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Never Hire a Real Estate Agent to Rent your Property

people in an interview

I occasionally get referrals from real estate agent to rent out places. Quite a few agents will freely admit that they hate rentals. It’s pretty easy to figure out why. They don’t make any money renting after all the splits and commissions. Renting a property is almost as much work as selling one. A while back there were a bunch of real estate agents spamming everyone who posted rental ads on Craigslist and Kijiji.

Hire a Specialist in Residential Renting

I highly recommend hiring a specialist in residential renting. There are a number of companies that specialize just in renting and you should hire one of those. You should hire me.. because I’m the best, but if you don’t want to hire me, hire Speedy Rental Agency. I used to work for them and they’re good too. That’s here in the GTA of course. You’ll have to find someone local if your property is not in the GTA.

How the Business Works

Any rental service charges the same amount. They charge one month’s rent when the property rents. They’ll also kick out tenants that don’t pay rent, you’ll have to pay court costs. They’ll serve all the eviction papers and fill them all out for you as well. If your rental company doesn’t offer this find someone else.

They’ll also pay for all the advertising, do all the showings, provide applications and leases.

We focus on never having evictions. My record is pretty good, for instance until I went to rent/property manage townhouses in South Oshawa. I had no evictions in 2 years.

We also rent almost 100% of the properties we take on in 60 days which is our “listing” period. I for instance have failed to rent 4 properties in the last 5 years I’ve been in business. Those are pretty good odds.

A fair number of times I’ve been asked to rent properties that have not rented using a real estate agent. I rented them usually in short order and I’m not sure why they didn’t rent.

Real Estate Agents Renting

Every time house sales go down real estate agents start to rent property. Last year I got a hold of a statistical document from TREB that showed that real estate agent rent about 50% of all properties they list for rent. That really sucks.

They also don’t offer any additional services such as kicking out the bad tenants they rent to. If you get a tenant who doesn’t pay rent, too bad.

They advertise pretty much exclusively on the MLS site. The problem with this is that the MLS site is not known for rental properties. Then if they do get a call it gets routed to the office and then a few days or hours later the agent calls them back.

Their application process is overly elaborate for most tenants, who ever heard of tenants putting together an offer to lease? The application itself is too intrusive and longer than necessary.

Their lease is also too long, you shouldn’t need to take your lease to a lawyer to know what it means. Almost every single thing you could write into a lease is already outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act and you cannot contract out of the law. Trying to is just stupid.

Their lease also doesn’t include the required by law Tenant Information Package. The Landlord & Tenant Board is interpreting a tenant not receiving it as the tenant not having to pay the rent until they get it! This is an important omission.

Then there is an important conflict of interest inherent in hiring someone who’s main agenda is getting you to sell your property. That’s how real estate agents make money. I have heard a number of horror stories about this. Basically if a real estate agent can get you a good tenant why should you sell?

There are also a few scammer rental agencies out there, they are mostly characterized by low prices. It’s almost impossible to hire someone to rent your place, pay for advertising and drive out multiple times to your place to show the property, pay for overhead and credit checks for under a month’s rent.

Fake List of Tenants

Another thing people ask me a lot is if I have a list of tenants looking for places. That is almost impossible. Most tenants are looking in a pretty specific area, with rather narrow criteria, for a very limited time. A database for tenants would be good for about 2-3 weeks and only if you have exactly what that person is looking for. No one has this! If they tell you they do, they’re liars. The spam I was getting from the real estate agent boasted this! Everyone writes down tenant info but chances are that by the time you list your property that person already found a place.

Why Agencies Are Better At Renting

The reason why we’re better at renting is because we’re available on the phone, we can occasionally show a place at a moments notice, and most importantly we know how to recognize a decent tenant. Some people never get the hang of qualifying prospective tenants. My friend Norma who works at Speedy Rental has been renting for about 10 years and she’s had one eviction during that whole time. She clearly has superior skill in avoiding bad apples.

The other talent we have is experience. I’m not sure how many properties I’ve rented but it’s likely over a thousand. You get good at it. We see hundreds of tenants. If you have one property with a couple units you’re renting it once every year or two. I rent more than that per month every month, year after year.

Real Estate Agents Are Professionals?

Another myth about real estate agent is that they are all professionals. I’m not sure when this came about. My way of thinking is that being professional required more than 3 correspondence courses and a week of class. Doctors and lawyers are professionals, they spend about 7-10 years in school. Even licensed carpenters spend two years in school plus several years of apprenticeship. Property managers like me spend two years in school and now they even have university courses. Real Estate Agents are not professionals in my opinion. It doesn’t matter how often they say it, it’s a lie.

My Best Clients

My favourite kind of landlord is the one who’s just too busy to do the legwork of getting a tenant on their own. People have jobs and kids and obligations. People who work odd hours or shift-work or can’t answer the phone at work, find it extremely difficult to find tenants. You have to be available to show the place when the tenants want to see it. You have to answer calls. If you can’t do those things then get someone who is available.

Some owners also don’t want anything to do with tenants. I have one owner who I do property management for like this. He’s great, he knows what he doesn’t want to do and he pays me to do it for him.

If you’ve just had an eviction you probably shouldn’t rent your place yourself. Like someone coming out of a bad relationship, rebound tenancies can be problematic. It’s best to give yourself some time to heal before renting again. Entering a new tenancy requires trust and if you can’t have some degree of trust in tenants, then it may be better to pass the job onto someone who is competent at selecting good tenants. You’re at risk of taking on someone who tells you want you want to hear, usually a con artist or scammer. Not Good!

So that’s my take on the subject, don’t hire a real estate agent to rent your place, get a specialist. You can hire me to do it but if you think I’m a flake or you just don’t like me you can use my competitor Speedy Rental Agency.

Happy Renting!

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