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!

A Landlord’s Guide to Rental Verification

Landlord’s Guide to Tenant Rental Verification
Landlord’s Guide to Tenant Rental Verification

Rental verification is a crucial part of the screening process. Landlords don’t want tenants who have historically caused problems for other landlords to be occupying their property. It is important for landlords to take the extra time to dive into a prospective tenant’s rental history to ensure that they are ideal candidates for a tenant.

What is rental verification?

Rental verification is the process by which a landlord gathers and authenticates their prospective tenant’s rental history. This gives landlords the opportunity to converse with their applicant’s previous landlords to learn more about their experience with their tenants.

A rental history report would include a list of previous addresses of the tenant along with the contact information of their previous landlords. It’s important to take the time to personally call and communicate with previous landlords and verify the accuracy of the rental application, while also getting greater insight into the tenant’s previous landlord interactions.

How to verify a tenant’s rental history

Step 1: Determine Personal Expectations

Before screening prospective renters, it is important for landlords to determine realistic criteria and expectations of their tenants. Landlords must personify their ideal tenant and what they deem acceptable from a tenant’s rental history.

Some questions to ask yourself before screening tenants include:

    • Will you accept a tenant who has a history of late payments? 
    • Will you accept a tenant who has a criminal history?
    • Will you accept a tenant who doesn’t have rental history?

Step 2: Request Tenant Application

When landlords find prospective tenants, one of the tenant’s first steps is to complete a rental application. Landlords must remember to obtain consent to run a background and credit check and collect personal information from the prospective tenant.

Remember: Rental history is a tenant’s private information, so it is unethical to contact their previous landlords without getting consent.

Step 3: Contact Landlord References

During this stage of the rental history verification process, landlords would reach out to their prospective tenant’s previous landlords to ask for their experience of renting to the tenant.

Some questions to ask the prospective tenant’s previous landlord include:

    • Why is/did the tenant’s leave your rental property?
    • How long did the tenant live at your rental property?
    • Confirm rental amount and payment history
    • Overall experience renting to the tenant
    • Did the tenant give proper notice before leaving the property?
    • Have they received any complaints about the tenant from the neighbours?
    • How well did the tenant communicate rental needs (e.g., maintenance, rent delays, etc.)?

Step 4: Confirming Details with Tenant

After speaking with the tenant’s landlord references, landlords can then compare the information provided by the tenant with the details shared by the previous landlord. Landlords will now have a better understanding of how ideal the prospective tenant is and if they would like to proceed with renting the property to them.

What if the tenant doesn’t have any rental history?

In some cases, prospective tenants may not have any rental history. Although they would not have any landlord references, first-time renters can provide documents to prove that they’re in good financial standing and are capable of keeping up with their rent payments. 

First-time renters can provide the following documents to prove strong financial health:

    • Proof of Income
    • Credit Report

Find the right renter, every time

Rental verification helps landlords make the right decisions when choosing who to rent to. A tenant’s rental history and landlord references can provide an accurate forecast of how the tenant will behave in the future. Landlords must perform their due diligence to ensure the prospective tenant is the right fit for their rental.

SingleKey’s Tenant Report allows landlords to require previous landlord references from their prospective tenants. When requested, previous landlords can answer a short survey as part of the Tenant Report Process to help guide the screening process.

What Are The Requirements For A Legal Basement Apartment In Canada?

legal basement apartment requirements
legal basement apartment requirements

Do you have a sizable basement in your home? Has it been finished – complete with furnishings, appliances, and washrooms? 

If your basement apartment has its own separate entrance, furnishings, and a washroom, you’re in luck!  You have an opportunity to become a landlord and earn some significant extra income. 

According to a recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) study, over 15% of houses in Toronto have basement units. They also found that most city policies make it easier to create basement apartments than second-floor or laneway homes. 

But what are the requirements for a legal basement apartment in Canada? In our article below, we’ll walk you step by step through the process of setting up a legal basement apartment in Canada.

What are the first steps to legally renting out your basement apartment?

Without adhering to these basic legal requirements, a basement apartment can present a risk, not just to its occupants, but to the community at large. In order to ensure your second unit is ready for a tenant, it must comply with the following:

        • Fire codes
        • Building codes
        • Electrical Safety Authority Regulations
        • Zoning and housing standards by-laws

Also, all utility connections and building renovations must be legal and safe. You also want to consider such factors as the excess garbage your home will be producing. 

There are also other factors you may not have considered. For example, is there enough space on your driveway for your tenant to park his/her car? If not, is parking on the street overnight legal in your neighbourhood?

The 13 Basic Requirements for a Legal Basement Apartment

 Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to go in-depth. Below, you’ll find all thirteen of the basic requirements you’ll need to cover to rent out a basement apartment legally in Canada. Remember, some of your province’s specific requirements may be different. So check with your municipality before conducting any work on your home.

1. To legalize a basement apartment in a detached or semi-detached house, the property must be at least five years old.

2. The front of the house cannot be significantly altered in order to change its appearance from being a one-unit building.

3. The basement apartment must be smaller than the main dwelling unit above it.

4. The minimum ceiling height must 6’5″. The ceiling must also be continuous. Suspended (T-bar type) ceilings and exposed joists are not acceptable. As well, furnace room ceilings must be either dry-walled or plastered.

