Posts in Kijiji Real Estate

Finding Reliable Tenants: How Do I Screen Applicants Effectively?

As a landlord, protecting your investment should always be top of mind. A good way to achieve that is to find a tenant that will pay rent on time and take good care of your rental property. That, however, can be easier said than done. Some landlords run into problem tenants who know how to manipulate the landlord and tenant relations rules in each province to cheat landlords out of several months rent. Some tenants have also been known to provide false letters of employment and have even created fraudulent credit reports. As a landlord, you have to choose carefully. Don’t ever let your guard down. It is better to have an empty unit for a month than end up with a tenant that doesn’t pay, damages the property, or both. After all, it isn’t much of an income property if it isn’t generating any income (or causing a loss).

Finding Reliable Tenants

Screening tips
To avoid these bad tenants, you should be taking the time to screen each potential tenant. That means creating a rental application that asks them important questions like how much they make and where they work. You should also ask for some references that you can call to verify the information they have given you, a letter of employment and permission to run a credit check. Take some time to chat with them and learn what they are like as people, and ask some specific questions about their job and their lifestyle preferences to ensure it is a good fit all around. After all, there are reasons that an apartment or neighbourhood might not be right for them, and if you can let someone with severe allergies know that the neighbors have dogs, you can potentially save both parties the trouble of a living arrangement that isn’t going to work out long term, and concentrate on finding someone who will be the right fit for your income property.

Be weary of tenants who seem too good to be true. It’s possible they have copied someone else’s credit report and given it to you. You should look into using your local landlord association as a resource. Often times if you become a member you can get discounts on things like running credit checks on potential tenants. That credit check, provided by a third party company like TVS or Equifax will provide a financial history of the person looking to rent your property. You can find out if they pay their bills onetime and also their dealings with former landlords.

Another way to find a tenant best suited for your rental property is to contact the potential tenant’s former landlords and learn about their character and rent-payment patterns. You may also want to ask them to provide a criminal record check.

What not to do
Even though you may want to know every detail about the potential tenant to help you make an informed decision, you should make sure you aren’t asking questions that may cross the line. Human rights legislation in each province states you cannot select or refuse a tenant based on their race, place of origin, ethnic origin, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, marital status, family status (e.g. children) or disability. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your respective province’s human rights code to find out more.

Most prospective tenants are honest and are looking for an apartment and landlord that will be a good fit and a good experience for all involved. While it is important to protect yourself, be mindful of coming across accusatory or paranoid in requests for background checks (particularly criminal record checks), as the vast majority are not out to scam rent, and many would be offended by the insinuation.

Sources and more information:
OntarioLandlords.org
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Landlord and Tenant Board

Fires, Thieves and Foam Parties – The “ins and outs” of Tenant Insurance

You never know when disaster can strike. The old, “it won’t happen to me” is a common sentiment until Murphy’s Law kicks in. Theft, fire and damage to apartments happen more than you would guess and you should be prepared, it won’t cost you much and you’ll worry less. Check out this neat Infographic resource from one of Canada’s top property managers, they’ve seen it all.

Capreit Tenant Insurance Infographic

What does the monthly Tenant Insurance cost cover?

  • damage to or loss of your possessions if you rent or lease your apartment or home
  • personal property stolen from your vehicle
  • injury caused to visitors (ex. slip and fall on the driveway)
  • Accidental damage you cause to any part of the apartment building or home you are renting. If the bathtub overflows and floods your apartment, or you’re having a foam party (you’ll want to ask about coverage for this one before sending invites, parties probably won’t qualify as accidents). Tenant insurance can pay for the damage caused to your apartment, the building or neighbouring units.

I don’t have any expensive stuff!

Replacing one or two sweaters is no biggie but imagine having to dish out for 4 or 5 new pairs of shoes, not to mention a new laptop, TV or even a new bed! Are you adding this up? My rough count is up to about $4000 on these few items alone and we’re just scratching the surface. You get the point here; what’s a few hundred bucks a year for a piece of mind? If this sounds like scare tactics to you, you’re catching my drift.

flood

Will my insurance cover the full value of my lost/damaged possessions?

There are two standard types of reimbursement and it’s important to understand the difference between the two; it can impact your premiums and affect how the insurance company assesses your claim. When shopping around for home, condominium or tenant insurance, make sure you find out if the quotes you receive are based on actual cash value or replacement value because premiums for replacement coverage will be higher than for cash value.

  • Cash value coverage reimburses you for the value of personal belongings at the time of a claim. If your 3-year-old mountain bike is stolen, you’d receive the value less depreciation. If the original cost was $2,000, you might only receive $1,000, minus the deductible.
  • Replacement cost coverage reimburses you for the full value of an item. If you’d have to pay $2,500 to buy that same mountain bike today, that’s what you’d receive, less the deductible.

Do Students need Insurance?

Starting at college or university comes with brain clutter like exams, parties, co-ops and friends but one thing that rarely comes to mind is insurance, and for good reason. If you’re a student you’ve probably never had the need for your own insurance; living at your parent’s house and driving their car means you’re insured under their policy. Depending on where you stay while attending school, you might need your own.

  • If you’re living at your parent’s home or residence, you’re covered by their insurance
  • There is usually a cap or limit to how much coverage a student can claim from their parent’s plan, make sure to inquire about the limitations.
  • Students living off campus in an apartment, condo or house should definitely get coverage, especially if you’re living with roomates!
  • Best of all, once you have insurance you can now host a raging foam party (I recommend attending rather than hosting, from personal experience)

How to resolve conflicts with roommates

Living with a roommate has its perks. For one thing, it’s easier on your wallet. Another bonus is there’s someone to share the chores with (assuming they actually share them). But while it may be nice to have someone around, from time to time you’ll likely run into friction and even some tense moments. It’s not easy living with someone else, especially when it comes to different personalities and values, which are often the root of conflict — that and the actions, habits and quirks that each person has that can get on the other’s nerves.

Here’s how to prevent and resolve some of problems that may surface.

Be proactive

  • Set some ground rules at the very beginning and outline your expectations of one another. Divvy up the chores and talk openly about what annoys you in order for your roommate to understand where you’re coming from. You may also want to discuss what to share and not share in terms of groceries, household items and other belongings.
  • Keep common areas clean.
  • Recognize your similarities and differences. Embrace what you both have in common and also make note of the differences so that when a conflict occurs, you can try and emphasize with that person and understand exactly where they are coming from.
  • Be respectful of each other. Clean up after yourself and keep common areas clean. If your roommate is studying for a test or just having some quiet time, don’t blast loud music for hours on end or invite guests until 2 a.m.

 

Resolution

  • Do not ignore a problem and hope it goes away. It will create more problems in the long run.
  • When a conflict does arise, make a point at talking straight with one another. Be openly honest and list what the problem is and how you feel. Both parties should also try to imagine themselves in the other’s shoes.
  • Don’t involve others. It will only complicate matters, especially if the others choose sides.
  • If you’re angry about something, take time to cool off before you address your roommate. In the heat of the moment your emotions could get the best of you and create a hostile environment that isn’t conducive to solving problems. When you attack your roommate could go on the defense. Try to talk to your roommate the way you would want to be talked to.
  • Try and find a solution to the problem or a way to compromise.
  • Make a plan of action to carry out the solution.

 

Mediation

  • If you can’t find a solution between the two of you it may be best to bring in a neutral third party that can help listen to the problem and come up with a solution for both of you.
  • In some scenarios, it makes sense to talk to your landlord. He or she may be able to help mediate and come upon a solution the problem as well.

University and College Living: On Campus of Off?

To live on campus or to live off campus? It’s a classic debate many students across the world face as they enter various stages of their college careers. Check out our interactive infographic on which choice makes the most financial sense.

It’s a huge decision, and it’s not often an easy one. Choosing a living situation can greatly affect not just life as a student but quality of life overall. There are many reasons why living in a private residence off campus would be attractive, but what if it could be more conducive to your success?
Students studying outside together

As students mature during their college tenure, things that they might have found endearing may not be so great the following years. It might be worthwhile to align yourself with like-minded people who share the same values for accomplishing their degree of study.

Making the choice to live alone or to be responsible can seem daunting, especially if this is your first time out from under your parents’ roof.

Pros and Cons of the Choices

Living On Campus Pros & Cons

Living Off Campus Pros & Cons

Comfort vs. Convenience

What’s that old real-estate adage? Location, location, location. That’s one of the most common arguments for on-campus housing.

However, while planting yourself on campus seems like the obvious choice due to the convenience of being around everything, there are some things to consider that might make keeping campus at a distance seem a little more appealing.

Living on campus means living in the dormitories, or “the dorms,” as they’re called. Dorm rooms come in all shapes and sizes. Some are luxurious and can be even more comfortable than off-campus apartments. Some rival closets.

Depending on the school, you may be unable to choose which dorms you’re offered. Some schools give their best rooms to upperclassmen, meaning freshmen are relegated to the low-end rooms.

Due to the limited nature of on-campus housing, the same thing could happen. They may run out of space altogether, leaving you without an on-campus option.

When living off campus, you’ll be able to choose your own apartment rather than worry about what you might get assigned, allowing you to find a space that fits your lifestyle rather than having to work around a space that doesn’t.

Enjoying on Campus Lifestyle

If you like peace and quiet, the dorms may really shock you. Dorm walls are not famous for thickness, and if you get stuck with rowdy neighbors, you’ll be at their mercy.

Due to the size of dorms, you’ll usually be in close contact with whomever you room with, so you’ll have to make sure you love your roommate – if you even get to choose at all. During your stay in college, you will make a lot of friends and run across a lot of personalities. Be warned: Great friends don’t always make great roommates. If you choose wrong, you can watch a good relationship turn sour quickly.

Noisy Room mates Wreak Havoc on Sleep

Another disadvantage to dorms is sometimes you won’t even have your own bedroom, so make sure to buy some earplugs if your roommate snores. Even if you do have your own bedroom, you will be sharing a common area, and you will probably end up sharing your bathroom with someone else, a sure recipe for brewing a war between roommates.

That’s not even the biggest downside of dorm living. Universities even have additional rules for dormitories that are enforced, meaning less freedom over your own living space. Mt. Royal University, for example, has policies that prevent students from displaying messages in chalk on their windows or playing drinking games.

A customizable experience

Off-campus living is a solution to these problems. In addition to having more freedom to do as you please, you’ll be able to choose your roommates – something not always guaranteed with dorm living – and you’ll be able to choose how many you’ll have.

Once you’ve found a roommate or two you like and can live with, you can put your heads together to find the level of privacy you’ll be comfortable with. You’ll have the opportunity to make sure everyone has their own room and bathroom – or not, if that’s what you prefer.

One advantage of living in dorms might be the on-campus meal plans schools offer. If you are attracted to the idea of living on campus because you think you’ll be able to save money on food with your meal plan, keep in mind not all schools limit meal plans to students living on campus. Plus, preparing your own meals in your kitchen could very much lower your food expenses overall.

Also, even the location advantage of living in on-campus dorms is mitigated if you can find off-campus housing within walking distance of your classes.

The big upshot of off-campus housing is the experience is totally up to you. By shopping around online first, you can find a good living situation with relative ease.

And if you don’t like what you see, don’t sign the lease.

What about the cost?

Alright, so living off-campus might sound great and all, but isn’t it generally more expensive?

The short answer is yes.

However, there is no hard and fast rule for which option is going to save you more money because the answer depends entirely on a whole range of factors.

How many rooms and roommates will you have? What kind of area will you live in? What amenities will your place offer? Is it an apartment or a house?

These are just a few of the kinds of questions that determine the price of off-campus accommodations.

We calculated the average price for on-campus housing versus off-campus housing for 84 Canadian campuses, and we found that 70 percent of on-campus housing options were cheaper than the average price of off-campus housing in those areas.

While the dorms may be cheaper on average, in almost every city there will be off-campus housing available for cheaper than the dorm rooms. It just takes a little work to browse around for the best deals.

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Making the best choice for your lifestyle

While it may ultimately be less expensive to live on campus on average, the flexibility of off-campus housing allows you to find a bargain that fits the lifestyle you want, puts you with the people you want, and provides you with the amount of space you want.

Even if you do end up paying a little more to get the setup you desire, there are always 118 other ways to save money other than by shacking up in the dorms.
Graduating with your Roommates
Want to find resources for students or other ways to save money? Check out these articles:

Guide to Finding a Pet Friendly Apartment

Apartment hunting is tough – and can be even tougher if you are embarking on your search with a cat or dog as a roommate. While it is not legal in many parts of Canada for landlords to forbid pets, the fact is, landlords can choose to rent to someone else who is less forthcoming about being a pet owner. Lying about pet ownership is a bad idea, and will start you off on the wrong foot when seeking a new home. What can you do to maximize your chances of landing a great apartment along with your pets?

Finding a Pet Friendly Apartment

Don’t leave it until the last minute. Finding an apartment that is appropriate for both you and your pet will be much easier if you have time on your side. In addition to finding an apartment that accepts your pet, make sure you find somewhere with the appropriate amenities – for instance, a park within walking distance if you own a dog. We recommend giving yourself minimum 2 months to find an apartment with a pet when possible.

Be honest. Mentioning your pet doesn’t have to be the first thing out of your mouth (or in your Kijiji reply), but if you view an apartment, tell the landlord or property manager about your pet. Be sure to mention their good points (quiet, house trained, etc.).

Understand their reservations. Did they have a terrible prior tenant that trashed the place and had dogs? Are they concerned about people who don’t stop and scoop? Is noise the main sticking point? Talk to the owner about what it is that makes them hesitate. Don’t dismiss their concerns – from the perspective of a landlord, these are all legitimate issues that can be a huge pain for them to deal with. Let them know details about your pets and lifestyle that will help to alleviate their concerns. Do you work from home? Do you have a dog walker? Is your cat content to stick with their scratching post? All of these points can help dispel concerns and reassure them that you take getting along with management and neighbours, as well as being a responsible pet owner, seriously.

Talk up yourself, and your pet. If you can provide proof that you are a responsible pet owner, they may be willing to make an exception for you. Documents that prove your pet has been fixed (and thus calmer and less likely to spray or otherwise annoy neighbours), that you take your pets to the vet regularly (your vet likely has a form letter on file for this purpose), proof that you have taken your dog to a training class, reference letters from your current landlord that you are a responsible tenant and pet owner, and any other documents you might have can help paint a picture of you and your pet being a contributing community member. Make it clear that you will be responsible for your pet at all times – list behavhiours that you as a pet owner find unacceptable from other pet owners, and let them know you understand that not everyone wants to deal with another person’s animals. If possible, introduce them to your pet. Your prospective landlord might have a no dogs policy because they have a life long fear of German shepherds or dobermans. If you have a cuddly, unassuming Pomeranian, their reluctance might wane. Invite them to your current home to meet your pet and showcase how clean you keep your current unit. Take your dog for a professional groom and vacuum up any stray pet hair before hand. A well cared for and well behaved pet in a well cared for home will speak volumes.

Be prepared to get creative. If you are having trouble finding options using the pet friendly filter on Kijiji, consider asking your local humane society if they have a list of apartment buildings which are pet friendly, or reaching out to local real estate agents or property managers for suggestions on where to find an apartment in your budget.

While finding rentals that allow pets can be tough, the hard work pays off in the form of a happy home for ALL family members. Happy hunting!