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How do you choose a good tenant?

Published on January 12, 2024

Knowing how to choose a good tenant is an important skill for property owners who own rental units. It’s a way to avoid problems, enjoy peace of mind and have the best chance of making their real estate investment profitable.

Whether it’s a basement room, a duplex unit, an apartment or a house, here’s what you need to know to find reliable renters.


A good tenant’s 3 qualities

This list may vary from one property owner to another, but in general, these 3 qualities are the most important ones a potential tenant should have.

1. Respectful

Tenants must remember that the building their apartment is in belongs to people who have invested considerable resources to buy it and, in many cases, make continuous efforts to maintain it. If a tenant is neglectful, it can cause the property owner major financial losses.

So it’s important that they take care of their unit, especially things that degrade more easily:

  • Kitchen sink and countertops
  • Bathroom sink and shower
  • Appliances included in the rental
  • The balcony, if applicable
  • Communal areas
  • Parking

And it’s a big plus if the potential renters are able to maintain good relationships with their neighbours. When tenants avoid squabbling and follow the building rules, a bond of trust between the tenants and the owners should develop.

2. Good payer

The saying “good accounting makes good friends” applies especially in the tenant-owner relationship. Renters who pay on time, without any problems, are especially sought-after. They make it possible for the owners to use their energy on more productive tasks than running after rent.

3. Good communicator

Communication is an important quality that future tenants can have. It should be easy to contact them and discussions should be transparent. Did something in the apartment break? Did the washer leak? Renters must flag these problems without delay.

Both parties have a duty to advise each other of all types of developments. Maintaining honest communication lets the owners know their property is in good hands and that they will be advised if a situation that merits their attention comes up.

Well furnished living room with natural lighting

Tenants’ obligations

Under the rights and obligations set out in the lease, the renting party makes the following commitments to the owning party:

  1. Pay the agreed rent on the agreed-upon date
  2. Use the dwelling with prudence and diligence
  3. Not change the format or destination of the leased property
  4. Maintain the dwelling in clean condition
  5. Respect the laws on the safety and sanitation of dwellings
  6. Make necessary repairs to the leased property in some cases
  7. Allow urgent and necessary repairs to be made
  8. Allow visits to the dwelling to ascertain its condition, to be viewed by a prospective acquirer and to post signage or carry out required work
  9. Not change the locks of the leased property
  10. Act in such a way as not to disturb the normal enjoyment of the other lessees or the renting party
  11. Inform the lessor of any serious defect or deterioration

In addition to this, at the end of the leasing period, the tenant must remove all their movable effects and hand over the property in the condition in which they received it.

Identifying potential tenants

Looking for a platform to post your rental property? Take a look at the rental section of the DuProprio site and create your ad in a flash. While you can post your ad for free1, there are also subscription packages  available to increase your visibility.

Advertise a rental property on DuProprio

When the rental ad has been posted and messages from potential renters have been received, it’s time to do your homework to find a good tenant. Some property owners prefer performing checks before calling in the best candidates for a visit, but sometimes there isn’t enough demand to do things in that order.

Rental applications will provide valuable information, but it’s important to go further to learn more about the candidates.

Ask questions

A phone call or the visit are good times to get to know the person, and their situation, better. This is the time to ask about their background, what they do for a living and how much experience they have as a tenant.

Asking for identification

To confirm the identity of a person interested in renting a dwelling, the owner can ask them to show an official piece of ID, such as a driver’s licence or health insurance card. However it is illegal to collect the information on the ID in a rental file or elsewhere.

Checking references

There is no one better than former landlords to provide information about a potential tenant. So naturally, contacting them is recommended, to ask whether they had a positive experience with your potential renter. It’s also an effective way to find out their payment history.

White brick rental building with snow

Checking their background

The property owner can request more information about the future occupants. It is recommended to do the following background checks before signing a lease, even if the person made a good first impression.

Do a criminal record check

Having a criminal record may immediately disqualify a potential tenant for some property owners. Therefore it’s wise to start by checking that. You can find out whether someone has a criminal record by contacting a specialized organization, such as the Société québécoise d’information juridique.

Do a credit check

To find out a potential tenant’s payment habits, landlords can check their credit record. However, the property owner must get the applicant’s consent in writing to do a check that will reveal their financial behaviour.

The results will tell you the following:

  • Their available credit and balance
  • Any loans they’ve taken out
  • Their payment history for various bills (credit cards, cellphone, etc.) by month and any delinquent payments
  • Bankruptcies, if applicable

Getting information from the Régie du logement

Once the banking verification is completed, the last step in investigating tenants is to see whether any ruling has been made against them. You can do this by consulting the online records of the administrative tribunal on housing.

How to find a reliable tenant

Analyzing the information gathered should give you a complete profile of your candidates and their potential to be quality tenants. The picture of each candidate should be clearer.

Are there tenant profiles you should avoid?

Be careful when it’s time to make your selection. A property owner cannot refuse to rent a dwelling for one of the discriminatory grounds covered by Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which include the following:

  • Social status (student, retiree, unemployed), civil status (single, married, divorced), age, gender or sexual orientation
  • Ethnic background, religion or language
  • Political beliefs

On the other hand, they are allowed to decide not to rent to someone who has a criminal record, who has failed to fulfill past obligations or is unable to pay the rent.

How to choose between 2 potential renters

After you check their records, It may be wise to give preference to potential tenants who do have a criminal record, have not had financial problems and do not have a file with the administrative tribunal on housing. The same goes for a person with a stable income vs. an unemployed potential tenant.

Blue and white apartment building

Thanking a good tenant

There are many ways of thanking tenants for their good behaviour and for years of harmonious cohabitation, either during their tenancy or when they leave. You can give them a modest gift (chocolate, coffee) or write a letter. We’re willing to bet they’ll appreciate the thought! And who knows? Maybe they know someone looking for a place to live and will spread the word.

Doing the appropriate checks listed above before choosing a tenant is critical. These steps should never be omitted, because they vastly improve the odds of finding the best tenant among the applicants and enjoy some peace of mind.

Did you know? The DuProprio site lets you advertise properties for rent! Explore the services we can offer by viewing the list of available packages now.

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1. When you choose the Free package, your ad is online for 3 months and has a limit of 8 photos.