Screening Tips for finding the Best Tenants
Doing the proper research upfront can help screen tenants so you’re only renting to reliable, long-term candidates who pay their rent on time. After all the time and effort it takes to prep, photograph and list an apartment you want to be sure your prospective renter is not going to turn out to be a career tenant, or worse.
The intent of screening tenants is to confirm the tenant meets criteria, such as:
- • Steady income that meets or exceeds your criteria (without violating any human rights or legal codes)
- • A pattern of stable work history
- • Verifiable income from the current employer and/or tax returns
- • Credit that meets or exceeds your criteria or backed with a pre-approval from LOCNEST
- • Criminal background void of any felonies patterns of misdemeanors
- • Favorable prior residence and landlord histories
To get to this information there are a few steps you can take to ensure you’re finding the best potential tenants – and to ensure you’re not leaving qualified tenants behind on account of having no-credit (like students) or no Canadian credit (like newcomers).
1. Start by including in your advertising “We do background checks”.
This simple disclosure can discourage unqualified applicants from submitting an application upfront. Background checks and credit checks do come with a fee, however, by partnering with LOCNEST, landlords save. LOCNEST not only asses for the creditworthiness of the tenant and provide a valuable layer of protection, but we also come at no cost to landlords.
Offering a link to the LOCNEST pre-approval in your listing, you can take care of this one piece of the vetting process without spending a dime.
2. Review their digital footprint.
LinkedIn profiles will show you their employment history, while social media will share images – it may reveal if they have a pet, if pets are a concern.
3. Call references.
This may be a time-consuming step, but we recommend calling the landlord before last. The current landlord may be looking to get rid of a bad tenant, so review older ones first. Be sure to ask the following questions:
- • Does the tenant owe you any outstanding debt?
- • Does the tenant have a history of late payments?
- • Has the tenant caused any major damage in the rental unit?
- • Did the tenant disrupt the neighbors or cause any major issues while living there?
- • (In markets where you accept security deposits) Did the tenant qualify to receive their security deposit when moving out?
- • Would you rent an apartment to this tenant in the future?
4. Check Eviction Notices.
Depending on the province, this information may be incomplete with privacy data stricken from the files. For those in Ontario, May 2019 the Ontario Social Justice Tribunals made some changes to its public access policies, mainly due the issues relating to career tenants and landlords unknowningly renting to them. A form to request information from the Landlord and Tenant Board can be found here. Although, the time to receive the information is unclear, they must provide broader and faster access in order to support landlords looking to fill a vacancy.
5. Observe in the Interview.
Erratic and evasive body language could be an indication of something the tenant is attempting to hide. Also pay attention to how they answer questions, if they are avoidant and not answering questions completely, it could be a reason for concern. Asking questions such as, “Will there be anyone else spending time in the apartment?”, “What are you work hours?”, “Have you ever been evicted?”, “Have you ever broken a rental agreement?”, “Why are you moving?” and of course, “Do you have any questions for me?” are a few questions that can help identify whether this person will be your next great tenant!
Be aware that landlords cannot ask a candidate personal questions that interfere with their rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code. This includes whether they have a pet or if they intend on having a pet or if they smoke. What you can do is point out if the apartment is a pet-free or smoke environment and ask if that is a problem. The only exception is if you are renting a condo and the condo board decides they do not want pets in that building’s units.
BONUS TIP: And, once you found someone, you can request the tenant be backed by a LOCNEST Lease Guarantee. When compared to existing provincial deposit regulations and procedures, a LOCNEST Lease Guarantee is an even better safeguard for both non-payment of rent and property damage – including in Ontario and Quebec where security deposits are not permitted, making LOCNEST the best legal solution.
To start, each new tenant’s guarantee application begins with LOCNEST’s own online vetting process. Newcomers to Canada with no Canadian credit and students who have not begun collecting their credit history would benefit from this as it we look extensively at the viability of the individual as a potential renter worthy of backing by LOCNEST.