Advice for Tenants Renting a Property

Renters these days face a number of challenges. Chief among them are: stability and affordability. What’s more, if you’ve recently completed a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, convincing a landlord to let you rent in the first place can seem like an impossible task.

So, what can prospective tenants do to find a home that won’t be sold off in a year? How can someone with a low credit rating be approved to rent? Our guest today suggests being honest about your finances and explains why listings on the MLS aren’t ideal for long-term renters.

Rachelle Berube is the property manager at her business called Landlord Rescue. She helps landlords in the Greater Toronto Area find good tenants so they don’t have to. In her experience, if you’re looking for a stable home, you should rent from somebody who’s owned their property for a long time. Why? Because they potentially have no mortgage and likely won’t flip.

Rachelle also suggests avoiding the MLS:

Realtors are buying and selling and representing owners in the leasing process, but they’re also part of selling. So you know by default, that if a property is listed on the MLS, it’s listed sometimes even for sale and for rent at the same time.

What are good resources for tenants looking for a stable and affordable place?

According to Rachelle, renters looking for long-term units should consider searching:

She also says to temper your expectations and look for an older place, that has less risk of being sold away within a year. Another helpful tip is to be direct – simply ask the landlord how long they’ve owned the property.

In addition to stability, cost is a common concern among renters. While there’s often talk about “bidding wars,” Rachelle says that usually that’s all they are: talk.

Yes, there might be a bidding war or two, but a lot of those are created. And a lot of that is to kind of get tenants to believe that rent prices are going through the roof…part of that is we have very, very bad data in the rental industry.

To help you find an affordable unit, Rachelle recommends, once again, to avoid looking at websites like Realtor.ca and PadMapper since they’re full of short-term and part-time rentals, like for Airbnb. These cause prices to be skewed upward and give renters a false sense of reality.

I saw one the other day, it was like a two-bedroom for $4,700. Well, I guarantee you, I can go in that same building and probably find one for $2,200.

Rachelle’s ultimate piece of advice: Set your budget, look for a realistic price that you can afford, and stick to it.

How can prospective tenants with a low credit rating be approved?

While credit checks are virtually impossible to avoid, Rachelle does have helpful tips for anyone who may have had money troubles in the past and is working towards a fresh start.

So I would say, don’t try and deceive people, it’s going to be obvious. I’m not going to forget to do a credit check, this is my job.

Since section 10 of the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act allows a landlord  to do a credit check, verify your income, and review your rental history, here is how you can increase your chances of being approved:

  1. Be prepared by creating a package: Get your most recent credit report from TransUnion or Equifax (pay the $20 to get a copy, so your landlord doesn’t have to). Include a copy of your photo ID (passport or driver’s license), as well as, your proof of income (a recent paystub), and references. Treat the process like a job application. By being prepared, you’re already off to a good start.
  2. Provide positive references.  If you have a previous landlord that will give you a positive reference, include that in your information package.  If you don’t have a reference from a previous landlord, a reference letter from your employer may help distinguish you from the competition.
  3. Arrive on time for viewings and be politeA good impression goes a long way.
  4. Be honest about your situation: If your potential landlord sees you have nothing to hide, it makes you much more reliable and trustworthy. A good credit score is one factor, but a landlord is most interested in your character, because that’s what determines whether or not you will be a good tenant (taking care of the place, being clean and quiet,  and paying your rent on time).
  5. Find a guarantor or co-signer. This often is your parents or another family member.  This works for the landlord, because the co-signer is fully liable for any missed payments or other costs.  But beware: if there are any problems, the landlord can sue both you and your co-signer, so only get a co-signer if you are sure you can make all of the payments.
  6. Find a roommate with good credit. Like finding a co-signer, your roommate becomes fully liable for any missed payments, so both you and your roommate should understand the implications of having two names on the lease.
  7. Wait until your credit score improves.  If you take steps to rebuild your credit, your credit score will improve, so in some cases the best option is stay in your current living situation until your credit score improves so you can get a place based on your credit rating, without the need to involve a guarantor.

