Questions to Ask Tenants When Renting to Them

questions to ask rent applicants
questions to ask rent applicants

Screening new tenants can be daunting. It’s sometimes difficult to know what kind of person is applying to rent a property.  

At Singlekey, we help landlords deal with common anxieties every day. So if you don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled a list of basic questions and information needed to get the ball rolling.

The Top 7 Topics to Ask Rental Applicants When Interviewing Them

1) CAN YOU PLEASE PROVIDE SOME PERSONAL INFORMATION?

Name, birthdate and current address are key. You’ll need these if you are doing a credit check. You may also want to ask for a social insurance number, however, the applicant is not legally required to provide this. The credit check can be completed without it, as long as you have the birthdate.

2) CAN YOU LIST YOUR PREVIOUS LANDLORD REFERENCE AND DETAILS?

It’s important to speak with prior landlords to find out how the applicant was as a tenant. Did they look after the property? Did they pay the rent on time? Why did they leave? Was there any noise or other problems? How was the cleanliness of the home? And for the final question: Would they rent to them again? 

Previous landlords sometimes are not very forthcoming, but if you ask them this last question it will tell you a lot. If the applicant has had multiple landlords over the past few years, it’s a good idea to look at a minimum of the previous five (5) years’ history.

3) WHAT ARE YOUR EMPLOYMENT DETAILS AND REFERENCES?

Confirming employment is critical. How long the applicant has worked there, how much they earn and any personal details you can collect about the person will help in the decision-making process. 

Verifying an applicant’s ability to pay the rent is vital so ask for pay stubs, or a copy of the last income tax statement. If they are moving to the area to start a new job, ask for a copy of the employment letter or contract.

4) CAN I SEE SOME IDENTIFICATION?

While this is a small step in the process, it’s absolutely necessary. A landlord must confirm the person is who they claim to be. If a copy of their driver’s license is taken with the application, it must be destroyed once the application is processed as landlords are not permitted to keep it on file. 

The key is to avoid having someone with a fake identity on a Tenancy Agreement which leaves the landlord with no recourse if the tenant skips out on rent or causes a lot of damage.

5) WHY ARE YOU MOVING?

Maybe they want to be closer to work or family, or they have outgrown their current home (or want to downsize). But watch for red flags such as having issues with other tenants or the landlord.

rental applicant questions

6) MIND SHARING SOME FINANCIAL INFORMATION?

A lot of these details will come up on the credit report, but asking about things such as bankruptcies, earnings, debt load and other financial obligations gives the landlord an idea of how much money is going out each month above and beyond the rent.

Rent is often the first thing the tenant doesn’t pay if they are experiencing financial hardship.

7) I JUST NEED A LITTLE MORE GENERAL INFO, IF THAT’S OKAY?

As the application progresses, find out if they have a car or require parking and how many people will live in the home. 

If there will be more than one adult living in the home it’s a good idea to process an application on each adult and ensure they are all listed on the Tenancy Agreement. Do they smoke or have pets? If yes, then the tenant should be advised of the landlord’s smoking and pet policies for the property. Asking about any criminal history should be handled delicately and with professionalism.

Don’t Forget to Check Secondary Resources

Aside from all of the above questions and information a landlord may look for, there are also other resources to allow landlord’s to review the suitability of an applicant. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other public records all provide insight into the type of applicant being considered.  

Reviewing tenant applications is complex and can be time consuming. Decisions should be made based on the information obtained and from the landlord’s perception of who would be best suited to the home. 

That said, caution should be used to ensure each application receives fair consideration and the decision is not based on any discriminatory criteria under Human Rights legislation. These include race, color, sexual orientation, marital status, disability and many more. 

Make sure to check with the provincial authority governing the community where the home is located for full details.

Take the Stress Out of Renting, Try Singlekey

No matter how many questions you ask, there’s always the risk of missing important information that could sway your decision. To assist in the screening process, Singlekey offers services tailored to each landlord’s needs. 

