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!"

Ontario Landlords – Nightmare tenant Nina Willis battling with new landlord over 7th eviction

 Ontario Landlords – Make Sure You Rent To Great Tenants (And Avoid Nightmare Tenants) With Good Tenant Screening, Including a Credit Check!

Ontario Landlords – Make Sure You Rent To Great Tenants (And Avoid Nightmare Tenants) With Good Tenant Screening, Including a Credit Check!

The story in the Toronto Star last Friday was shocking for many residential landlords across Ontario.

It was about a person the Toronto Star calls a “Tenant from Hell” who is facing being evicted from her Scarborough rental property.

It’s brought a lot of discussion at the Ontario Landlords forum.

Nina Willis is in the process of appealing a Landlord and Tenant Board decision ordering her to either pay rent on time or move out of the rental property she is staying in

The original Landlord and Tenant Board Order told her she had to move by March 2014.

However, she is “appealing” the Order which means she can delay the eviction (and avoid paying rent) for more months until she gets her say in the next court.

She has done this is each of her previous cases. It’s an easy way for tenants to continue to stay in a rental property and live “rent free” for months.

This isn’t the first time the Toronto Star has reported on this tenant and her tactics to rip off small landlords.

The Star says this is the 7th case of Nina Willis being evicted since 2005.

The Ontario Landlords association has also written about this “Tenant From Hell” in the past to warn landlords.

At least seven different landlords who have been cheated out of rent and dragged through the tribunal system. A system that can be expensive, time-consuming and extremely stressful.

Nina’s current Scarborough landlord won’t even talk to the media as they try to evict Nina from their rental property.

Why Do Landlords Rent To Bad Tenants?

No landlord wants to rent to bad tenants.

The worst tenants (meaning tenants who have a plan to rip off small landlords from Day 1 are often very crafty.

For example, Willis will do an Academy Award worthy performance when she first meets a potential landlord.

Bad tenants will be exceptionally friendly when they first meet you.

They will appear to be really “decent people” who will convince you they will pay rent on time and take care of your rental property like it is their own home.

It’s only when you rent to them that you begin to see their true face.

You won’t believe how they change as they accuse you of neglecting maintenance issues and even harassing them.

How Can I Find Good Tenants and Avoid the Bad Ones?

One of Nina’s former landlords is now an OLA member and is very careful to screen her tenants to avoid “tenants from hell.”

One of the best tenant screening tools is a credit check.

Check out the Ontario Landlord Credit Check site for more information on the importance of doing credit checks on tenants. This site was created to help Ontario landlords learn how to find good tenants and avoid tenants from Hell.

How Can a Tenant Credit Check Help Landlords?

Conducting a tenant credit check will give you the essential information you need to know about a potential renter before you rent to them.

This isn’t only important for Ontario landlords, but also key for Alberta landlords and British Columbia landlords who are also facing challenges.

How Can Tenant Credit Checks Help Me Avoid Tenants From Hell?

That’s an excellent question. After all, small landlords are often on tight budgets and conducting a credit check is an extra expense.

Let’s take a closer look at how a tenant credit check can help Ontario landlords find good tenants and avoid tenants from hell.

#1 Current and Past Addresses

A credit check from the Ontario Landlords Association will show you the current and past addresses of your potential tenant.

You don’t have to ‘trust’ what the tenant tells you. You can see the FACTS on the credit report.

You can then make sure you talk to the REAL current and previous landlords and learn the TRUTH about the tenant who wants to rent your rental property.

#2 Current and Past Employment

It’s very common for bad tenants to lie about their employment history.

They lie because they know landlords want to rent to tenants with stable jobs that provide enough income to cover the rent.

A tenant credit check from the Ontario Landlords Association will show you the REAL employment situation of the potential renter.

#3 Financial Responsibility

Bad tenants will smile and tell you they always pay their bills on time.

A tenant credit check will show you the TRUTH.

Do they pay their bills on time? Do they owe anyone money? Are there judgements against them? Are there any collection agencies after them?

Even British Columbia landlords are now recognizing the importance of credit checks as they face some serial bad tenants ripping off landlords in BC.

We often think of Alberta as the best place to own rental properties in Canada. Yet even Alberta landlords are conducting tenant credit checks to make sure they avoid pro tenants who can end up costing landlords tens of thousands of dollars.

