Top Landlord Questions and Discussion
The questions below were created by a group landlords and property managers with the aim of helping other landlords and property managers based on their personal experiences in the rental industry. It is not legal advice, only debate and discussion. All information is free.THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS PROVIDED WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND IS ONLY MEANT AS A GUIDE; YOU SHOULD GET APPROPRIATE LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE TAKING ANY ACTION. THE AUTHORS ARE NOT LAWYERS OR PARALEGALS AND THE INFORMATION IS ASSUMED TO BE ACCURATE AS OF ITS DATE.
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If you need answers about the Residential Tenancies Act you may contact the Customer Service line for the Landlord and Tenant Board at 416-645-8080 or outside of the 416 calling area, toll free at 1-888-332-3234.
FINDING GOOD TENANTS
Q1 How Do I Advertise My Rental Property?
One of the first steps after you become a landlord is finding good tenants. That means you need to advertise. Many small scale landlords are on a budget and want to keep their costs down. So how can you advertise in a cost effective method to find a great tenant?
From signs in your window to Kijiji.com to putting ads in your local newspaper, join the discussion:
Q2 How Can I Screen Tenants Who Want to Rent My Apartment?
After you advertise, you’re going to get people contacting you. Now the hard part begins: How do you choose one tenant over another? Successful landlords become experts at “screening tenants.” Remember: it’s your choice. And this is the last time you have control over your rental because as soon as you choose a tenant and they move in, they have more rights than you have!
Learn and prepare your screening strategies, join the discussion:
Q3 What’s your most important screening category?
Your property is popular. You have several different people wanting to rent it. Great news! Except how do you choose the best applicant? Is your screening technique effective? Should you rely on a former or current landlord reference? What about the potential tenant’s employment? Should you view where they are currently living? Should you rely on a credit check? Or should you go “old school” and rely on your “gut feeling?”
Experienced landlords talk about their strategies for success, join the discussion:
Q4 I have two good tenants, how do I choose the best one?
One of the most difficult parts of the tenant screening process is when you have two good applicants and you can’t decide who to rent to. Do you rent to the applicant with the stable job? Or the one with the high credit rating? Do you rent to the applicant who has the glowing letter from her last landlord? Or do you choose the tenant who you instantly liked and trusted?
Experienced landlords debate a choice between applicant “A” and applicant “B”, join the discussion
Q5 How can I avoid renting to professional tenants?
Read the newspapers. There seems to be new stories every week of a new “Tenant from Hell” who knows all the rules of the Residential Tenancies Act and the Landlord and Tenant Board and costs their landlord untold thousands of dollars and severe mental stress and grief.
You want to avoid a pro tenant at all costs. How can you do it? Experienced landlords give their tips, join the discussion:
Q6 An applicant on welfare (Ontario Works / ODSP) says the rent money is guaranteed from the government. Is this true?
It sounds great doesn’t it? One of your applicants is on welfare and explains to you the rent money will be guaranteed to you directly from the government. Guaranteed money? Why not! You want to rent to this person! Or do you?
Is welfare money guaranteed to come to you each month? Read what experienced landlords have to say. Join the discussion:
Q7 What are the Ontario Human Rights Commission Rules for Advertising Rental Properties?
As a landlord in Ontario, it’s important you are aware and familiar with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Did you know the OHRC has legal policies on how landlords can advertise their rentals? For example, the OHRC outlaws the following advertisements:
* “Adult building” or “Not suitable for children”
* “Must have working income” or “Must provide proof of employment”
* “No ODSP”
* “Seeking mature couple.”
How can you advertise your rentals without breaking the OHRC rules? Join the discussion:
Q8 How do you reject tenant applicants?
You had lots of people want to rent your property. You selected who you think will be a great tenant. You are now receiving lots of calls from other applicants whom you refused. What do you tell them? How do you explain why they were rejected? Or do you tell them at all?
Experienced landlords debate this, join the discussion:
Q9 Applicant wants me to sign something called an “Intent to Rent” form. What is it?
You are having a hard time finding a good tenant. The market is down. Or it’s not the right season. Who wants to move in winter, right? The problem is you have an empty unit which means you are losing money each month. You finally meet a nice potential tenant. They are polite and you really hit it off. Your really want to find a tenant and they really want to rent from you. Sounds great! So what’s the problem? They ask you to sign a form for them before they pay the rent. Do you sign it? What is this all about? You really want to rent out your unit but…
What is this form all about? Join the discussion:
Q10 What do you do if a tenant is offended or won’t give you their SIN or other references?
Landlords often meet tenant applicants who are offended or refuse to give vital screening information. So what do you do? They might be great tenants who are simply very private. Do you really need all their information?
Join the discussion with other landlords here:
Q11 Can I get eviction records as part of my background check?