5. All doors in the basement dwelling must be solid wood or metal. They must each have a minimum thickness of 1.75″. Interior doors must have a half-inch gap at the bottoms to provide air movement within the basement apartment. Exceptions can only be made if return air ducts are installed in the room. Exterior doors must be at least 32″ x 78″. The smallest dimension of windows is 18″ and their opening must be at least 600 square inches. As well, all windows must be within three feet of the ground. If there is a window well, it must extend three feet from the house wall to allow room to crawl out.

6. All bathrooms must have either windows or fans.

7. The kitchen must be equipped with a refrigerator and a well-functioning stove. The cupboards must have a capacity of no less than four cubic feet multiplied by the total number of persons occupying the unit.

8. All new basement apartments require building permits before construction can start. You may be required to have an additional parking space on the premises for your tenant, depending on your area. However, if the upper unit has a parking space, it is mandatory for the basement apartment to have a parking spot as well.

9. The owner of the property is responsible for ensuring the installment of all smoke alarms. They must be installed in each dwelling unit on every floor including those with bedrooms or sleeping areas. The alarms must be audible in bedrooms when the bedroom doors are closed. The property owner is also required to install carbon monoxide detectors. They must be provided and maintained in each dwelling unit if the building contains a fuel-fired appliance or an attached garage.

10. An electrical inspection must be conducted. Any and all deficiencies that are identified during the inspection must be addressed. Once the inspection is completed, the property owner must retain the letter of compliance. That way, it can be made available to a chief fire official if requested.

11. A continuous fire separation with a minimum Fire Resistance Rating of 30 is required between dwelling units and between dwelling units and other areas. A lower Fire Resistance Rating may be acceptable with the provision of interconnected smoke alarms or sprinkler protection.

12. A single means of escape is required in the event of a fire. Two means of escape are required if the one means of escape is through another dwelling unit.

13. A source of soundproofing is needed between the dwelling units. The minimum sound transmission class rating is STC 50.

Need Some Help Renting Out Your Basement Apartment? Singlekey can Help

Sound like a lot of work? While some of the codes and rules may take a little longer than others to implement, the benefits can be huge. In June of 2021, the average rent for a 1-bedroom basement apartment in Canada was $1216. That extra income can have a big impact on your monthly budget! 

If you’re looking for some help to begin legally renting your basement apartment, contact us. We have the experience and resources to help you get your apartment ready and find the right tenant.

Landlord’s Guide: How to Recognize Tenant Red Flags

tenant-red-flags
tenant-red-flags

Out of all the tools of the trade, one of the most important skills a landlord must have is recognizing tenant red flags. Think of these as warning signs that could lead to problems with a tenant. 

Of course, that does not mean that a renter without red flags will always be the perfect tenant. Or that every renter with warning signals could be a problem tenant. In a recent Toronto ruling, for example, a tenant was convicted on three counts of fraud. He was notorious for showing up dressed well and with references, but when it came time to pay his rent he refused.

Eviction doesn’t just affect tenants. Head over to our eviction calculator to see how much it can cost you. This all goes to say that knowing the red flags can be invaluable. We’ll discuss some of the most important ways to uncover tenant red flags below. Let’s get going!

Singlekey’s 4 Ways to Discover Tenant Red Flags

1) Ask for Tenant Details (and Get Them on Record!)

Whenever you meet a prospective tenant, you should give them a rental application that covers the basics. This includes:

        • Current Address
        • Employer
        • Monthly Income
        • 3-5 Years of Residence History

It’s a good idea to follow up with their current employer and landlord to double-check that the information is valid. If the information doesn’t line up, that’s a red flag. Consider an unstable work history, lack of steady income, or reports of property damage as huge red flags as well.

Also, if you learn that the tenant was troublesome and bothered other renters in their last residence, that should set off your alarm bells. One unruly tenant can lead to fewer renters and less income.

2) Always Perform a Credit and Background Check

A credit check can reveal a tenant’s bad financial habits — and a big risk on your end. A poor credit score suggests an inability to pay bills or living above their means. 

But you don’t have to spend the time and effort to vet tenants manually. With SingleKey’s credit and background check, you can process tenant screening in minutes. The report also includes metrics that make it easier to understand the information Equifax reports on.

Our credit and background check reveals a wealth of information about tenants, such as:

        • Records of rent payments
        • Previous or ongoing collections
        • Bankruptcies
        • Past-due accounts

None of this information will give you a definitive answer about the tenant in question. But they will reveal some of the most important red flags you’ll encounter.

3) Never Rush to Fill a Vacancy

When it comes to renting, taking one’s time is a necessity for owners and tenants. When you rush to fill a vacancy, you can overlook the tenant evaluation. That’s not a wise decision. Screening tenants is a crucial step in the renting process.

Generally, renters start to look for apartments six to eight weeks before their moving date. If a tenant wants to move in right away, that could be an indication of upheaval, confusion, and lack of thought and planning in their lifestyle. This behavior can be a red flag for landlords who want a dependable and reliable tenant – and one who gives proper notice.

Similarly, if tenants indicate that they move frequently, they could turn out not to be ideal as a long-term tenant. Of course, they could have legitimate – even urgent – reasons for relocation. A single red flag shouldn’t be considered a black mark on their record. It does mean, however, that you should be on the lookout for other red flags, just in case.

