Leasing Ups and Downs

21 Replies

So I have been trying to lease two properties. Great success on one, just leased to a long term tenant for $100 extra each month over the last tenant's rent. The other property is not going so well. I have had many showings, it is just that no one connected. I had one applicant who had an account with a former landlord sent to collections (!), then two applicants who had great credit but then decided on something cheaper. I had been asking for $40 more than the last tenant ($1149 vs $1109) on a two bed townhouse in a nice area. No one has taken it and I have been at it since late March. Price is now cut to $1119 and I have two new would be tenants for showings, both of whom detail their having large (80lb+) dogs. I would not normally pursue them but my wife suggests we should take a look. I am concerned about damage, she is concerned about revenue. Our current tenants are breaking a lease and they move out in June; we have been paid up until June 30. If there is vacancy beyond this I can go after them in small claims. But they gave notice in March and we could go for a while at this rate with no tenant. I have cut price and I have upped advertising. Any other suggestions? Should I be looking at tenants no matter what size of hound they want to bring in? The unit is really nice, freshly painted, new carpets, new appliances. It is not a matter of condition, and price is now only nominally above the last tenant's rent. I would like someone who looks after it and does not wear it out. Advice welcomed.

advertising alone takes us much longer, in my experience. I like giving a month rent to my realtor even though it's something I could do. I'd not take the dogs if it's fresh paint and carpet. Lower the price and seek a longer lease.

Offer a move in special like $500 off the first-month rent.

Joe Gore

Make sure your rent is competitive for your market. I never use a rental price that ends in 9. Round it up or round it down, but make it a number that tenants can wrap their head around. I like my rents to be easily divisible by 30 and I always prorate based on a 30 day month. Such a number is also easy to divide by 2 or 3, which is nice for tenants who share and like a number that is easy to split. So, try out one of these numbers and see what response you get: $1200 (30x$40), $1170 (30x$39), $1140 (30x$38), $1110 (30x$37).

Considering BIG DOGS.... Big dog claws can be hard on floors and yards. Big dog pee and poop can be worse. Big dog barking can be hard on the neighbors. Big dog pet hair will accumulate in heating systems, air ducts, and under appliances. Big dog owners are more likely to stay longer because they have fewer housing options available to them. Big dog owners are also likely to pay extra for the privilege of keeping their pet (extra rent and extra security deposit). If the dogs are service animals, charging extra for them is not an option. If you accept pets at all, make sure you are renting to responsible pet owners.

Yes, I am reluctant on big dogs as well. I reckon a bad owner and a big dog could easily do $1,000 worth of damage and that is pretty much a month's vacancy, which I am not covering, the lease breaking tenant is. Any ideas for geeing up the leasing process? I have cut price and I have added adverts (best venue here in Ontario seems to be kijiji). My ad is a top ad ($35.99 / week). The higher priced unit leased first, which is a surprise although it is a very nice unit. The one I have left is in great shape, and is a townhome with a garden and attached garage. Time to get creative.

Ah, a garden.... Put together an ad targeted for gardeners and place it with the local gardening society newletter and the places gardeners frequent, like yard & garden shops.

Originally posted by @Stephen E. :
... The other property is not going so well. I have had many showings, it is just that no one connected. I had one applicant who had an account with a former landlord sent to collections (!), then two applicants who had great credit but then decided on something cheaper. I had been asking for $40 more than the last tenant ($1149 vs $1109) on a two bed townhouse in a nice area. No one has taken it and I have been at it since late March. Price is now cut to $1119 and I have two new would be tenants for showings, both of whom detail their having large (80lb+) dogs. ...

This still sounds like the price is not right. Maybe your previous tenant was willing to pay more than the going rent for that area, so you really have to check out what the local competition is offering. And you need to be competitive to get a tenant to take your unit.