It seems very reasonable. Just as employers often do criminal background checks on potential employees, landlords will do eviction background checks on potential tenants. In fact, by making eviction background checks part of their screening process, landlords will make sure they rent to good tenants who pay their rent on time, thus encouraging people to become landlords and protecting good landlords who are thorough. Except… in Ontario bad tenants are protected!
Discuss this topic with experienced landlords here:
Q12 How to deal with super rude renters
You bought your property, invested thousands of dollars of your life savings and made your new rental a place that you would live in. Time, money, passion, hard work, you did it all. Now you are advertising your property to the general public. What do you get in return? No shows. People coming and insulting your property. Some people simply being rude. Others trying to get your rent price down by calling you a slumlord.
What’s going on? What’s behind this rude behavior? Discuss it here:
LEASES AND TENANCY AGREEMENTS
Q13 Should I give my new tenants a lease?
It’s a common question amongst new landlords: is it actually better not to offer your tenants a lease? We all know someone who uses this business strategy. Is it right for you or potentially a huge pit-fall for you legal and economically?
Discuss this with experienced landlords:
Q14 Is the tenant still required to pay LMR when the move in and the lease has started?
You found a new tenant. The only problem is he says he doesn’t have enough money for “first” and “last” at the moment. He can pay you for the first months rent, and when he gets paid in a couple of weeks he will pay you the “last months rent.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Or maybe not!
Experienced landlords debate this. Join the discussion:
Q15 Should I give my tenants a monthly lease or a one year lease?
A one year fixed term lease looks secure and stable. But what if you have a bad tenant you want to evict? The lease gives them security and stability too! You look at the month by month lease template in the Ontario Landlord Association Advice forum. Tenants only need to give 60 days notice. What if they give notice in the winter? It’s confusing! What type of lease is the way to go?
Read more and discuss:
Q16 Should I rent inclusive of utilities?
Many new landlords wonder whether or not it’s better to rent “inclusive” of utilities (meaning the landlord pays all the heat and hydro from the tenant’s rent payment) or rent “exclusive” of utilities (mean the tenants pay for their own use). On the one hand, renting inclusive means you don’t have to worry about tenants being cut off and your house pipes freezing and bursting. On the other, you know what happens at a restaurant buffet, where people who are not responsible for paying for their own use often waste.
A new landlord asked what to do and experienced landlords gave their opinions. Join the discussion.
Q17 Do tenants need to get contents insurance?
It seems like every month we hear the news of a terrible and tragic fire in a rental property. Sometimes lives are lost, and most of the time all the tenants’ belongings are destroyed. If this happens who is responsible for paying for the damaged or lost items? Is it the landlords responsibility? Should you demand tenants get contents insurance? Can you demand they get it?
Experienced landlords and tenant representatives debate the subject. Join the discussion.
Q18 Should I Accept 3 or 6 months (or a year) rent up front?
It seems like a landlords’ dream come true. You have a property you are trying to rent out. You show the unit to an applicant and they like it a lot. So much the applicants says they will pay you three months’ rent up front! Or six months! The applicant wants to make sure he gets the apartment bad and offers you a year of rent up front.
Should you take it? Is there something about this you should be aware of? Landlords discuss the issue here:
Q19 What do I do after the tenants changed their minds?
The couple came to see your advertised rental property a few days ago. They loved it and said they wanted to rent it. You didn’t a credit check, a reference check, and an employment check and they work out perfectly. You are in a great mood! You stopped accepting other potential renter phone calls. You are scheduled to meet the couple, sign the lease and get first and last months’ rent today. You arrive at the property at the scheduled time and….they don’t show up. You call their cell phone and they say “We changed our minds and found another place to rent.” Click!
What did you do wrong? How can you prevent this from happening again? Join the discussion:
Q20 Should I include cable and internet with the rent?
You look in the classified section of your local newspaper and see many landlords offering rentals with cable and internet included. Should you also include cable and internet? What could go wrong? Won’t it help me attract a good tenant?
Landlords discuss this question here. Join the discussion:
Q21 What about inheriting tenants when I buy a property?
A new landlord asked about the pros and cons of buying a property with existing tenants. He decided to dive into the rental business and found a property he truly liked. Not only was the condition good, but the price and the location were exactly what he wanted. The only question mark over the purchase was the fact the property had existing tenants. So he would be “inheriting” these tenants.
Is it a good idea to purchase with existing tenants? What are some of the potential pitfalls? What are your options? Landlords debate the issue here. Join the discussion:
Q22 Do I have to provide rent receipts?
After a tenant pays the rent, do you give them a receipt? At the end of the year? Just before income tax time? What if your tenant never request anything? Landlords talk about the issue here. Join the discussion:
Q23 Do I Have to Provide Information to My New Tenant?
