Table of Contents - Landlord by Design with Michael Currie
Dave Debeau [00:00:09] Everyone is David Debeau with another episode of the Property Profits Real Estate podcast today, zooming in all the way from beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia. We've got Michael Currie. How are you doing today, Michael?
Michael Currie [00:00:21] I'm doing very well. Thank you for having me on the show.
Dave Debeau [00:00:24] My pleasure. And Michael's been in the real estate business for quite some time. In fact, we were talking a little bit before we started recording that Michael actually knows my big brother Dan, who was an act real estate investor in Halifax for a number of years, and they were both part of the same real estate club. So that's kind of cool. And Michael is a an accomplished real estate investor himself, started off doing flips later on, got into buying the properties. And nowadays his main claim to fame is not only is he a real estate investor because but he's also become very, very knowledgeable about dealing with tenants. So his he's got a book, he's got a website. He's got all sorts of great stuff called Landlord by Design. So, Michael, looking forward to chatting with you about how to do this whole landlordism thing a lot better.
Michael Currie [00:01:15] Yes, it's it's always a work in progress.
Dave Debeau [00:01:18] Definitely. So first of all, I'm guessing and I could be wrong, I'm guessing that there might have been a few little stumbles and trips along the way in your in your journey towards landlordism success. So can you tell us when it really became evident that you needed to do it in better about. Landlord and all things that revolve around that,
Michael Currie [00:01:43] I think well, on my evolutionary journey, I was doing some flips as a rising market, so I don't want to sound like a hero or anything, but between two thousand one two thousand nine property values were going up. Then some things changed around the 08 09, as everyone knows. And then all my advisors, because sometimes on the flipside is really easy to spend your profits. So you do take some money, you take a trip by boats, houses, whatever, you blow your money. And then someone telling me, hey, you know, I might want to think about the future and buy and hold is where it's at. So I was like, oh, okay, great. You know, sounds easy. So I get into some Bino investments and then I was like a dorm maniac. All I want to do is like get as many hours and looking at quality over quantity as more quantity over quality. So I was buying everything. I get my medicine, which led me into getting some maybe less desirable properties in my portfolio, which led to some precarious situations that I found if I got real estate. Education is all about the hype and all about, you know, how you can make money in the process. And no one really talked about what it actually means to manage a property and negotiate with tenants and negotiate with contractors and just a life long customer experience like, you know, you have your tenants are your customers. They got to provide customer service and then you got tenant relation issues. Like until I got into bigger buildings, I didn't realize that someone would complain because someone's TV was too loud or, you know, the vacuum was too loud or people were coming in too late at night. And there's all these issues. So I started a blog and that was around twenty fifteen, I think it was. There's a bit of therapy. I guess it was like I was like, why does no one talk about property management? And then I thought, you know what, I can write the truth about it because I don't have I still I don't have a property management company. I manage properties of my own. So I guess in theory I have my own internal, but I only deal with them myself, my own company, and so I can write a non biased opinion on my thoughts and trials and tribulations. And part of it's entertaining and part of it is how to. So I kind of created a manual that, you know, everything from how to paint units, like when I got into bigger properties, it's like, well, do you have to use no guys? No, no, no. You do quick and dirty paint job while ceiling trim all the same color. Right. And, you know, so I was like, OK, or you can do the deluxe. And that's where the trims white and the walls are another color. I was the ceiling, one color or you know, or the super deluxe is like those ceilings. White trims white in the walls are different color. Right. So it's like this weird learning experiences along the way. And so I just start writing about it. And then I found there's a huge audience for it. There's like people craving and mind you, most people contact me when they're pretty far in the weeds like they've already gone off course.
Dave Debeau [00:05:05] Yeah, that's what they look at I'm sure. Yeah, for sure.
Michael Currie [00:05:08] Yeah. And I think in this area what I'm finding is a lot of people are what I call accidental landlords because as much as they are, if you talk financial bars, you know, this is great wealth transfer. Well, there's also this building transfer. And my most recent client of mine, they they had inherited is it just a handful of properties for four classes. But the accounting filing system consisted of a laundry basket full of papers and half tenants weren't paying rent and the buildings were all on the right. And the their mother who passed away, lived off it, but just barely it sounds like it was if half of them paid whatever, she didn't need much to live on. And so the buildings are a total disaster and it's you know, so then they got there.