When you say no one connected despite many showings, have you gotten any feedback directly from the viewers? When we had a prolonged vacancy, I finally called a few viewers to ask what they thought. What never bothered the previous 2 tenants was now an issue - this unit was on the 3rd floor of a non-elevator building. The unit is gorgeous, large 2/2, granite, stainless, balcony with lake view, but for some reason, the viewers this time around had no interest in climbing stairs although they were all fairly young.

We dropped the rent $50 and eventually rented to a young couple with a baby....and strong legs :)

Is there something about the unit that can be changed? Is the new paint or carpeting a funky color? Any weird neighbor hanging around? Try to get viewer feedback and go from there. We once offered a $100 Best Buy gift card, and another time 2 weeks free rent.

@Stephen E.

I love animals. In my area by allowing them I get more rent, because it is hard to find landlord who allow's pets. Therefore there is a lot of activity with the ones who do. I also charge them either a one month's EXTRA security deposit or $50 a month non-refundable pet rent.

My rentals are $1150-$1750 a month. So that is enough to cover a lot of pet damage.

If you are going to allow animals. I would go in revamp the ad and increase back to the regular price. I would also charge extra.

I personally was starting to get worried. On May 5th I had a unit that had been advertising for over a 6 weeks. I have never had issues before. I was starting to get worried. Well guess what it was just that it was too far out. I had two people the same day than many afterwards. Maybe you are just two far out?

It turns out that the would be tenant with the 80 lb dog is two months behind on his rent and on a payment plan. He also cannot front last month's rent and would like to float that on a payment plan also. I have one easy payment plan - no payments, just live somewhere else.

If you decide you would take pets. Rework your ad for allowing pets and screen accordingly. Know this, something like 40% of tenants have pets and another 25% want to get one. We take pets, charge pet rent and pet application fees. People still pay and rent so can't be all bad.

Big mistake of landlords is to cave in to the applicant that requests an exception. If you decide to allow an exception readvertise and allow everyone to apply. It's a classic bad tenant tactic to push for bending of rules before even filling out an application. Expect to be tested at every turn by those types.

Finally your rent might be too low and people think there is a hidden defect and so don't pull the trigger. The better applicants taking a lower price unit would however dissuade me in your case.

I decided to cut the advertised rent to fire up interest. I had lots of prospects for viewings a month or so ago but none connected. So far three wildly unqualified applicants, and then two room mates who were very qualified according to credit checks etc., but who decided to go with a lower priced ($200 lower) property. Rent started off at $1,149, I am now down to $1,109. It is a holiday weekend here in Canada, the traditional start of summer. I am hoping this brings out extra renters next week.

My other unit leased for $100 more than the previous tenant, who moved in just two years ago. That one was quite easy. This one is proving to be a tougher nut to crack. But there honestly seems to be some kind or irrationality and randomness to leasing. This unit is in a great location and in excellent condition. It should lease without trouble. Of course I could have leased to the earlier applicants but one was wanted by collections agencies all over town and another had a judgment against them from a corporate landlord. Better to risk a month's vacancy than to let in bad tenant.

There's not by chance a den or an underutilized room in your property is there? Maybe the renter pool in London is looking for 3bdr units...add a closet or wardrobe to the den and advertise it as a 3-bedroom! Then send my commission check to P.O. Box....... :)

I thought about this. There is a den but it is adjacent to the laundry, separated by folding doors, has patio doors to the deck and garden, and has a stove type electric fireplace. It is much more for sitting in or as a home office. I don't think a bedroom would work. Worth thinking about though, thanks.

@Stephen E. Thinking about what you said... "Rent started off at $1,149, I am now down to $1,109." I still say round the nine up to an even number... advertise it for $1110. :-) Good luck. BTW... How are other landlords fairing in your market. Is there a lot of inventory now or is your competition outdoing you in other ways?

I have gone online and rounded the rent up to $1,110 as suggested. I don't know if other landlords are having a hard time. I didn't really have much difficulty in getting a tenant for the other unit I was leasing, but a lot of this seems to be luck. The rent is cut to the level that the current tenants are paying. I am hoping this draws someone in. I still have rent paid by the current tenants until June 30 and they are on the hook thereafter as they are breaking the lease. But I would prefer not to go through small claims.

