It all started when I first set out to let my property for rent. I showed our house to multiple families and everyone liked the house. And why wouldn’t they? It was a good house, in a good neighbourhood, suitable for a nice little family. I wondered whether I could manage the house myself or if I should hire a property manager.
Unsure of what to do, I spoke to a few property management companies who wanted a piece of the rent and then charge extra dollars for every thing they did for my property. X$ for handyman work, y$ for electrical work, so the list went on. Soon I realized, it was better to do it myself for two reasons. I wanted to find a way to keep more cash, and I had friends who managed multiplex for years and I knew they would help me whenever it was needed.
So I listed the house myself; I did a thorough research to estimate the price, found some local listing sites to advertise the house,took some decent pictures and off we went. The ad was up and I started getting calls. I showed the house to everyone who called. Thinking of that today, I should have shortlisted applicants before I showed them the property, it could have saved me a lot of time. I eventually found good people- “I felt it in my guts.” I did check their references, called previous landlords, and everything my friends told me to do. I finally rented out my property to a young couple with young children. The guy was hard working, provided his bank statements to show he was self-employed, and had a lot of cash to pay the first and last. Boy was I excited. I did it!. It was perfect, the home we loved is now in possession of a young couple who are going to take care of our home and build a family.
A few weeks after they moved in, their neighbours called me and complained that there were too many people coming to the property, loud music, smoking in the driveway, too many cars parked on the street, overall a lot of nuisance. Great couple with bad friends, it happens. I had a conversation and made it work for a few weeks. Then I received a text message from my rental homes neighbor when I was away on a business trip- if you did not realize, I had a full-time job running a company, and I was doing this on the side. My first tenant, the hard working man, is being arrested, and cops are kicking into the house to raid the house! Turned out they were drug dealers and the guy was arrested for armed robbery. BAM. Now what do you do? Call my friend try to figure it out and luckily they were brave enough and great enough to deal with the mess, go to the cops and figure out what needs to be done. I did not want my wife to know what was going on, she will freak out. I was worried about the safety of my family. An armed robber and drug dealer has my phone number and knows where I live. Now, reality hit me. I realized the dark side of being a landlord. With all this happening, I don’t even have access to enter my home to assess the damage. The girl in the house was unable to pay rent and she accepted to vacate the house. I was constantly told that I was lucky that she signed the notice to vacate and that I was able to find another tenant.
This time, I had an application for potential clients to fill out, I double-checked references, checked work references; the entire nine yard. This time, I had signed up for an email to divert emails to, I had a phone number that diverted calls to my cell phone. I did not mind spending the money, the potential of putting my family in danger weighed more than losing money.
Bad tenants cost landlords a lot of money, time and peace. So I started researching the market to understand if I was alone. Of course I wasn’t. Every landlord I talked to had a rental-horror story. I realized finding the right tenant is one of the most important things if I ever had to be a successful landlord. Everything else did not matter, the admin work, the paper work, expense tracking everything can be handled if you have the right tenant.