4) Trust Your Gut

We’ve talked about how red flags can show up on paper through credit checks and employment history. But landlords can also make observations from interaction with the tenant – either in person, online, or during a phone conversation. 

If they are late for a viewing or careless about answering texts or emails – you guessed it – red flag. Of course, the savviest landlords avoid the extra stress and time required to vet tenants. Instead, they choose professionals like Singlekey to handle tenant screening.

Our Tenant Red Flag Rundown

Okay, so we’ve gone through lots of potential red flags. Here are some questions to ask as you decide on a tenant.

Key Takeaways

  • Does the applicant’s basic information match your research?
  • Do previous landlords or employers speak highly of them?
  • Does the credit and background check seem healthy?
  • Are they willing to move in at a reasonable time and date?
  • Do I feel good about the applicant in general?

Spotting Tenant Red Flags Easily with Singlekey

By following the steps above, we know you’ll have more success with tenants. But when it comes to property management, nothing is ever certain.

That’s why we set up the Singlekey Rent Guarantee. Signing up means you’ll get paid every month, no matter what happens to your tenant’s financial situation. You can find out how it works here.

What Should Landlords Look for in A Tenant Credit Report?

how to read a credit report for landlords

In today’s competitive rental market, being a landlord requires diligence, attentiveness, and savviness, especially when selecting who’ll be living on your property. 

After all, the last thing you want to experience is endless quarrels with your tenants about unpaid rent and having to serve and enforce a slew of eviction notices!

In your quest to separate the risky tenants from the safe ones, it’s always wise to perform a credit check on each applicant. It’s a foundational component of the tenant screening process. It’ll pay for itself over time by helping you identify quality candidates – one that’ll make rent payments like clockwork.

While these checks provide valuable insight into prospective tenants, even seasoned landlords can overlook crucial details. Thus, it’s always worth reminding yourself of the items to look for when evaluating credit reports. That way, you can quickly pinpoint the red flags, as well as easily identify a solid tenant.

SingleKey offers an excellent way for landlords to screen tenants via our Tenant Credit & Background Check. We’ve helped landlords across Canada screen and verify thousands of prospective tenants, providing valuable details that make renting a far less risky and hassle-free experience. To help you learn how to read the SingleKey tenant screening report, we’ll review the top 5 tenant credit check metrics.

how to read a credit report for landlords

Don’t forget to check out our sample tenant credit check report. We’ll be using it as a reference throughout this article.

How to Read a Credit Report for Landlords: 6 Key Tips

  1. Know the Difference Between Poor, Good, and Great Credit Score

The first indicator you should review is the applicant’s credit score. This financial metric measures their creditworthiness or the riskiness of lending money to them. In Canada, credit scores range from 300 to 900, with the average hovering around 630.

Though primarily used by lenders, a credit score is also valuable data for landlords. It paints an accurate picture of a tenant’s history with credit and how responsible they are when it comes to payments.

In Canada, two private firms assign credit scores to individuals: Equifax and TransUnion. Both organizations collect and store borrowers’ credit data and incorporate it into complex scoring models to calculate their scores.

Here’s a breakdown of what components go into a credit score and the relative importance of each.

If an applicant possesses a high credit score, they handle debt responsibly and make timely payments. Naturally, this is a favourable attribute, as they’ll have little or no trouble paying their rent on time.

On the other hand, a low credit score indicates the applicant has a history of poor debt management and is more likely to default on the payment obligations. As a result, you should think twice about offering them tenancy, as they may fall behind on their rent easily.

Since the average Canadian has a credit score of 630, you should review rental applicants with scores below this number with greater scrutiny. A credit score below 500 likely stems from an excessive debt load, numerous missed payments, or a recent bankruptcy, suggesting a high-risk applicant.

SingleKey uses an Equifax ER 2.0 score to create an accurate profile of a tenant’s financial health. Here’s a snapshot that shows what you can expect from each report:

tenant credit report for landlords

While a low credit score doesn’t mean that a tenant will be delinquent on rent, we can safely assume that a tenant who fails to pay their bills on time is more likely not to pay their rent on time.

  1. Assess the Tenant's Payment Habits

As a landlord, you want tenants who’ll diligently keep up with their rent payments, so you want to take a peek into their payment history.

Lenders report consumer debt payments to Equifax and TransUnion whether they’re late, on time, or missed entirely. Thus, all will have an impact on an applicant’s credit report.

landlord-tenant-credit-checks

Specific sections of our report that relate to an applicant’s payment history include:

  • Past due amount – the amount they owe on a particular credit account(s).
  • Payments 30/60/90 – the number of times they made a payment late by 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days.
  • Payment status – shows whether they’re current or behind with their payments.
  • Last payment – shows the date of the last payment made.

  1. Identify the Type of Debt the Tenant Owes

Another critical detail on our credit report is the type of debt an applicant is responsible for servicing.

While an immense debt load of any type can be troubling, it’s essential to understand that not all debt is equal. Some debt products are inherently riskier than others.

High-interest debt

High-interest debt comes with greater risk because the tenant can quickly become overwhelmed with interest charges and struggle to make timely payments. Lenders typically charge high interest rates on loans where the borrower has not pledged an asset as collateral.

Examples include credit cards, payday loans, and unsecured lines of credit.

