By Mark Weisleder (Real Estate Lawyer and Author in Toronto)
Being a successful residential landlord in Ontario is not easy. Here are 6 important tips to remember:
1. Properly qualify your tenants in advance. Ask for proof of income and call the references that are provided. Check their credit. Interview them where they live. Check them out on social media. If you have any concerns, remember that if the tenant offers to prepay rent in advance, even for a full year, it is now legal in Ontario to accept it. However, you must be careful in wording your clause so that it is not challenged later.
2. Treat your tenants with respect. Remember that they are looking after your investment and helping you pay down your mortgage. Consider a Christmas present as a sign of appreciation or a gift card if the rent is paid on a timely basis. You will notice you’re your tenants will take better care of your property.
3. If your tenant has a change of life situation, such as a divorce or loss of job and has problems paying the rent, do not rush to start eviction proceedings, which typically end badly for everyone. Meet in person with the tenant and consider offering 1-2 months free rent if they leave early or offer to pay their moving costs if they will move quickly to a friend or relative’s home. Also indicate that you will not report this non-payment to any credit bureau. By approaching the matter this way, you have an excellent chance of making a deal with your tenant quickly, without any damage being done to your property.
4. If you have two tenants who are both paying rent but not getting along with each other, be careful about taking sides. See if you can encourage both of them to seek the assistance of a third party mediator to resolve the problem.
5. Visit your property at least 2 times a year to inspect its condition. Landlords can enter a rental unit to view the state of repair, as long as 24 hours’ written notice is given and the visit takes place between 8am to 8 pm. However, you cannot abuse this privilege by coming once a week, or even once a month. A good time to do this may be when you check the smoke detectors to see if any batteries need replacing. Tenants have an obligation to repair any damage that they or their guests cause to the unit. By checking your unit on a regular basis, you can make sure that it is being properly maintained at all times.
6. Make sure you are using an up to date lease agreement. If there are errors in your lease agreement, it could cause you difficulty later during any eviction proceeding. By following these tips, you can enjoy the benefits of real estate ownership, without the aggravation.