to the property to complete the spring cleaning, make sure to give your tenants proper notice. You should also let them know if they will need to move  any of their personal belongings so that the work can be done (ie. If patio furniture needs to be moved for power washing of the deck) 

Using the SingleKey spring cleaning checklist will help you ensure that you don’t miss anything while you are at the property. If you and your tenant have agreed in writing that they will complete some of the tasks, you can take them off the list. Remember to give your tenants a copy of the SingleKey spring cleaning checklist as well so that they can complete an indoor inspection of their unit.

Tenants

Landlords are responsible for some of the spring and summer cleaning tasks, however it’s up to you as a tenant to handle some of the indoor cleaning. Taking some time to go through the SingleKey spring and summer clean checklist will help you ensure your suite is fresh and ready for summer. Using the SingleKey checklist to complete a thorough inspection can help you find any potential issues in your unit that you should report to your landlord so that they can address them.

Our final thoughts

Setting aside some time now to complete a spring  and summer cleaning of your property is going to allow you and your tenants to enjoy the sun this summer with peace of mind knowing that everything at the property is being well maintained.

Rent Collection Benefits for Tenants

Tenant Rent Collection
Tenant Rent Collection

SingleKey offers a rent collection service that allows landlords and tenants to set up scheduled payments through the pre-authorized debit. This ensures rent payments are secure and on time which can also help to build a trusted relationship between landlords and tenants. 

What are the benefits?

It can be easy to see the benefits of automatic rent payments for landlords, but what about tenants?

There are many benefits for tenants signing up for SingleKey’s rent collection. Not only to help eliminate accidental missed payments but also to improve your credit score. A good credit score is desirable but can be challenging to build. This is why SingleKey aims to help tenants improve their credit by paying their rent on time.

Build your credit

Each payment is recorded to the credit bureaus, so by paying your rent on time, you contribute to building your credit score.

For young adults, it’s common not to have any credit history on file, and they are typically unaware of how to start building good credit. Reporting rent payments can help young adults begin creating their credit history, which can help when you apply for credit cards or loans.

For those new to Canada, it can take up to six months to start building a credit score. While it can be challenging to start building a credit history in a new country, SingleKey’s rent collection helps provide a simple way for tenants to start building their credit.

Improve your credit score

Tenants should be rewarded for making their rent payments on time. When making rent payments by e-transfer, those transactions are not reported to the credit bureaus. Meaning one of your most significant monthly expenses does not count towards building your credit score. 

Credit building can be complex. Mistakes from a few years ago may still negatively impact your credit. Having poor credit can reduce your chances of renting the places you want the most, even if you have always paid rent on time. SingleKey’s rent collection helps tenants gain recognition for rent payments by reporting it to the credit bureaus to help improve their credit. 

By building a good rent payment track record using SingleKey’s rent collection, you can keep a log of on-time payments to share with future landlords. Not only is it good to keep on file, but this will be beneficial for the next time you’re looking to rent. Providing proof of on-time payments can look admirable for future potential landlords and could help your chances versus other applicants. Even if you don’t have perfect credit, rent reporting helps create a positive tenant record while also improving your credit score.

Eliminate unnecessary stress

Life gets busy fast, and it can be easy to forget to send a rent payment by e-transfer or deliver a cheque. SingleKey’s online rent collection allows both tenants and landlords to set it and forget it. Secure and automatic scheduled payments will eliminate the stress of late payments while also saving time.

One of the worst renting experiences for tenants is writing post-dated cheques incorrectly, which SingleKey looks to eliminate by implementing scheduled rent payments through pre-authorized debit, which can be set up in only a few minutes online. This means both landlords and tenants don’t need to stress about possible bounced cheques or accidental missed payments. Online rent collection saves tenants stress and time which helps build trust with landlords.

Our final thoughts

SingleKey’s rent collection can help tenants build good credit for their future. It can be complicated to improve credit scores. Having good credit is important for applying for loans, credit cards and new rentals. Tenants can now be recognized for their on-time rental payments to build their credit online with scheduled and secure rent collection. SingleKey’s rent collection aims to help make renting easier for both landlords and tenants.