Low-interest debt

Low-interest debt poses much less risk for the tenant. Since they accrue few interest charges, making debt payments is more manageable. In addition, an asset typically secures these loans, which provides an extra layer of security should the tenant default.

Examples of low-interest debt include mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and auto loans.

  1. Tally Up the Tenant's Monthly Debt Payments

Credit reports outline the number of regular payments a person has to pay towards an auto loan, credit card, cell phone, etc. It’s important to review these monthly payments because you can determine what percentage of the applicant’s income goes toward covering recurring expenses and bills.

For example, in SingleKey’s sample credit report, the “Payment Term Amount” shows how much the applicant must pay, and the “Narrative” explains the frequency of payments

Naturally, the higher their debt burden, the greater the chance they’ll encounter issues making prompt payments, which increases your risk as a landlord.

For example, suppose an applicant earns a pre-tax income of $3,000 per month but pays $1,000 in credit card and car loan payments every month. In that case, they’ll have little funds left over to cover rent and living expenses.

  1. Calculate the Rent-to-Income Ratio

It’s important to know if an applicant can afford to rent your unit. Thus, you should examine their monthly income and determine what percentage would cover rent. 

Luckily, SingleKey’s tenant credit report calculates the rent-to-income ratio for each applicant, so you won’t have to worry about crunching the numbers yourself.

Evaluating tenants’ rent-to-income ratio allows you to gauge affordability. If an applicant earns $3,000 per month but is applying to rent a unit that costs $2,000 per month, that’s a red flag. 

Many landlords prefer to rent to tenants with a rent-to-income ratio no higher than 30%. This figure is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to consider a particular applicant.

However, studies show that the 30% threshold is not attainable for many individuals. As a result, it’s not uncommon for landlords to accept 50% or higher rent-to-income ratios

Still, our data shows affordability is one of the top predictors of tenant rent default. If tenants spend more than 50% of their income on rent, they risk having insufficient funds to dedicate to rent payments. In this scenario, unexpected expenses or job loss would cause the tenant to stop paying rent. Thus, it’s wise to be patient and seek out tenants with ratios closer to 30%.

We also suggest going one step further and using the (rent + debt payments) to income ratio. With this formula, you combine the tenant’s monthly debt obligations and rent to better grasp how much they can afford.

  1. Focus on Derogatory Marks

A derogatory mark is a negative item on a credit report that has significant long-lasting financial repercussions for an individual’s credit standing. 

Here are some scenarios that can cause one to appear on an applicant’s credit report

  • Their credit card provider issued a charge-off on a past due balance
  • They filed for bankruptcy
  • A creditor has sent their account to a collection agency
  • A creditor has repossessed their home or car due to a default  

Derogatory marks can remain on individuals’ credit reports between three and seven years, depending on the nature of the item and the province in which they reside. 

While they happen, it’s important to put things in context and ask the right questions should you spot them on an applicant’s credit report.

1. What was the amount owing?

The amount owing is crucial in determining how detrimental the outstanding payment is to the applicant. A small write-off isn’t as big of a concern as a large one.

2. How old is the default?

A bankruptcy that occurred five years ago is not as ruinous as one that happened recently. The more years that have passed since the bankruptcy, the less financial strain the applicant is likely under currently.

3. What type of debt was it?

If a collections item relates to a payday loan, that is much more worrisome than if it’s tied to an outstanding phone bill.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The 6 Things Landlords Should Look Out for on a Tenant Credit Check

  1. Credit Score
  2. Assess Tenant’s Payment Habits
  3. Identify the Type of Debt the Tenant Owes
  4. Monthly Debt Payments
  5. Rent-to-Income Ratio
  6. Collections and Bankruptcy

Find the Right Applicant with Single Key’s Tenant Credit Report

Being smart with your tenant screening process will drastically cut down on the risks that come with renting. A quality tenant won’t only have a stable income, but a reassuring financial history, so it’s vital to review these details.

Keeping in mind the 5 key risk indicators in this guide will help you get the most out of your tenant credit report and raise any red flags that you should be aware of. 

If you are looking for the best tool to screen your tenants, consider the SingleKey Tenant Credit and Background Check report. The five metrics we just reviewed are at the top of every report. 

Don’t forget that we also offer a free tenant review call to help walk you through the tenant report results, so book a call with us any time.

Want to Learn How to Choose Better Tenants? Watch SingleKey’s Viler Lika Explain How with REIN

how-to-find-better-tenants-landlord-tips-video

Want tenant tips from some of Canada’s leading landlord and real estate experts? This past February, the Real Estate Investment Network’s (REIN) JG Francoeur and Patrick Francy sat down with our founder Viler Lika to talk about how SingleKey helps small everyday Canadian landlords better manage their rental properties by choosing the right tenants in order to reduce delinquency risk right at the start.

In the interview, we dive into the real costs of evicting tenants, and how SingleKey can really help landlords across Canada deal with one of the most stressful and costly experiences of their landlord journey. Francoeur and Francy bring up some good points as well. They ask how SingleKey determines the worthiness of a prospective tenant and why we never decline tenants based on credit score alone.

