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You have just received a notice of non-renewal of the lease from your present tenant, which means that your search for a new tenant starts now! You've published your advertisements, the ‘for rent’ signs have been installed. The telephone will ring in no time and the visits will start. Beware: do not go any further!

It is strongly recommended to do a thorough investigation before renting to just anyone. When an owner calls the Quebec Landlords Association (APQ) for legal advice it is often related to a problem with a tenant. When we ask them the question: “Did you investigate the tenant investigation before renting the dwelling?”, too often the answer is…«No».

To put all the chances on your side, and avoid a lot of worry and never-ending court battles, it is of prime importance to evaluate your candidates well before handing over the keys. “He seems all right…, he is well-dressed…, he has a beautiful car…, he must have money…, I do not think that it is necessary to do an investigation…, They seem to be good folks”. We heard these kinds of comments a lot. Appearances, being likeable, driving a nice car, etc.. are not good indicators proving that your future tenant won't make your life difficult for you. It is necessary to dig a little deeper.

Be careful however of having the opposite attitude, “He's badly dressed,… His car is rusted all-over,… He doesn't earn very much… I don't think that he can pay his rent… No need to do an investigation, I just won't rent to him”. Once again, appearances can be misleading and this person could turn out to be your best tenant.

One should never rely on appearances. We also hear certain owners tell us that they're experienced, that they they've dealt with tenants for a long time and that they only need their intuition to guide them towards a good choice. You may be experienced… ok, but why take the chance?
Another widely-heard comment is: “I have never done an investigation and I’ve never had problems…, it isn't necessary… ”

Be aware that you are always at risk.

Some of your friends will advise you to do a simple credit check, that that is sufficient to get a good idea of the individual. Don't be deceived. There is so much more that we can say on this subject that we can't cover them all in only one article.

In the next article we'll examine the importance of doing a proper and complete investigation.

About the author

François Lemay

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