Nicki Skinner


25 August 2016
Nicki Skinner

All the news is about how hard it is to buy a home in Toronto, but have you tried to rent a place recently?  

Listings are coming and going in hours, not days.  I've had several showings cancelled literally minutes after booking them with the terse message, "Leased - no more showings."  And I do mean literally minutes.  Great units get multiple offers.  So do mediocre ones.  Great tenants have no idea why they weren't chosen.  They have a job, they have the deposit money, they filled out all the forms, didn't they?  So why not them?  It's like dating - don't take it personally if she/he doesn't call back. Move on.  Swipe right, smile and hope for the best, right?  Except hoping for the best doesn't work.  You need to have the best application possible.  This isn't casual dating, it's a job interview.  

I prep all of my renter clients with a list of paperwork they need to collect before we start looking.  If your application isn't complete and professional looking, your new Landlord won't even look at your submission.  In fact, you won't even make it past their Realtor, the person they are paying to screen out all the wrong applicants.  Sound familiar?

And I've been on both sides of this equation, representing Landlords as well and Tenants.  Landlords are extremely picky about their tenants these days because they can be.  What are they looking for?  Obviously someone who can and will pay the rent on time every month.  Someone who will keep their investment clean and in good repair, because they don't want to hear from you every month saying an appliance is broken or a lightbulb needs changing (That happens more than you think.  Don't do it). Someone who won't cause any issues with the neighbours or condo board.  This is all really obvious - or should be.  If it isn't, please reconsider your ability to actually be a tenant.

So how do YOU get the apartment rather than someone else?  Find the thing that will set you apart.  And it's not always about the money.  I had one Landlord choose the only applicant who didn't offer over asking, or offer 4 months rent in advance, because she was a social worker with a strong employment history and the Landlord respected the work she did.  Of course, offering over asking price or several months rent in advance can also be good tactics if something else in your application isn't perfect.  Play to your strengths.

My clients who had just moved here from Australia didn't have credit scores or Landlord references because Australia doesn't use credit scores and they had been living at home for the past year after travelling.  Australians travel a lot.  These two didn't even have jobs yet.  So how on earth did I get them into the building they loved ahead of everyone else?  Money in advance.  In this case, their bank balances were excellent and they were willing to pay several months up front.  And I found a condo for them before it even went on the market so the listing agent was thrilled he didn't have to do any work.  That condo was leased less than an hour after it went on MLS and it only went on MLS for legal reasons.  Because we had already rented it.

I have another client who wouldn't normally stand out, in fact, he looks like a less-than-ideal tenant on paper.  He's a young guy in his early 20's, just moved to the big city and landed his first job.  So why would anyone rent to him over an older person with a good job history?  Because my client is also a landlord in another city, so he knows how important that apartment is to the Landlord.  Not only will he treat his apartment like it's his own home, he'll treat it like his own investment that he expects to be able to rent again in a year or so and does not want to redecorate or deal with your party stains.  

And then there are the tenants with everything in order - a nice couple with good jobs, great credit scores, excellent references.  Just like the other applicant who has been short-listed.  Remember - the Landlord hasn't met you.  He's only seen your application and that's been presented by his Realtor.   You are three steps removed from the process, a stranger.  

And that's why you need someone like me, because I'm going to present your application and I'm going to make sure you are the only person they want.  

So in that sense, it is like dating.  But better, because your lease is going to last at least a year.

Ready to Start? Thinking about buying, selling, or renting?

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Nicki Skinner, "The Service You Deserve"