A word of caution: your prospective landlord may ask for you to prepay for many months rent; don’t do it; it’s illegal.  Section 106 of the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act says that the maximum you can pay as a security deposit is one month’s rent.  So when you rent a place you may be required to pay first and last month’s rent (with the security deposit being last month’s rent), but you are not permitted to “pay six months in advance”.

Here’s the bottom line: with damaged credit it may be more difficult to rent a place, but if you follow the steps above you increase your chances of finding a place to rent.  Remember: a landlord wants a good tenant, so if you can show that you are a good tenant, you increase your chances of finding a great place to live.

For more tips on how to find rentals that fit your income and lifestyle, tune into our podcast, or read the complete transcript below.

Other Resources Mentioned in the Show

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FULL TRANSCRIPT – Show 187 Advice for Tenants Renting a Property

advice for tenants renting a property

Doug Hoyes:       The biggest expense most of us have is our housing costs, either mortgage, taxes, utilities and maintenance fees if we own or rent, and maybe certain utilities if we rent. Some of the most popular episodes of Debt-free in 30 have involved real estate. I’ve had as guests investment experts, economists and realtors, but never before have I had a guest who understands the rental real estate market from the perspective of both tenants and landlords. How is that possible? Well, let’s find out and meet my guest. Who are you and what do you do?

Rachelle:              Hi, my name is Rachelle and I’m a property manager. I own a company and we rent and manage condos and houses in the greater Toronto area.

Doug Hoyes:       So your typical client is somebody who owns one or two condos, one or two houses, and you manage them for them is that what you do?

Rachelle:              Correct. I’ll manage them and we also have a sizeable rental business. So the hardest part of the process is going to the place, showing the place, and people hire me for my judgment, selecting good tenants to help them have a successful landlord and tenant relationship.

Doug Hoyes:       So if I bought a condo and I want to rent it out. I own a house and I want to rent it out. I call you up and I hire you. You’re going to help me find a tenant. You’re going to approve them or whatever that process is, and then for the next ten years you’re going to keep an eye on things. You make sure the rent cheque gets deposited. If something needs to be fixed, you fix it, that kind of a thing?

Rachelle:              Correct. A lot of our clients are actually out of the country, so if you’re relocated for your work and you know maybe . . .

Doug Hoyes:       I’ve got to move to Texas, but I’m going to leave my house here, so you’re going to take care of my house and rent it out while I’m gone?

Rachelle:              Correct and we meet the most interesting people that way because people are all over the world. We had one guy, he worked for CRA, he went to Singapore. We have another client, they’re in Japan right now and they send me pictures. I had another lady, she drove a tour boat or was on a tour boat in Antarctica. So all kinds of interesting people.

Doug Hoyes:       Cool, excellent. So, okay, what I’d like to do is sort of hit on a lot of practical advice for people in the rental world. I’ve got a few questions that I want to ask you from the landlord’s perspective first of all, then we can flip it around and talk about from the tenant’s perspective.

Of the landlords that you work for, what percentage are cash flow positive each month, and what percentage have to kick-in money each month to fund operating expenses? So, I own this condo, you’re renting it out for me, I as the owner have to pay the mortgage, the condo fees, the maintenance fees, all that kind of stuff. Repairs and maintenance, the rent comes in, how many of your clients are making money on a cash flow basis each month?

Rachelle:              Almost none of them.

Doug Hoyes:       Almost none of them. So that means they’re kicking in cash every month?

Rachelle:              Yeah, if you’ve bought within five years, chances are you’re cash flow negative at this point.

Doug Hoyes:       Cash flow negative, so because what I’m paying for mortgage and everything else, is more than what I can get in rent?

Rachelle:              Correct.

Doug Hoyes:       Why in the world would anyone be doing that?

Rachelle:              Well there’s a whole industry of people trying to convince investors that real estate is the best thing since sliced bread. The problem is, is it’s not really a business when it operates like that because in a properly structured environment, not a crazy speculative market like we have, your money would be the rent. You would be doing it for income from the rent. Almost like an annuity, okay. The problem is that the way it’s structured now is you buy it, you hold it for a few years, you wait for it to appreciate it, and you sell it. But that’s not like obviously a sustainable business because when you sell your condo, you’re out of business.

