Landlords get a bad rap, almost as much as lawyers do. But there are many landlords that prove themselves contrary, and that’s because being a good landlord makes the job easier. Good landlords will often tell you that they have their work cut out for them. So how did they get there? If you’re just starting to rent out your home or just getting used to fashion yourself as a landlord, here are a few simple things to keep in mind.
Don’t be fixated on the price
If you’re a landlord, don’t put too much focus on what the rent should be. Learn to be flexible with the price, especially if you want long-term and stable tenants that you can depend upon. Remember that there are plenty of good tenants out there on the price spectrum and that the person who shows up with the willingness to pay the highest rent won’t necessarily be the best long-term tenant.
Moreover, keep in mind that rent increases are often the reason tenants move out of a place. If you want long-term tenancy, or if you’re happy with your current tenant, don’t risk jeopardizing your current situation by maximizing your rental increase (even if you have a rent-control exemption for your unit) if your current tenant has expressed financial concerns or pressures. If your unit was occupied before November 15, 2018, then the maximum you can raise your rent is 2.5% for next year, 2023.
There are many landlords out there who value long-term tenants despite the lower amount of cash they can rake in from the rent. Remember that despite the competitive apartment rental market in Toronto, there may still be some benefits in limiting the disruption and damage accrued from move-ins and move-outs and the work involved in finding the next tenant.
Don’t be too fixated on price! Your piggy bank will be much happier 90% full and with a little room to breathe. Photo by Fabian Blank.
Don’t forget you’re running a business
Some landlords forget that renting out a place — whether or not it’s their basement or a separate condominium unit — is like running any other business. Landlords provide professional services. They may not be there to fix up a leak, but as managers of the property, they are ultimately responsible for responding to tenant needs in a reasonable way and timely manner.
Too often will landlords begin a new tenancy relationship with rapid responses only to drop off from the radar after the move-in date because they think that their job is done after the tenancy is secured. But to save yourself from future disagreements or even the hassle of dispute resolution, always maintain a professional standard in how you respond to tenant inquiries.
It couldn’t hurt to also place yourself in the tenant’s shoes — if your home just got flooded due to a storm, how long could you expect to tough it out? If that doesn’t convince you to respond in a timely manner, remember those unaddressed problems, no matter how small they start out, can become major issues that could drastically depreciate the value of your property. Don’t let the mold spread. Don’t let vermin become infestations. And don’t let the drippy leaks take out entire ceilings.
If you’re going to run a business, then run the business the way it should be. Photo by Hunters Race.
Don’t forget to smile
You may be running a business, but all business relationships also require a softer touch once in a while. Small gifts or tokens of appreciation for your long-term tenants will go a long way. If your tenants feel valued, they’ll likely value your interests. Even young professionals — who’ll likely move out after they get married or have kids — may feel the urge to take more tender care of your appliances and put fewer dents and holes in their walls.
Remember to also consider privacy concerns and the basic comforts of your tenants as you go about doing your job. Try not to conduct routine inspections too frequently, and try to limit them to the middle of the day. If there will be any major changes to the overall property, or if you have to do some kind of inspection, try to provide notices or even directly contact your tenants to limit surprises.
Don’t be the “bad guy”
Some stereotypes have more truth in them than not. We’ve all seen it in the news, and in our most cynical hours, we may have even considered it ourselves, but as a landlord, there are definite boundaries that cannot be crossed.
Use legal notices for rent increases and other things that might lead to disagreements. Definitely give the minimum requirement for notice for entry when selling or re-renting your place, and giving extra notice would make you a solid, decent person. Repair things that need repairing. Address concerns timely and professionally. Be reasonable when your tenants are being reasonable, and if you don’t think they are, tell them why in a respectful manner.
And when in doubt, just ask yourself whether you are on the right side of applicable governing documents, such as the Residential Tenancies Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code, or your own lease term — in so far as they do not contravene the aforementioned. Just ask, “Will this come back to bite me?”
It turns out the secret to being a good landlord is the secret to success in any profession. It’s all about not putting too much strain on other parties. It’s about maintaining a trustworthy and cordial relationship with tenants, just as one does with their customers in any other line of business. If you don’t have the time or energy for all of this, check out Tolobi’s Property Management service for a hassle-free approach to managing your property. With our team of experienced, client-focused, and trustworthy professionals, we offer comprehensive tenant placement and property management solutions catered to your needs. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this blog without seeking legal or other professional advice. Laws frequently change, and this blog might not be updated at the time of your reading.