Questions to Ask Tenants When Renting to Them

questions to ask rent applicants
questions to ask rent applicants

Screening new tenants can be daunting. It’s sometimes difficult to know what kind of person is applying to rent a property.  

At Singlekey, we help landlords deal with common anxieties every day. So if you don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled a list of basic questions and information needed to get the ball rolling.

The Top 7 Topics to Ask Rental Applicants When Interviewing Them

1) CAN YOU PLEASE PROVIDE SOME PERSONAL INFORMATION?

Name, birthdate and current address are key. You’ll need these if you are doing a credit check. You may also want to ask for a social insurance number, however, the applicant is not legally required to provide this. The credit check can be completed without it, as long as you have the birthdate.

2) CAN YOU LIST YOUR PREVIOUS LANDLORD REFERENCE AND DETAILS?

It’s important to speak with prior landlords to find out how the applicant was as a tenant. Did they look after the property? Did they pay the rent on time? Why did they leave? Was there any noise or other problems? How was the cleanliness of the home? And for the final question: Would they rent to them again? 

Previous landlords sometimes are not very forthcoming, but if you ask them this last question it will tell you a lot. If the applicant has had multiple landlords over the past few years, it’s a good idea to look at a minimum of the previous five (5) years’ history.

3) WHAT ARE YOUR EMPLOYMENT DETAILS AND REFERENCES?

Confirming employment is critical. How long the applicant has worked there, how much they earn and any personal details you can collect about the person will help in the decision-making process. 

Verifying an applicant’s ability to pay the rent is vital so ask for pay stubs, or a copy of the last income tax statement. If they are moving to the area to start a new job, ask for a copy of the employment letter or contract.

4) CAN I SEE SOME IDENTIFICATION?

While this is a small step in the process, it’s absolutely necessary. A landlord must confirm the person is who they claim to be. If a copy of their driver’s license is taken with the application, it must be destroyed once the application is processed as landlords are not permitted to keep it on file. 

The key is to avoid having someone with a fake identity on a Tenancy Agreement which leaves the landlord with no recourse if the tenant skips out on rent or causes a lot of damage.

5) WHY ARE YOU MOVING?

Maybe they want to be closer to work or family, or they have outgrown their current home (or want to downsize). But watch for red flags such as having issues with other tenants or the landlord.

rental applicant questions

6) MIND SHARING SOME FINANCIAL INFORMATION?

A lot of these details will come up on the credit report, but asking about things such as bankruptcies, earnings, debt load and other financial obligations gives the landlord an idea of how much money is going out each month above and beyond the rent.

Rent is often the first thing the tenant doesn’t pay if they are experiencing financial hardship.

7) I JUST NEED A LITTLE MORE GENERAL INFO, IF THAT’S OKAY?

As the application progresses, find out if they have a car or require parking and how many people will live in the home. 

If there will be more than one adult living in the home it’s a good idea to process an application on each adult and ensure they are all listed on the Tenancy Agreement. Do they smoke or have pets? If yes, then the tenant should be advised of the landlord’s smoking and pet policies for the property. Asking about any criminal history should be handled delicately and with professionalism.

Don’t Forget to Check Secondary Resources

Aside from all of the above questions and information a landlord may look for, there are also other resources to allow landlord’s to review the suitability of an applicant. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other public records all provide insight into the type of applicant being considered.  

Reviewing tenant applications is complex and can be time consuming. Decisions should be made based on the information obtained and from the landlord’s perception of who would be best suited to the home. 

That said, caution should be used to ensure each application receives fair consideration and the decision is not based on any discriminatory criteria under Human Rights legislation. These include race, color, sexual orientation, marital status, disability and many more. 

Make sure to check with the provincial authority governing the community where the home is located for full details.

Take the Stress Out of Renting, Try Singlekey

No matter how many questions you ask, there’s always the risk of missing important information that could sway your decision. To assist in the screening process, Singlekey offers services tailored to each landlord’s needs. 

Contact us for more information today.

What Are The Requirements For A Legal Basement Apartment In Canada?

legal basement apartment requirements
legal basement apartment requirements

Do you have a sizable basement in your home? Has it been finished – complete with furnishings, appliances, and washrooms? 

If your basement apartment has its own separate entrance, furnishings, and a washroom, you’re in luck!  You have an opportunity to become a landlord and earn some significant extra income. 

According to a recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) study, over 15% of houses in Toronto have basement units. They also found that most city policies make it easier to create basement apartments than second-floor or laneway homes. 

But what are the requirements for a legal basement apartment in Canada? In our article below, we’ll walk you step by step through the process of setting up a legal basement apartment in Canada.

What are the first steps to legally renting out your basement apartment?