Doug Hoyes:       You don’t have it anymore, yeah. For your typical landlord client that perhaps owns a condo or a house and rents it out, how long do they hold it for before they sell it, and I realize that all depends on the market and everything, but do they tend to hold it for the long-term or they tend to be flippers who are going to sell it one, two, three, four years kind of a thing?

Rachelle:              Well for me, I made a decision because the condo flipper speculators were driving me a little bit crazy because they don’t know the rules, they don’t care about the rules, they just want to buy and sell. So, I didn’t really like that, so I kind of made a decision to step back from that type of client and then I started dealing with a lot more of the people who have a house and leave the country and need somebody to take care of their house while they’re gone.

Of course, we have some clients that are very long-term as far as condos are concerned. I had one gentleman, he was self-employed. His retirement plan was to buy five condos and he wants an index to inflation pension. So he timed it so that when he retires all the rents on his condos will fund his retirement. So that was kind of an unusual approach.

Doug Hoyes:       Well and that’s unusual because, by the time he retires, presumably the mortgage will be paid down enough that it’s actually kicking off positive cash?

Rachelle:              Well, yeah, if there’s no mortgage . . .

Doug Hoyes:       Then it’s all cash.

Rachelle:              Then it’s all cash. So that’s kind of an interesting thing, but most of the clients would hold for one or two years maybe. We had, actually quite a sell-off in our portfolio last year around March. So some people actually like hit the top.

Doug Hoyes:       Yeah, it was perfect.

Rachelle:              We had like ten people sell and I was like, “Oh my god, what am I going to do? All my clients are leaving”. And funnily enough, a month later, two months later, people were calling us because they couldn’t sell their houses anymore, so then we ended up managing a bunch of beautiful, gorgeous properties for people who had to sell, but didn’t want to sell at the lower price and were hoping to kind of . . .

Doug Hoyes:       To keep it. Just, so we’re clear here, we’re recording this in my Toronto office at Yonge & King here, what geographic area do you deal with? Is it the GTA and sort of surrounding areas? How far do you go?

Rachelle:              We’ll go to the east as far as Oshawa, is usually the furthest east we’ll go. Usually we would do Richmond Hill, Markham, but I’ll go as far as Newmarket, Aurora sometimes. I’ve been to Barrie. It depends on the property. We’ll go to Oakville, Milton, Brampton, all those areas.

Once a property is under management, there’s not that much to do. Like we specialize in getting good tenants, so it’s basically the most boring job in the world. You collect rent cheques once a year. You do a fire inspection once a year. You get good people and you don’t have any problems.

Doug Hoyes:       Yeah, and if there’s something that needs to be done because the roof needs replacing, well you’re hiring the roofing guy to replace the roof. You’re not out there banging in the nails. Now you said that you specialize in getting good tenants, that’s good. That makes sense to me if I’m a landlord. Tell me a horror story of a bad tenant.

Rachelle:              Oh, well, okay. All right, so I had a call from an owner of an illegal quad in Oshawa. Her top floor tenant broke the jaw of her basement tenant and so I had to meet up with them. She worked in Sweden or Norway.

Doug Hoyes:       This is the landlord you’re talking about?

Rachelle:              The landlord. So she was leaving town, so she calls me. So I met up with the tenant. Took pictures of her injury and so on, and then proceeded to evict the tenant from the upstairs floor, who actually was like a bit of a psychopath. I actually had to get my husband to help because he’s a tech guy, and the lady had recorded the assault on her 1999 Blackberry. So we took the recording off of that, which is no small feat, and we eventually used that in court. So we went to the court with the tenant and the landlord –well, no, the landlord wasn’t there, it was just me, the tenant, and he was saying that the other tenant had just fallen and tripped over a branch.

Doug Hoyes:       And broke her jaw.

Rachelle:              And broke her jaw. So, finally, I brought out the recording and I played the recording like really loud into court. Then he was like, “Oh, okay, I’ll leave”. So the creepy part about it was that he left, it was like Halloween. So he had been in his apartment for like 20 years, so unlike other people he didn’t call me. His phone number was dis-activated, so I had to go there like Halloween. It was like the creepiest place ever, because you have to stick your head up, it’s like a loft. I had to stick my head up and I was looking around and I’m like, “Oh my god is the reaper here because this could definitely be the end of me?” So he left and then the lady downstairs she had problems with her cat, had kidney stones. This is a true story.