Why Should Landlords Require Tenant Insurance?

tenant insurance blog
tenant insurance blog

Owning and managing rental properties is no walk in the park. From consistent upkeep of buildings and units to managing rental payments, the last thing any landlord wants is the headache that comes with unexpected damage and repair costs unintentionally caused by a tenant. So, how exactly can landlords avoid these kinds of pricey accidents? The answer is simple: tenant insurance!

Although tenant insurance is widely known as being useful, there are still many misconceptions held by renters when it comes to its importance. The first is that many believe their landlord will cover them in the event of an accident, the second is they believe it’s too expensive, and the third is that they don’t believe their possessions are worth a lot. As a landlord, you probably know these misconceptions aren’t entirely true!

With that said, let’s dive into how making tenant insurance a requirement in your building can protect you as a landlord, and how you can encourage your tenants to get covered!

What is tenant insurance?

Tenant insurance, also known as renter’s insurance or content insurance, is designed to cover those who rent your property. It helps ensure that your tenant’s belongings and your property are protected from your tenant’s liability; thus, reducing the risk exposure associated with your tenants.

How much does tenant insurance cost?

Tenant insurance can cost as little as $12 a month, depending on your tenant’s credit history and previous insurance claims. Insurance prices vary according to the type of coverage, contents limits, and deductibles. There’s a plan to suit every budget!

What does tenant insurance cover?

At the minimum, a basic tenant insurance policy should cover the following:

  1. Additional living expenses

This is money your tenant can use to pay for the additional cost of alternate accommodations if their unit is uninhabitable due to extensive damage (a claim/covered loss). For example, if there was a fire at your property and your tenants are forced to move out to an Airbnb for a few weeks during repairs, additional living expenses coverage is designed to cover the costs. 

  1. Personal liability

Imagine your tenant accidentally causes damage to their unit and you, or your insurance company after having paid for your claim, seek to recover the cost of repairs that they are responsible for. Their liability policy is designed to cover the portion of the repair costs they’re responsible for, that way, they can avoid paying out of pocket. This part of a tenant insurance policy also applies to the damage they may have caused to another tenant’s property, along with injuries they may have caused to another.

  1. Contents coverage

Let’s say your tenant’s apartment was broken into while they were out for the day, and everything from their new bike to their flat-screen television was stolen. Contents coverage is money your tenants can use to replace their stuff in the event it gets stolen or damaged.

How can you encourage tenants to get covered?

An obstacle many landlords face is their tenants resisting or questioning the need for tenant insurance. Their reasons can vary from thinking it’s too expensive or that their possessions aren’t worth insuring; but with costs being as little as $12 a month, it can be easily factored into most tenants’ budgets.

With that price in mind, tenant insurance really isn’t a large expense at all, and could very well be one of the lower monthly payments tenants would make. After factoring in the cost to replace all the items in a tenant’s home (think furniture, electronics, clothes), accommodation fees if they can’t stay at home for a few nights because of damage (think hotel room/Airbnb, food, toiletries) and the amount you could be responsible to pay if your tenant accidentally causes damage to the building or injures somebody, $12 is chump change!

If you’re looking for a few simple steps to help you get started on encouraging your tenants to get covered, here’s what we recommend: 

    1. Make it required. Depending on what province you’re in (ie. Ontario), you may have the right to legally require it as part of the lease agreement.
    2. Make it easy. Include information about the benefits of tenant insurance and where to get it in your leasing package. Here’s a downloadable one-pager from our friends at Duuo.
    3. Partner with an insurance provider to get your tenants a preferred partner discount.

Our final thoughts

Tenant insurance provides landlords with the ability to manage the risks that come with renting. Unintentional damage caused by tenants can, for lack of better words, really be a bummer. By making insurance a requirement, you’d be able to better avoid costly accidents and have the ultimate protection needed for tenants that live in your rental properties. 