Without adhering to these basic legal requirements, a basement apartment can present a risk, not just to its occupants, but to the community at large. In order to ensure your second unit is ready for a tenant, it must comply with the following:

        • Fire codes
        • Building codes
        • Electrical Safety Authority Regulations
        • Zoning and housing standards by-laws

Also, all utility connections and building renovations must be legal and safe. You also want to consider such factors as the excess garbage your home will be producing. 

There are also other factors you may not have considered. For example, is there enough space on your driveway for your tenant to park his/her car? If not, is parking on the street overnight legal in your neighbourhood?

The 13 Basic Requirements for a Legal Basement Apartment

 Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to go in-depth. Below, you’ll find all thirteen of the basic requirements you’ll need to cover to rent out a basement apartment legally in Canada. Remember, some of your province’s specific requirements may be different. So check with your municipality before conducting any work on your home.

1. To legalize a basement apartment in a detached or semi-detached house, the property must be at least five years old.

2. The front of the house cannot be significantly altered in order to change its appearance from being a one-unit building.

3. The basement apartment must be smaller than the main dwelling unit above it.

4. The minimum ceiling height must 6’5″. The ceiling must also be continuous. Suspended (T-bar type) ceilings and exposed joists are not acceptable. As well, furnace room ceilings must be either dry-walled or plastered.

5. All doors in the basement dwelling must be solid wood or metal. They must each have a minimum thickness of 1.75″. Interior doors must have a half-inch gap at the bottoms to provide air movement within the basement apartment. Exceptions can only be made if return air ducts are installed in the room. Exterior doors must be at least 32″ x 78″. The smallest dimension of windows is 18″ and their opening must be at least 600 square inches. As well, all windows must be within three feet of the ground. If there is a window well, it must extend three feet from the house wall to allow room to crawl out.

6. All bathrooms must have either windows or fans.

7. The kitchen must be equipped with a refrigerator and a well-functioning stove. The cupboards must have a capacity of no less than four cubic feet multiplied by the total number of persons occupying the unit.

8. All new basement apartments require building permits before construction can start. You may be required to have an additional parking space on the premises for your tenant, depending on your area. However, if the upper unit has a parking space, it is mandatory for the basement apartment to have a parking spot as well.

9. The owner of the property is responsible for ensuring the installment of all smoke alarms. They must be installed in each dwelling unit on every floor including those with bedrooms or sleeping areas. The alarms must be audible in bedrooms when the bedroom doors are closed. The property owner is also required to install carbon monoxide detectors. They must be provided and maintained in each dwelling unit if the building contains a fuel-fired appliance or an attached garage.

10. An electrical inspection must be conducted. Any and all deficiencies that are identified during the inspection must be addressed. Once the inspection is completed, the property owner must retain the letter of compliance. That way, it can be made available to a chief fire official if requested.

11. A continuous fire separation with a minimum Fire Resistance Rating of 30 is required between dwelling units and between dwelling units and other areas. A lower Fire Resistance Rating may be acceptable with the provision of interconnected smoke alarms or sprinkler protection.

12. A single means of escape is required in the event of a fire. Two means of escape are required if the one means of escape is through another dwelling unit.

13. A source of soundproofing is needed between the dwelling units. The minimum sound transmission class rating is STC 50.

Need Some Help Renting Out Your Basement Apartment? Singlekey can Help

Sound like a lot of work? While some of the codes and rules may take a little longer than others to implement, the benefits can be huge. In June of 2021, the average rent for a 1-bedroom basement apartment in Canada was $1216. That extra income can have a big impact on your monthly budget! 

If you’re looking for some help to begin legally renting your basement apartment, contact us. We have the experience and resources to help you get your apartment ready and find the right tenant.

The Top 3 Tenant Screening Tools in Canada: SingleKey vs Naborly vs RentCheck

Want to know the best tenant screening tools in Canada. We compare the top three apps in this head-to-head to help you find a winner.

The Top 3 Tenant Screening Tools in Canada: SingleKey vs Naborly vs RentCheck

Due to the massive delays with rental boards, Canadian landlords are feeling especially vulnerable in 2021.  As a result, it is very difficult for landlords to deal with delinquent tenants, and it’s not unusual for property owners to lose 6 months of rent or more.

These high risks make it even more important that landlords do a very good job of screening tenants before signing the lease. This helps to minimize the chance of signing on a delinquent tenant.

Luckily, we have researched the top 3 tenant screening tools in the Canadian market (based on popularity) to make sure that you have all the data you need to make a good decision on which tenant to rent to. 

SingleKey vs Naborly vs RentCheck: How to Choose a Tenant Screening Tool

Exploring the Features Landlords Care About

You’re looking for a service to help streamline the rental application process and do a better job screening your tenants. With that in mind, here are the features that landlords who are looking to do that should care about most.

