Investing in rental property can be a sound and profitable business.

A rental property business can be a sound and profitable venture. However, careful management is required to minimise problems and avoid unnecessary financial losses and administrative headaches. Here is a checklist of actions every responsible landlord must take.

Due diligence: Take great care when screening prospective tenants for your property. Make sure you check credit history and references properly. Never take short cuts; you will regret it later if you get “the tenant from hell”. If in any doubt — check criminal and eviction records. Always use a written rental application.

Written agreements: Use a written lease or month-to-month rental agreement to set out the terms of your relationship with tenants including complaints, repairs, notice, landlord access and the like.

Repairs and maintenance: Don’t get behind with routine maintenance on your property and do repairs when tenants ask for them. If you have good tenants then it makes good business sense to keep them happy.

Notice before entry: Know the parts of the Canadian Residential Tenancies Act covering tenants’ rights to privacy. Notify your tenants whenever you plan to enter the rental apartment, and provide as much notice (minimum 24 hours) as possible.

Security: Keep your property secure. Take steps to increase the security and safety with good lighting and well-kept grounds. If you own a large multi-occupancy block, consider installing a surveillance system.

Hazards: If there’s a hazard such as lead or mold on the property, you must warn your tenants about it. Landlords are increasingly being held liable for tenant health problems resulting from exposure to environmental toxins in rentals.

Insurance: Make sure you are sufficiently well covered by liability and other property insurance. A good policy can protect you from lawsuits by tenants for injuries or discrimination and from losses to your rental property caused by events such as fire and storms and or even burglary and vandalism.

Investing in real estate can be very rewarding financially as long as you take the proper precautions. If you are thinking of buying apartment or condo for rent it pays to do your research carefully. You can either do the work yourself or employ a specialist letting agent to help you.

Talk to agents in the locality you are interested in. Ask about the success enjoyed by existing landlords, what tenants are looking for and how much rent they are prepared to pay. If possible, use a real estate agent who is also an area investor.

Do research to understand the demands for rental properties. You can look for online service such as to find rental market and where is a demand for rental properties.

Check out the area where you’d like to buy. Is it in decline or on the way up? If chains like Wal-Mart, Tim Hortons and Home Depot are moving in, that is a good sign. These companies put a lot of effort into researching demographics and income.

Who will your target market be? Families, professionals or students?
Think carefully about the best size for your rental property. Are two-bedroom places in demand or are tenants looking for gardens?

Will you let the entire property to one tenant (or family), or will you let individual rooms to different tenants?

Investigate transport, parking, shops, schools and recreation facilities — all of which may be important to your tenants.

When you find a potential property make a careful calculation of all the costs — for example loan repayments, taxes, letting agent/management fees, lawyers ‘ fees, insurance fees, repairs, furniture and fittings, utility bills.
Obvious but important — do not let personal taste influence your choice of house or apartment. Always look at the property from a purely commercial perspective.

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