Doug Hoyes:       I’ve never heard of this, but okay, I guess that’s possible.

Rachelle:              So she paid $800 to the vet and she didn’t pay her rent. So then I felt really good about evicting the guy upstairs, because I’m like, she’s a victim, and I’m evicting this guy who is like a sociopath and this feels really good, but then I had to evict her because she was a hoarder and then she started not paying her rent.

So, at one point, I got a call from the hospital. I had to go to the hospital and they’re like, “Well, is it safe for her to move back?” I was like, “Well, I just took over the management. I don’t know. I don’t have a key”. So I had to get a key and I go into her place. The smoke alarm was off the wall and the stuff was just piled like chest-high. So then I had to evict her. And then that was another process because she was in the hospital.

So that was like very unsatisfying. I used to do a lot of legal evictions where, as a property manager, as a person who deals with people. Going to the house and kicking people out. That particular eviction was very sad.

Doug Hoyes:       What you’re telling me, and that’s why I wanted to get this kind of from the landlord’s point of view before we talked about it from the tenant’s point of view. Most of my clients are tenants, they’re’ not landlords, they’re people who rent houses, don’t own them, or don’t own them to rent them out. So I wanted to kind of get that perspective because being a landlord sounds great. Someone just pays you money every month and houses keep going up in value, but what you’re telling me is that from a cash flow point of view, if you bought your place in the last few years and have a mortgage, then you’re probably actually putting money in every month, which means the only way you’ll ever make money is if house prices continue to go up and you can sell it, and then you’ve got the issue with the bad tenants who can obviously cost a landlord a lot of money.

So okay, let’s flip this around now and talk about it from the renter’s perspective then, okay? So I’m someone who wants to find a place to live. So in the geographic area you mentioned, the greater Toronto area, you know from Oshawa over to Oakville, up to Richmond Hill, whatever, how hard is it today, and we’re in spring of 2018, how hard is it to find a decent place to live at a decent price?

Rachelle:              Well, I would say it’s very difficult and it’s becoming progressively more difficult as time goes on because the landlords who have paid these outrageous prices for houses are obviously are thinking, “Well, I need to make some money on this” and they’re carrying it.

So I had a house I rented up in Markham, like it was a sub-division, so some of the houses were for sale and some of them were for rent. So the price point on it was like $1.6 million and it rented for $2,700. The owner, she paid 20% down, she’s like losing 5K a month renting to this tenant.

I mean, it’s not a stable market, right? Like obviously the guy is just the custodian and what I would say is a social contract between landlords and tenants has been broken in a very serious way. I mean that in a way that –like landlords used to depend on the rent and they really valued a tenant that paid the rent in full and on time, and was decent, and didn’t complain too much or cause drama about regular repairs and so on.

I worked in buildings where the owner would meet with every single resident to do rent increases every year. That was like a 400-unit building. So the guy would meet with every single person there and he would do their own rent increase and he would talk to them and say how his costs went up. He would say, “Well, can you pay this?” So, we didn’t lose a single tenant at rent increase time. There was that commitment on the part of the landlord and the appreciation for the good tenant.

Now, of course, the tenants at that point, were actually funding every single income of the building and repairs and all that kind of stuff. But if you get into a situation where the tenant isn’t covering half the cost of just a mortgage on the property, never mind maintenance because the problem with the house or condo is that it’s a constant source of entropy.

So everything is breaking and just because it isn’t broke today, it’s getting older. So from a financial perspective, we can say, “Okay the life of a furnace is 10 years, we’ve used $7.00 worth of furnace today”. So you could project how much it’s costing and those costs specifically are a lot higher than people imagine. And so if you do it properly, you should be able to even replace your building, but this is just unknown in the Toronto area.

So, you know, part of a property manager’s job is taking care of the financial health of the building so you can continue to provide service and that’s kind of an alien thought because a lot of people are just thinking from the owner’s side, they’re thinking, “Okay, I’ll hold this for a couple years. We’ll put a good tenant in there and we don’t want them to damage the place, and they can help cover some of the costs, and then we’ll sell it in a couple years”.

