Since May 1, 2019 The Rules For Accessing Information Have Changed. This Can Help Landlords Avoid “Tenants From Hell”
I’m a long-time landlord. I bought my first rental in the late 1990s. After some major (and expensive) mistakes I put a huge amount of my energy on screening my tenants.
I found that one of the keys to success as a landlord is to make sure you rent to good tenants and avoid the “game players” who abuse the system to rip off landlords. Sadly, there are a lot of “game players” out there.
As a long time Ontario Landlords Association member I learned a lot of great tips and tricks on weeding out “Tenants From Hell”.
Tenant Screening Only Goes So Far In Ontario
The problem I kept facing is that in Ontario is was impossible to thoroughly screen potential tenants. This meant that every person I rented to was a huge potential risk for me and my family.
And what a risk renting to a bad tenant is!
In Ontario is is almost impossible to evict crafty tenants. The process takes months/years and even if you get them out they can destroy your rental property and you can lose thousands of dollars. Even an Ontario superior court judge says the rules for landlords are unfair and ridiculous.
The problem is we had no access to Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) cases. So we were blind to whether or not a potential tenant had a history of issues with the LTB.
When I joined the OLA in 2009 I found I wasn’t the only one who wanted this changed.
Thousands of other landlords also wanted access and for years the the Ontario Landlords Association has worked relentlessly contacting MPPs (and the current Premier) to make changes.
Why is this access important?
1) Credit Checks Do Not Tell The Whole Story
The truth is credit checks don’t really tell you who will be a good tenant. High credit scores can be people who simply pay their Rogers or Telus bills every month.
A credit score has nothing to do with rent and is basically useless!
Since non-payment of rent can’t be reported, that “super applicant” with a high credit score might have ripped off their last 10 landlords!
2) Landlord References Are Often Dishonest
In the beginning I relied on the honesty of other landlords. But I quickly found out that the most glowing references were often from landlords who wanted to get their tenants to move out because they were trouble makers!
Some landlords who didn’t give references but the tenants wrote them down in their application were also bad.
I called them for a reference and when the landlord found out their tenants were looking to move they offered their good tenants rent discounts and other goodies to keep them!
3) So-Called “A.I” Is Nothing But Shameful and Shady Marketing
Just like ‘blockchains’, A.I. or ‘artificial intelligence’ is a fad these days. But it is a gimmick and just shady marketing.
How can you get a “pet risk score” by asking a tenant applicant to send in a picture of their dog? And they say “the cuter the picture, the higher the score”. It’s a bad joke and in my opinion it’s fraud that hurts both landlords and good tenants.
No wonder their are lots of Privacy Commission investigations going on as tenants rightfully complain.
4) Employment References Are Limited
Someone can be a great employee and a bad tenant. Sure, it’s important to find out someone works to pay the rent, but that’s where it ends.
5) Criminal Checks Only Check Tell One Story
These are really helpful but they only screen out criminals and in Ontario not paying rent or damaging property is not a criminal offense (it’s common and accepted!)
6) Face To Face Interviews Are Risky
Ask the landlords who rented to Nina Willis. She had a great story and a charming personality…then made her landlords lives a living nightmare.
Landlords Can Now Access Landlord and Tenant Board Records!
Fellow Ontario Landlords Association Members…We Did It!
Years of lobbying and explaining and supporting court challenges as why this needed to be done, thousands of phone calls, zillions of face to face meetings…and OLA members see the fruits of our labour!
Beginning on May 1st, 2019 Ontario tribunals are now more transparent, including the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).
You can read the new rules here.
What Does This Mean For Small Landlords?
It means the LTB can no longer hide from landlords making a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request to see if a potential tenant has been before the LTB before.
We can check out tenant evictions and make sure our applicants aren’t “predatory Tenants from Hell!
50 “Hits” Showing This Potential Tenant Was A Serial Bad Tenant Who Ripped Off Lots Of Landlords
Can you imagine renting to some who:
-Has Great Credit
-Has References From A Bunch Of Former Landlords
-Has A Good Job
-Has A High “A.I.” Score Because Their Dog Is Cute And They Are Cool On Facebook
-Has No Criminal Record
Sounds like an ideal tenant right?
This tenant applicant has been to the LTB 50 times! And many of those times was due to not paying rent.
Run A F.O.I (Freedom of Information) To Find Out About Your Potential Tenant
This is the gold standard for landlords to really do proper tenant screening!
Ontario Landlords Association Keeps The Pressure On To Help Good Landlords and Good Tenants!
We are landlords just like you. And we defend the rights of good tenants who don’t like to be smeared due to a group that wants to rip off landlords who they view has weak and vulnerable.
So we keep fighting and getting our message out to help both good landlords and good tenants.
We kept the pressure on for years about transparency at the LTB and now we finally got it.
This is a great start, and we are not finished. Now we need a damage deposit and more.
How Can I Do An F.O.I. Request To See My Potential Tenants LTB Records?
Join us in the Ontario landlord forum because this is a hot topic and we want every landlord to make sure you do it to protect yourself, your family and your rental property!