Some of the questions we answer in the interview are:

  1. What sort of expenses does home insurance not cover?

  1. How can SingleKey’s Rent Guarantee help you cover eviction expenses?

  1. Are the best tenants always the ones with the best credit scores?

  1. How detailed should you be with a tenant’s references?

The video also includes a detailed rundown of SingleKey Tenant Credit Check and Background Check. Viler explains how landlords can use the information they find here to find the best tenants and to support the gut feeling they may have about a prospective tenant. The tenant screening report goes far beyond a simple credit report. If you’ve been interested in seeing our comprehensive tenant credit and background check in action, this is a great time to see it explained in detail.

You can watch the entire video on Facebook Live below.

REIN is a news and resource company that helps thousands of Canadians protect their investments and better prepares them for navigating the challenges of managing a rental property. They offer Canadians unbiased real estate education and advice through webinars, a membership program, and a free weekly podcast called “The Everday Millionaire.” REIN has been featured on CNN, The Globe and Mail, and CTV Canada.

Cost of Evicting a Tenant: the Ultimate Guide for Canadian Landlords

cost of evictions in Canada
cost of evictions in Canada

One of the biggest risks you’ll face as a landlord is a tenant who doesn’t pay their rent. While you can do your best to screen for quality tenants, there’s still no guarantee of a steady flow of rent payments. Unexpected issues may arise, causing them to fall behind or outright refuse to pay.

In addition, tenants may also become a nuisance, blatantly violate the rules of the lease agreement, or cause damage to your rental property

Sometimes, negotiating a payment schedule with the tenant for past due rent or issuing a verbal or written warning can solve the problem. But, in some cases, there’s no other solution but to evict them from your property.

So how do you go about evicting a tenant in Canada? What does the process entail, and how long will it take to get the job done? And most importantly, how much will it cost you?

As a landlord in Canada, you need to keep three things in mind when calculating the cost of evicting a tenant:

A. Loss of Rental Income During Evictions

The only recourse that landlords have to deal with non-payment of rent and tenants who refuse to leave the unit is to go through the provincial tribunal or court to file for tenant eviction.

The problem is that the process of eviction in most provinces suffers mainly from long delays due to a high backlog of hearings. So it takes a long time  to carry out eviction procedures from start to finish.

The duration of the eviction process in Canada depends on three things:

Statutory Delays

A statutory delay is the length of time you must wait before requesting an eviction order through the tribunal or Court to remove a tenant. It varies from province to province.

This time frame gives the tenant a chance to pay you any outstanding rent. Once the statutory delay expires, you can apply for an eviction order based on non-payment of rent.

How long does it take to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent in each province?

In British Columbia, a landlord must issue a 10-day notice to end tenancy for unpaid rent when a landlord fails to pay rent by the agreed upon date. Within the 10 days, if the tenant fails to pay the outstanding balance of rent, a landlord must wait the respective 10 days before they can apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to claim the lost rental income.

When a landlord wishes to remove a tenant in Alberta, the landlord is to serve the tenant with a 14- day notice to vacate the unit.

In Saskatchewan when a tenant is 15 days late to paying rent, the landlord has the right to immediately end the tenancy by serving the tenant with an eviction notice.

In Manitoba a landlord is entitled to evict a tenant 5 days after the rent is due. On the 5th day, the landlord can ask the tenant to vacate the unit and has full discretion in determining how soon the tenant should vacate the unit.

The average amount of time given to tenants to allow them to leave is between 5 and 10 additional days (this is at the discretion of the landlord as there is no guidance on this).

In Ontario, eviction proceedings take at least 25 days.

First, a landlord must issue a Termination Notice (N4 Form) when the tenant is late on rent, then they have to wait 14 days to file an application for eviction (L1 Form) with the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict the tenant.

In addition to this initial 14 days, and unlike any other province, there is also a statutory requirement that the landlord must wait an additional 11 days to allow the tenant to either pay the outstanding balance or vacate the unit before the landlord is allowed to hire a sheriff to enforce the standard order.

In Quebec, the landlord must wait 3 weeks from when the payment was initially due before filing to evict a tenant. Once a tenant is 21 days late, the landlord can then apply to the Tribunal to end the tenancy, remove the tenant, and recover the lost rent.

Following the application for eviction after 21 days, if the tenant pays the outstanding balance to the landlord before the Tribunal reaches a conclusion, then the termination of the tenancy is avoided.

In Nova Scotia, a landlord can only serve a delinquent tenant with a notice after their rent is 15 days late. Further, a landlord must wait an additional 15 days from the date the tenant is handed the eviction notice before the eviction can be carried out, totalling a minimum of 30 days of mandatory wait time before a tenant can be evicted.

In PEI, a landlord can issue a notice to evict the tenant as soon as rent is 1 day late. The tenant then has 20 days to vacate the unit. If they manage to pay the outstanding balance within 10 days, then the eviction notice is invalidated.

Similar to PEI, in New Brunswick the landlord can issue an eviction notice to a tenant as soon as rent is 1 day late. The tenant then has 15 days to vacate the unit.

In Newfoundland when a tenant is 5 days late in paying rent, a landlord will then serve a tenant with notice that the tenancy has ended, and the tenant then has 10 days to vacate the unit amounting to an average of 15 days for the entire eviction process.

Court Delays

Court delays refer to the time between issuing an eviction notice to the tenant and when the arbitrator decides on a verdict. This time frame includes delays in scheduling a hearing date and all the arbitration proceedings until a final decision is made regarding the case.

