Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Landlords’

Renting To Students in Ontario

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

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

Ontario Landlords: Tenant Screening and Tenant Credit Checks

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

 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 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 and GARDA are waiting to assist you.

Ontario Landlords: Rent Increase Guideline 2014

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

December 25th, 2013

Ontario landlords Rent Increase Guideline 2014

How Much Can Landlords in Ontario Raise the Rent in 2014?

If you are a landlord in Ontario you face what is called ‘rent control.’

This means in many cases how much you can charge for rent is controlled by the government.

As we wrote in June about how much Ontario landlords can increase the rent in 2014 the government announces a Rent Increase Guideline, usually in the early summer before the coming year.

This is the announcement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing informing Ontario landlords rent increases for the next calendar year.

We have had lots of landlords from all over the province asking us to clarify and confirm how much they can raise the rent in 2014 and here is your answer:

HOW MUCH CAN ONTARIO LANDLORDS RAISE THE RENT?

Ontario Landlords Can Raise the Rent 0.8% in 2014

That is the allowable increase according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for the province.

Is the Ontario Rent Increase Guideline Too Low?

Many landlords think it is.

After all, landlords still have not been allowed to catch up to the added costs for when the HST was implemented.

Is 0.8% a realistic example of the increased costs Ontario landlords face?

Whether you are a Toronto landlord, invest in Ottawa rentals or have properties in a smaller area and become a Newmarket landlord, many property investors and landlords say no.

Let’s look at some of the increasing costs for  landlords in our province:

1. How about the increased prices of your property taxes?

2. What about increase costs from the people we depend on to maintain our rental units?

3. Many small landlords are facing increases over 5% for services such as water.

I Need To Do Major Improvements on the Property Including a New Roof.

Is There A Way To Increase the Rent More Than 2.5%?

If you want to raise the rent more than the guideline you can apply for what is called an Above Guideline Increase through the Landlord and Tenant Board.

You can apply if the cost of your municipal taxes and charges or your utilities have increased more than the following formula: the rent increase guideline + 50%.

You can apply for increased costs due to capital expenditures or investing in security services.

Are All Residential Landlords Covered By The Rent Increase Guideline?

No, not all.

You do not have to follow the Guideline if your situation in one of the following:

1. The rental was not occupied for any purpose before June 17th, 1998

This means your rental property was built after June 17th, 1998 or you have built a new unit in your property that was never occupied before June 17th, 1998.

2. The rental unit was never previously rented since July 29th, 1975

This means only the owner has lived in the property since the date of July 29th, 1975.

3. No part of the building was occupied for residential purposes before Nov. 1st  1991

This means the property was converted from commercial to residential or was not built or occupied until after November 1st, 1991.

Ontario Landlords and the 2014 Rent Increase Guideline

 For more information see the Landlord and Tenant Board Website

To discuss this and other issues go to the Ontario Landlord Forum

Ontario Landlords Warning: Tenants and Fake Credit Checks

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

 December 1st, 2013Ontario Landlords Tenant Credit Checks

With More Landlords Demanding Tenant Credit Checks Some Tenants Are Ready With Their Fraudulent Reports!

There are a lot of wonderful tenants out there.

No matter where you are in Ontario, landlords know that with an attractive property at the right price, and with proper tenant screening, you can find good tenants are there.

There are also not-so-good tenants as well.

These tenants can make a your life miserable and cost you a fortune.

These are tenants who lead many landlords to give up and sell their rental properties.

Smart Landlords Screen Tenants Carefully

More and more Ontario Landlords and landlords across the province are doing very careful tenant screening these days.

Landlords from Ottawa, Toronto and Scarborough know tenant screening is key.

This tenant screening approach always includes tenant credit checks.

Good Tenants Appreciate Professional Landlords

Most tenants are reasonable and will understand you want to know who you are renting to.

They will respect your screening process.

If your rental is a multi-unit property they will appreciate the time and effort you take to find their future neighbours.

If a potential tenant has bruised credit, it’s a chance for you to discuss it and still rent to them.

Some Tenants Are Adapting and Finding New Ways to Rip Off Small Landlords

Now let’s get back to those bad tenants.

The post on the Ontario Landlords Association forum was about a tenant who seemed to know more and more landlords were demanding tenant credit checks and was ready.

The post began with the landlord saying:

“I’ve been reading here for over a year when I started looking for my first investment property. I purchased a duplex and began looking for renters earlier this month.”

The Landlord had a couple who came to see the rental property and wanted to rent from him.

He said that the couple both came with letters of employment and offered them to him

One of the employment letters didn’t look real.

The interested tenants also offered an Equifax Tenant Credit Report

The interested tenant said she knew landlords wanted tenant credit reports.

She handed him a some papers saying this was proof she was financially responsible and a good tenant…and enough evidence the landlord should rent to them.

The Landlords describes what happened next:

“She spoke about how good her credit score was and that is important. She showed it to me and the score was over 720.

The problem…it didn’t have her name on it only the Equifax logo and the score.

Everything else looked like it can been covered and photocopied. No name, no anything except the logo and the score.”

The Landlord Didn’t Fall For It

“I told her I would do my own check once they filled out the application I downloaded here. You should have seen the look on their faces.

They took the application and haven’t emailed it to me or called back. These types of people are out there.”

Equifax Tenant Screening Credit Checks

We Called Our Partner Equifax Canada To Learn How To Deal With This And Protect Landlords

Paul Le Vevre is the Director of Operations for Equifax Canada.

Here Paul’s advice for landlords.

1.Credit Reports Always Have the Name and Address of the Person

Firstly, I can confirm that when a consumer either obtains a copy of their credit file (either on line or in person from Equifax), the file copy ALWAYS contains the name/address (plus date of birth and SIN if available) of the consumer.

Personal identification is an integral portion of the file, without exception.

2. Landlords Need To Do Their Own Credit Checks

The only method to ensure the credit file contains true/authentic data is to have the landlord access directly from Equifax (either the file or related products such as Tenant Selector).

Copies of files provided by the consumer are not to be considered valid due to the specific examples you cited.

Experienced Ontario landlords know tenant screening, including credit checks, are an essential part of their success.

Make sure you stay ahead of the game and in control by conducting your own credit checks and making sure you find the good tenants you and your rental property deserve.

“A Landlord’s Rights & Obligations in Ontario, 2011”

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

March 15th, Ottawa

April 5th, Burlington

April 7th, Toronto

April 12th, Barrie

April 14th, Peterborough

April 16th, London

Katherine Paliwoda, tells everything you need to know, and then some in her latest seminar.  “A Landlord’s Rights & Obligations in Ontario, 2011″ will give you the leading edge information that you need to properly and safely represent your client, or rent out your property. (more…)