Lower the rent and add 'pet rent' to your lease. Like 25-30 dollars. People with big dogs will stay longer because nobody else wants them as tenants, and I think they will pay monthly for the privilege of being in a pet friendly home.

I am not keen on allowing big dogs. I have visions of damage to floors, carpeting, ceilings below. In Ontario pet deposits and indeed security deposits are not allowed. I think you could offer a higher rent but would have to be careful how it was described. Generally, they get your property and treat it how they will, and your primary means of restitution is small claims court, if they have any assets / garnishable income.

I will keep on trucking with showings and hope that one comes through. I have had applications, just none that come close to being acceptable (bad credit, insufficient income, collections).

I have posted additional ads and will keep these running to try and boost traffic.

I have boosted advertising and cut posted rents. I now have two 'top ads' on kijiji, the online classifieds service that seems to dominate the rental market in Ontario. I have also cut the rent, now posted as $1,075. It started at $1,149 and I had a lot of lookers but no takers. It is either price or condition I guess; the condition of the unit is excellent, new paint, new carpet, new stainless steel kitchen appliances. So that leaves price, and I can change that. I am hoping to have more viewings this week. I have one more with the owners of a big dog (!) and had another query where the renter was moving in from eastern Canada and would send a friend for a viewing. Two viewings booked for the rest of the week, hoping for more. If anyone else has some good ideas I welcome them. I have been showing this property for seven weeks now. The other one I leased for $100 over the previous tenants' rent. This one is proving to be a more difficult one to sell.

@Stephen E.

The most probable explanation is your asking rent is too high.

While you are on Kijiji, browse the other listings in your area of the City. You should be able to get a fairly good sense of where your ask stands in relation to the market. You want to be able to position your rent in the middle third of that range.

I came to the same conclusion. Rent is now cut to $1,075, plus hot water heater rental of $20. The total is about $15 less than my current tenants pay, I normally try for an increase in between tenants but am settling for less this time to lease quickly. My tenants gave me a lot of notice and I have been showing it for seven weeks now. Enough is enough. I had a reasonable prospect come by this evening. He is smart, hard working, trusted by his employer. Earns 4x rent, has stable employment with a series of promotions bringing increased income, owns his own late model car outright. The chief downside, he is giving short notice to his landlord and breaking a lease, but tenants seem to do that quite a bit. I have had two tenants break leases on me in the past couple of years. His reasons for lease breaking are essentially to start a new life with his girlfriend who he says is separated from an abusive ex husband. There is a child involved, and an attraction is that our unit is walking distance to a good school. These living arrangements are new. The other chief downside is who knows if they will work out?

I will of course give this the usual hard nosed landlord application review, but given a choice of suing my current tenant in small claims for lost rent due to lease breaking, or going with this prospect I would lean to the prospect if he is serious. If credit is good and relations with other previous landlords were OK this could be one that turns out. Forty minutes of conversation left me thinking he was on the up and up, quite a contrast to the impression most would be tenants make.

The title of this thread is leasing ups and downs and that is very much how it seems to play out. You get highs and lows and have to keep plugging away. Then suddenly the stars all fall into alignment and you have a tenant. The show is over.

Well, seven showings booked for this week, but with some runaround (two no shows today). But it doesn't matter. It looks like I have found my tenant. He is a skilled tradesman, a framer, who earns $56k and has a credit score of 843. He is moving in with a girlfriend who has an abusive ex-spouse. That detail about the ex and of their living arrangements being new has scared off some landlords. Faced with a choice of taking him on or risking vacancy and having to sue my current lease breaking tenants I take him. He is very convincing and sincere in interview, and I have met a great many tenant candidates of whom that could not be said at all. I am approving him based on his income alone (which has risen by $20k over five years due to successive promotions); his partner has disability income on top of this. It makes good business sense and this is one instance in which a landlord can help people find a new home. We serve an important role in providing people with shelter.

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