Making tenant insurance a requirement doesn’t need to mean more paperwork for you. SingleKey has partnered with Duuo to provide your tenants with easy access to affordable coverage. Within our SingleKey products, your tenants are guided straight to it, making it an easy and obvious part of the leasing process.

Apartment vs Condo: Which Is Better?

Are you currently scouring the market for an apartment or condo to rent? If so, it’s likely crossed your mind if one type of dwelling is better than the other. The truth is that there’s no one correct answer for every tenant. It depends on your preferences, needs, lifestyle, and budget.

At first glance, apartments and condos seem indistinguishable from one another – both offer individual living units in a building complex with shared common areas, and rent payment is due monthly.

However, there are some crucial differences between the two, which may sway you to opt for one over the other. As a result, it’s wise to get acquainted with the features and perks of each offer; that way, you can make an informed choice that results in the living arrangement best suited for you.

Let’s dig into some of the factors to consider before deciding whether an apartment or condo is the ideal place to rent.

How much are you willing to pay?

In general, you’ll find that renting a condo is more expensive than an apartment.

Condos usually offer a more comprehensive array of amenities than apartments, such as gym equipment, extra storage space, swimming pool, party room, concierge service, and ample outdoor lounge areas.

Quite simply, the more goodies you have access to, the more you can expect to pay in rent each month, whether you have a fixed or periodic tenancy agreement.

Many condos also are equipped with modern appliances and located in sought-after areas. These factors also help contribute to higher costs for the condo owner. They’ll pass on these costs to you through a steeper monthly rent.

Compared with condos, apartments generally offer fewer perks and amenities, lack the latest appliances and decor and are found in less desirable locales. All of these attributes translate to lower overall rent payments.

Who’s in charge of property management?

Apartments are typically owned by private corporations that employ people who have the knowledge and expertise to manage rental properties. With extensive experience in the industry, they can resolve any issues that might arise in your apartment unit quickly and competently.

These include leaky sinks, faulty appliances, burst pipes, bug infestations, and quarrels with other tenants.

The apartment owner/property manager has proven systems to keep things running smoothly, so you can rest easy knowing your apartment is in good hands. And, as long as you pay your rent on time, your landlord will generally leave you alone and respect your privacy.

On the other hand, when renting a condo, your landlord will most likely be a single individual or family looking to earn a passive income from their property.

They may impose strict rules and regularly visit you to check up on their property. Naturally, they wish to protect their investment, but we don’t blame you if you find this a tad bit intrusive!

In addition, your condo landlord may lack the experience, knowledge, and time to deal with any repairs and maintenance required to keep your unit functioning and may be helpless in the face of a legal dispute on the property.

How important are amenities to you?

In most cases, condos offer superior amenities to apartments.

Depending on the condo unit you rent, you could have access to a gym, party room, swimming pool, numerous lounge areas, a pet washing station, and underground parking. That’s right – no more scraping the snow off your windshield in the morning!

Luxury condos may offer even more: a spa, sauna, valet parking, concierge service, golf simulators, business meeting rooms, tennis courts, roof-top terraces, and nearby lakes with sprawling lush jogging trails.

Conversely, apartments provide much less in the way of amenities. You can expect surface stall parking, an on-site laundry room, extra storage space, and maybe a no-frills gym with generic equipment. 

Expect to be disappointed if you’re hoping for a rock climbing wall like the one High Park Residence in Toronto offers!

Are you looking for a newer building?

In general, apartments tend to be older, while condos are a newer type of dwelling, with many having been built after the 90s and steadily increasing in number due to rising demand.

As a result, you can expect more dated architecture if you opt for an apartment, and this aspect extends to appliances and other interior features.

Along the same lines, the building may suffer from aging plumbing and electrical work, which could be a hazard if the leasing company has neglected repairs and upgrades.

You may not find an apartment appealing if you value modern architecture, sleek designs, and structural integrity.

Conversely, condos offer modern design aesthetics, are packed with the latest appliances, and are less prone to structural and electrical issues.

How critical is the location to you?

