Credit Checks and Criminal Checks

We’ve already discussed a number of important issues for Ottawa landlords in this blog.

Everything from the importance of fire prevention to how much you can raise the rent.

Our latest blog topic is especially important. It’s about “tenant screening.”

One bad call could end up costing you thousands of dollars.

Crime Prevention Ottawa

Crime Prevention Ottawa published an excellent booklet in 2009 to help small and medium sized landlords.

It’s called: Safety and Security in Rental Buildings: An Information Guide for Ottawa’s Residential Landlords.

It’s excellent and worth reading for landlords in Ottawa and anywhere else you might happen to be in Ontario.

In the Information Guide, Crime Prevention Ottawa makes it clear tenant screening is one of the most important steps to become a successful landlord.

Tenant Screening

Tenant screening means checking past behaviour of potential tenants.

With proper checks you can significantly reduce the risk of renting to a tenant who will cause you problems.

The guide also warns landlords who don’t conduct proper tenant screening.

No landlord wants to leave their rental unit vacant.

Vacancies means no money coming in (and money still going out with mortgages, taxes, etc.)

This means many landlords are tempted to rent to the best applicant the find in a given time frame, even if the applicant is only chosen because “there’s no one better” who wants to rent from you.

The Information Guide calls this “dangerous” as evicting a tenant in Ontario can be a long and expensive process.

More expensive than waiting for a qualified tenant.

What Happens If Don’t Screen Your Potential Tenants?

Is the advice from Crime Prevention Ottawa correct?

We think so. Just take a look around.

It’s only October and 2013 has been a year full of stories about bad tenants across Canada.

For example, a tenant who is a Freeman on the Land declared the property he was renting his ‘embassy.’

He was also wanted for assaulting his previous landlord.

In Barrie, Ontario a landlord had to deal with her basement tenant assaulting her two times in one night.

Another Ontario landlord is out thousands after a tenant left trash and damages behind.

Make Sure You Know Who You Are Renting To

Don’t become a victim. Be aggressive and proactive and make sure you screen potential tenants carefully.

Two important screening techniques are to conduct a credit check and a criminal check.

Credit Check

Bad credit can reveal a tendency to be financially irresponsible.

This is a trait that can expose you and your rental property business to a tenant with poor judgement and a willingness to take financial risks.

One of those risks might be not paying you rent.

If the tenants haven’t paid others what they owe, why do you think they will pay you the rent they owe?

Criminal Check

A criminal background check can protect you from a potential tenant with a history of dangerous actions.

It will also help you ensure the safety of other tenants in your property, as well as neighbours.

Doing Tenant Credit Checks and Criminal Checks

The good news for landlords is you can now do credit checks and criminal checks in a fast and economical way.

Protect yourself, your rental property and your tenants.

Proper tenant screening is a key element of being a successful landlord.