How long does it take to get an eviction court order?

In British Columbia, after a landlord files the appropriate 10-day notice to end tenancy for unpaid rent and a tenant has not paid all outstanding rent or vacated the unit, the landlord must then proceed to claim the unpaid rent amount with the provincial tribunal (the RTB).

In BC, the tribunal can take 1-2 weeks to schedule a hearing for the two parties to plead their case depending on the availability of arbitrators and their caseload. Following the end of the arbitration, the tribunal will make the final decision within 30 days of the hearing.

In Alberta, it can take as little as 5 days to as much as 48 days for a landlord to have a hearing scheduled. On average, it takes 25 days after filing a dispute to get a hearing scheduled. Following the conclusion of the hearing, it takes an additional 10 days for the arbitrator to reach a final and binding decision. Depending on the outcome of the possession order, a landlord may further need to wait between 10 to 30 days before they can regain possession of the unit.

In Saskatchewan, due to the lighter caseload, hearings are scheduled approximately 7 days from when the claim is brought the tribunal.

Manitoba’s court system adds an additional 15 days in lost time. This is because it takes approximately 12 days for the hearing to be scheduled. Following the hearing, the arbitrators release the final outcome after 3 days.

Ontario’s court delays total an average of 51 days. It takes 14 days for the provincial tribunal to schedule a hearing. When the hearing date is set, it is typically scheduled for 4-6 weeks later.

Similar to Ontario, Quebec’s tribunal system is subject to heavy delays. It can take up to 3 months in some cases for a tribunal to release a final decision. However, on average, it takes 30 days for a final and binding decision to be made.

For Nova Scotian landlords, it can take up to an additional 20 days to receive a verdict for eviction. This is a combination of delays in scheduling the hearing and waiting for a conclusion by the arbitrator to be reached. 

In PEI, the provincial tribunal prioritises eviction hearings over other landlord-tenant disputes. So hearings are scheduled between 7 – 10 days after the landlord brings forth the claim to the tribunal.

New Brunswick boasts the shortest court delay length across Canada. Landlords there face shorter wait times as it takes an average of 5 days for the court to issue their decision.

In Newfoundland, after requesting a hearing at the Residential Tenancies, there is an additional 14 day wait before the hearing is conducted. While the average length of delay is 14 days, tenants, in some cases, can have up to 18 days to file an appeal and have the case reconsidered.

Sheriff Delays

In some cases, you’ll need to hire a sheriff to enforce an Order of Possession or a Court order to remove the non-paying tenant. Naturally, this step will lengthen the eviction process.

How long does a sheriff take to evict a tenant?

In every province except Ontario, it takes between 1 and 6 days for the sheriff to enforce an eviction. 

Due to a backlog of cases in the Landlord and Tenancy Board (LTB), removing a tenant in Ontario takes much longer. As a result, you can expect to wait up to 30 days for a sheriff to uphold an eviction order. 

The delay in enforcement is one of the reasons carrying out an eviction in Ontario takes much more time than in other provinces. As the graph below illustrates, the process takes approximately eight times longer than the rest of Canada.

How Long Does the Eviction Process Take in Total?

It takes between two and three months to remove a delinquent tenant, depending on your province. Ontario has the most prolonged procedural delays in the eviction process, while Saskatchewan experiences the shortest delays.

So how much rent in total can a landlord expect to lose?

You can calculate the total amount of rent you can expect to lose during an eviction using the following formula:

TOTAL LOST RENT $ = AVG EVICTION TIME (+1 MONTH TO FIND A NEW TENANT) X AVG MONTHLY RENT $

To determine the total cost in lost rent, you’ll need to estimate the monthly average rent and utilities in your province:

Besides the loss of regular rent payments, you can expect to spend about one month posting ads, screening applications, and signing a lease with a new tenant. You may also need to include the cost of repairs to your rental unit resulting from damage done by the delinquent tenant. 

 In addition, you’ll need to tally up all the legal expenses, court fees, etc., you’re likely to incur during eviction proceedings.

The average landlord renting a 1-bedroom unit can expect to lose $2,000 to $4,000 in rent during an eviction. In Ontario, landlords are subject to much higher losses as Ontario landlords can expect to lose $9,000 in rent! The higher amount is due to the lengthy eviction process in Ontario (three to five months long) combined with the higher average rent prices.

B. Eviction Legal Costs

In addition to lost rental income during the eviction process, you may face thousands of dollars in legal expenses.

There are 3 types of legal costs:

Legal Fees

Legal expenses mainly include the cost of hiring a paralegal to deal with a case on your behalf. Paralegals will file relevant paperwork, handle the eviction hearing, and conduct negotiations that may be necessary throughout the process.

Legal Costs For Eviction in Canada

In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, it costs between $700 and $800 to hire a paralegal to carry out the eviction process. 

However, in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland, the average cost ranges from $400 to $500.

Unsurprisingly, Ontario and Quebec are the most expensive provinces for legal assistance due to longer eviction processes. In Ontario, legal fees cost $2,000 on average, and in Quebec, they cost $1,000 on average.

Court Fees

Court fees cover the cost of filing a claim through a Court or a tribunal. Generally, you can expect to pay between $50 and $100.

