Part 2 of 2
From OCTOBER 2011 Canadian Real Estate Magazine
Investor Gord Lemon asks (and answers) the eternal question
Check your accomplishments
Let’s pause for a moment and review what you have accomplished because it is indeed more than what lies on the surface. By asking people to drive by the property, you are eliminating those people who are averse to taking direction, perhaps the “independent” type tenants. People that actually do drive by the property and don’t like the area will now not be wasting your time because they have eliminated themselves. The people that do call the second number that have driven by the property not only like the area but are clearly able to follow instructions and have perhaps moved up the ladder to becoming that “interdependent” tenant you desire.
The next stage of screening requires only a few quick questions on the phone.
Prospect: “Yes, I like the area.”
You: “Are you calling for yourself or someone else?”
Prospect: “Myself and my girlfriend.”
You: “How long have you lived where you are now?
Prospect: “Two years”
You: “How long have you worked at your current employer?”
Prospect: “Just over two years, and my girlfriend is over three years.”
You: Are you OK if I do a credit and criminal check?
Prospect: Umm…err…hmm…ya, I guess.”
You: “There will be a $50 application fee so I can pay for these standard checks.”
Prospect: “Click….aahhhh (dial tone)”
You may be speaking to that dial tone soon after you ask a few of these questions, and that’s OK. These questions purposely require specific answers to effectively screen out people right away and thus save you time and money. The prospects that stay on the line and answer these questions to your satisfaction clearly are candidates you desire to potentially have as tenants.
One of the biggest mistakes landlords make is to accept anyone with a pulse that has first and last month’s rent. This is a bad idea and ultimately costs undue stress on the landlord and their family as well as time and money. Creating a unique environment. Now comes the fun part. Those prospects who have successfully made it this far through your initial screening process want
to see the inside of the apartment.
» Arrange for all prospects to show up at the same time, not telling the other prospects there will be anyone else there. To ensure they do show up at the same time, tell them you only have a window of 20 minutes. “Please come at 1 p.m. on Saturday. If you are not there by 1:20p.m., I will leave.”
» Ask everyone to be patient and take people in on a first-come, first-served basis, only letting one person or family through at a time. Plan the tour ahead of time so you lead them through the unit strategically and point out all the nice features of the apartment, even if it’s only the view or the flooring or whatever.
» Make sure to give each person or family an application and get their $50. Please do use it to pay for the credit check, tenancy check and even a criminal check… you’ll be glad you did. You can tell the prospective tenant that the $50 fee will be included in the last month’s rent, 1/2 rent or security deposit, depending on what province you are in, if they qualify.
» What have you created here? Competition. Do you think you will have anyone wanting to get you to lower the rental price or ask for any favours or additions when there are others looking at the same unit? You have created a desire in these prospects for your apartment. You are in control. And that’s the way it needs to be… at this point and throughout the tenancy.
» The application, which further aids as a screening process, becomes your critical mass when choosing someone who will be great tenant or a nightmare.
» Mention to the prospective tenant that imperfection on the application is tolerated; dishonesty is not tolerated and will lead immediate disqualification and loss of application fee.
» Include a number of unique questions on your application.
» Make sure to ask for a driver’s license or picture ID that reflects the person’s current address. This is just another way of making sure all information on the application is true, including the person’s identity.
References are vital for the prospective tenant to include on the application including current and previous employment; a character witness such as a professional or respectable citizen; current and previous landlords.
» When speaking to the current employer, you are looking for three things; to substantiate that the current employment is actually credible, how long they have worked for and if your prospect is in good standing as to remain with the
organization for some time.
» Ask that person a few questions about their experience with your prospect, how long they’ve known each other, how they met and what their current relationship is.
» Calling the current landlord may produce a glowing report. Perhaps the current landlord can’t wait to get rid of your prospect and therefore will tell you what a great tenant they have been so they can get rid of them and you can take them. However, calling the previous landlord may get you a much more realistic view on this person’s character and whether you’d like this person living in your unit or not.
» When calling any landlord reference, do not introduce yourself as Mr. Prospect’s new potential landlord to the person who picks up the phone, which exposes your identity. Instead, without introducing yourself, ask; “yes, do you have any apartments for rent?”
If the answer to your question is; “uh…what?” You will know if you’ve been set up. By utilizing a few strategies, you can eliminate many potential problems that can be time- and money-wasters.
DIY or Professional?