Landlord or Detective

You’ve really got to be a bit of both to make sure you get a great tenant.  A great tenant is easy to approve.

  • DetectiveCredit score is over 720
  • No aliases.
  • Employment letter with a name that’s easy to  confirm on LinkedIn.
  • Better yet, the tenant is on LinkedIn and actually works at the company shown on the employment letter.
  • Current Landlord actually owns the building where the tenant says she lives.

The easiest check for me to do is to verify that the Landlord name as listed on the rental application actually owns the building that the tenant says they are renting.  This isn’t as easy to verify when the tenant is currently renting through a large corporation, but it is easy enough to verify over the phone.  Rather than phone the number on the application, I look up the person who signed the letter on-line and phone the number that’s listed for the company.  But if the tenant is renting a house from a private owner, I look up the owner’s name. It’s easy for me to do this because my membership with several real estate boards gives me access to the Land Registry system.  I can easily find out who owns the house.

Last week, while checking a tenant’s application, I found that the name on the application did not match the owner of the home.  I found the owner’s number and left a message.  I also phoned the “landlord” that was listed on the application. She phoned me back the next day.  I asked her if she owned the house.  She said yes.  I told her that her name wasn’t on land registry.  Her story changed then. She said that she was sub-leasing to the applicant that I was phoning about.  We didn’t rent to this couple.

In our 25 years experience in renting out homes, we’ve made some mistakes.  The one that has cost the most was renting to people who would eventually stop paying rent or who would pay later and later each month. Each situation can be traced back to when I was reviewing an application and found red flags.  An inaccuracy on an application is one of the best reasons for turning away a prospective tenant.  So now, rather than call and ask the tenant about the false information, I do my own detective work and then sometimes I just say no.  An extra month vacant is less expensive than missing a few months rent and then having to go to the tribunal for an eviction order.  I like to start with great tenants.  Some may run into difficulties at some point, but they all start out as great tenants!

 

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Electronic Signatures

Yes they are legal. As of July 1, 2015, we can electronically sign agreements of purchase and sale in Ontario. Pat and I use Docusign. We load the document onto the site and add the people who will sign and add the markers where signatures and initials are required.

Docusign initial.jpg
Lovely, legible document.

We end up with a clear PDF file that has signature tracking. But then we forward this file to another party and that’s where we’re back to scanning or pictures with a phone and illegible agreements.  I wish using something like Docusign was mandatory but I don’t think that will happen.

Scanned paperclip
Signback using Scan genius – the clip is a nice touch.

Sometimes we get offers back where each page is its own JPG file or each of the twelve pages has such a dark background that you can’t make out any of the pre-printed text.  After all of the negotiation and finally coming to an agreement, we’ll end up not being able to see what we’ve agreed to. Wouldn’t it be better if the original offer was clear enough for everyone to read?

Really dark.jpg
We can barely read this clause.

 

The other benefit to using electronic signature software is accessibility for those who have any type of challenge with signing their name. There is a hosted signature option where I can bring my tablet to a client who feels self conscious because it takes so long for her to sign her signature on each page and give her the option of tapping the screen where she needs to sign.

Electronic signatures save trees!   People (young and old) don’t have printers and don’t want to print. Electronic signature software eliminates the need to print anything. There is a print button, but you don’t have to use it.

Some people are worried that electronic signatures mean that people won’t meet in person any more.  I sincerely hope that nobody is buying a home without seeing it (in person) with their Real Estate Broker or Sales Representative!

I don’t know that we will stop global warming with this option, but it is a step in the right direction.  We’ve got something that is accessible, convenient, environmentally friendly and it doesn’t cost our clients one cent!  There is a cost to the software and there is a hardware requirement if I’m going to bring a tablet to a client for signature, but I think my clients are worth the extra cost.

 

 

Shadow Flipping is not always a Bad thing.

Shadow flipping has been in the news recently with Agreements of Purchase and Sale being assigned to a new buyer two or even three times before closing.

This does happen in the GTA with some new home or condo purchases, but only if the builder’s original Agreement allows for it and several do not.  There’s a potential incremental HST cost to each purchaser and the rebate may be forfeited because the original purchaser who signed the builder’s Agreement and agreed that the home would be a principal residence will not be moving into the home.  It’s very confusing for buyers and sellers and their Realtors.  Pat and I took a course about this topic that was taught by a local Real Estate lawyer and the consensus at the end of the course was that the tax calculations were too complicated and we should all stay away from assignments of new builds.

But, an assignment isn’t always bad. It can be used when something happens and the original buyer cannot close the transaction.

We had a case where the buyers had two dogs.  The condo they purchased only allowed one dog.  We all missed it.  We asked about the pets policy at the concierge desk but not at the management office.  The lawyer was the buyer’s lawyer who did their wills and did not have real estate experience so he missed this vital part of the status certificate.  So when the buyers asked, afterJase Belsito waiving the status certificate review condition and firming up the purchase, how they should register their dogs, they were told they could only move one dog in.  They were heartbroken.  We suggested that we help them get someone to take over their agreement of purchase and sale.

Rather than list the unit for sale on MLS, which would cost the buyers commission, we helped them write an ad on one of the free sites.  We showed the condo during a revisit (with the Seller’s blessing because he knew what had happened), and helped the non-real estate lawyer with the assignment agreement.  I actually sent the sample agreement that we used in class.  The original purchase didn’t register on title, but the assignment did.  This saved the original buyer from having to pay land transfer tax.  The purchase price was the same so capital gains tax was not an issue.

The takeaway from this story is that assignments are sometimes necessary and more importantly, be wary of pet restrictions in condos.  Disclaimer:  The dog in the photo is Jase Belsito and is not the dog from the story.