Getting Good Tenants (and Avoiding Bad Ones)

Get it on tape

Do a tour of the premises with the tenant, and videotapes the whole thing, so that if theres ever a dispute about damage, you have proof.

Run it like a business

Treat your rental as an active business.

It isnt a passive business, Like any business, if you dont nurture it, it can get costly.

Avoid disputed by making regular improvements and repairs, and making regular (announced) inspections of the premises, monthly if you can. 

Too often landlords who own one or two properties dont educate themselves well enough about the provincial laws that govern this type of business transaction. A good landlord is an educated one; one who knows the rights of his tenants and his own.

Landlords and tenants live up to their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancy Act. However, landlords should exercise due diligence in screening tenants, such as checking past rental and work references.

Do your due diligence

In the end, both the prospective renter and landlord need to exercise due diligence before entering into any contract, otherwise it can be a miserable experience for one or both of them

Tips on how to screen potential tenants:
(Courtesy of Rental Housing Council)

  • Ask for proof of identity, such as a valid drivers licence or passport.
  • Thoroughly check all references.
  • Contact previous landlords. Ensure the person is a past landlord and ask about the tenants past rentpayment patterns and suitability as a tenant.
  • Check the applicants financial suitability through a credit check.
  • Confirm the applicants income is adequate to make rent payments.
  • Ask how many people will be living in the unit and what the names of those people are.

A landlord must not violate a persons rights when checking for suitability as a tenant.

Sign a contract

A written contract signed by both landlord and tenant ensures that both parties are agreeing to the same set of expectations. The BC governments Residential Tenancy Agreement is available free online at This six page document lists everything from the landlords pets policy to rent increases, to repairs obligations and policies on overnight guests, as well as much more. By going through it together before signing, you set a businesslike tone to the relationship.

Avoid scammers

Vancouver has the highest rents in Canada for a two bedroom unit, at $1255 per month, at least. With so much money at stake, scammers like to target the rental market. Be aware of common frauds. Dont risk losing your money, or even worse, your identity and banking information to a scammer. The Rental Housing Council gave us these examples of common scams.

Scams on landlords

  • A tenant provides the landlord with fake ID and fake references. The tenant then provides a cheque for security deposit and first months rent, and moves into the suite. The cheque bounces, but by then it is difficult for the landlord to serve notice to evict. The tenant stays in the suite until the landlord can legally evict them.
  • A tenant sends the landlord a cheque (usually international) for a few thousand dollars for the security deposit and first months rent. They tell the landlord they made a mistake, ask them to cash the cheque and send them the difference. Since the tenants cheque was international, it takes several days to go through the bank. By the time the landlord has sent the tenant the difference, the original overpayment cheque bounces.

Scams on tenants

  • Someone posing as a landlord posts an ad on Craigslist or Kijiji for a place to rent. They use pictures from another listing or a real estate site. They tell the tenant they cant show them the suite. The tenant meets the landlord offsite or sends them a cheque. On movein day the tenant shows up to find the suite doesnt exist, or is already occupied by someone else. In a recent example, the conartist listed a suite for rent that was actually for sale. Posing as a Realtor he was able to con the concierge of the building into giving him a key, which he gave to the prospective tenant to view the suite without him. He then met her in a coffee shop across the street to sign the rental agreement, and she paid him $6,000 cash. She found out when it was time to move in that it was a scam.

 Where landlords and tenants can go for help:

The BC government has a number of good resources to help ensure a successful tenancy for both landlords and tenants.

For a free copy of TRACs Tenant Survival Guide, visit