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Not that I've had a plethora of tenant experiences to choose from… but I do have a few experiences where I am able to compare and contrast and see what a good tenant looks like. If you are renting out your basement you really want to make sure you find a good tenant because you will be sharing your home to an extent with them.
My first tenant experience was great. They were quiet, they paid on time, they were courteous, they did not complain and often tried to fix problems themselves, they were mature… and did I mention that they were quiet?
The only downside (and this is a major downside) was that they broke their lease because one of them moved back overseas.
The second tenants were not so great. Although they seemed really nice at first and were very bubbly, they were a little too bubbly. It was also their first time moving out of their parent's home. They had a lot of parties. I could hear them talking late into the night. It was a little too much. They were not quiet. They complained a lot. That being said, they did pay on time and I am glad that they were not more of a problem than they were (which really isn't that bad).
My parents who are experienced landlords have had their fair share of terrible tenant experiences (TTE). One keyed my parent's car, another took out all the light bulbs in the common hallway, and another turns up the radio all the time so that his pet birds have something to listen to.
As you can see, selecting the right tenant is a pivotal step in making sure that your real estate rental income property isn't a bust (and a huge headache).
Here are a few tips on how to avoid bad tenants:
Screen, Screen, Screen!
When you are having showings for the suite or apartment, make sure you are there or that you trust the person who you are hiring to be your property manager. Look at their dress, their demeanor, their mannerisms, and their behaviour. Do they seem really loud? Do they seem easy going? Do they seem like the complaining/ advocacy type who knows their tenant rights like the back of their hand? Did they show up on time?
Like Attracts Like
If you have a quality space to rent out then you will attract quality, responsible professionals. Update your place, put a fresh coat of paint on, watch Income Property for inspiration (or just watch it to see eye candy Scott McGillivray, yum), and make sure it looks good. It doesn't hurt to stage the place too, though that's an added cost (which is tax deductible by the way).
Back that A** Up
Well, not really, but back it up with documentation. Documentation is key. Have a rental application with their contact information, references, current address, employment etc. Have a residential tenancy agreement because it outlines all the rules that there are between landlord and tenant. Make sure you go over it carefully with them and obtain signatures and make copies of it. There are some economical documents on a website called Law Depot. Make sure you know that document like the back of your hand.
Another key document to have is the Move-In Inspection Report. Once you select your tenant after you screen, screen, and screen, meet your tenant for the move-in inspection report. It's similar to screening the rental car for any damages that are existing except this is for a rental property and not a rental car. The Move-In Inspection Report allows for the tenant and the landlord to go through the property and assess for any pre-existing damages and note it. Any new damages that are not “normal wear and tear” after the lease agreement is finished, the tenant is responsible for this.
Hope for the Best but Prepare for the Worst
Even if you do an impeccable job of screening your tenants, you are bound to get a few duds from time to time, if you've been in the business for a long time. If you would rather spare yourself the hassle of bad tenants, you might want to consider investing in REITs, where you can invest in real estate without the risk.
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