Detailed Credit Report

When you’re a landlord, ideally you want to see a detailed credit report of everything you need to know to make an informed decision and choose the right tenant. The problem is if you only have limited information that can be tough. 

For example, if you only have a credit score, that doesn’t show you the full picture. How good is the rental applicant at making their rent payments on time? Does the rental applicant have missed payments on any of their credit accounts? Without these critical details, you could end up choosing the wrong tenant.

Fast Credit Checks

When choosing tenants, you want a credit check that’s fast. In today’s rental environment where there are more vacancies in a lot of markets than in pre-COVID times, if you take too long to get back to a prospective tenant, by the time you’re interested in renting to them, they could have already signed a lease at another place.

To avoid unfortunate situations, it’s important to choose a credit check service that’s fast. Ideally with a service you can find out a tenant’s credit score in less than an hour and be able to make your decision about whether you want to rent to them shortly thereafter.

Easy to Understand Reporting

Have you ever tried to read a credit report and been confused about what you’re looking at? It’s great to receive a tenant screening report in a timely manner as long as you can understand it. 

Most credit reports are written in language for lenders to understand, not landlords. You ideally want a tenant screening report that’s already deciphered for you so you have all the information you need to pick the perfect tenant.

Streamlined Rental Application Process

Rental applications can be tedious and a pain in the neck, but they don’t have to be. Imagine having rental applicants complete a rental application by hand and then having to key in all the information online to receive a tenant screening report. Imagine doing that for dozens of applicants. 

If you’re looking to save time, you’ll want a rental application process that’s automated. By having prospective tenants complete the application online rather than by hand, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headaches.

Consider a Rent Guarantee

One of the biggest fears as a landlord is that you’ll have a tenant who refuses to pay the rent. It might not even be the tenant’s fault. They could be laid off at work due to COVID-19.

Choosing your tenants wisely is more important than ever. In 2021, it can take anywhere from six months to a year to evict a bad tenant. During all of this time you’ll be expected to continue to make your mortgage payments even if you don’t have rent coming in from the tenants. 

That’s why it’s helpful to use a service that offers some sort of rent guarantee. That way if the tenants can’t pay the rent, at least you’ll receive some money so you can still make your mortgage payments on time and protect your credit score.

Help Removing Bad Tenants

Let’s say all else fails and you need to remove a bad tenant. What do you do? You want a service that provides you with the help and resources that you need to evict bad tenants in a timely manner so that you can get good tenants in your place and keep making the mortgage payments. The last thing you want is to feel like you’re on your own and to have to figure it all out yourself.

Good Customer Service

When you need help, you want good customer service that responds to your own individual needs. While you’d like to think that you can figure out everything on your own, even the smartest of people need help. 

Some customer services leave a lot to be desired. You can wait days for a response or never receive one. Ideally you want to use a service with customer service that is responsive and who answers your questions within minutes or hours.

Comparing Canada’s Top Tenant Screening Tools

We highlighted some of the important distinctions between the three screening tools. Find out which one is right for you below.

Service Fees

SingleKey and Naborly have no membership fees and only charge $25 per report; it’s pay as you go. RentCheck has a membership / setup fee of $30 to 75 and then charges $38+ for their tenant report. They are by far the most expensive, but they do offer discounts to various organizations.

For small individual landlords looking for an affordable option, SingleKey and Naborly are your best bet. If you’re a landlord for a living with several dozen doors, that’s when a service like RentCheck can make more sense.

Ease of Use

Both SingleKey and Naborly make it very easy for landlords to sign up and place an order. When the report is ready, both of their reports are visual and intuitive to read. 

We really like how SingleKey brings the top 4 most important metrics at the very top and displays them as colorful gauges, which include:

You can quickly glance at these numbers and get a feel for the applicant’s credit quality and their ability to pay the rent.

Tenant Application Process

SingleKey and Naborly have a tenant application where you can invite a tenant with their email and they will send them a comprehensive Rental Application form to collect their information and consent. 

In this form, tenants can also upload proof of income, photo ID, and pet pictures. Rentcheck did not have this functionality.

We have to give the edge to SingleKey here as tenants find it easier to fill out, and many fields are optional.

Lastly, SingleKey also sends tenants text message invites, so they can apply on their phone, making the application process that much easier. That’s why they win this category.

Payment Options for Tenants

Both SingleKey and Naborly offer this feature – when they invite a tenant to fill out an application, they can choose to have the tenant make a credit card payment at the end. This is a lot better than asking your tenant to pay cash for the credit report, especially during COVID times. RentCheck does not offer this option, which is a real letdown.

Credit Report Quality

SingleKey’s report breaks down the balance owing, and monthly rent payments for each trade. They also include collections and bankruptcy details in the report. 

