Ontario Landlords Association

Welcome to the OLA for Small Business Landlords

The Ontario Landlords Association (OLA) and its sister organization The Canada Landlords Association (CLA) are leading provincial and national organizations for private small residential landlords. We provide a unified voice for private landlords and promote and protect our members' interests to national and local government.

  • Network with top professionals
  • Get advice from experienced landlords
  • Learn how the Landlord and Tenant Board works
  • Meet our recommended partners
  • Take part in landlord activities, social events.
  • A chance to "get involved!"

The Ontario Landlords Association is the Recognized Voice For Residential Landlords in Ontario

 

“The Ministry greatly values the role the Ontario Landlords Association and its members play in providing quality, affordable rental housing in Ontario and recognizes the OLA provides an important voice for small private residential landlords.”

Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

 

Toronto Star: Ontario Tenants Can Offer Rent Upfront

April 1st, 2014

Ontario Tenants Can Offer Rent Upfront

Can tenants voluntarily pay the landlord extra rent or a deposit for pets?

A recent column in the Toronto Star has caused a lot of excitement for residential landlords all over the province.

Ontario landlords often complain about the challenges caused by not being able to charge tenants a damage deposit.

It’s common for landlords to face a big clean up job or lots of needed repairs when tenants move out.

This not only costs landlords a lot of money, it also has a negative impact on new tenants who move in and expect a clean and well maintained property as this The Grid article explains.

To recoup the costs of cleaning the rental unit or fixing the property landlords have to pursue their former tenants and take them to Ontario Small Claims Court.

Some landlords are successful at this, as you can see at this story ‘Ontario Landlords and Small Claims Court‘, it can be a difficult and time-consuming process.

Some landlords simply cannot find their ex-tenants to serve them court papers to get the process even started.

Background

The Toronto Star story explained the background to their story.

Mississauga landlord Tanveer Bumbia rented to a tenant who was in Canada on a visitor visa.

At first Bumbia had concerns the tenant would be able to continue to fulfill the terms of the lease and keep paying rent.

However, he rented to her because the tenant paid one year of rent up front and a security deposit.

After moving in the tenant filed to get the extra rent and security deposit back because the Residential Tenancies Act states landlords can only request ‘first and last months’ rent.”

During the case an email from the tenant’s Realtor was disclosed.

The email clearly stated the tenant would pay all twelve months of rent.

Since the tenant offered the money voluntarily the judge decided it was legal (while the damage deposit was not because the tenant hadn’t offered it).

The tenant appealed the verdict and in February 2014 another decision was made a Superior Court judge.

This new decision (which can be read here) agreed with the first one. 

Judge Marrocco explained:

1. A landlord cannot require the tenant to pay anything more than just ‘first and last   

   month’s rent’ in order to agree to rent t the tenant.

2. If the tenant offered to pay more rent money upfront the landlord could accept it and it  

    would be legal

3. The landlord would be required to pay the tenant interest on this extra rent according

     to the Act

What Does This Mean For Ontario Landlords?

According to the Toronto Star story, the decision will have an impact on how tenants and landlords do business together.

For example, you can’t put in your rental advertisement that you will require anything more than just first and last months’ rental payment.

You also can’t advertise you will charge a security or pet deposit.

If the tenant voluntarily offers to pay the landlord extra rent the landlord can accept it.

Also, if the tenant volunteers the landlord can accept a deposit for things such as potential pet damages.

Landlords Speak Out

The Star story has caused a stir for landlords.

You can see this on some of the post at the Ontario Landlord Forum.

Some landlords are excited about giving tenants more options to negotiation with them.

“This could really be a game changer and help landlords and good tenants.

Tenants who might have bad credit or pets and are having a hard time finding a landlord to rent them because of the risks for the landlord…”

An new Ottawa landlord is confused about what the real rules for landlords are:

“What’s going on? I called the Landlord and Tenant Board 1-888 telephone number and asked about this. The customer service representative informed me landlords can only collect ‘first’ and ‘last’ months’ rent.”

