Managing your investment property is a challenge and should be run like a business. There’s many different aspects to being a property manager and for your convenience we’ve put together a handy guide. Whether you’re a property manager in Vancouver, Whistler or anywhere else in the world, this guide is for you!
EVALUATING A TENANT
Finding the best tenant can be offset by the need to have the premises rented within a certain amount of time. While the time to show the unit, review applications and complete background checks may be limited, a hasty decision could cost you money in the long run. If the wrong tenant moves in, you may end up losing money due to damage to the property or ongoing disputes.Don’t rush into a tenancy if you haven’t done the proper checks on your prospective tenants.
Useful questions to ask your prospective tenants are:
- What is your income and who is your employer?
- How many people will be living with you and what are their names?
- Do you have pets?
- Do you smoke?
- Provide a written permission for running a credit check
- References and their contact information
The goal is to find out as much as you can about your prospective tenants by checking their financial stability through the use of a credit check. One of the ways to do this is to use the Rent Check Credit Bureau. Additionally you’ll want to get in touch with former landlords and discover any potential problem spots with your potential tenant such as late payments, loud behaviour, complaints from neighbouring tenants, etc. Before you begin performing the screening process on your prospective tenants make sure you are well versed with your local Human Rights code and laws.
FINDING A TENANT
Every landlord wants to find the ideal tenant — the tenant who always pays the rent on time, doesn’t cause disturbances, doesn’t complain or cause conflicts and keeps the unit in better condition than when they moved in. While finding this ideal tenant may be unattainable, you can attract high quality tenants by the way you maintain and market your property.
To do this, you must differentiate your property from your competition. When you are in a tight rental market, advertising may not be as critical, however, when there are many places to choose from, you need to let potential renters know why your place is the best choice for them. Ask yourself these questions: Is it newer, bigger, cheaper, cleaner or safer than comparable units in the area? Is transit close by? What amenities does it have for the price you’re asking for?
So how do you promote your property? Here’s a list of ideas:
- Place a for rent sign at the rental property.
- Advertise in local newspapers, the classifieds and publications that list rental accommodations.
- Post on your personal social media accounts (facebook, twitter), instagram
- Post on Craigslist and Kijiji and other apartment listing web sites
- If you’re interested in attracting students as potential tenants, find out how you can advertise on school campuses
- Post flyers on bulletin boards at libraries, community centres, grocery stores, coffee shops and places of worship
When thinking about promoting your rental property in Vancouver or the lower mainland, think about what type of tenant you want to attract and then you’ll get a better idea of where these people are most likely to look for a place to rent. Someone looking to rent a 500 sq.ft. bachelor apartment is likely to be looking in a different place than someone looking to rent a 5,000 sq.ft. penthouse apartment in downtown Vancouver.
Landlords must give a minimum of 24-hours up to a maximum of 30 days written notice stating the time and purpose of entry, unless either the tenant agrees to allow the landlord access or there is an emergency. Non-emergency entry is allowed between 8a.m. and 9p.m. unless the tenant consents to another time. If notice is not served in person, it must be fastened on the door with tape or served in the mailbox. 3 days must pass before the landlord enters the premises. The Landlord may enter if the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) issues an order to enter. The tenant may refuse the landlords entry if either no reason is given or it is considered unreasonable according to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).
The Initial Inspection
Landlords are not permitted to hold tenants accountable for normal wear and tear, however, tenants can be held liable to fix other damage, such as stained carpets or dents in the walls. This is why it is important to establish the condition of the premises on move-in day with a move-in inspection, so you are not stuck paying for damage once the tenancy starts. When conducting the inspection, be thorough and document everything you notice. The tenant and the landlord should always inspect the rental premises together.
What to Look for During an Inspection
In some provinces, a security deposit is repayable only upon final written inspection by both tenant and landlord. If the move-out inspection matches the details on the move-in inspection sheet, the tenant should receive all of the damage deposit, plus interest, if applicable.
In British Columbia, a Condition Inspection Report is required by law. The tenant and the landlord need to complete, sign, and date the form to show the condition of the residential premises at the start and end of the rental agreement.
How to Inspect A Rental Property
- Inspections can be a big job, so consider enlisting help from a friend.
- Inspect your new rental property, documenting any pre-existing problems. Videotape and/or photograph problems, if possible.
- Landlord must sign the initial inspection sheet and keep that documentation somewhere safe.
- Note what amenities are available: laundry facilities, air conditioning, parking, security doors, etc.
- If repairs are necessary to be completed, have them written in the inspection and the date to be completed by. Keep copies of all correspondence and provide the tenant with a copy.