On the other hand, Naborly does not show the trade-by-trade breakdown but instead will roll up their total balances and payments – this seems to be a lower-tiered Equifax Report, making it never very useless. RentCheck also claims to offer a full credit report, and given the higher price point we assume that they have the same level of detail as SingleKey.

SingleKey and Naborly both get their credit information from Equifax, which is the preferred credit reporting agency. With RentCheck you can choose to order an Equifax or Transunion report, or pay extra to get both ($51), which is nice if you want to be extra cautious, but isn’t necessary in a lot of cases.

Tenant Court Record Check

SingleKey is the only company that includes a Court Record check in their $25 reports, which really sets them apart in terms of value. 

This feature provides an analysis of over 200,000 databases from each province looking for criminal records, court decisions, negative press, public biographies, past employment, past addresses, and more. The best part is that this report is done in only 5 minutes, making this the fastest court record check in Canada!

National Criminal Record Check

None of the 3 providers include a National Criminal Record Check as part of their standard pricing. However, RentCheck does offer the ability to upgrade to a police check for an additional $60. 

This may be worth it depending on how thorough you want to be. If you’re a landlord for a living and renting out places on a monthly basis, this feature may be worthwhile for you. For part-time landlords, it probably isn’t necessary.

Getting Started

SingleKey and Naborly both allow landlords to create an account instantly via their automated enrollment process, making the sign up process super easy and simple. Meanwhile, RentCheck quotes a 4 hour account verification turnaround time. In this category we give the slight edge to SingleKey and Naborly.

Time to Create a Report

The rental market moves fast, so it’s important that your tenant screening can be done quickly, otherwise you could miss out on good quality tenant. Both SingleKey and RentCheck offer almost instantaneous credit check results, while Naborly quotes a 90 minutes turnaround time.

Our Top Pick Is…

While RentCheck is a trusted company with a long history in this space, since 1976, unfortunately their technology and website design has not kept up with the times.  Naborly and SingleKey offer a sleek and smooth web interface and allow for much more functionality for both landlords and tenants. They are cheaper as well, which helps!

Based on the comparison results above, it’s clear that SingleKey is the best credit checking service in Canada. The product wins for 3 main reasons: 

Singlekey Is the Best Tenant Screening Tool in Canada

Canadian landlords know a good thing when they see one. Singlekey’s tenant screening tool offers the best overall functionality, features, and value. To find out more, head over to our services page. Or, if you have a specific question to ask our team, get in touch!

Landlord’s Guide: How to Recognize Tenant Red Flags

tenant-red-flags
tenant-red-flags

Out of all the tools of the trade, one of the most important skills a landlord must have is recognizing tenant red flags. Think of these as warning signs that could lead to problems with a tenant. 

Of course, that does not mean that a renter without red flags will always be the perfect tenant. Or that every renter with warning signals could be a problem tenant. In a recent Toronto ruling, for example, a tenant was convicted on three counts of fraud. He was notorious for showing up dressed well and with references, but when it came time to pay his rent he refused.

Eviction doesn’t just affect tenants. Head over to our eviction calculator to see how much it can cost you. This all goes to say that knowing the red flags can be invaluable. We’ll discuss some of the most important ways to uncover tenant red flags below. Let’s get going!

Singlekey’s 4 Ways to Discover Tenant Red Flags

1) Ask for Tenant Details (and Get Them on Record!)

Whenever you meet a prospective tenant, you should give them a rental application that covers the basics. This includes:

        • Current Address
        • Employer
        • Monthly Income
        • 3-5 Years of Residence History

It’s a good idea to follow up with their current employer and landlord to double-check that the information is valid. If the information doesn’t line up, that’s a red flag. Consider an unstable work history, lack of steady income, or reports of property damage as huge red flags as well.

Also, if you learn that the tenant was troublesome and bothered other renters in their last residence, that should set off your alarm bells. One unruly tenant can lead to fewer renters and less income.

2) Always Perform a Credit and Background Check

A credit check can reveal a tenant’s bad financial habits — and a big risk on your end. A poor credit score suggests an inability to pay bills or living above their means. 

But you don’t have to spend the time and effort to vet tenants manually. With SingleKey’s credit and background check, you can process tenant screening in minutes. The report also includes metrics that make it easier to understand the information Equifax reports on.

Our credit and background check reveals a wealth of information about tenants, such as:

        • Records of rent payments
        • Previous or ongoing collections
        • Bankruptcies
        • Past-due accounts

None of this information will give you a definitive answer about the tenant in question. But they will reveal some of the most important red flags you’ll encounter.

3) Never Rush to Fill a Vacancy

When it comes to renting, taking one’s time is a necessity for owners and tenants. When you rush to fill a vacancy, you can overlook the tenant evaluation. That’s not a wise decision. Screening tenants is a crucial step in the renting process.