Once again, Ontario remains the outlier, as the cost to file an eviction application with the LTB is $186.

Sheriff Fees

The cost of hiring a sheriff to enforce an eviction order varies widely across Canada. On average, you can anticipate paying $100 to $200.

In Ontario, due to the high demand for sheriffs, a landlord can spend approximately $400 to remove a delinquent tenant.

On the other hand, landlords in Newfoundland, PEI, and New Brunswick pay a measly $50 to $75 for the same service.

C. Estimated Property Damage Costs

Lost rental income is already one of the scariest expenses you can face as a landlord. But it’s much worse if the delinquent tenant causes damage to your unit before vacating it.

In Canada, 1 in 6 eviction cases includes a claim for compensation for damages to the unit on top of lost rent. The average landlord claims $1,500 and $3,500 in court against a tenant for property damage 

Damages caused by a tenant can substantially increase your financial loss following an eviction, as you must spend money on repairs. You also lose rental income over an extended period since you need more time to make the unit move-in ready for a new tenant. 

It can take 1-2 weeks to do simple repairs to the property. You may not be able to recover the total amount in damages through the court system and be forced to cover some expenses out of pocket.

What is the total cost of eviction?

The costs that come with evicting a tenant can be substantial. Over the entire eviction process, you can expect to lose about two months of rental income if you decide to end a tenancy. And this figure doesn’t include, on average, the additional month of lost income before you find a replacement tenant.

The average cost shouldered by landlords across Canada is $4,000 to $5,000 in eviction expenses. These costs can even reach $11,000 in more expensive provinces with lengthy processes, such as Ontario.

How do landlords protect their rental income and keep renting risk-free?

As a landlord, the first step you should take to protect your rental unit from delinquent tenants is to properly screen them before signing a lease agreement. A solid screening service will provide valuable insight into tenants’ financial history and background. You can then use the information to help you choose the ideal tenant.

SingleKey offers a comprehensive Tenant Credit and Background Check that includes a full credit check and a background check with a social media scan. All these vital details are packed in a single report, which you can have at your fingertips in as little as 5 minutes!

Dealing with non-paying tenants can be a financial nightmare, even more so if you need to remove them from your property. After all, you become a landlord to earn passive income, not pay a mountain of expenses! If you’re looking for peace of mind when it comes to your rental income, be sure to check out  SingleKey’s Rent Guarantee Program. By signing up, you’ll receive coverage for up $60,000 in lost rental income should your tenant fail to pay their rent.

Best Practices for Finding Good Tenants

landlord tips for rental tenant screening and finding good tenants
landlord tips for rental tenant screening and finding good tenants

Finding quality tenants is one of the most crucial aspects of being a successful landlord. But it’s also one that can cause endless headaches, as attracting the right candidate can be a frustrating and gruelling process.

However, if you stick with a few best practices, you can significantly increase your chances of acquiring a quality tenant. The result is timely rent payments, no damage to your property, zero complaints, and more time to spend with your family and friends.  

At first glance, finding your ideal tenant may seem like a complex and tedious undertaking, but ultimately, it boils down to two things:

1) Being able to attract quality applicants

2) Screening for the best applicants

This step-by-step article will guide you in finding a great tenant – one that can contribute to a pleasant, rewarding, and, most importantly, stress-free landlord experience.

Best Practices for Finding Good Tenants

Step 1: Say Cheese! Start with Great Photos

That’s right, take photos that people want to see! As a landlord, you need to put in the time and effort to take captivating pictures that showcase your rental unit in the best possible light.

Your photos should capture the attention of tenants – you want them to be intrigued with your listing, so much so that they can’t help but request an in-person viewing. Never skimp on photos – they’re your first opportunity to make a good impression.

Your property’s photos should offer a complete view of your unit. Ensure you show each area clearly and in a way that highlights the size of your property. Be strategic with how you take your pictures to display the space and layout of the unit properly – using the right angles is essential.

Make sure that your rental property is cleaned and ready to be rented. No one will be interested in a household with dirty laundry on the floor and paint  peeling off the walls. Remember: when people view your photos, they’ll visualize themselves living on the property – make them want to be there.

Take your photos with bright lighting, ideally during a sunny day with the lights on.

landlord tips for finding good tenants

Step 2: List Your Unit on the Top Rental Sites

Your primary objective now is to garner as much exposure for your property unit as possible to find qualified tenants ready to move in. 

Around 43 million Americans and 4.4 million Canadians live in rental housing. Thus, there’s no shortage of people looking for a solid rental property, especially in urban areas.  

Here are some of the best free rental listing sites to advertise your property: 

When crafting your ad, include all relevant information about your rental property that a tenant would find valuable and make it compelling. Don’t be afraid to inject a pinch of personality, and vigour, especially if your unit contains unique and desirable features that can spark interest in the right tenant. Flex those copywriting skills!

To gain traction, be sure to include the following in your ad:

Eye-catching headline

A memorable headline that commands attention is vital to persuade users to click on your listing and check out your rental unit. Use enticing and expressive words to describe your listing, such as “spacious”, “luxurious”, “charming”, “elegant”, and “picturesque.”

Features of your property

Don’t leave potential tenants guessing what they can expect from your rental unit – highlight everything it has to offer. Be clear and concise when describing each aspect of your property, and note any recent upgrades and renovations.