Contact us for more information today.

Long Term vs. Short Term Rental: What’s Right for You?

short-term-vs-long-term-rental
short-term-vs-long-term-rental

Before you put your rental property on the market, you’ll need to decide whether you want to offer long-term or short-term rentals. To make the best decision, it’s important to not only know the difference between the two but to also realize the benefits and drawbacks of each. 

In our guide to long-term and short-term rentals, we’ll go over some of the key things landlords should consider so you can make the best choice for your property. Let’s get started.

The Pros and Cons of Short-Term vs Long-Term Rentals

What’s the Difference Between Long-Term and Short-Term Rentals?

A short-term rental is often defined as one that lasts less than 31 consecutive days. Sometimes it can last a bit longer. Short-term rentals can also be referred to as vacation rentals. That’s because many people own homes they rent out exclusively to vacationers depending on their location.

Long-term rentals are usually considered anything that lasts longer than six months. Common types of long-term rentals are apartment and house leases. Business and industrial properties are also typically long-term.

Other options can include an Airbnb-style rental. This can be done either for the short-term or long-term. Typically, these are not vacation-style rentals. They come in handy in situations when someone is in town for an extended period of time. For example, a sub-contractor on a 3-month contract may prefer Airbnb because it’s easy to send the bill to their client.

If you can’t decide whether short-term or long-term rentals are the best match for you, consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of short-term rentals below.

Short-Term Rental Pros

1) You can earn more money.

If your short-term rental property is a vacation home there is a greater potential to make more money, especially if people are renting for a week or two at a time. If your property is in a popular tourist spot, your income potential can be very high during the summer months. 

You also have the option of changing the rental amount depending on the rental week. Many property owners do this when they know there is a time of the year that is popular.

short-term-rental-pros

2) You can also use the property.

With a short-term rental, especially one that is a vacation home, there is the option for personal use. That means when you want to go on holiday or spend the weekend with the family, just reserve that block of time for yourself.

3) You can limit some of the renting risks.

Being a landlord is a big commitment. The responsibility comes with potential risks, such as tenants who don’t pay or time or damage your property. With a short-term rental, the commitment isn’t ongoing, so it’s a lot easier to manage.

Short-Term Rental Cons

1) Your income can fluctuate.

With a short-term rental there is a chance that you may have blocks of time with no rental income. Some property owners don’t mind taking this chance, while others don’t like the risk.

2) You’ll spend more on cleaning costs.

With a higher turnover rate, especially with a vacation property, you can expect more cleaning costs. Every time a tenant moves out you’ll need to have the home deep cleaned. Even with a contract, this can get pricey.

short-term-rental-cons

3) You may need to hire a Property Manager.

Because the property is rented to different tenants so frequently, the appliances, sinks, and toilets need to be checked routinely. No one is going to want to rent a home with a broken refrigerator or one that has plumbing problems. 

Some landlords choose to hire a property manager for their short-term rentals. That way, they don’t feel as though taking care of their property is another job. You have to weigh whether the cost is worth the convenience.

Long-Term Rental Pros

1. You’ll earn steady income.

When you have a property rented for a longer time, you know you’ll have a reliable source of income. This can help you be more financially secure and plan for your next investment.

2) You might see fewer maintenance fees.

Because the turnover rate is not as frequent, you should have fewer maintenance fees. You won’t have to pay a cleaning company to come in as frequently because you’ll have the same tenants for a longer amount of time.

Long-Term Rental Cons

1) You can’t raise rental prices once in contract.

When you offer a long-term rental, you need to keep the price consistent for the length of the lease. While this offers reliable income, you lose the chance to increase it for any reason until your agreement is over.

2) You will have the tenants for longer periods of time.

If you have problem tenants, you may be forced to look into eviction. No one wants to do this because it can be costly and lengthy. To find out just how costly, try our eviction calculator.  

