Caroline, Landlord Sechelt
Caroline purchased a two level home in Davis Bay four years ago. When she took over the house, the first thing she did was invest in the existing downstairs suite with high end finishings, wood floors, and installed a separate water heater and laundry set so the suite is fully self-contained and autonomous from the rest of the house.
The renovations cost around $30,000 but the value of her home has doubled in the four years, for a very good return on the up-front investment.
“I’d like to live downstairs,” she shared. “It’s even nicer than it is up here, and the quality is high enough that I won’t have to do anything else down there for 15-20 years. I don’t even have to think about it. Do it once, do it right.”
Tenants tend to stay 1-3 years, and reasons for leaving are to join a new partner in other housing, or because the stay has been temporary during divorce proceedings or medium-term contract work on the Coast that has completed.
Caroline has a number of strategies for ensuring the fit is good between herself as the Landlord, and the tenant. She keeps the rent just below market rates to attract the most applicants, and then runs rigorous checks: criminal records check and conversations with a minimum of two past landlords or a long time employer (no friends & family references accepted). She has a strict no pets no smoking policy; while she understands how important pets are, several experiences with irresponsible pet owners costing in the thousands of dollars is too high a risk for her.
As landlord, Caroline offers a standard one year lease, with the option of month-to-month or a lease renewal on the anniversary date to keep things simple. The suite has always been left in good order with departing tenants as long as she has owned the home, and as she has it professionally cleaned and painted if necessary between tenants she has not felt the need for a formal inspection of the suite while tenants occupy it.
A bonus is that Caroline and the tenant have children of a similar age, and kids going between the suites constantly provides a more informal check in on how life downstairs is going, and the two families share a brunch most weekends.
Caroline has three pieces of advice for would be landlords. One, don’t set the price too high; two, reward good tenants with stable or slightly lowered rent longterm, and always – always – do a criminal records and background check and talk with references. The CRC is only $25 and can save a lot of heartache, and set your mind at ease with sharing your physical home with a stranger, especially if you have children at home.