Selecting The Best Residential Tenant

Depending on how much experience you have as a landlord, you may or may not know what to look for when it comes to choosing potential tenants for your residential property.  There are some easy checklists to review and then there are some more detailed documents you can request from the candidate.  For those that are not comfortable with this task or feel uneasy at that the thought of requesting what could be considered personal information from the applicant, it may be best to leave the job to a property manager.  Companies such as HighGate that operate in and around the Toronto area are seasoned veterans at interviewing potential renters and they basically have it down to a science.  When you weigh the cost in terms of your time and effort, plus any expense to investigate someone’s rental or job history, you may be surprised to find it’s a better idea to let the pros find your tenants.

The list below identifies some of the more common categories that landlords typically use to select ideal tenants for their residential properties:

Best Residential TenantBackground checks – As a property owner, you are within your legal rights to screen potential tenants to determine if they have been convicted of crimes or have a history of criminal behaviour or trouble with the law. This is an extremely important topic as the renter will treat your home they might treat their own – for better or worse.

Credit report – Checking a candidate’s credit report will give you an idea of how they manage their finances and large amounts of outstanding debt, loans…etc. will help you determine what type of renter they could become. Someone who is frequently late with payments on other accounts will probably not hesitate to submit their rent cheque late as well.

Trust your instincts – Should you find yourself in a position to meet with the potential tenant directly, it is important to make note of certain aspects of the meeting. For instance, did they show up to the meeting on time with the required paperwork?  Do they appear to be serious about needing a place to live?  The general appearance of him/her should not dictate your decision, but a slovenly dressed or unkempt individual may treat your property the same way.

Rental history – It is perfectly reasonable to ask a candidate for previous rental references and check stubs to prove that they are gainfully employed and have positive rental experience. You should ask for these items with confidence as any landlord or property manager would do the same.

Ask for a security deposit up front – One solid way to protect your investment is to ask for the first and last month’s rent up front. This way you will be able to support the mortgage if the tenant were to leave unexpectedly and this cost will allow you to make any necessary repairs when they leave should you find damage.  Again this is pretty standard, so all potential tenants should expect it.

One last word of wisdom that many good property managers like HighGate will also tell you; avoid personal connections to the tenants if you can help it.  Tenants that are friends or relatives may perceive the relationship you have with them as a way to remit tardy payments or extensions for rent payment.  They may also request you to perform maintenance and repair outside of the landlord’s scope due to you relationship, which is why sometimes it is just best to utilize a property manager that can handle each tenant with a fair and unbiased approach to make all parties happy.

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