3 minute read.
Guest Blog By Janet Delong
A Landlord of 8 years, 5 units in 3 homes and 2 area codes, I've picked up a lot of insight over the years with my rental properties and I'm happy to share it with you!
Here are my insights:
When my husband, Josh, and I told our landlord, Bob, that we were giving our sixty-day notice because we had bought a house and planned to become landlords ourselves, he gave us some very candid and helpful advice. Having rented from Bob for over 5 years with various roommates and then with my husband, the words he shared that day have surfaced in my mind every time we’ve had to select a new tenant.
He told me to always go with your gut; that someone with a good job and great credit can still be a horrible tenant and not pay their rent. On a few occasions, he has had to go to workplaces and even camp outside of his triplex to try to get payment from renters with ‘great credit scores’ whose cheques were returned NSF. Additionally, if something seems too good to be true, take a moment to step back and look at it carefully. At one point, we were offered a full year's worth of rent in cash upfront for our apartment; but remembering the words of Bob, we took some time to think about the situation. Conveniently, the truth came out that our potential tenant was funded by some illegal activity along with a severe anger management problem and we had narrowly avoided disaster.
He told me to never trust the reference of a current landlord; that to get rid of a bad tenant, anyone could embellish about how quiet, well-behaved and clean their problem-renter is. Trying to pass the problem on to another landlord to avoid paying legal fees for eviction is not completely unheard of in the rental world. Asking for the reference of a past landlord or past employer would likely obtain a more honest opinion of your applicant.
He said not to settle on a tenant just to fill the apartment. The legal fees and time wasted to try to evict a less-than-desirable tenant, not to mention the general aggravation from the entire process, was completely worth the out of pocket expense to cover the rent yourself for a month or two. Along the same lines, always have enough money set aside to fund such an incident; be prepared to float the whole building for a few months if such an occasion happens to occur.
Bob’s words were not lost on us and we’ve often used his advice when searching for new occupants. Over the last eight years as landlords, I feel that we have been very fortunate with our rental choices. I am pleased to report that except for one indoor smoker, a woman with 8 cats, and a door kicked-in due to a misunderstanding with an intoxicated gentleman at a bar, the renters we have had in any of our five units have been most ideal. I can’t say this advice is fool-proof, but I can say from experience that these words are worth thinking about when it comes time to review applications for your next rental unit.