Generally, renters start to look for apartments six to eight weeks before their moving date. If a tenant wants to move in right away, that could be an indication of upheaval, confusion, and lack of thought and planning in their lifestyle. This behavior can be a red flag for landlords who want a dependable and reliable tenant – and one who gives proper notice.

Similarly, if tenants indicate that they move frequently, they could turn out not to be ideal as a long-term tenant. Of course, they could have legitimate – even urgent – reasons for relocation. A single red flag shouldn’t be considered a black mark on their record. It does mean, however, that you should be on the lookout for other red flags, just in case.

4) Trust Your Gut

We’ve talked about how red flags can show up on paper through credit checks and employment history. But landlords can also make observations from interaction with the tenant – either in person, online, or during a phone conversation. 

If they are late for a viewing or careless about answering texts or emails – you guessed it – red flag. Of course, the savviest landlords avoid the extra stress and time required to vet tenants. Instead, they choose professionals like Singlekey to handle tenant screening.

Our Tenant Red Flag Rundown

Okay, so we’ve gone through lots of potential red flags. Here are some questions to ask as you decide on a tenant.

Key Takeaways

  • Does the applicant’s basic information match your research?
  • Do previous landlords or employers speak highly of them?
  • Does the credit and background check seem healthy?
  • Are they willing to move in at a reasonable time and date?
  • Do I feel good about the applicant in general?

Spotting Tenant Red Flags Easily with Singlekey

By following the steps above, we know you’ll have more success with tenants. But when it comes to property management, nothing is ever certain.

That’s why we set up the Singlekey Rent Guarantee. Signing up means you’ll get paid every month, no matter what happens to your tenant’s financial situation. You can find out how it works here.

Long Term vs. Short Term Rental: What’s Right for You?

short-term-vs-long-term-rental
short-term-vs-long-term-rental

Before you put your rental property on the market, you’ll need to decide whether you want to offer long-term or short-term rentals. To make the best decision, it’s important to not only know the difference between the two but to also realize the benefits and drawbacks of each. 

In our guide to long-term and short-term rentals, we’ll go over some of the key things landlords should consider so you can make the best choice for your property. Let’s get started.

The Pros and Cons of Short-Term vs Long-Term Rentals

What’s the Difference Between Long-Term and Short-Term Rentals?

A short-term rental is often defined as one that lasts less than 31 consecutive days. Sometimes it can last a bit longer. Short-term rentals can also be referred to as vacation rentals. That’s because many people own homes they rent out exclusively to vacationers depending on their location.

Long-term rentals are usually considered anything that lasts longer than six months. Common types of long-term rentals are apartment and house leases. Business and industrial properties are also typically long-term.

Other options can include an Airbnb-style rental. This can be done either for the short-term or long-term. Typically, these are not vacation-style rentals. They come in handy in situations when someone is in town for an extended period of time. For example, a sub-contractor on a 3-month contract may prefer Airbnb because it’s easy to send the bill to their client.

If you can’t decide whether short-term or long-term rentals are the best match for you, consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of short-term rentals below.

Short-Term Rental Pros

1) You can earn more money.

If your short-term rental property is a vacation home there is a greater potential to make more money, especially if people are renting for a week or two at a time. If your property is in a popular tourist spot, your income potential can be very high during the summer months. 

You also have the option of changing the rental amount depending on the rental week. Many property owners do this when they know there is a time of the year that is popular.

short-term-rental-pros

2) You can also use the property.

With a short-term rental, especially one that is a vacation home, there is the option for personal use. That means when you want to go on holiday or spend the weekend with the family, just reserve that block of time for yourself.

3) You can limit some of the renting risks.

Being a landlord is a big commitment. The responsibility comes with potential risks, such as tenants who don’t pay or time or damage your property. With a short-term rental, the commitment isn’t ongoing, so it’s a lot easier to manage.

Short-Term Rental Cons

1) Your income can fluctuate.

With a short-term rental there is a chance that you may have blocks of time with no rental income. Some property owners don’t mind taking this chance, while others don’t like the risk.

2) You’ll spend more on cleaning costs.

With a higher turnover rate, especially with a vacation property, you can expect more cleaning costs. Every time a tenant moves out you’ll need to have the home deep cleaned. Even with a contract, this can get pricey.

short-term-rental-cons

3) You may need to hire a Property Manager.

Because the property is rented to different tenants so frequently, the appliances, sinks, and toilets need to be checked routinely. No one is going to want to rent a home with a broken refrigerator or one that has plumbing problems. 

Some landlords choose to hire a property manager for their short-term rentals. That way, they don’t feel as though taking care of their property is another job. You have to weigh whether the cost is worth the convenience.

