Tenants Speak Out and Share Their Concerns and Opinions on the Rental Industry
As part of our “Let’s Improve the Ontario Rental Industry” we have invited landlords and tenants to share their opinions on how we can make these improvements. These opinions are from individual contributors and are not the opinions of the Ontario Landlords Association. We believe by fostering communication between landlords and tenants we can improve the Ontario rental industry.
With Vacancy Rates So Low Tenants Have To Do Whatever It Takes To Find A Home
First of all I want to make it clear there are a lot of great landlords out there. I’m not part of the majority of tenants who think all landlords are ripping us off and making money out of thin air.
My parents rented some rooms in our house when times were tough in the 1990s recession. I know what they went through with people being noisy late and night and not always washing their dishes daily. It was tough on my Mom and Dad but they needed the money.
Most landlords are like my parents. Friendly and law-abiding.
Bad Landlords Out There Are Taking Advantage Of The Rental Shortage
As someone who was looking for a place to live this year it was shocking to find there are landlords who didn’t have the ethics of my parents.
When I went to see an apartment many landlords demanded a ridiculous amount of personal information about me for a simple credit check.
(Which I have reported these landlords to the Privacy Commissioner and the landlords are being investigated as you read this, as are the companies involved).
Not only that but many demanded a lot of rent up front in order to rent to me.
Some wanted 3 or 4 months of rent, but most wanted a 6 months or even a year! Some landlords even wanted 2 or 3 years!
Others wanted a deposit of 1 – 6 months equivalent rent in case I made “damages” LOL! What did they expect me to do? Blow up the building?!
We Are In The Middle Of A Housing Crisis
The rental scene really unfair for people looking to rent. A recent VICE article was really helpful and illustrated how unfair it is for people simply looking for a home.
Vacancy rates in Toronto are under two percent. This is the worst it’s been in nearly twenty years. The average monthly rent for a tiny one-bedroom apartment is $2,200/month.
Jump Doggy, Jump
Landlords are making tenants jump through hoops and part of these hoops is illegal behaviour. VICE reported a new immigrant was required to pay 3 years up front to rent some dump in Scarborough. That’s right, “Scarberia!”
Landlords Cannot Demand A Damage Deposit Or Months Of Rent Up-Front. It’s Illegal!
Ontario landlords cannot charge you any type of “damage” or “Security” deposit. Nothing, Nada, Zippo.
Landlords can only ask for “first and last”. This is payment for the first month of rent and for the last month of rent you are staying the property. The “last” is only for your last month living there.
This “last month” cannot be used for anything other than last month rent according to the Residential Tenancies Act.
I Refused To Pay Multiple Months Of Rent Up-Front And A Damage Deposit
Not only did I refuse I told the landlords they were undertaking an illegal act, I educated them.
I told the landlords I met to sit down and I made sure to lecture them not only about how they were undertaking criminal acts, they also were lapsing morally and ethically.
Was I being strident refusing to leave before getting my point across?
Was I being aggressive in making the landlords read the Residential Tenancies Act in my handouts?
But we are nation of laws and we must educate and uphold these laws as part of our democracy.
Nice People Finish Last
What was the result from my honest and ethical stand?
No one rented to me.
Simply because I demanded the landlords followed the LAW I was shunned. I was an outcast. I was without a home when a high paying I.T. job was about to start.
I Had To Be More Sneaky Than The Sneaky Landlords I Was Dealing With
There is a saying “When in Rome Do What The Romans Do.” I realized the Ontario rental market if full of law breakers (not everyone, but many). My honesty and demanding the laws be followed were mocked at by these landlords.
I Made A Difficult Decision To Adapt And Get My New Home No Matter What It Took
I needed a place.
I needed a place near public transportation and at the lowest rent possible. I tried to be up front and honest and the landlords spat in my face!
Here’s What I Did – I Used Their Own Greed To Work Against Them
I decided to agree with landlords who wanted 6 months of rent up front. I would say things such as:
“Yes, I agree you landlords need to protect yourself from all the bad tenants out there.”
“It’s only natural you need 6 months of rent upfront after you worked so hard to buy this apartment.”
“It’s crazy the law says you can’t charge me a damage deposit”
The landlords were super happy to hear this and I was instantly treated with respect and put on the top of their list!
I Pushed It To The Limit!
Since I had gone over to the ‘Dark Side’ as these landlords had I decided ‘hey, if you go to the Dark Side you might as well go all the way!’ Darth Vader style.
So if the landlord said they wanted 6 months of rent up-front I said “why not a year?”
So if the landlord wanted a 1 month damage deposit I said “why not 3 months?”
So if the landlord demanded post-dated checks I said “why don’t I pay cash?”
Sure I was lying but they were asking for illegal things so it was okay.
The Replies Poured In…Everyone Wanted To Rent To Me (and on long-term leases!)
All the talk of credit checks, reference checks, etc. went out the window. The texts rolled in and so did the emails.
Some landlords were so exited they called me and wanted to sign a lease right away!
Got The Best Apartment And A Discount On Rent
From being the ugly loser I was suddenly treated like a virgin princess ready to put out. I had my choice of properties and played several landlords off against each other to find the best apartment at the best price.
Since I was willing to pay the money up-front and the deposit I managed to negotiate a lower rent.
All they really wanted was a big huge stack of money in their hands.
After I Signed The Lease And Moved In I Filed At the Landlord and Tenant Board And Got All My Money Back!
It’s very easy to file at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board and get all your money back!
The LTB form is called the T1.
You can read about it here!
After I moved in I filed at the LTB. It was easy and simple.
Avoid Landlord Texts And Calls (And Record Them As Harassment)
After I filed the texts came flying “oh, you agreed” the landlord whined like little bitches from hell who got caught by a righteous and good person (me) who used their evil Luciferian greed against them.
The messages in my mailbox:
“You are a cheater” and after a few days “we will kick you out.”
It all hilarious because this was just adding my ability to punish these illegal landlords at the LTB.
LTB Hearing Took 15 Minutes To Get My Money Back
I spoke with Legal Aid at the LTB Hearing room. This is really, really helpful. And it’s free!
This is free legal help for tenants and they were with me as I made my case.
Very nice people and they are often on a first name basis with the adjudicator/judge at the LTB so you get instant credibility.
EASY WIN TO GET ALL THE MONEY BACK
I also made sure the adjudicator was aware of the threats and harassment from the landlord and the landlord was fined.
The landlord was also warned against harassing me further and to stop demanding illegal money.
TENANTS MUST BE AS SNEAKY AS THE BAD LL’S ARE TO SURVIVE
In this era of super low vacancy rates the bad landlords are possessed with greed and acting unlawful.
Since they are so sneaky tenants need to be sneaky.
I hope my story will help all the great tenants out there find great rental properties. I’m in a great apartment at a low rent and got all my money back. The landlord is also scared of me because they know I’m a pro and they were already warned by the Landlord Tenant Board judge!
Good landlords have nothing to worry about and thank you for being legal.