From the tenant’s place, they’re not getting instability. So even though we have security of tenure, that doesn’t mean anything because once the property is sold, the other investor isn’t going to take them on if they’re paying lower than market rent. So a lot of the things that we saw earlier this year that were providing instability to tenants and that we’re trying to address in the new change of the law, well let’s just say that if the property sold, nobody wants a money-losing tenant. So people will do whatever they have to do to get rid of that person who’s paying below market rents.

Doug Hoyes:       So you’re addressing the issue of stability. So, okay, I’m worried about that because I’m living in a place now and I don’t want to get kicked out or I want to move to a place and live there for a while. I’ve got a kid in school, I don’t want to be bouncing around school districts, I’ve got a job, I want to be close to work, so what would your advice be for someone who is looking for a place to rent and wants stability, give me the tricks. What should I be looking for? How can I find a place like that?

Rachelle:              So if stability is your primary goal, you should look for somebody who’s owned a building for a long time. Who potentially has no mortgage or should have a very low mortgage on the place. Has owned the place for more than five years. I would also suggest staying away from any houses on the MLS because realtors are buying and selling and representing owners in the leasing process, but they’re also part of selling. So you know by default, that if a property is listed on the MLS, it’s listed sometimes even for sale and for rent at the same time. So I caution people just to kind of stay away from that area.

Doug Hoyes:       So how do I find a place if I’m not going to look on MLS to find a place?

Rachelle:              Well there’s tons of places. There’s Kijiji, Craig’s List, ViewIt.ca, Rent Compass, the number of websites is really endless and it varies by area, but that’s what I would say. I would say people should kind of temper their expectations, look for an older place. Don’t look for a place that’s brand new because you know, okay well maybe you don’t know, but when a place is brand new, the owner can’t save the 13% HST by putting a tenant in there. So a lot of owners are just renting for one year so they don’t have to pay the HST and then flip it.

Doug Hoyes:       And that’s a huge number if you just bought a half million dollar condo.

Rachelle:              Yeah, that’s going to be like 13%.

Doug Hoyes:       Yeah on a million dollars, that’s $130,000, so half of that, I mean you could be saving $60-70,000 by buying the place new, renting it for a year, and then selling it. So even if I charge zero in rent, I’m still $60,000 ahead. So it’s a massive number. So look for an old place.

I mean, it’s kind of hard to know for sure, I guess other than asking when you meet with the landlord or the landlord’s property manager, “Oh, how long has this guy owned the place?” But if he’s some old guy who’s owned it for a while, then you can speculate that his mortgage is probably a lot less than somebody who just bought it.

Rachelle:              Yeah, and you can tell. And part of that, you should look for realistic situations. I was helping a friend of mine find a place and just shy away from anything that reeks of bidding wars or anything like that. There’s a lot of talk about bidding wars and this and that and a lot of that is, we live in a big city. Yes, there might be a bidding war or two, but a lot of those are created. And a lot of that is to kind of get tenants to believe that rent prices are going through the roof. So that’s really an issue. Part of that is, we have very, very bad data in the rental industry.

I was talking to my friend the other day and she’s a renter, and she was looking around. She said, “Oh my god, my husband says that prices went up 12% this year”. I’m like, “Who told you that?” I don’t really feel that’s true and I’ll tell you why after. And she’s like, “He went on Pad Mapper”. Well Pad Mapper and TREB, like the MLS and Realtor.ca, are full of short-term, part-time rentals that have through the roof prices. It also gets data from Air B&B. So Air B&B is listed on Pad Mapper. As a matter of fact, there’s so much Air B&B, that there’s a little box that you can check that says, “Don’t show me Air B&B”, because a lot of the units listed on it are Air B&B.

Well the cost of housing for a long-term tenant is not the same as renting a quasi-hotel room in the City of Toronto. So it really has kind of skewed the price upward. And you see the same even like, Toronto-Life, they always present these rentals –like I saw one the other day, it was like a two-bedroom for $4,700. Well, I guarantee you, I can go in that same building and probably find one for $2,200. It’s furnished and, therefore . . .

Doug Hoyes:       Premium price, yeah.