An Alberta landlord finds the who situation bizarre because it doesn’t make sense to ever deny tenants the right to negotiate to rent from a landlord:

“Many of us out there think it’s insane landlords in Ontario can’t charge a damage, security or pet deposit.

This means the tenants don’ t have any ‘skin in the game’ and won’t treat your property right.

The fact that a person who wants to rent from you offer you more money might not be able to do so is just bizarre.”

Tenants Should Have the Right To Freely Negotiate

We support a tenant’s right to negotiate with a potential landlord.

We also feel it’s time to change the Residential Tenancies Act to allow landlords to ask for security and pet deposits.

With some protection against damages more people will invest in residential rental property in Ontario which will lead to more high quality rentals and more choices for tenants.

We will follow this carefully to help Ontario landlords navigate an ever more confusing legal environment.

Renting To Students in Ontario

March 1st, 2014

Tips On How Can You Become a Successful Student From University of Toronto Housing Services

Tips On How Can You Become a Successful Student Landlord From University of Toronto Housing Services

Residential landlords in Ontario face a lot of challenges.

Whether it’s professional tenants manipulating the system to avoid paying rent or the government 2014 guideline allowing you to raise the rent only 0.8%, the challenges are real and daunting.

(Although you might be exempt and can raise the rent above the guideline if you own new buildings!)

Many existing landlords and new investors have written in with questions regarding renting to students.

After all, students are usually less jaded than older folks and have worked hard to gain entry into university.

With a heavy load of studies and busy social lives they are less inclined to think of ways to bring their landlord to the Landlord and Tenant Board and ‘play the system’.

Examples of students causing major (and expensive) problems for their landlords exist.

Take a look at this story from the Peterborough Examiner.

However, it seems renting to students attending colleges and universities is a profitable and safer way for you to invest in residential rental properties in Ontario.

Many landlords who rent to students have positive things to say about their investment choice on the Ontario Landlords Forum:

“I like renting to students. My houses are downtown near 3 universities in Toronto, so most of my tenants have been students.

Rent is secure, as they usually have OSAP or parental income to cover the rent.

I have indeed had students ask me to change their lightbulbs but I just tell them it is up to them to do that, offer them a ladder, and it isn’t an issue …

The dormitories at school usually only take first year students, and for second year the students have to find their own place (due to lack of space in the dorms to house everyone), so if you can get a group of second year students, you’ve got tenants for 3 more years and then they usually move out.

Best of all…No professional tenants among students…!”

Are You Interested In Renting To Students Yet?

We contacted the University of Toronto for help on getting some tips and advice on what students want from their landlords.

The Manager of Housing Services for the University of Toronto is Jennifer Radley. 

Jennifer provided answers to our questions and we appreciate her assistance. 

10 Tips On How To Be a Successful Student Landlord

Here are some of our questions to Jennifer and her tips.

 #1 What are student tenants looking for in a rental property?

Students are looking for a place that is either close to campus or along a transit line and close to amenities. Ideally, the monthly rent would be within the average rates already listed in our registry and would include utilities. If renting a basement apartment, students look for adequate lighting and windows. Above all, students want a safe, reasonably-maintained rental unit, and a good landlord. 

#2 What are most student tenants looking for when they say they want a “good landlord”?

To students, a good landlord is someone who:

  o     Follows the law (eg. Human Rights Code and Residential Tenancies Act)

  o     Offers affordable rental rates

  o     Repairs and maintains the property as required, in a timely manner 

 #3 What is the most common complaint from U of T students about off-campus landlords?

The most common complaint is landlords not repairing and/or maintaining the property in a timely manner.

The issues brought forward include everything from appliance and plumbing issues to pests and fire/water damage.

#4 Is it a good idea for a landlord to get involved in student tenant vs. student  tenant issues?