- Walls and ceilings: note any dents, holes, or cracks in the plaster; scuff marks that don’t rub off; tears, bubbles, or peeling wallpaper.
- Floors: note stains or discoloration in carpets; tears in linoleum; cracked or chipped tiles; dents, scuffs, or stains on hardwood floors.
- Trim (including moldings, door and window sills and door and window frames): note stains, cracks, leaks or other problems.
- Electrical outlets and lights: make sure they function.
- Bathroom(s): make sure all faucets (hot and cold) work without leaking; water runs clear, not brown or yellow; water carries sufficient pressure in the shower and toilet. Check for chips or scratches in fixtures and tiles; walls around the tub for “sponginess”; countertops for dents, scratches, or stains.
- Kitchen: make sure all faucets (hot and cold) work without leaking; water runs clear, not brown or yellow; all appliances work and are clean. Check for chips or scratches in fixtures and tiles; countertops for dents, scratches, or stains.
- Exterior doors and windows: make sure they seal properly and the locks work; watch for signs of water/ condensation.
- Deck, balcony or patio, if applicable: check for chipped stone, warped or cracked boards, or problems with exterior siding.
Other Inspection Details
- Smell the air in the rental unit. Does it have an unusual odor, such as a musty or mouldy smell?
- Check for working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- If you have a storage area, make sure it is empty and the locks are secure.
TERMINATING A TENANCY
Prior to a fixed term tenancy agreement expiring, it is the responsibility of the landlord and tenant to either re-negotiate the terms of the agreement or to terminate the tenancy agreement upon its end date. A tenant who gives written notice to end a fixed term tenancy agreement before the expiry date, may be held liable for all costs the landlord incurs to re-rent the premises, including any losses rent. Landlords may end a tenancy only for specified reasons as set out in the legislation and cannot end a tenancy simply because a fixed term has expired unless the agreement clearly states that the tenant will vacate at the end of the term. When a fixed term tenancy reverts to a month to month tenancy, the landlord is not permitted to force a tenant to sign another lease or agree to another fixed term. When a tenancy agreement is renewed, landlords and tenants may agree to the same or different terms as the previous agreement.
Early termination can be enforced by the RTB where there are urgent situations involving ones safety, cause or conduct. All other tenancies are ended: by the landlord on a notice to end tenancy form; on written notice by the tenant; or by written Agreement between the parties.
If a tenant wishes to terminate their tenancy, they must give the landlord one rental month’s notice in writing the day before the rent is due. If the landlord wishes to end a tenancy, one of the province’s approved notice to end a tenancy form must be used.
Landlords must allow tenants these notice periods depending on the reason for notice given:
- 10 days for non-payment of rent
- 1 month for cause or conduct
- 2 months for landlord’s use of property in a residential tenancy
- 2 months if the tenant ceases to qualify for a subsidized rental unit in residential tenancy
- 12 months for the landlord’s use of property in a manufactured home site
There are many reasons why a landlord may evict a tenant and the rules that apply to them vary. They include:
- Material breach of a rental agreement is the reason used if the tenant is in breach of the agreement and has been given one written warning and a reasonable time to comply, or correct the breach. Breach of agreement requires one month’s notice
- For non-payment of rent, landlord can provide the tenant with 10 days notice. The tenant may cancel the eviction notice by paying rent in full within five days. On the contrary, a tenant may apply for dispute resolution within that same five-day period. Failure in doing so, the tenant must vacate in 10 days
- Cause or conduct requires one month’s notice; a tenant has 10 days to apply for dispute resolution
- Landlord’s use of property requires 2 month’s notice with a 15-day dispute period. Landlords are required to pay the equivalent of 1 month’s rent to the tenant on or before the effective date of the end of tenancy. For manufactured home sites, 12 month’s notice is required with a 15 day dispute period.
- Tenant ceases to qualify for subsidized rental unit (residential tenancy) requires 2 month’s notice with 15-day dispute period
If tenant files to dispute the notice, the landlord must prove through evidence that there is a valid reason to end the tenancy. If a tenant does not dispute the notice to end tenancy, then it is deemed that the tenant has accepted the end of tenancy. If tenant does not move, the landlord may apply for an order of possession, enforceable through the Supreme Court, by a bailiff.
A decision ordered by the RTB is final and binding. It may be reviewed by the RTB if the initial decision was obtained by fraud, if evidence arises that was not available at the time of the hearing or if a party was not able to attend because of an unforeseen circumstance. In addition, either party may petition the BC Supreme Court for a judicial review on the basis of an error in law, or an error in procedural fairness.