Rachelle:              So it’s skewing the numbers upwards and then you get all of this market consensus and renter consensus and they see this in the newspaper and they’re like, “Oh my god, there is a bidding war in Toronto”. Yes, but sometimes those bidding wars are created. So I would say, set your budget, look for a realistic price that you can afford and stick to it. Just shop until you find what you’re looking for. That’s really what I would say.

Doug Hoyes:       Yeah, it takes some work, but you can do it. Now my clients have come through a proposal or bankruptcy, their credit is damaged. How hard is it then to find a place to rent? So, are your typical clients doing credit checks on everybody or are they more interested in whether you’ve got a stable job and first and last month’s rent?

Rachelle:              Everybody wants the credit check now and I’ll tell you why. A few years ago, they changed privacy legislation. It used to be that we would get information from the Landlord and Tenant Board about who was a bad tenant and who wasn’t. There was a number of databases that served the purpose of telling us who had been evicted for non-payment of rent.

So we relied very heavily on that, because fundamentally, I don’t care if you pay your credit card bills as long as you pay your rent and a lot of people do. Unfortunately, that tool was kind of taken away from us by privacy legislation and so now, the only thing we have to rely on is a credit check. So that’s really the only outside kind of agency that we have to refer to, to say that this is a good person who pays their bills in full and on time. I don’t really particularly think it’s that accurate, however, until we get something else, which we have not been able to do, then we’ll have to use it.

Doug Hoyes:       It’s all you’ve got.

Rachelle:              I mean, what else are we going to use?

Doug Hoyes:       So if I own this condo and you’re renting it out for me, how do you get the credit report? Do you have access directly to the Credit Bureau or do you have to get the tenant to get a copy and give it to you, how do you do that?

Rachelle:              Well it’s very easy. There are a number of websites that landlords can register at. There’s Rent Check, there’s Tenant Verification.ca, there’s all kinds of them that you can register with. You just send them your information that you own the house, or like in my case, I’m a property manager, and they’ll allow you to check peoples’ credit and it’s a very simple.

Doug Hoyes:       So it’s not that hard. You pay the fees, so you’d tell the tenant, “Okay, sign this form saying we can get your credit” and then you can do it.

Rachelle:              Yeah.

Doug Hoyes:       So, okay, so someone who has gone through a bankruptcy or a consumer proposal then, is that going to make it –I mean you’re doing a credit check, so you know there’s no secrets here, is that going to make it a lot more difficult to rent a house, a little bit more difficult, doesn’t make a difference? So if you get someone and their credit check comes back and says, they went bankrupt a year ago. They don’t have any debt. What’s your thought process then? Are you looking to see, “Oh, I want to see the bankruptcy paperwork to see if you stiffed a landlord or is it, “Well, sorry, we can’t help you”. What’s the process there.

Rachelle:              I would say it depends. I say that because you mention that people who have been through bankruptcy don’t have any debt and, ironically, one of the ladies I used to work with in one of the Purpose Built buildings, used to love people who were freshly bankrupt, because she’s like, “They have terrible credit, but at least they can make our income” — because we also use basically an income screen where we want people to be paying 30% of their income towards housing.

Doug Hoyes:       So back then too my typical client who’s gone through a bankruptcy or proposal.

Is there anything that I as a person who’s coming through a bankruptcy or proposal can do to increase my chances of being able to rent a place? Is it a case of waiting till the bankruptcy’s done or does that not matter? Is it a case of waiting for a period of time? Is it a case of having a bigger security deposit? What can I do to tilt the balance in my favour?

Rachelle:              The thing is, is that you’re not really allowed to offer more than first and last. Anybody who’s taking more than first and last, and a lot of people do, is really doing something that’s already illegal. We have a standardized lease coming out, I think starting April 30th or something like that, and it says right on there that you’re not allowed to collect extra deposit, so we’ll see where that goes.

I can tell you what I screen heavily against –I hate liars, right? I think everybody who works in my industry hates liars. Some owners will take people with damaged credits and some people won’t. So I would say, don’t try and deceive people, it’s going to be obvious. I’m not going to forget to do a credit check, this is my job. So what you have to do, and this is the advice that I would give if somebody says I have damaged credit.