Condos cluster around the downtown core or nearby major transportation hubs and bustling commercial centres. As a result, travelling to work and doing your daily shopping can be a breeze- you may not even need a car to get around.

On the other hand, apartments are scattered all over the city. Not all are convenient location-wise, with some secluded from subway and bus stations, grocery stores, retail outlets, and entertainment centres.

How much do you value flexibility and personalization?

A condo owner may be more personable and open to negotiation for your monthly rent payments. You may have the option of paying month-to-month if you don’t feel confident committing to a year-long lease.

They may also have liberal rules and offer you more freedom in customizing your unit. You may be allowed to keep a pet and alter your living space’s interior features and layout to add your personal touch.

However, keep in mind that you must still abide by the condo corporation’s bylaws – as a tenant, you’ll have no input when it comes to these rules.

With an apartment, your landlord could be a large leasing company that oversees many rental units spread across dozens of buildings. Since their primary goal is to maximize their profit, they won’t hesitate to hit you with a rent hike if they feel it’s warranted.

Apartment owners can be less receptive to negotiating your rent payments and granting concessions. They may also place severe restrictions on your ability to personalize the interior.

How long do you plan on renting your unit?

It’s prudent to contemplate how long you intend to remain in the apartment or condo.

Apartments offer fewer amenities and a generic design and provide fewer opportunities for interior customization. Thus, they’re best suited for those looking for a short-term living arrangement who plan to upgrade to a higher-end suite soon.

Alternatively, a condo provides a broader range of amenities, modern designs, newer appliances, and may allow for more customization in interior decorating. Thus, it’s ideal for tenants looking to settle in for an extended period – you might as well get the best bang for your buck if you’ll be staying put for a while.

What are some of the hidden risks associated with apartments and condos?

Since many are aimed at lower-income families and thus charge lower monthly rent, apartments are more likely to be equipped with lacklustre security features. As a result, there’s a greater risk of theft and break-and-enters, especially if the building is located in a crime-ridden neighbourhood.

Alternatively, condos usually offer superior security, such as state-of-the-art cameras, attentive concierge service, and 24/7 security monitoring.

Still, condos do come with their fair share of risks.

Your landlord may decide abruptly to sell the unit you’re renting, maybe because they secured a new job in a different city. As a result, you may have to scramble to find a new place to rent, which can be a major inconvenience.

This scenario is less likely to occur with an apartment since your landlord is a leasing company that wishes to extract as much rent revenue from the unit as possible. Thus, they have little intention to sell it.

Another hidden risk that may materialize in a condo environment is a sharp rent increase due to a special assessment levied by the condo corporation against the condo owners.

 A special assessment is a one-time, usually significant fee that condo owners incur to cover the cost of a major repair or upgrade.

Should this occur, horror stories like this one can emerge for condo owners. Not surprisingly, such an immense expense can result in your future rent payments soaring.

Final thoughts: Should you choose an apartment or condo?

There’s no clear answer when choosing between an apartment and a condo. An apartment may be the right choice for your best friend or family member, but not for you – everyone’s situation is unique.

Condos are routinely touted as the superior option due to their sophisticated designs, the plethora of amenities they offer, and proximity to critical areas of the city. If these things matter to you, and you don’t mind paying higher monthly rent, a condo is likely a good match.

However, there’s little difference between the two dwellings in some instances, so don’t stress over the details. It’s possible to find an excellent apartment on par with or even exceeding in features and benefits some condo units offer.

Suppose your chief concern is keeping your housing costs low; plus, you don’t care about extravagant design and need little in the way of amenities. In that case, an apartment is an excellent option.

Before searching for the perfect place to rent, ensure you set aside some time to assess the factors that matter to you the most and let them guide your decision.

 Whether you prefer an apartment or condo, renting is a vastly more enjoyable and stress-free experience if your landlord is on board with Single-Key. Our unique platform makes paying your rent online a breeze, all of which we report to credit bureaus, giving your credit score a nice boost. Plus, you can postpone an upcoming rent payment if you’re strapped for cash at no cost to you!

