Available homes for rent in Windsor Ontario have increased in the past several years. The reasons are many, but the most obvious one is because of the decline in the housing industry that started over eight years ago. Today, we are seeing more and more people turn to rental properties while they see where the economy is headed. There are those would-be buyers who want to buy yet they are uncertain of their job status or a job transfer may be on the horizon. Today, anyone that is buying a home should understand that it is in his or her best interest to keep the property for several years to get the most from their investment.
Therefore, more and more homeowners are turning into landlords. It’s important to be a smart landlord and educate yourself well before putting a “For Rent” sign in front of your property. Here are some valuable tips that can prepare you. Some are obvious but need repeating:
1. Run your own credit report:
Don’t accept a credit report that an applicant brings to you as unfortunately, these can be altered. Run your own report and you will know it is accurate.
2. Check references:
Ask for two landlord references and NOT the current landlord (he or she may be trying to get rid of the tenant and will fudge the truth). Here, you want to make sure that the applicant has paid their rent on time, left the property in good condition and was a good tenant and neighbour.
3. Get enough insurance:
Make sure that you protect yourself and your property by securing adequate insurance. Don’t skimp because you won’t believe some of the situations that can arise. The rule of thumb when buying insurance for a rental property: Protect Yourself Against The Unbelievable. Also, renter’s should always have their own renter’s insurance, so ask to see proof that they have purchased this before they move in.
4. Take pictures:
Before a tenant moves in, take pictures of the property. Make sure the date is clearly visible so a baseline is established. This way, if damages occur, and a renter demands their security deposit back, you will have the necessary photos should they take you to court. And certainly, don’t forget to take pictures of these damages and needed repairs. “Before” and “After” photos are the best defense!
5. Go over the lease with renters:
By all means, sit down with your tenants and carefully go over the lease. Make sure that everything is accurate and included in the document. For example, if landscaping is the responsibility of the renter, it must be in the lease. Do not rely on “form” rental agreements, but rather, visit with a real estate attorney who can custom one for your property. Best advice: Make sure everything is in writing so there is no confusion.
6. Disclose any environmental hazards:
If your property has mold, lead or any other environmental issues, then you must tell your tenants.
7. Handle repairs:
Don’t put repairs on the back burner when your renter calls. Stay on top of all maintenance issues to avoid any disputes or withholding of rent. It’s also important to return all calls as quickly as possible and keep the renters informed of repair schedules.
8. Hire a property manager:
If you can, hire a property manager that is well recommended. There are many excellent management companies available that can successfully screen desirable tenants and handle all of the necessary paperwork and repairs. Generally, they will deduct a certain amount from the rent for their fees. For many homeowners, particularly those that live out-of-state, it’s money well spent.
9. When traveling….
If you will be out-of-town, make arrangements to have someone available to handle emergencies or repairs of your rental property. Let your renters know that you will be away and provide them with the name of the person in charge.
10. Use common sense:
Finally, it’s always good to use common sense and a little humor when necessary. I once had a client who had been renting a property for several years. He paid every month on the due date without fail. He was hospitalized suddenly and not available to pay the rent on the first of the month. When he returned home a few days later he found an angry letter from his landlord. Needless to say, he decided to move as soon as he was able. The landlord lost a valuable tenant when all he had to do was ask the neighbours to discover what happened. It pays to do a little fact-finding before jumping to conclusions