How Can I Run a Credit Check On My Prospective Tenants?

In the past running a credit check was complicated and expensive.

Some of the landlord credit check companies out there add on all sorts of extra fees on you and have a complicated start up process.

As a small landlord, you want everything open and up-front.

You also want low fees and a fast and efficient system.

Join the Ontario Landlords Association

For only a one-time registration fee , Ontario landlords can get access to premium credit checks for only $10/check!

That’s right. No annual fee. Just a one-time registration fee.

You can then access premium credit checks foronly $10/check for credit checks that give you a credit score, addresses, employment and all the information you need to make a smart, informed decision on whether or not you will rent to a tenant.

You will even get a recommendation from the credit report.

Ontario Landlords – Bad Tenants Are Out There But You Can Protect Yourself!\

Become a Member of the Ontario Landlords Association and Get Premium Credit Checks For Only $10/check from your Home or Office Computer.

It Really Is the Landlord Deal of a Life Time!

Ontario Landlords Association Teams Up With the University of Toronto To Help You Find Tenants!

 May 1st, 2014

Ontario Landlords Association Teams Up With the University of Toronto

Ontario Landlords Association Members – Find Student Tenants By Advertising on the University of Toronto Housing Services Portal for a Discounted Member Price !

The University of Toronto is a world famous university with lots of international students.

We were fortunate to have Jennifer Radley, the manager of Housing Services for the University of Toronto, provide important tips and advice on how you can become a successful student landlord.

It was very helpful news for Ontario Landlords and must-see reading for anyone interested in renting to students.

You can read the article here: Top Tips for Renting to Students in Ontario.

Lots of Positive Feedback

We had a great amount of positive feedback after we posted the student landlord tips Jennifer provided.

A Toronto landlord wrote in:

“Read the OLA post with all the tips…thanks, it was helpful and I learned from it… Give Jennifer my thanks!”

There was a thankful email from an Ottawa landlord who feels more confident now:

“I’ve been thinking of becoming a landlord for the past few years but haven’t pulled the trigger because of all the ‘Tenant From Hell’ stories. 

I’m now more confident and will focus on renting to student tenants in Ottawa.”

We even had an Alberta Landlord email us this message:

“Good advice wherever you are. Make sure students know you are better than the rest and you care about them.”

The University of Toronto Teams Up With the Ontario Landlords Association

Housing Services for the University of Toronto is a portal for landlords to reach student tenants.

Here are some of the benefits for landlords to advertise at the University of Toronto portal:

Benefits:

#1  Lots of Student Visitors

15,000+ visitors each month, including U of T, George Brown, OCAD, and ESL students, as well as staff and faculty and students of other post-secondary institutions

#2  Pricing Options for Landlords

Various pricing options to meet your needs and save you money

#3  Insider Tips

Insider tips on topics such as creating a more attractive ad, average rental prices in your area, and current legislation

#4  Find Student Tenants for Electives and Sabbaticals

The best place to advertise housing for medical electives and sabbatical rentals

#5  Customer Service

Customer service available to help at (416) 978-8045

Features For Landlords With Ads at the University of Toronto Portal

There is a huge group of good tenants looking for good landlords renting out safe and well-maintained rental properties.

Here are some of the benefits of with the U of T:

Features:

-Create and maintain your own ad

-Online exposure 24/7

-Track how many times your ad has been viewed

-Include extensive details, and up to 10 photos

-Cost effective for landlords:

    • $39.99 for 6 weeks
    • $19.99 to renew
    • $149 for an annual ad (ideal for week-to-week rentals)
    • $349 for an annual multi-unit building ad

Discounts for OLA Members!

Members of the Ontario Landlords Association are fast gaining a reputation as a group of professional small landlords who understand and follow the Residential Tenancies Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Tenants around Ontario know OLA members put our focus on renting out well-maintained and affordable properties.

Members who want to use the University of Toronto portal to find good student tenants will receive a 25% discount on advertising prices!

Ontario Landlords – Are You Thinking of Renting To Students?

Canada landlords from BC to Newfoundland are investing in student rental properties.

Become a Member of the Ontario Landlords Association and Receive a Big Discount To Advertise and Find Great Student Tenants For Your Toronto Rental Property.

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.