Long-Term Rental Pros

1. You’ll earn steady income.

When you have a property rented for a longer time, you know you’ll have a reliable source of income. This can help you be more financially secure and plan for your next investment.

2) You might see fewer maintenance fees.

Because the turnover rate is not as frequent, you should have fewer maintenance fees. You won’t have to pay a cleaning company to come in as frequently because you’ll have the same tenants for a longer amount of time.

Long-Term Rental Cons

1) You can’t raise rental prices once in contract.

When you offer a long-term rental, you need to keep the price consistent for the length of the lease. While this offers reliable income, you lose the chance to increase it for any reason until your agreement is over.

2) You will have the tenants for longer periods of time.

If you have problem tenants, you may be forced to look into eviction. No one wants to do this because it can be costly and lengthy. To find out just how costly, try our eviction calculator.  

To avoid troublesome tenants, SingleKey offers a thorough yet easy to read Credit and Background Check. Our screening report gives you the information you need to feel comfortable with who is living in your rental property.

Key Takeaways

Short-Term Rental Pros

      • Potential for big financial gains
      • You can use the property as well
      • Limit some risks of renting

Long-Term Rental Pros

    • Earn steady income
    • Fewer maintenance fees
      •  

Short-Term Rental Cons

      • Income can fluctuate month to month
      • Higher cleaning costs
      • May need to higher property manager

Long-Term Rental Cons

    • Rental rates are locked in
    • Harder to evict bad tenants

Long-Term vs Short-Term Rental: How to Decide

There’s no easy answer to choosing the type of rental property that’s best for you. Both long term and short term have their benefits and drawbacks. So it’s worth taking some time to consider where your property is located and how much time investment you’re willing to put into maintenance, cleaning, and tenant interactions. 

Whether for three months or three years, one thing is for certain: the right tenant can make all the difference. A thorough background check can help you find applicants that are perfect for your property. Book a call to learn more about SingleKey’s tenant credit report for landlords.

The New Ontario Standard Lease Agreement – 5 Things Every Landlord Should Know

New ontario lease agreement templates
New ontario lease agreement templates

Since April 2018, a standard lease agreement template was available from the Ontario government for landlords across the province. When complete, the standard lease creates a contract between the landlord and tenant. It is also called a residential tenancy agreement.

However, this standard residential tenancy agreement in Ontario was not mandatory and could be modified and altered by landlords, and such modifications and amendments were common practice. 

In December 2020, the Ontario government released an updated standard lease agreement template to account for RTA changes that were introduced in July 2020 by Bill 184

This new standard lease will require landlords to use 15 standard clauses and limits their ability to amend, disregard and add new clauses to the contract, limiting their ability to negotiate with the tenant.

What is the point of this new Ontario lease agreement?

The point of the new lease agreement is to prevent residential landlords from including illegal and therefore, unenforceable clauses in the standard lease agreements. The intention was to create a standard framework that both large and small landlords could use. 

The new lease template also makes things more transparent, and clearer between landlords and tenants because now, both parties will be familiar with what is in the document, where to find the total rent, what is included and excluded from the tenancy agreement. 

Additionally, the new residential tenancy agreement seeks to introduce the changes made by Bill 184

Ultimately, the new Ontario residential tenancy agreement is an attempt at levelling the playing field between landlords and tenants since there’s an otherwise unbalanced rental market due to the giant gap in negotiating powers between both parties.

5 Things to Know about the New Ontario Standard Lease

1) Changes to the new Ontario standard lease agreement

There are practical changes that will take effect with the new Ontario lease agreement in 2021.

Requesting a copy of the lease

The new lease agreement includes a provision that says a tenant can request a copy of the lease agreement from the landlord. If the landlord does not supply the lease agreement to the tenant within 21 days, the tenant can withhold 1 month’s rent. If the landlord does not produce it after 1 month, the tenant does not have to pay the landlord that outstanding months’ rent. Where the landlord never gives the tenant a copy of the lease agreement, the tenant can terminate the lease agreement by serving the landlord with 60 days’ notice.

No alteration

Landlords can no longer alter or change the new template. The new agreement contains 15 mandatory sections that must be included in the agreement and cannot be removed or altered in any way. The purpose of this is to prohibit landlords from making unfair changes or assigning illegal clauses that apply to the tenant.

Additional terms section

There is a section at the end of the lease agreement that allows landlords to attach documents with additional terms. Here landlords can add additional terms to the lease agreement but only with the tenant’s consent. It is important to note that where there is any inconsistency with the standard 14 clauses in the new lease agreement, the standard clauses will take precedence over any terms added by the landlord, which, in the case of conflict or overlap, will be viewed as illegal and therefore void. This is different from the approach seen in the previous rental agreement form because now this is the only section where landlords can add additional terms.

updated ontario lease agreement

Increased fines for landlords

As enacted by Bill 184, this new lease includes an increase in fines issued to landlords if they evict tenants unlawfully or give notices of termination in bad faith. Part D outlines the increased fines payable by landlords where landlords unlawfully evict tenants. If convicted, an individual landlord could face fines of up to $50,000.