Here are some things to cover:

  •         Square footage and floor plan.
  •         Kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms
  •         Appliances
  •         Type of flooring in each area of the unit
  •         Storage space
  •         Number of windows/natural lighting
  •         Utilities
  •       Parking

Perks of the location

Location is one of the most crucial factors renters evaluate in a property. As a result, it pays to include details about your unit’s proximity to various amenities, such as:

  •         Public transportation
  •         Shopping malls
  •         Parks
  •         Recreation and fitness facilities
  •         Nightclubs and bars
  •         Restaurants and coffee shops
  •         Grocery stores

Descriptions of rental fees, rules, and other crucial details

Ensure you disclose in your ad the monthly rent and security deposit required. Be sure to mention the duration of the lease agreement (yearly, month-to-month, etc.), too.

Address the rules, regulations, and expectations for tenants, both your own and those listed under the condo corporation’s bylaws (if you own a condo unit). Some restrictions you may address include smoking, cannabis use, and pets.

Step 3: Pre-Screen Tenants and Schedule a Viewing

After hearing back from interested applicants, assemble the list of candidates, and inform them that you’ll be holding viewings on a specified date (preferably weekends). Completing property viewings over a brief period will save you considerable time and is more efficient than arranging daily viewings over a lengthy period.

Before inviting a rental applicant to a viewing, take the time to ask a few pre-screening questions. By doing so, you can narrow the pool of tenants to only those who show genuine interest in renting your unit and meet your qualification criteria. 

Some key areas you should inquire about include:

  • Their monthly income (to determine whether they can afford to rent out your unit)
  • Their credit score (to assess the risk of them failing to meet their rental payment obligations)
  • Their preferred move-in date (to know how quickly to arrange the proper paperwork  

Keep in mind that many tenants decide whether or not they’d like to rent out your property based on the impression they get from the viewing. Thus, make sure to:

  • See that the appliances, light bulbs, doors, etc., are in working order
  • Declutter each area of unnecessary furniture and other items for a more spacious look.
  • Air out the unit with some fresh air before your showing.
  • If necessary, repaint the walls of the property.

Step 4: Follow the Fair Housing Act

As you shortlist candidates, ensure you adhere to the Fair Housing Act. This federal law prohibits discrimination against individuals in all aspects of the sale and renting of housing in Canada. 

Similar laws are enshrined in provincial and territorial Human Rights Acts, which you must observe, too.

Under these laws, you cannot reject an individual seeking tenancy in your rental property based solely on traits like:

  •  Race, colour, and ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sex and gender
  • Gender identity and gender expression
  • Disability
  • Marital and family status
  • Ancestry
  • Citizenship, including refugee status
  • Sexual orientation

In addition, be mindful of how you phrase particular questions during the screening process. Some questions may be outright illegal, so you should avoid asking them or risk facing a discrimination lawsuit or penalty.

Examples of questions that you’re not allowed to ask include:

  • “Are you receiving social assistance?”
  • “Have you ever been involved in a dispute reviewed by the Landlord and Tenant Board?”
  • “Are you pregnant?”

Step 5: Rental Application Form and References

Knowing what to include in a rental application form can be challenging. Without the correct details, you can potentially run into issues and disputes with your tenant.

For this reason, we’ve created a list of the most critical things to have as part of the rental application process.

Applicant information:

  • Personal details (name, address, date of birth, contact information)
  • Credit score
  • Pets
  • Smoking
  • Employment status/occupation
  • Income
  • Identification (Drivers licence, passport, etc.) 

Consent for credit check: Running a comprehensive Tenant Background & Credit Check in Canada is standard practice before finalizing a rental agreement, and most tenants will expect it. However, you’ll still need to obtain the tenant’s consent before you can access their credit report.

Proof of income: To verify a tenant’s income, you can ask them to submit a recent pay stub, letter of employment, or bank statement. This step is crucial to confirm that they earn a reliable income and have sufficient funds to cover the rent.

Employment references: An employment history and relevant references can give you an idea of whether or not the applicant is financially stable.

Previous rental history: More often than not, you can dig into applicants’ rental history, which will provide you with details about their rent payment habits, personality traits, and behaviour. You can obtain references from previous landlords, who can supply you with additional information, including the presence of delinquent payments if any. 

By collecting such details about prospective tenants, you can gain valuable insight into their character and tendencies. You can then decide whether or not you’d like to have them live in your rental property.

Step 6: Select the Best Applicant

Carefully evaluate each application and choose the best one from the bunch. Once you’ve made your selection, inform the applicant, and have them sign the lease agreement.

Not sure how to draft a proper contract? No problem, we provide copies of legally valid lease agreements for each province and territory, which you can download for free on our site!

Rental Property Landlords Tenant screening services

Final Thoughts

Finding good tenants is a marathon, not a sprint. Invest the time and effort to find good tenants because it will save you a lot of stress and headaches that can result from dealing with a problematic tenant. Sometimes it may be worth losing a month of rent due to a vacancy to ensure you find the right tenant.

Evicting a delinquent tenant can cost a landlord thousands of dollars in lost rent, damages, legal fees, and significant time and stress. If you want to avoid these headaches and have complete peace of mind, consider enrolling in our Rent Guarantee Program.

Good luck, and happy renting!