It’s that time of year again in ski towns all over North America... rental season. Fernie will feel less redneck and more culturally diverse for the next 5 months as a hodgepodge of ski bums roll into town by any means necessary. For local residents, it allows us to catch a glimpse of this year’s fashions and assortment of flat-soled shoes. As November rolls along, vacancies will become less and less, as all types of housing are rented. Here are some tips to help make your job as a landlord easier:
1. Get it in writing. Create a contract, read the contract, explain the contract and make sure that you tenants understand the contract. Make an itemized list of all contents of the house and an addendum to the contract which stipulates what the tenants are permitted to do. If it is not in writing it is not part of the deal. www.rto.gov.bc.ca/documents/RTB-1.pdf
2. Screen the tenants and check references. Protect your investment and know who will be occupying your home. If you have a bad feeling about someone, trust your instincts.
3. Collect post-dated cheques or set-up email money transfers for rent. I personally prefer the email money transfers as they are instant.
4. Collect a deposit the day the tenants move in. DO NOT ALLOW TENANTS TO USE THE DAMAGE DEPOSIT AS THEIR LAST MONTHS RENT!! When it comes time to return the deposit, have your itemized list of the contents of the house available.
5. Keep emotions out of your business decisions. If a tenant is late in paying rent every month, it might be time to consider replacing the tenant. If you do decide to evict the tenant, make sure that you understand their rights and yours. www.rto.gov.bc.ca/content/rightsResponsibilities/ending.aspx
6. Try and rent the whole house/apartment out at the same time. Avoid putting yourself in the situation of acting as a rooming house manager. Remember that if two tenants both sign a lease agreement and one of them moves out, it is their problem to pay the rent, not yours.
7. If possible, have the tenants pay their own bills. This will teach them how to sit on hold with the phone, gas and cable company for hours at a time. As a landlord, you don't want to be chasing your tenants for bill payments, or be paying for the grow show in the basement.
8. Perform routine maintenance on the property and try and do a walk through once a month. Fix leaky faucets, replace furnace filters and tighten loose railings regularly. The more you are able to stay on top of the maintenance of your property, the better you will be able to sleep at night... literally.
9. Respect your neighbours; they can make your life easier for you. If your rental property is in a primarily family residential area ensure that your tenants respect local noise bylaws. In addition, keep the yard tidy and not looking like the local hell angels hideout.
10. Don't be greedy on your rent. Charge an amount that is reasonable to what you are providing. Fernie has a long history of slumlords over-charging for rent. In my experience, if you gouge the tenants for rent they are more likely to be disrespectful to you and your property.
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