Fixed Tenancy vs Periodic Tenancy

Choosing between fixed tenancy vs periodic tenancy y option
Choosing between fixed tenancy vs periodic tenancy y option

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, it is important to know the difference between fixed vs tenancy a periodic tenancy. Each type of tenancy comes with its own guidelines and benefits. All provinces and territories give the flexibility for landlords and tenants to discuss and determine which type of tenancy they prefer and which works best for them. 

Fixed-Term Tenancy

A fixed-term tenancy has a specified start date and termination date. Fixed-term leases usually range from six months to one year. At the end of a fixed term, the tenant and the landlord would have to decide if they would like to continue the tenancy. The tenant will either vacate the property or can transition to a month-to-month tenancy. 

Benefits of a Fixed-Term Agreements

      • The rent amount is fixed
      • Lease terms are fixed
      • Occupancy is guaranteed for the duration of the agreement

Periodic Tenancy

A periodic tenancy has a specified start date but does not have an expiration date. Periodic agreement terms are provided on a monthly basis and these leases usually automatically renew at the end of each month.

If a landlord wants to increase the rent or the tenant wants to move out, proper written notice must be provided. Learn more about the rent increase guidelines of each province and territory here.

Benefits of a Periodic Contracts

      • Lease terms are easily adjustable
      • Tenants do not have to wait for the expiry of the agreement to move out

Conclusion: Choosing between fixed tenancy and periodic tenancy

Overall, the type of tenancy you choose can depend on your priorities and what you are comfortable with. If you’re looking for flexibility, a periodic tenancy would be more suitable.

On the other hand, a fixed tenancy vs periodic tenancy would be more favorable if you are looking for increased financial security. Each agreement term has its pros and cons. Choosing between fixed-term and periodic tenancies comes down to what works best for the landlord and tenant.

3 Reasons Landlords Shouldn’t Accept Credit Reports Directly from Tenants

landlord writing on clipboard
landlord writing on clipboard

As a landlord, one of the greatest risks you face is having a tenant who doesn’t pay their rent. Steady rent payments are the lifeblood of your rental business. If your tenants routinely fail to pay their rent on time, your rental operation can quickly run into financial trouble.

Choosing responsible and financially stable tenants is critical to running a thriving rental business. And the best way to make this determination is to perform a credit check on them. More specifically, it means you’ll need to evaluate their credit report. But how do you go about doing so?

One option is to accept credit reports directly from tenants, saving you time and effort. However, it’s not a wise plan to adopt, as it can potentially lead to tremendous problems with missed rent payments down the road.

What's wrong with accepting credit reports directly from tenants?

Asking tenants to supply their own credit reports is a risky move for three reasons. The report may a) be missing critical information, b) contain outdated information or c) contain altered information.

Let’s explore each in detail.

Missing Information

A tenant can easily and quickly send a screenshot of their credit score from their bank or a credit services provider like Credit Karma or Borrowell. But while a credit score conveys helpful information, it’s typically not enough to allow you to make an informed decision about their ability to make timely rent payments. 

To properly screen applicants, you need an extensive breakdown of their credit history, which these reports usually lack. By only examining the credit score and other basic details, you miss out on additional vital information that can aid in your decision-making.

Here are some things to look for in a tenant credit report:

Outdated Information

It’s common for some tenants to provide the same credit report to multiple landlords as they seek out a rental property. Naturally, this is a wise move as it saves them time and money – they don’t need to pay a fee each time they wish to access their report.

However, from the landlord’s perspective, this practice isn’t ideal. The reason is that if you accept such a report, there’s a chance that it lacks up-to-date details. 

A person’s credit standing can change dramatically over time, sometimes even during a short period. As a result, the credit report you assess may not accurately reflect their current circumstances.

Suppose a tenant’s credit report was prepared and printed a month ago. In that case, there’s no way to tell if their credit situation has improved or deteriorated since then. They could have had a major account shut down by a creditor. Or maybe they’re teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. You won’t know unless you’re looking at the latest credit report possible. 