Other changes to the Ontario rental agreement form

Along with these significant updates to the standard lease, the following is further clarified in this new form:
  1. Landlords no longer have to serve new tenants with the “electricity consumption” form for sub-metered units.
  2. Additional grounds for ending tenancy added in Part D including for landlord’s own use.
  3. If a tenant rents the entire unit to a third party (e.g. Airbnb), that person is not considered a “guest” and the landlord’s permission may be required.
  4. The “Post November 15, 2018” rent control exemptions are now clarified in Part I.

The most significant updates to the new Ontario standard lease agreement are:

  • Tenants can request a copy of the lease agreement from the landlord and can withhold rent if the landlord doesn’t provide it.
  • Landlords can no longer alter or modify the standard lease agreement.
  • A new “additional terms” section allows landlords to add further clauses and documents to the rental agreement, with the tenant’s consent. However, the main 15 clauses take precedence over these additional terms.
  • Increase in fines issues to landlords if they evict tenants unlawfully or give notices of termination in bad faith.

2) What properties does this new Ontario standard lease agreement apply to?

The new lease agreement applies to all residential units in Ontario. This includes but is not restricted to condos, houses, basement units, and apartments. Those exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act are not required to use this new lease format. This includes care homes, mobile home parks, lease communities and most social housing.

3) When does the new Ontario standard lease agreement take effect?

The new Ontario lease takes effect on March 1st, 2021

This does not mean that landlords and tenants who have already signed a lease agreement before this date are required to sign a new lease. 

Until February 28th, 2021, landlords and tenants can use the old version of the standard lease agreement and it will remain valid. However, it is important to note that any clauses in the lease agreement that are not standard clauses or are clauses that may appear to be illegal in nature, will automatically become void as of March 1st. This could mean that any clauses added within the body of the lease (and not within the “additional terms” section) could automatically become void as they would not abide by the new rules.

4) What might happen if I am not using the new Ontario standard lease agreement?

It’s important for landlords to know that any lease agreement made prior to March 1st will be permitted to remain effective and will not automatically become void. This is good news because landlords will not be required to re-sign their already existing tenants to a new lease.

Additionally, there are no penalties given by the Residential Tenancy Act, and by extension, the LTB, for landlords who do not properly use the standard lease. However, landlords should be aware that where there is a failure to use the proper form, the tenant can possibly break a fixed-term lease early. So it’s best to start using the new standard lease template before the March 1st deadline.

5) Where can I find a copy of the new Ontario standard lease agreement?

If you are interested in finding a copy of the new Ontario standard lease agreement that takes effect in March 1st 2021, please visit SingleKey Lease Templates to find a downloadable copy of the lease agreement.

Best Rental Websites to list your property in Canada

best-rental-websites-canada
best-rental-websites-canada

Nowadays, most tenants are looking online for rental options. It’s fast, easy to compare listings, and, in light of the current pandemic, socially-distant. As a landlord, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices you have when it comes to posting a property listing. 

Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best rental websites in Canada, each with their pros and cons, to ensure that you are getting the best exposure to your listings. 

1. Craigslist

Craigslist receives a huge amount of traffic, with a monthly 17.86 million Canadian visits in September 2020. Posting ads is straightforward with no sign-up or fee required, and you are allowed up to 24 images. Prospective tenants can contact you through email and other contact information you add to the listing. Each ad expires within 45 days, or 7 if the listing is in a larger city. 

However, the dated appearance of the website may dissuade potential landlords and renters alike. With a large base of legacy users, the website still resembles those from the early 2000s, and may not provide the most user-friendly experience. From a tenant perspective, the search and filter functions are unintuitive, which may make it difficult for them to find available listings. At the same time, ad layouts are very disorganized and the listing details are difficult to read. 

craiglist-best-rental-websites-canada-toronto

Since you can post listings without making an account, there is almost no vetting of the listings, resulting in many fake rental property ads on the website. Similarly, many landlords find that the tenant quality from Craigslist is not the best and certain inquiries they receive are not serious. 

Recommended for

DIY Small Landlords

Pros
    • No sign-up required.
    • No fees needed for basic post.
Cons
    • Traffic is split between rental ads and other categories.
    • Since it is easy to post ads, occasional scams can occur. 
    • Tenant inquiries are not always serious.