We recommend landlords follow the RTA and/or get advice on tenant vs. tenant issues from the Landlord Self-Help Centre and/or the Landlord and Tenant Board.

#5  How can a landlord improve a property to make it more “user friendly” for students?

Based on feedback we receive, the most appealing features are:

 o     Have utilities included in the rental rate (utilities can be quite intimidating to a student,  especially if international)

 o     Bright space/windows

 o     If shared accommodation, should have locks on the bedroom doors

 o     If private, a separate entrance

 o     Bike storage

 o     Pet-friendly

#6  Any tips on how a private landlord can communicate and cooperate with   university housing? (As not all housing services are as cool as the U of T one)

Yes – and thank you! Landlords can visit http://housing.utoronto.ca/Landlords.htm to learn more about our service, subscribe to our bi-annual LandlordNews newsletter, and to register/place an ad.

We are also available via phone 416-978-8045 and email (housing.services@utoronto.ca) during regular office hours to answer questions.

Let other landlords know about our service. 

#7  We hear student tenants are more and more concerned about safety. How can a private off-campus landlord accommodate that? Are things like security cameras a good idea or will student thinks it’s too invasive?

Things such as alarm systems, security cameras (more common in apartment buildings), bolt-locks (rather than doorknob locks), window locks, and good outdoor lighting (eg. motion-sensored) are some ways a landlord can make their property feel safer.

#8 Many of our landlord members are hands-on and not absentee landlords. Do students like landlords who come and do regular safety inspections (with proper notice) or do they prefer landlords stay away?

I think this depends on how often, how much notice is given, and how invasive the inspection is. No tenant, including students, want their landlord entering their room/unit all the time. I believe, however, safety inspections are typically done on an annual basis (unless there is adequate reason for another). In which case, with proper notice, I wouldn’t see that being a problem. This is based on the individual’s preference.  

#9 Should landlords encourage tenants to get insurance?

Yes. We also encourage students to get tenant’s insurance.

#10 Where can landlords who rent to students learn more to become better landlords and have better relations with their student tenants?

U of T Housing Services is a great place to start!

Where Is a Good Place To Invest In Student Rental Properties?

There are a lot of good colleges and universities in Ontario.

For example, Toronto landlords have, as our OLA member wrote, three universities and numerous colleges in the city.

Ottawa landlords have a market of students going to the University of Ottawa and Carleton. 

Hamilton landlords often rent properties out to students at McMaster University.

We will discuss this more thoroughly in future blogs.

Landlords – Is Renting to Students Right For you?

To Discuss This and Other Landlord Topics Welcome to the Ontario Landlords Forum

How Much Can You Raise the Rent For New Buildings?

February 22nd, 2014

Ontario landlords raise the rent new buildings

Landlords Ask: How Much Can I Raise the Rent for New Condos, Townhouses, Houses and Buildings in 2014?

We informed Ontario landlords about the 2014 rent increase guideline back in June.

Lots of Ontario landlords were unhappy when they read the report and learned the Ontario government set the 2014 Rent Increase Guideline at only 0.8%.

The news led to even more frustration and even anger when an Ontario Landlords Association member was interviewed about the meager increase in the Toronto Sun newspaper.

The OLA member explained how the increase hurt small landlords and our ability to provide well maintained rental properties for our tenants.

Landlords can only raise the rent by 0.8% for current tenants in Ontario and many landlords feel it’s simply too low and doesn’t take into account the real rising expenses residential landlords face.

After all  Alberta landlords don’t have any rent increase guideline.

And British Columbia landlords area allowed to raise the rent by the rate of inflation PLUS 2 % to account for the special costs landlords knows we face.

The ridiculously low guideline has led some Ottawa landlords to want to leave the residential rental industry completely and move to commercial rental properties where there is more freedom to run run your rental business like a real business.

Are You Exempt from the 2014 Rent Increase Guideline?

We have received thousands of emails from landlords asking us to help clarify the Rent Increase Guideline for them.

Here’s A Common Question from a New Landlord On the Ontario Landlord Forum:

Excellent forum and thank you for all the good advice and posts here.

I bought a townhouse property which was newly built in 2013 and rented since Spring 2013.

My taxes are higher than expected and when I first took possession from the builder I forgot there was a fee for the road which is considered un-assumed and I have to pay a pretty big monthly fee to the builder to maintain it.

I currently rent the property for $1600/month and would like to raise the rent to take account for my increased costs.

I read that the 2014 rent increase is only 0.8% 

0.8% won’t cover my costs and I think I might be exempt from the because the property is only a year old. Can someone with experience explain how this works because I want to make sure I do it right.

You May Be Exempt From the Ontario Rent Increase Guideline

The annual guideline applies to most rental properties in Ontario. 

However, it you need to know it doesn’t cover all of them.

The Residential Tenancies Act has Section 6 (2) which lists where a landlord can raise the rent above the rent increase guideline.

It’s important you look at this carefully.

The Residential Tenancy Act and the rent increase guideline doesn’t apply to landlords if you meet the following criteria:

The provisions of the RTA that deal with the maximum amount by which rents can be increased do not apply with respect to a rental unit if:

1.         It was not occupied for any purpose before June 17, 1998

- meaning it is either in a new building (often a condominium building) built since 1998, or an older building with a new unit or never occupied, residentially or otherwise, before June 17, 1998;

2.         It is a rental unit no part of which has been previously rented since July  

            29, 1975

- meaning only the owner has used or occupied the unit since 1975; or

3.         No part of the building, mobile home park or land lease community was

            occupied for residential purposes before November 1, 1991

- meaning the building was probably commercially used before 1991 and then was converted to residential use.

Landlords Ask: If I Qualify For the Above What’s Next?

If any of the the above situations describe your situation, an N2 rent increase form can be given when increasing the rent by any amount.  

In most other situations (unless the rent increase is by agreement of both parties) an N1 form should be given to increase rent only by the guideline. 

Landlords are required to provide 90 days written notice when increasing the rent using either the N1 or N2 form.

You can find these forms here: http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/en/Forms/STEL02_111311.html

Some Groups Want To End This Important Rule for New Landlords

The NDP and Some Left Wing Toronto Councillors aren’t happy with rent increase exemptions, calling it a ‘loophole.’

Some claim it’s unfair and leads to some tenants being “hammered” by huge rent increases.

Others claim it leaves some renters vulnerable to large rent increases.

We will discuss this in future posts.

Ontario Landlords and Raising the Rent

Landlords make sure you are aware of the rules.

The rent increase guideline exemption is designed to encourage investment in new rental properties and it exists for you to use it.

Ontario Landlords, make sure you are aware of the rules and do proper tenant screening to find great tenants, cover your costs, make profits and have a successful rental business.

Evicted Tenant Leaves Duffle Bag of Marijuana Behind

 February 1st, 2014

Guelph landlords tenant criminal check Make Tenant Criminal Checks Part of Your Expert Tenant Screening System

Ontario landlords know the importance of tenant screening in 2014.

Renting to good tenants is the key for succeeding as a landlord.

And there are lots of good tenants out there.

They are looking for high quality rental housing run by service-oriented, knowledgeable, professional landlords like you.

Good tenants pay their rent on time and respect your property.

We’ve seen so many stories of the damages bad tenants can cause over the past year.

A quick look at the our landlord forum will show you stories of landlords losing thousands of dollars in lost rent and spending even more to repair damages to their rental properties.

Some investors, such as these Ottawa landlords, are even thinking of getting out of the residential rental industry and moving to commercial rentals.

With commercial rentals you have a lot more landlord rights.

You don’t have to deal with the Landlord and Tenant Board and if your tenants don’t pay the rent you can take effective action.

Bad Tenants and Marijuana

A recent story in the Guelph Mercury shows another problem landlords can face if you don’t screen properly: renters who break the law.

Here’s what happened.

According the newspaper report the landlord evicted their tenant.

Experienced landlords know some tenants leave garbage behind when they leave.

After all, Ontario landlords are not allowed to charge a damage deposit and this often leads to tenants moving out without cleaning up thoroughly.

Usually a few hours of cleaning or hiring a cleaning company can get your rental property back into good shape.

Except this time it was different

Instead of the usual bags of trash, refrigerators full of food, or old clothes and toys, this evicted tenant left something behind we’re sure he regrets forgetting about.

The landlord got the police involved because what the tenant left behind was a duffle bag filled with marijuana.

According to Guelph police, there were over 3 grams of marijuana left in the bag.

The reality is it’s not only British Columbia landlords who have to worry about tenants and pot these days.

It’s a problem landlords are facing all over Canada.

How much marijuana was left in the duffle bag?

If the amount left by the evicted tenant was old on the ‘market’ at current prices the street value of the pot would be over $30,000!

The former tenant from Owen Sound was charged not only with ‘possession’ but with having it for the purpose of ‘trafficking.’

Tenant Criminal Checks

This is another example for why smart landlords focus on tenant screening.

This includes tenant credit checks and checking references carefully.

But what about criminal checks?

Fortunately, landlords can now do high quality, low cost tenant criminal checks with Garda through membership with the Ontario Landlords Association.

Protect yourself and your investment.

By adding a criminal check to your screening system you lower your risk factor and increase the chance you will find and rent to great tenants.

Ontario Landlords: Tenant Screening and Tenant Credit Checks

 January 17th, 2014

Ontario landlords association tenant credit check 2014

What Are the Rules For Ontario Landlords to Do a Tenant Credit Check the Right Way?

(And What Happens If You Don’t? Because Tenants Are Complaining So Be Careful)

Landlords know the importance of renting to good tenants.

We have written about this before to warn Ontario landlords.

There are a lot of good tenants all over the province and they want to rent from you.

These tenants pay the rent on time and respect you and your rental property.

Landlords big and small are seeking these tenants who follow the rules and cooperate with their landlords for a win-win situation.

It’s especially important since the Ontario Rent Increase Guideline is only 0.8% as a recent Toronto Sun report explained.

Bad Tenants

There is also a large group of bad tenants out there.

Whether you are an Ottawa landlord, a Toronto landlord, own properties a bit north and are a Barrie landlord or anywhere else in the province you have surely heard about the damage bad tenants can do to landlords in Ontario.

These bad tenants know how to manipulate the system and will end up costing you thousands of dollars in losses and months of stress and frustration.

A Supreme Court Justice even said there are too many opportunities for bad tenants to take advantage of good landlords in Ontario. You can read what the judge said at the excellent column by our friend Bob Aaron at the Toronto Star.

Tenant Credit Checks

The Ontario Landlords Association has introduced tenant credit checks and their importance in a professional tenant screening system to thousands of landlords across the province.

We have excellent partners such as Equifax, TVS, and GARDA.

They are authorized to conduct tenant credit checks and look into your potential tenant’s financial history.

These companies provide tools for landlords to succeed with their rental businesses by helping you rent to good tenants.

Are Some Landlords Doing It Wrong?

Yes, some are.

And you need to be careful.

We have received lots of emails from tenants who are claiming some landlords are obtaining their credit data in a fraudulent manner.

The tenants say their privacy rights have been stomped on by small landlords.

There have also been posts about this from tenants on the Ontario Landlords Forum.

For example a tenant wrote:

I’m looking for some advice on how to deal with a serious situation.

I take great care of my credit profile and my privacy. This year I was forced to look to rent a property near my work. After finding a property I was interested in the landlord said they would do an employment check, reference check and a credit check on me to see if I was qualified. I agreed they could.

Fast forward and I recently checked my credit report. At the time of my application there is now a ‘credit hit’ from a mortgage and real estate agent on my credit score. I did not apply for a mortgage or to buy a house! It is the only ‘credit hit’ for that time period.

I never agreed for a credit check from a mortgage or real estate agent. I never applied for a mortgage or to purchase a house. This will lead future creditors/landlords/anyone to think I wanted to buy my own place and applied for a mortgage. It will also lead to people mistakenly thinking I was refused a mortgage and failed to buy a place of my own.

I only authorized the landlord to do a credit check for the purpose of renting. I would like to know my options because this is a breach of my privacy rights.

With so many emails and an increasing number of tenant posts passionately explaining their serious concerns we decided to contact our partner Equifax Canada.

It seems some landlords are using friends or relatives who are Realtors or mortgage agents or insurance agents to get credit checks done on prospective tenants.

equifax ontario landlords

Our Interview With Equifax Canada

We contacted our partner Equifax Canada and spoke with them about the ‘right way’ for landlords to conduct tenant credit checks.

Here are our questions and the answers that follow:

1. Can I Call my Relative or Friend To Do the Credit Check For My Potential Tenant?

If the landlord uses a mortgage agent, Realtor, etc. to access potential tenants credit data for them, and the tenant didn’t agree and these tenants contact Equifax what will happen?

What are the penalties that could occur?

ANSWER FROM EQUIFAX

No.

Given the nature of the existing credit reporting/privacy legislation and the terms of use (agreement) by the Equifax member, the consumer can report this type of unacceptable activity to the Ministry of Consumer Services, who will then investigate.

Any inappropriate use or breach of contract could lead to termination of membership with Equifax.

 2. Mortgage Agents, Realtors, Insurance Agents, Car Dealerships

Several landlords say they have used friends who are mortgage agents, Realtors, etc. for years to access tenant credit data and nothing happened and there is nothing wrong using this method to obtain credit data on potential tenants.

What is the best response to their claims?

ANSWER FROM EQUIFAX

See above and below for more details.

Equifax must disclose the actual entity that received the file.

3. What About Third Parties to Obtain Credit Data?

Some landlords have a waiver on their application form saying they will use a “third party” to obtain credit data on a potential tenant (they don’t say who will do the check, only that it will be a third party).

They then contact a friend who is a mortgage agent, Realtor, insurance broker, someone who works at a car dealership, etc. to do the credit check on the potential tenant for them. 

They wonder if the waiver clause allows them to use a ‘friend’ is okay.

ANSWER FROM EQUIFAX

The service agreement signed by EACH of our members clearly articulates that they will not “share” a credit file with another entity: the credit file is for their exclusive use ONLY.

Any entity that does share is in violation of this agreement.

4. Tenants Complaining About Unauthorized Credit Checks

Some tenants complain they have a ‘credit hit’ on their credit reports from mortgage agents, insurance agents, etc. which they never agreed to (as they only wanted to rent an apartment). 

How can tenants get these unauthorized credit hits off their records?

ANSWER FROM EQUIFAX

Due to privacy legislation, once Equifax delivers a file to a member, we MUST post an inquiry (by law).

As such, we do not remove these inquiries as they are factual and the consumer has a legal right to know their file has been disclosed.

5. What Can Tenants Do?

Some tenants who have credit hits from people they never authorized have asked if they should contact the Ministry of Consumer Services to make formal complaints that their credit data was obtained fraudulently. They would like advice on this.

ANSWER FROM EQUIFAX

Yes, they should contact the Ministry of Consumer Services who will launch an investigation.

They can reach also reach Equifax directly at the following telephone numbers to lodge a complaint and we will do an investigation:

English: 1-866-828-5961

French: 1-877-323-2598

Ontario Landlords And Tenant Screening 2014

Let’s work together to make 2014 the most successful year ever for landlords across Ontario.

Tenant screening is an essential part of being a successful landlord.

Make sure you follow the rules and find great tenants for your rental properties.

High quality tenant credit companies such as Equifax, TVS, and GARDA are waiting to assist you.