So, you have property to rent out, and you’re excited about making some money. Before you hand over the keys to a new tenant, are you sure you’ve covered all your bases? It’s important to make sure that every detail has been checked, to avoid possible legal repercussions and stressful headaches.
Every prospective Landlord should have a checklist at the ready, to make sure nothing has been missed. When the time comes to rent out your space, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you haven’t left anything to chance. That can help you avoid multiple pitfalls as the renting process moves forward.
It’s your responsibility to make sure that your tenants are safe and sound, and that means safe-proofing your property. This is a mixture of common sense, and adherence to all applicable regional and provincial laws and bylaws. It covers everything from basics like having a smoke alarm on every floor, to subtle things like stability of staircases, ventilation and electrical.
In fact, some of these safety-related criteria should best be left to a professional, in order to guarantee you aren’t liable for any injuries or damages. It can be hard to spot things like mold, which can be hazardous to your tenants’ health, but what about asbestos or lead in older housing units? If you’re the slightest bit unsure, it’s time to bring in someone who can give your property a professional examination.
PERFORM A QUALITY/DAMAGE CHECK
This is for your benefit, as well as your tenant. By performing quality and damage checks on your property, you can avoid a “he said, she said” scenario where both parties point the finger at one another over perceived damages. If your property is in need of repairs or fixings, make sure to take care of those before the tenant moves in.
It’s also important to walk through the property with your tenant and perform this inspection, so both are on the same page. It’s advisable to take video of your property before the tenant moves in, provided it has been timestamped. When both parties are aware of the status of a property, there’s no room for any funny business on either side.
THE LEASE AGREEMENT
Before tenants move in, they should sign a lease agreement which acts as a binding contract between both parties. Make sure all details are filled out, including all applicable terms and conditions, the rent amount per month, details regarding security deposits and fees, forbidden practices, maintenance agreements, damage accountability, tenancy limitations (ie. sub-leasing), the ability to keep pets, and right of entry.
The more details on paper, the better. Both parties will receive a copy so that there’s no confusion, but in case of a dispute, you’ll have all your necessary paperwork with the tenant’s signature attached. This can go a long way to nullifying any disputes before they erupt into something worse.
FIRST & LAST MONTH’S RENT
It’s important for Landlords to secure first and last month rent before tenants move in. Don’t neglect the security deposit, either (unless last month’s rent is the deposit, which is rare). While the practice of first and last month rent is somewhat flexible, it’s good practice to get both, just in case. Certain localities allow for exceptions to this rule, so be sure to check and make sure you aren’t violating any laws.
One of the biggest reasons for securing last month’s rent is to prevent tenants from taking off before their move-out date, which can leave Landlords scrambling to find a replacement tenant. It’s peace of mind for both sides, as tenants don’t have to pay the final month’s worth of rent while they secure rental funds for a new place.
CHANGING THE LOCKS
Renting to a new tenant may involve a changing of all the locks present on your property, which is a legal requirement. There’s no guarantee that previous tenants hadn’t managed to make backup keys, which can allow them to gain access to the property after a new tenant has moved in. This is a severe safety and liability issue that must be addressed. Make sure that new tenants get a brand new pair of keys that have never been used by anyone else before.
Of course, there is an exception to this rule – if your property has never been rented out before. With no previous tenant history to speak of, there’s no risk of strangers entering the property and committing mischief or crimes.
WORK WITH YOUR TENANTS
Not everything about the property rental world revolves around contracts and fine details. It’s wise to build a healthy and constructive relationship with your tenants, and hear their side of things. If you had a no-pets clause, yet your stellar tenant with excellent references claims to have a well-behaved cat, you might wish to relax your stance on a case-by-case basis.
Similarly, tenants may wish to actually improve on your property by asking to paint the walls, or perform some decorative renovations. Naturally, these are subjective, and you should be Ok with their ideas, but it may turn out to be mutually beneficial. The more you communicate and work with your tenants, the happier both sides will be. Make sure no lines are being crossed, and you may have solid, reliable and trustworthy tenants for years to come.
CONCLUSIONWhile it’s tempting to go solo when renting out your property, the truth is that mistakes can still happen. Having a good Landlord’s checklist is paramount when it comes to preventing issues, but it’s still no substitute for hiring a property management company that knows the ins and outs of the business, and how to navigate troublesome waters. If you’d rather escape the hassle and stress of renting out your property, be sure to contact us at RentCore so that we can assist. Even with our talented team involved in your property management, it’s still a great idea to get to know your tenants, and establish a healthy relationship with them. That way, everyone is happy, healthy, and enjoying your property the way it was meant to be enjoyed.