Top 10 landlord mistakes when dealing with tenants
1. Neglecting the tenants and the home – The home is your responsibly, you should regularly checkin with the tenants to see how they are doing and schedule home visits. However, make sure you’re not violating privacy laws, communicate, and give notice prior to your visit.
2. Not meeting housing codes – as a landlord, it’s your responsibly to make sure the property meets health and safety standards. If you don’t take care of your end of the legal bargain your tenants may have grounds to break the terms of your lease agreement, potentially sue you and even to be legally entitled to compensation for damage or injury due to your neglect.
3. Asking illegal interview questions -You don’t want to run the risk of giving a potential tenant sufficient grounds to sue you for discrimination by asking the wrong questions during the screening interview. Landlords can’t deny a tenant’s application based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, handicap or family status (i.e. if they plan on having children).
4. Month to month – great if you’re a tenant, not so great if you’re a landlord. In a month to month contact, the tenant is only required to give one full calendar month’s notice to the landlord if they choose to break the lease, where a fixed term contact cannot be ended earlier than the date of the contact. Except in 3 circumstances:
- both parties agree in writing using a Mutual Agreement to End Tenancy — both parties need to sign the document and keep a copy
- there are special circumstances such as the tenant is fleeing family violence or the tenant has been assessed as requiring long-term care or has been accepted into a long-term care facility
- as ordered by an arbitrator.
5. Long Fixed term – on a fixed term rental you’ll need to give your tenant 2 full calendar plus an extra month as cash back. Next, you won’t be able to make any changes to the agreement until the expiry (sublet, pets, payment). If the tenants aren’t getting along well with the landlord or neighbours there’s really not much a landlord can do other than start handing out written warnings. Ideally, what I recommend is a fixed term tenancy for 3 – 6 months max. This way the landlord isn’t locked for the 12 months. If all is good at the end of the term, just renew for another 3-6 months.
6. Not running adequate checks on a potential tenant –
- Use rental applications!
- Check employment history
- Ask for pay stubs or bank statements if needed
- Call the employers, verify income
- Check Residential history – do they move around every 6 months or 6 years?
- Call previous landlord
- Emergency contacts, and references
- Pay the money, do a credit check – if they don’t pay their bills, they won’t pay the rent.
- Even if the tenant is “desperate” to move in and can make the deposit amount immediately, check out their background first. Don’t allow yourself to feel rushed or pressured into making a potentially costly mistake.
7. Thinking the property will always be rented – Before buying an investment property, check your finances and make sure you can afford a few months of vacancy. Make sure you can afford not just the mortgage payment, but also Taxes, utilities, insurance, strata payment, and upkeep. Always have a rainy day fund.
8. Accidentally Taking an extra payment after a fixed term is up, this will automatically trigger a month to month tenancy. And could be a costly mistake.
9. Relying on a handshake. In business you can’t rely on promises. For your own legal protection it’s important that your tenants sign a Residential Tenancy Agreement in order for them to live in your property and ensure that he or she understands the terms of the contract. Emails, text messages, self made contracts are simply bad and will cause you lots of future headache.
10. Not asking for help. If you’re ever stuck, not sure what to do, before/during/or after you rented your place out, just ask for help. Check the BC Residential Tenancies website, speak to a rental property professional, or even post your question on social media (in which case you should be a little selective with who you listen to).
Disclaimer – I’m not a licensed or practicing rental property manager, the information above came from online research.
For more information, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies