Advice from a landlord: what I look for in a new tenant

Finding a place to rent in Metro Vancouver can be difficult, so how can you stand out from the crowd to prospective landlords?

Renting out the basement suite of my Vancouver Special, I’ve had both amazing and not-so-pleasant tenants. I’ve learned that being a landlord has both its fair share of benefits and headaches.

Based on my experience, here are my tips for establishing and keeping a good relationship with your landlord.

Getting the place

Trying to establish a good relationship with your landlord even before you sign a lease can help you stand out in a crowd and reduce stress for both parties. Here are some ways to shine in a low vacancy/high competition market:

  • Arrive to the viewing on time and dress to impress. It may be the weekend, but if you look untidy I will worry that your space will also be messy.
  • Add a short bio of yourself and any pets in your rental application. Applications may not call for a bio, but it never hurts to share about yourself. Especially if you are going to share a building with your landlord.
  • Be willing to show your employment and credit history. You don’t need a perfect credit score, but knowing you can pay rent on time is key.
  • Bring landlord references. Bringing even one landlord reference can go a long way.
  • Offer a personal letter of reference. Just like references, knowing you won’t be starting a foam pit in the the living room and that others think positively of you helps a landlord feel good about renting to you.
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Once you have the place

  • Cleanliness. Seems basic, but you’d be surprised. At the end of your lease it will also be easier to get your deposit back without any hassle if you are tidy.
  • Communication. As you are the eyes and ears of the space, you’re the first to notice anything that isn’t right. Let the owner know of any defects, like a leaky pipe or clogged sink, before it gets worse. It might be embarrassing to report any imperfections as you may fear getting charged for the repair, but it’s always better to talk about it earlier as the issue may get more complicated and expensive to fix if the damage spreads. And if your landlord lives in the same home as you, let them know if you are going to have people over late, so they can expect more noise than usual (or decide to make plans that night). Why not avoid resentful feelings over the noise?
  • Upkeep. You may want to spruce up the place to make it your own. Let your landlord know ahead of time in case they aren’t happy about the colour of paint or structural changes. You should aim to leave the place nearly the same as when you arrived, but your landlord might love you for taking the initiative to pluck weeds or paint. They may reduce your rent in exchange.
  • Pay your rent on time. Again basic, but if you use post-dated cheques or schedule transfers you can help avoid forgetting to make a payment. If you need to miss a payment due to unforeseen circumstances, be proactive and let the landlord know.
  • Treat it as if it was your own. One time, a tenant got angry and left a big hole in our wall and decided to hide it by putting a poster over it. This doesn’t constitute as normal wear and tear. I’ve also heard other horror stories where tenants used a spare room to store their trash. Common sense isn’t underrated.

A happy landlord will potentially give rent discounts, a good recommendation for your next place or awesome baked goods during the holidays. All it takes is mutual respect and a little front-end work by you to stand out as someone they will want to rent to.

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