Your new tenant has just signed the lease. It’s the first day of the month and you meet them and do a walk through of the property. Everything is fine and you hand them a copy of the key. Their tenancy has started and rent as been paid! Is there anything else you are required to give them? Join experienced landlords in a discussion here:
Q24 What’s the timeline for new tenants moving in?
You checked your potential tenants references. You did a credit check. You even met them a second time to have another interview to make sure you wanted to rent to them. Everything is in order and you are excited to fill your unit with a qualified renter. What are the next steps? When do you get the rent money? When do you sign the lease? When do you hand over the key?
Experienced landlords discuss their methods. Join the discussion:
Q25 Should I give my tenants a welcome basket or other gift?
Your new tenants are about to move in. You are a professional landlord and want to create (and maintain) a solid and positive relationship with your tenants. How can you do this? How can you start the relationship off right? You saw on a real estate show the ‘expert’ recommended giving new tenants a gift. For example, a welcome basket.
Is it a good idea to give tenants a welcome basket or other gift? Will they appreciate it? Will they take your intentions the wrong way? Join experienced landlords in a discussion:
MANAGING YOUR TENANTS
Q26 How often should I do inspections?
You want to make sure you maintain your rental property in tip-top condition. That means catching things like leaky pipes, dampness, fans that don’t work effectively, etc. early before they become big (and expensive) problems. But what if your tenants think you are bothering them? What if they even mistake your actions as ‘harassment’?
How often should you do inspections? Discuss this with other landlords:
Q27 How do I spot a potential grow op?
It seems like nearly every month you read the newspaper and see a story about a local ‘grow op.’ Tenants using a rental property to grow marijuana. This can have horrendous consequences for you as a landlord! Not only will there be damages such as mold, there will also be a huge decrease in your property value. The government might even take your property from you! You don’t want to deal with criminals and want to protect your investment. So how are some ways you can spot a potential grow op?
Discuss tips and strategies with other landlords here:
Q28 Tenants are abusing the laundry
In your new rental property investment you decide to include a laundry facility. Not only does it help with marketing your rental property, it also makes you feel better knowing you are providing this type of helpful service to your new renters. A few months later you find our your tenants are abusing the laundry! They have friends over doing using your laundry room and machines. You even suspect the tenants are running a clothes washing business from the laundry room.
Discuss how to take back control of your rental property’s laundry room here:
Q29 Should I give my tenants a Christmas gift?
You are happy to have found a very nice couple to rent your condo. Rent has never been late. If there are any small problems the tenants take it upon themselves to do repairs themselves. When you went over to do your winter inspection, you saw they have the place clean and nicely furnished. What super tenants!
It’s the holiday season and you would like to show your appreciation with a Christmas gift. Is it a good idea? Discuss this with other landlords here:
Q30 What do I do with a good tenant who keeps clogging the toilet?
You have a long term renter who you truly appreciate. This tenant pays rent on time and is an upstanding person who respects your property and respects you for making it available. The problem is they seem to be constantly clogging the toilet. Plumbers are expensive. It keeps happening.
Discuss plumbing and toilet issues with other landlords here:
PROBLEMS WITH TENANTS
Q31 My tenant didn’t pay rent!
It’s the 1st of the month. Time to get pick up rent from your tenants. You fulfilled all your responsibilities as a landlord and now will collect money to pay off your mortgage, your bills, and might even have a few dollars left over after all your hard work. Except the tenant doesn’t answer your phone calls. Or you go to the property and no one answers the door. Or the post-dated cheque is NSF.
What do you do when your tenant won’t pay the rent? Discuss this issue with other landlords here:
Q32 Should I give my tenants a few day leeway to pay the rent?
In the Residential Tenancy Agreement (lease) you have with your tenants, it’s clear rent is due on the 1st of each month. Since they moved in, they always pay on the 1st. This month is different. They ask for a few days to pay. Or they don’t say anything. The tenants have been pretty good since moving in.
Should you give your tenants ‘a break’ and not serve notice to them to pay or to move out? Discuss this here:
Q33 When should I serve the N4?
You are confused about when to serve the N4 when your tenants don’t pay the rent. Do you serve it right away? You did that once and your renters were angry that you didn’t even give them a breather. Do you wait a week or two? You also tried that and it ended up delaying the eventual eviction and you are still kicking yourself for not serving them faster.
What are some strategies and policies other landlords have? When do successful landlords serve the N4 notice of eviction for non-payment of rent? Discuss it here:
Q34 What do I do when the N4 Termination date is up and the tenants still haven’t paid?
Your tenants didn’t pay rent. You went to the Landlord and Tenant Board website and learned how to serve an N4. This document gives tenants 14 days to pay before the ‘termination date.’ It’s now been 14 days and you still don’t have your rent. What do you do?