Dave Debeau [00:06:02] So what do you see her as? You've been you've been doing this for a long time and you've been writing about it for a long time. And what do you see are some of the biggest mistakes people are making when it comes to property management and tenant management?
Michael Currie [00:06:16] I think the people where I see people get into trouble is they tend to either to buy the book and they're a little like they're afraid of either afraid of breaking the rules or they're afraid of negotiating out or having what they may consider confrontation. Yeah, and not realizing. That it's a customer service business and one of the tenants, we have no revenue. So you got to look at it all the time, what's in the best interest for your properties? Because I had a few just recently with covid. I had a few people with smaller portfolios and they were like, well, I got like one tenant. They're not paying the rent. And this might sound controversial, but I was like, was there a good tenant? And there good up and down. Now, like, are you going to set up a system that's going to set them up to fail? Never pay rent off a month or two. It's not going to kill you. Right. Like, just just deal with every case on a case by case circumstance. Right. Somebody has to leave a do you want someone doing a midnight move or would you rather the courtesy of if they're going to break the lease anyway, maybe you can make a deal. Maybe they can have the place completely spick and span and you let the lease a couple months earlier. And I find that people that often contact me, they perceive they have a tenant issue, which to me is almost like a simple negotiation, could just straighten out instantaneously. And they're all kind of bent out of shape because they're like, well, that's not the rules.
Dave Debeau [00:07:55] And so what I'm hearing there is that a lot of landlords, they just it's kind of a combination of my way or the highway. Plus this is what the rules say. So if you don't follow the rules, forget about it versus being more pragmatic, more practical about it and looking at you, stepping back and looking at the the big picture and saying how can this not only best benefit the other person, but me as well in the long term.
Michael Currie [00:08:24] Yeah, exactly.
Dave Debeau [00:08:25] All right. So so if somebody is in that position where especially if you've been in the real estate game for a while, it's hard not to be a little jaded sometimes because we've all been we've all got some version of a tenant from hell story that's either happened to us or we're very, very familiar with how do we stay, stay the course of being friendly. And that way, when we've got that kind of experience behind us,
Michael Currie [00:08:54] I think for me, in the way I've always looked at it is like, is this never take the experience is personal. Now, I've had lots of experiences and obviously enough to start a blog and write a book on that. And as minutos or Easy Ride, especially, a lot of times you're inheriting situations, as you know, when you're buying buildings. And I think that you're really going to not take it personal and look at the best interests of your company and the tenant and how it's going to work out, work out best for both parties and make it a win win. And sometimes you get go up by your time, like if if you've got to pay somebody to get out of a place and pay them some of the moving costs or whatever, whatever you got to do, that's going to avoid a four-month hellish eviction process. It's going to cost you, you know, three thousand dollars or four thousand dollars as opposed to maybe you kind of got a check, a thousand dollars by your time to move on now. And, you know, and sometimes that might end up with a handshake and a clean environment at the end of it, which
Dave Debeau [00:10:10] is way better than what it could be.
Michael Currie [00:10:12] Or you go through the eviction process. And by the time you get the sheriff there, four months later, you miss out on all the rent and you have a trashed place. Exactly.
Dave Debeau [00:10:25] Definitely. So, OK, so that's one of the big mistakes. What else what are what are some of the the issues that you see coming up over and over again for landlords that it could be I don't know if you could say easily avoided, but fairly easily rectified.
Michael Currie [00:10:40] Virtually no one is tenant screening and any place tenants by a landlord that people are in trouble with. It generally can be traced back to screening. Because the first question I ask is, I say send me over the original application when you approve this tenant and that sometimes gets caught with a deer in the headlights or some silence. And then I say, send me over a copy of the lease of the lease. Oh, does that have to be a readonly nowadays? Like, you know, it's it blows my mind how many I just mentioned that for whenever it's like how many landlords don't even have leases, they just don't have to sign lease and how many still take cash or that. So I think in the screening is where a landlord has the power and as soon as they place the tenant, all the rights, all the security, everything goes. To the tenant, everything favors the tenant, unless there's a different tenancy board that somebody deals with and is in Canada, the United States or my clients in the UK or Scotland as I get all these different places right.
Dave Debeau [00:11:57] So what would be some decent tips for people on how to screen better? Because sometimes people can get through an application, make the application look good. What are you some of your tips for actually following up on references and knowing if they're boys or not, that sort of thing?
Michael Currie [00:12:14] Well, for a reference check. So, like so well, number one, we always do a credit check, so we always politbureau and see. What was that? I'll tell you a story, because I'll tell you, if they say they might have committed a place that they were evicted from or had a bad experience at in their process, that will show up on that on a credit report. So I always
Dave Debeau [00:12:38] do evictions and late rents show up on credit reports. Are the real estate investors aren't aren't connected to the credit bureaus?
Michael Currie [00:12:48] I think the so there's a company out, A, B, C, which is a tenant verification, Darkon. And they they service Canada and the US and you do have to give blood to sign up. It's it's a process because you're handling sensitive data. But once you sign up, it's twenty four dollars credit check in Nova Scotia. There's a there's a local like a Nova Scotia Tennesee organization, Neponset, what's called Ontario has a Tennessee organization that if you sign up for, we'll give you a cheaper they have a landlord association that you can get cheaper credit checks. But it is it is one hundred for ten percent critical not because you're looking for a credit score, because you're looking for a consistent story that matches up with the application. And whenever someone gives a work number, you always have to always Google it. Of course. Right. And do a little bit of Google research. You know, a friend of mine that dealt with a lot of Seagrave buildings used to use to say you put the tennis name into Google and say, you know, Joe Smith arrested or Joe Smith crime or something like that in in there, like your hated social media. Everyone go on to Facebook, check it out, get a feel for for who you're putting in there and look at it like like a business deal. So if the rent's a thousand dollars a month and it's a one year lease, it's a twelve thousand dollar loan, is the guy going to make good on that twelve thousand dollar loan or not?
Dave Debeau [00:14:28] So not only that, but he's living in your three or four hundred thousand dollar asset.
Michael Currie [00:14:33] That's right. And so we do like a four pillar kind of approach. And you have to verify income. Yeah. You have to be very, very cautious about human rights. So you can't you can't judge on the source of income, but you can definitely see if the income of that qualifies.
Dave Debeau [00:14:54] What do you mean by that? You can judge on the source of the income. What do you mean
Michael Currie [00:14:58] if you have a it's against human rights, if somebody has a source of income. So let's say they're on social assistance, for example, you can't say, well, I don't rent to people on social set. That's that's a violation of human rights. But if somebody has social services, if you verify the income and it's eight hundred dollars and your policy is in your rent and a twelve hundred dollar apartment, well, too, don't add up. So that's OK. So you can verify the amount. You just have to be very cautious with not stepping on to
Dave Debeau [00:15:37] the human rights, said Michael. Time flies when you're having fun. If people want to find out more about you, your blog, your book, what should they do?
Michael Currie [00:15:45] Yeah, just head to Landlord ByDesign Dotcom. And what do you find? Like I write for fun. Like I'd love to help out landlords. So it's almost I was joke. I said I wrote the book that I wish I had when I first started out. So on there on a regular basis like I've been writing like crazy because of covid and I'm connected to some landlords associations, some various ones in the canon in the United States. So I got a lot of kind of like neat stories because it's, you know, we're all in the in the same sort of situation, just different countries, different provinces, different states. But it's all pretty much the same thing. And it's you know, I have forms on there, like downloadable books, like I get tons and tons of free stuff on there that. If you're in if you want to find out property management or you just want to entertain yourself or you want a little property management therapy, I got it all right there.
Dave Debeau [00:16:47] Landlord Design, thanks very much. Nice to get to meet you there, Michael.
Michael Currie [00:16:52] Yes, thank you.
Dave Debeau [00:16:53] All right, everybody, take care. We'll see you on the next episode. Bye bye. Well, hey there. Thanks for tuning into the property profits podcast. If you like this episode, that's great. Please go ahead and subscribe on iTunes. Give us a good review. That would be awesome. I appreciate that. And if you're looking to attract investors and raise capital for your deals, that may invite you to get a complimentary copy of my newest book right back there. There it is, the money partner formula. You got a PDF version at Investor Attraction book, dot com again, investor attraction book, dot com ticker.