The first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to get all your stuff together. You’re going to get your credit report. You’re going to pay the 20 bucks. You’re going to get some kind of, not necessarily an application, but you’re going to get a copy of your photo ID. You’re going to get a copy of your proof of income and you’re going to make yourself a little package, so that whoever is looking at your application –like you should know what people are looking for.

I mean, we’re all looking for the same thing. We’re looking for proof of income. We’re looking for stability. We’re looking for how long were you at your other place? And we’re also looking at credit score. So surprisingly, a lot of the people who have gone through bankruptcy actually do not have that bad a credit score. Okay?

Doug Hoyes:       Yep.

Rachelle:              And I say that because you guys know what you’re doing and you give people good information about what to do after –you don’t follow advice like I did. Like, I had an issue where my husband left and left me with all the credit cards. I paid those things off. It took me years. They were in default and the whole time my credit was like very poor. Like extremely poor and I didn’t know what to do about it and I didn’t care, I just paid everything cash. There’s a lot of people who are like that. They just pay for things cash. They don’t have any credit cards and the problem with that is –generally, as a society, we’re using the credit score more and more as like this bar to evaluate rental applications, mortgage applications . . .

Doug Hoyes:       Insurance, cell phones.

Rachelle:              Even employment. They even check your credit at certain jobs. The point of what I’m getting to is it’s a skill. You have to learn how to manage it. So if you do have a hit to your credit, work with a person like Doug and listen to what he has to say. Don’t be like me with a credit score in the 500s for over ten years because I just want to pay cash for everything. You can’t do that. You have to realize that this is the equivalent of a status symbol in today’s –and you really can’t operate without it and get yourself that secured card like I did, and then you’ll be considered a human being after a year.

Doug Hoyes:       So is there a minimum credit score that you’re looking for?

Rachelle:              Well typically, and this is to be completely honest, in the houses, we’re looking for actually a little better credit score than the banks are for mortgages. I say that in a funny way, but the reason why is because we’re actually giving you unsecured credit and the banks are giving you secured credit.

Doug Hoyes:       So what kind of score is that then?

Rachelle:              Well we don’t have a particular score. The way I score applications is a number of different things. First of all I would say, if you have a problem with your credit, treat it like a job interview. Don’t go there smelling of weed in your flip-flops. Treat the process with some respect. You make an appointment. Show up the [frick] on time. Like, I had a lady show up an hour later. I was somewhere else. She’s like, “Oh, I’m here now”. I’m like, “I don’t care”. Like, come on.

Doug Hoyes:       So the credit score is one of the things on your list, but there’s a whole bunch of other things too.

Rachelle:              That’s the last thing on my list.

Doug Hoyes:       That’s the last thing then. Okay, that’s a key point then. I mean, I’m looking for tangible things someone can do and you just gave me a whole bunch of thing. So, okay, treat it like it’s a job application and get your stuff together.

It ‘s like if I’m going to the bank to get a loan, am I going to show up with any paperwork or am I not? As a landlord, you need proof of my ID. You need proof of my income. You need credit report/credit score, whatever. Well, if you have this nice little package all put together, you know all neat and tidy and bound, that’s going to go a long way.

Rachelle:              So, if you have your package, and your package is like highly offensive to somebody, you already know and you can move on. That’s the other thing that I would say. This is kind of, even as a self-employed person who’s been through a lot, you know what? If you have to ask a hundred people, you want to make that process fast man. You don’t want to mess around.

A lot of the time, the rental agent knows what goes through in those buildings and don’t argue with them. Just be like, “Oh, okay”. I move onto the next one because you only have 60 days and the first 30 days are spent just looking at places. You want to take that information in and be like, “Okay, I’ll move on, I’ll move on”.

Doug Hoyes:       Which is exactly like a job interview. “Okay, I’ve applied for 50 jobs. I’m probably not going to go to 50 interviews. Let’s get my resume looking good. Let’s drop it off. Oh it won’t apply, great, let’s go to the next one, let’s go to the next one, keep it moving”.

Rachelle:              Right.

