One of the primary jobs of a property manager is to list their properties and screen applicants to pick the best possible tenants. For some property managers in Windsor and the surrounding area, this is one of the most difficult parts of the job.
Landlords want the assurance that their property is rented, and property managers often feel pressure to secure a tenant quickly. However, when these decisions are rushed, it can leave questions unanswered and potential liabilities exposed.
One of the reasons why many landlords hire property managers is to secure their unique combination of experience and knowledge. Property managers know all the ins and outs of Ontario’s tenancy laws, as well as laws that govern what they can and cannot ask of tenants during the application process. They also have the instinct born of experience to know which potential tenants would be a good fit for each of their properties. This combination of skills makes them a fantastic asset during the rental application process.
Tenant Screening Laws in Ontario
Both property managers and landlords must be careful to ask the right questions during the application process. In Ontario, rental applications are covered under the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
PIPEDA regulates the private information that landlords and property managers may request as part of the rental application process. It also dictates how they should handle and protect this sensitive data both during and after the applications are processed. Most landlords and property managers in Ontario use a standard rental application form and may ask permission to run a credit check if one is not provided. For this purpose, tenants may be asked for their SIN, although they are under no obligation to provide one.
Hiring a property manager who loses tenant information could put the landlord at risk for legal action. A good property manager will be able to tell landlords and potential future tenants all about their policies for handling sensitive information, including where it is stored, and how long it is held before it is carefully and safely destroyed.
3 Tips for Finding the Right Tenant
Although knowing the laws surrounding privacy and tenancy inside and out helps, there’s a lot more work that needs to be done when screening tenants.
Here are some of our best tips for a more successful tenant search.
1. Advertise effectively
Where you list your property has a huge impact on the number of applications you receive, and the overall quality of the applicants. Most property managers choose their listing sites carefully, and they also list on their own website to ensure that potential tenants know they have a wide variety of units available.
A listing that has high-quality photographs and is professionally marketed will immediately catch the eye of great tenants, and make them more likely to commit to a viewing. Consider investing in professional photos of your property, and present every listing with as many details as possible. If you’re able to list the monthly rent, as well as all associated costs like utilities, it will increase the number of serious inquiries you receive and make it simpler for you to book viewings or tours.
2. Follow all applicable laws
When communicating with potential tenants, property managers must make sure that they’re following all applicable laws in terms of what questions they should be asking, and what information they need to make their decision. Asking inappropriate or unwelcome questions will scare off potential tenants who know their rights, and aren’t afraid to push back against questions they know to be illegal.
For example, landlords and property managers are not permitted to discriminate against a potential tenant based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Many professional landlord associations strongly recommend that landlords stay away from using social media as a screening tool, as it could open them up to liability if they make a decision based on this extraneous information.
3. Ask the right questions
So, what questions should property managers be asking when screening potential tenants? A great place to start is with a standard rental application form, which asks questions about employment, current and previous landlords and housing, and banking information. Through an officially requested credit check, landlords and property managers can then view confidential credit information, which displays the tenant’s financial history and previous official residences.
Although they are limited in what questions they can ask, a good property manager knows how to ask open-ended questions while listening carefully to the response. A simple question like “tell me about the last place you lived” may reveal information about the tenant’s relationship to their previous landlord, how many roommates they’re used to having, and how they treated their previous home. All of these are nuances that can be used to make an informed decision.
Need Help with Your Rental Applications?
If you’re about to rent out your property or unit for the first time and are feeling lost, you’re not alone. Many first-time landlords get overwhelmed by the process and wind up picking a tenant without fully investigating their rental or credit history. Taking a chance on a tenant like this could jeopardize both your income and your credibility with future tenants.
Instead of struggling on your own, call Goldmar Property Management. We’ve been working with landlords and tenants in the Windsor area for years, and have lots of experience running thorough, organized, and effective searches for the perfect tenant.
Give us a call today to talk about your property, and how we can help you find the right tenant.