So, you pulled the trigger and invested in a property. It’s ready to rent out and you’re looking forward to the extra income. Renting out your property means you’ll have a few things to juggle from now on. You’ll be the first point of contact for maintenance and repairs, and you’ll take on a new role as a landlord. Before you jump in, don’t forget these important tips to start off on the right foot.
Know Your Laws
The details of laws may differ if your rental property is a detached home, townhouse or condo. If you’re renting out a condo, you’ll need to inform yourself of your Strata’s rules and regulations. B.C.’s Strata Property Act is a good place to start. You may also want to brush up on what’s needed to submit your taxes on your rental income. Is your property owned personally, in a partnership, or in a corporation? If the property is only under your name, it will be taxed based on your personal income. Don’t forget that you must submit your income for the year you receive it. So, if you collected rent for January in December, you’d have to submit it as income on the previous year’s tax return.
Understand Your Landlord-Tenant Relationship
You can use the free tenancy agreement form the B.C. government provides, or you can create your own. All rental agreements need to follow B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Act. It’s your responsibility to give your tenant a copy of the signed rental agreement within three weeks of signing. You have a right to screen potential tenants, but you need to know what’s allowed and what isn’t. For example, you can request a criminal background check, but you cannot require it as a condition of tenancy. You can ask for references and proof of income or employment to establish that your tenant can pay rent. When in doubt, put it in writing. That includes rent receipts, damage and pet deposits, and cleaning checklists. You want to hope for the best, but prepare yourself for bumps in the road. So, it’s not a bad idea to inform yourself on the process of evicting a tenant in B.C. and the process required to do so.
Make a Plan B
Problems don’t always pop up on schedule. A toilet leak can occur while you’re at work, picking up the kids from school or on vacation too far away from home to help. When you factor in that emergency home repairs average $1400, the damage can add up quickly. Do yourself a favour and make a plan for when you’re needed at your property. Try defining what the most urgent emergency would need (like a water tank leak or significant water damage) and who you’d need on site right away. Keep contact information with you for quick access, and have a backup contractor or service company in case. For extra preparedness, define what the next level of home repair would be. Not an emergency that requires immediate attention, but something that can be fixed within a few days. Jot down the steps needed on your phone, so you can carry on with peace of mind.
If You’re Overwhelmed, Ask for Help
There’s a lot of excitement to renting your property. Some of us take to the task of home repairs or keeping their tenant informed like a fish to water. For the rest of us, the list of considerations as a property owner might feel like a headache on top of our already busy lives. If you could use a hand with your new property, consider hiring a property manager to help. They’re skilled at taking tasks off your plate. They can screen potential tenants, and be the first line of contact to them. They’ll also use the best tips and tricks to make your rental look its best when it’s up for rent, take photos and post your listings. Property managers tend to have a more extensive reach for potential tenants, too. They can take care of the details when your rental agreement is up, like the final walk-through, and returning security cheques. By freeing up your time, you’ll have more options. If your property is in a popular location, you could try out a short-term rental model like AirBnB. In the Lower Mainland, you can check out our property management services to see how we can help.