Doug Hoyes:       So there’s a whole lot of things you can do to tilt the balance in your favour. So, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but just because I’m bankrupt or I’ve gone through a bankruptcy, doesn’t mean I can’t rent a place if I’ve got a bunch of other things that look good, like a job, a nice package of information, all that kind of stuff.

Rachelle:              Absolutely and if you’re polite and nice and on time, like all those things count. For me, a lot of times the person that you’re meeting is going to be at least part of the decision-making process. So if you’re nice to them and you’re just a decent person –like I screen very heavily for decency and for God’s sake if you had problems with your previous landlords, just shut up. Don’t talk about it. We don’t need to hear that.

Doug Hoyes:       Yeah, the job interview, don’t tell me how bad your old boss was, that’s not what we want to hear.

Rachelle:              So for me, I don’t want to hear about how you’ve been to court or how you got your old –even if you were completely in the right, I don’t care. That’s the other thing. So you want to leave that stuff out of –even though the lady might ask you or talk about it or seem really cool with the conversation, no. Just don’t go there.

Doug Hoyes:       Yeah, it’s not a thing. And again, it’s like going for a job interview, you don’t have to tell all the bad things that happened at your job two times ago, let’s focus on the future, and move on.

Rachelle:              Yes, or how you took your boss to the labour board.

Doug Hoyes:       Yeah, that’s kind of not the things you’d be mentioning. Well I think that’s some fantastic advice and we’ve gone long here, but I think that’s excellent. I wanted to boil it down to practical stuff and I think you’ve given us a lot of that.

So how do people track you down? I mean, I know you’ve got a blog, you’re active on Twitter, so if anyone’s listening and wants to track you down, how can they find you?

Rachelle:              Well, they can just . . .

Doug Hoyes:       What’s your Twitter name?

Rachelle:              @LandlordRescue.

Doug Hoyes:       LandlordRescue, all one word, and I’ll put all this in the show notes. And your website, your blog, is also . . .

Rachelle:              LandlordRescue.ca.

Doug Hoyes:       So easy to find. Now are you looking for clients? Landlords who are looking to rent? Renters looking for a place, that sort of thing?

Rachelle:              Absolutely. We’re always looking for landlords. Tenants are more tricky because we’re like a smaller company. Like, for instance, I have a number of places available right now, none of them are the same. I have a lovely two-bedroom back-split, basement apartment out in Markham. I have a five year old three-bedroom townhouse up in Markham. I have a lovely two-bedroom condo at Yonge and Bloor. Just because you want something, doesn’t mean I have it and that’s unfortunate. It’s not like renting in a building.

Doug Hoyes:       Yeah, if I want a house in Markham, well okay, I’ve got one at the moment, I don’t have ten.

Rachelle:              That’s right.

Doug Hoyes:       So what I would suggest then, is people can check out your website and they can always direct message you on Twitter or whatever. If they’re a landlord looking for someone then obviously you’re there and if they’re a potential tenant, well, probably you can’t help them because it all depends what you have at the moment, but what the heck, they can DM you anyways and see if you’ve got anything.

Rachelle:              Oh, and I did want to say this, the idea that rent is always going to go forever up is just patently false. I’m going to say this because people who get debt or get credit or buy houses have access to a lot more credit than tenants do. So in a large part, the ceiling on rentals is based on salaries of the people who are renting the houses because you actually pay for rent based on what you can afford from the money that you make now. It’s not really feasible to use your credit card or your HELOC. You don’t have a HELOC on your rental property. So the idea that rent can always go up and up and up is just not true. So look around because there are a lot of landlords looking for great tenants, and matching them up together and find somebody that you can get along with.

Doug Hoyes:       Excellent. Well I think that’s excellent advice and I think that’s a great way to end it. Rachel, thanks for being here today.

Rachelle:              Well thanks for having me.

Doug Hayes:        Thank you, it was great. So that’s our show for today. As always, full show notes, including links to everything we talked about today and how you can find Rachel can be found at Hoyes.com, that’s H-O-Y-E-S.com.

And I’ve got a favour to ask, if you like this show and liked all of the free practical advice we provide each week, please subscribe using whatever podcast app you like and it would be great if you would leave a rating or a review on iTunes or your favourite podcast app. Thanks for listening, until next week, I’m Doug Hoyes. That was Debt-free in 30.

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