To avoid troublesome tenants, SingleKey offers a thorough yet easy to read Credit and Background Check. Our screening report gives you the information you need to feel comfortable with who is living in your rental property.

Key Takeaways

Short-Term Rental Pros

      • Potential for big financial gains
      • You can use the property as well
      • Limit some risks of renting

Long-Term Rental Pros

    • Earn steady income
    • Fewer maintenance fees
      •  

Short-Term Rental Cons

      • Income can fluctuate month to month
      • Higher cleaning costs
      • May need to higher property manager

Long-Term Rental Cons

    • Rental rates are locked in
    • Harder to evict bad tenants

Long-Term vs Short-Term Rental: How to Decide

There’s no easy answer to choosing the type of rental property that’s best for you. Both long term and short term have their benefits and drawbacks. So it’s worth taking some time to consider where your property is located and how much time investment you’re willing to put into maintenance, cleaning, and tenant interactions. 

Whether for three months or three years, one thing is for certain: the right tenant can make all the difference. A thorough background check can help you find applicants that are perfect for your property. Book a call to learn more about SingleKey’s tenant credit report for landlords.

4 Simple Tips For Finding Yourself The Perfect Place To Rent

SingleKey Blog How To Find a place to rent
Tips for finding the perfect place for rent

For one reason or the other, not all of us can start off our independent living situations as home owners. In fact, the majority of young Canadians become renters long before they buy their first houses or condos. Rooming with friends, family members and/or love interests are all part of the plan for most people leaving the nest. But the majority of first-time renters often get hit with a hard reality: finding a place to live isn’t as easy as it may seem!

Here are four simple tips for finding yourself the perfect place to rent:

1. Be on the lookout for “For Rent” signs in your favourite areas.

There’s nothing like a little (and literal) legwork to get the ball rolling on the whole “finding a place to live” thing. If you’re interested in a particular area of your city – perhaps, because it’s close to where you work – take a walk through the neighbourhood. Be on the lookout for properties that are up for rent and be sure to inquire within. There’s nothing like seeing a place for yourself to determine if it’s the right spot for you.

This do-it-yourself practice is encouraged by Stacey Sleightholm of BlogTO.com. Among her tips for finding an apartment in Toronto, she suggests that you walk around neighbourhoods of your liking. “If you know the general area you’re interested in, take a stroll around the neighbourhood and keep an eye out for ‘for rent’ signs,” she advises, “Not only will you get the jump on any great units in the area, but you’ll also learn where local amenities exist.”

2. Try an age-old tradition: contact a real estate agent.

Sometimes, it’s best to leave it to the experts. If you’re one of those individuals who would rather let a professional find a rental space for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to one. After all, there should be no cost to you for using a real estate agent. They generally receive commissions from the owners of the properties they find tenants for. Lauren Pelley of CBC News recommends real estate agents and cites Toronto-based renter, Ben Singer as an advocate for them.

“Singer…swears by the real estate agent who did all the legwork,” she reports, “And he didn’t have to pay a penny for the service — the fees are actually paid by whoever is trying to rent out their unit.” Singer adds that real estate agents “have the capacity to filter out a lot of stuff and save you a lot of time.”

3. Seek out referrals.

Today’s consumer is very savvy. He/she will often look for word-of-mouth recommendations before making buying decisions. As well, most people will take to the internet to read online reviews about businesses before giving them their support. When looking for a place to live, this is a great strategy. Ask around. Try to attain information about living spaces from a variety of sources you trust, both online and offline.

4. Find a landlord who is a Single-Key customer!

At Single-Key, we make it so that once you’ve found the perfect place to rent, the rest is easy. That is, of course, if your landlord is a Single-Key customer. If so, we offer you payment flexibility like no other rental agreement can. At no cost to you (the monthly fee is paid by your landlord), you will be able to postpone your rent for a month and also be able to choose between cheque and Interac as your payment method!