Discuss property management strategies with other landlords here:
Q35 Can a landlord evict in Winter?
It’s February 1st and rent is due. The problem is your tenants are refusing to pay rent to you. They tell you they have other financial burdens. You explain to them they are forcing you to start the process to evict them. They look at you square in the eye and tell you “in Ontario, you can’t evict in the wintertime!”
Discuss this with other landlords here:
Q36 The tenant is not paying utility bills
You researched the experience of other landlords carefully and heard of too many stories of tenants renting “inclusive” of utilities abusing the privilege. Windows open in the dead of winter; windows open in summer while air conditioners blow, the list goes on. So you decided to make your rent “exclusive” of utilities. Your tenants will pay for what they use. Sounds like a great plan, except your tenants paid rent on time but aren’t paying their utility bill!
Q37 The tenant took the refrigerator
You have your rental property looking great. Not only does the property look good, you have nice appliances which make the kitchen look wonderful. Now you find your renter has taken your fridge and replaced it with their own. You never agreed to it. Where is your fridge?
Q38 The tenant broke the front door
You found the door to your rental is been broken. It’s an important door, the door to a shared entrance that sever tenants use. Your tenant admitted to it. Now what? What do you do regarding tenant damages?
Q39 My tenant want to barter. He want to make repairs instead of paying rent
Everything is going fine with your tenant until a couple of days before rent is due. Your tenant calls you and presents a list of repair issues to you. He says the two of you can work out a deal. He’ll fix everything instead of paying rent.
Q40 My tenant changed the locks without telling me
You gave proper notice to your tenants for an inspection. You are always careful to follow the law. When you go over to your rental proper to enter, you put in your key and it doesn’t work! You check your key again…nope, nothing wrong with it. You try again. Still no luck. Then you realize your tenant has changed the locks on you.
Q41 What do you do if your tenant is dead?
Your tenant has lived in your unit for a while and rent was paid on the first of the month. Sadly, you are contacted and told your tenant has died. You have fond memories of the tenant who passed away. But what do you do when your tenant dies? What happens to the Last Months Rent (LMR)? What do you do with the belongings in the rental? Discuss this with other landlords and property managers who have faced this situation.
Q42 Tenants won’t let me in even after legal 24 hour notice
You read the rules for entry on the Landlord and Tenant Board website and gave your tenant 24 hours written notice to do an important repair. As specified in your notice, you arrive at the rental but see a letter taped to the door. It’s a warning from the tenant. It says you cannot enter and if you do the tenant will call the police for break and enter! What do you do? Read what other landlords and property managers do.
Q43 My rental property has a raccoon family living under the deck
Your property has a nice deck which your tenant enjoys. Suddenly there’s a problem. Your renter calls you and says there’s a family of raccoons who have moved in. Your tenant asks for your help in re-locating the raccoons as soon as possible. How do other landlords deal with the problem?
Q44 Tenants are complaining other tenants are smoking marijuana
You own a multiplex with several different tenant groups occupying the units. Several tenants complain about one particular apartment. They can’t stand the smell of what they believe is marijuana. How do other landlords handle a tenant smoking marijuana and disturbing other tenants?
Q45 Tenants have what they say is a legal grow op
Your new renter didn’t want the plumber to access his apartment for a schedule pressure test needed for house insurance. This raised some red flags for you so you contacted the tenant to ask why he refused the plumber entry to the unit. Your tenant explains he is growing marijuana in the basement. He also says he has a license for growing and storing it. What have other landlords and property managers done when faced with this situation?
Q46 My tenant hasn’t resigned a new yearly lease
Your tenant has lived in your rental for nearly a year. You have a one year fixed term lease and want your tenant says she wants to continue. You write up a new one year lease and add some new items in it. When you call her, she says she refuses to sign a new lease. What happens now?
Q47 More and more people are living in my unit
You rented your apartment to a single person. He’s the only one on the lease and the only person you screened. Now there are a bunch of other people living with him. What can you do?
Q48 Tenants fighting over the temperature / air conditioner
You own a multiplex with one central air conditioner. One tenant controls the a/c for the entire place. The weather is getting warmer and the tenant in control turns on the air conditioner to slightly make their apartment more comfortable. Another tenant upstairs calls you and says it’s too hot for them and the tenant in control of the thermostat is refusing to turn down the a/c.
Q49 My tenant took the refrigerator
Your tenant called you to say the fridge stopped working. You say you will call a repair person to repair it. Your tenant tells you there’s no need because she moved it and is using her own. Is this allowable? You ask where your fridge is and she says she put it into storage.
Q50 The tenant won’t move after signing a form N12
I gave my tenant a N12 form to vacte in 60 days because I want the back unit of the property for myself. 60 days has passed and it’s now moving day. Except my tenant shows no signs of moving out.