Remember that Credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion) can take 30 to 45 days to update a person’s credit report. This is how often they typically receive new information from lenders.

Altered Information

In some cases, an applicant may knowingly and willingly provide you with an altered credit report in a deceitful attempt to secure tenancy.

As the digital world advances, it’s becoming increasingly accessible and affordable for individuals to modify their credit reports. With the help of sophisticated editing software, they can even create new ones from scratch. And if they don’t possess the necessary software and skills to craft a fake report themselves, they can pay someone to do it.

Here’s an example of a company that purports to create fake documents, including credit reports, for a price:

Granting an applicant’s tenancy based on a false credit report can wreak havoc on your rental business. For example, in the Greater Toronto Area, a man was charged with fraud for allegedly using fake identification to rent multiple properties and turning them into illegal rooming homes

To carry out the scheme, he’d submit altered credit reports and fake references to the property owners. Once he could occupy the property, he’d stop paying rent and list the rooms on Kijiji. 

One landlord remarked that she didn’t see any red flags when initially reviewing the document but later discovered that they were fake. She was lucky to be able to evict him due to a fire code violation. Otherwise, the scheme would have potentially gone undetected for a longer time. At this point, the man was already facing criminal charges brought on by multiple landlords, with others trying to evict him.

This case is a striking reminder of the risks of accepting credit reports directly from tenants. Unfortunately, since tenants may obtain credit reports from numerous sources, it can be challenging to determine whether a particular document is legit.

Why landlords should run their own credit reports?

Reviewing credit information is a critical step in the screening of prospective tenants. And it’s especially crucial to ensure that the data is accurate, relevant, and timely. As a landlord, you can reduce the risk of choosing tenants likely to fall behind on rent by personally pulling up their credit reports.

Accepting a report from a tenant that offers only the credit score and little else won’t provide you with the details you need to make an informed decision. You’ll need to dig into the details and examine late payments, credit utilization, debt type, etc. It’s hard to do that without the aid of a comprehensive report.

The vast majority of tenants are honest and won’t act to mislead you with false credit details. However, you must remain objective and minimize the risk to your business by running credit reports on your own. That way, you’ll protect yourself against unscrupulous applicants who won’t hesitate to provide fraudulent documents.

How can landlords run credit checks that are accurate and trustworthy?

Landlords can use SingleKey to run credit and background checks on prospective tenants. Each tenant report offers an upgraded Equifax credit report that includes a wealth of information about an individual’s credit history. You can view their credit score, debt summaries, late payment history, outstanding debt, bankruptcies, collections, and more.

SingleKey also includes a background check that scans for criminal history, past evictions, employment history, social media profiles, etc. With all this data at your fingertips, you’ll be able to accurately predict an applicant’s payment habits.

Final Thoughts

Given a credit check’s vital role in the tenant screening process, it’s worth doing it right. And that means personally running a credit report for each applicant you’re considering for tenancy.

But you’ll need a way to perform this critical task efficiently and effectively or risk getting buried in paperwork. The rental business is a dynamic and fast-paced industry where every minute counts. Quality tenants are not keen on waiting weeks to find a place to live. And they certainly don’t want to deal with tedious credit checks that take days to complete. They’ll gladly move on to the next available property.

Luckily, Singlekey provides you with a comprehensive credit report in just five minutes! Your report will be ready for you to read in the time it takes to make a cup of coffee, with all the crucial details you need to help you find the ideal tenant.

If you’re a busy landlord (or dislike coffee), you can send invites to prospective tenants via email to fill in their applications. Once complete, you’ll gain access to the reports right away!

Get a reliable report in only 5 minutes

SingleKey’s reports only take five minutes! The rental space is a fast-paced environment, where every minute counts before the good tenants move on. Landlords can expect to receive reliable reports in the time it takes to make a good cup of coffee. 

Busy landlords, or simply ones who dislike coffee, have the option to send invites to prospective tenants via email to fill in their own applications. Reports are ready once completed!