2. Kijiji

Most Canadian landlords are familiar with Kijiji, which averaged 3.4 million rental site visitors in September. In fact, it is the 14th most visited website in Canada! 

After signing up, Kijiji offers three different tiers when it comes to posting a listing.

    1. Free: You can post a basic ad with 10 pictures. You can only have two basic ads running at the same time, so to post a new ad, an older one must be taken down. Note that you will have to keep reposting the ad to keep it on top, or pay additional money to boost it.
    2. $130.95/month: You can post an ad with 20 pictures and an urgent flag. The ad is automatically bumped up every 7 days.
    3. $392.95/month: In addition to the previous perks, your ad also becomes a top ad on the website, and you can add a website link to the listing.

You can also pay to put your ad in Kijiji’s homepage gallery or highlight it to maximize the number of people viewing your listing. Ads generally expire after 60 days. 

kijiji-best-rental-listing-websites-canada-bc

Kijiji has a simple layout, making it easy to list properties. You can even list virtual viewing options, such as virtual tours or video chats, and see how many people have viewed your listing. 

However, the website offers limited search and filter options, so renters may have a hard time finding an appropriate listing. Contact is done through Kijiji’s inbox, which can get messy if you have many listings. Unfortunately, like Craigslist, Kijiji’s minimal vetting comes at the expense of fake listings and inquiries about properties that are not always serious. So it is important to be aware of scams and follow best practices

Recommended for

DIY Small Landlords

Pros
    • Different tiers and upgrades are available to customize your ad.
    • High website traffic means you are getting your ad in front of as many eyes as possible.
Cons
    • Contact is done through Kijiji’s inbox which can be difficult to organize.
    • The free tier limits you to 2 active ads at a time.

3. Facebook Marketplace

With over 25 million Facebook users in Canada, Facebook Marketplace has become another classic place to list rentals. As long as you have a Facebook account, you can post as many free ads as you would like, with up to 50 photos and no expiry date (be sure to renew them so they appear at the top of the listings though!). The interface is easy to use and offers a dynamic preview that changes as you fill out information for your ad. You can also leverage Facebook’s wide network to cross-post your ad onto your Facebook Timeline, Newsfeed and different Facebook groups. 

Prospective tenants can easily message you through Facebook’s platform, and all messages go into a separate folder from your personal Messenger chats. It even links each message to its corresponding listing and sets reminders! Facebook also gives you a sense of security as you can see each tenant’s profile as a real person. You can also change the status of your listing from Available to Pending or Sold.

facebook-marketplace-best-rental-sites-property-ads-canada-alberta

For tenants, there is a map view that helps them locate potential listings, although there is limited filtering based on listing details. Facebook also automatically provides nearby transportation and walking scores for each listing. Unfortunately, many realtors chose to post fake listings onto Facebook Marketplace in an attempt to get more clients. 

Recommended for

Individual Landlords & Realtors

Pros
    • Dynamic preview that changes as you edit your ad.
    • Ads do not expire.
    • Messenger organizes your messages and allows you to view tenants’ profiles.
Cons
    • High volume of fake listings by realtors.
    • Limited filtering options for tenants.

4. Padmapper

Unlike the previous sites, Padmapper is focused only on housing. By signing up for Padmapper, you can show your ad to over 385.9K monthly viewers for free. Each ad allows you to post over 20 images and ads do not appear to expire.

Unfortunately, the platform is not very user friendly for tenants and landlords alike. As a landlord, you can post a listing only if you download the mobile app. There is no way to do this on a desktop. Contacting tenants is also done through the website’s messaging system.

For tenants, they are able to use a computer to look at listings and filter rentals by price, location, and utilities. There is also a map feature that allows them to explore listings by proximity. However, there seems to be a lot of bugs with the mobile app such as being forced to log in multiple times for the app to function properly. 

Recommended for

Landlords, Realtors, Property Managers

Pros
    • Simple to use without complicated add-ons.
    • Tenants can easily filter and search for listings on desktop.
Cons
    • Cannot post a listing on desktop.
    • Mobile app is often difficult to use because of glitches.

5. Realtor.ca

Another option besides posting your own listing online is to hire a professional. Realtor.ca helps connect you with realtors in your area, who know how to best market your property to find a tenant. Though it varies from agent to agent, most realtors are paid 1-month’s rent commission if the unit is successfully rented.

realtor-best-rental-websites-canada-list-property-ad-tenants

The advantage of using a realtor is that they will:

    • Take photos and list your property on MLS
    • Hold the viewings on your behalf
    • Screen the applicants and ensure you get a quality tenant
    • Set up your lease agreement with the new tenant

If you are willing to pay the commission, this is the easiest and safest way to rent your property. 

Recommended for

Large Landlords and Property Managers

Pros
    • Get professional advice on how to best advertise your listing.
    • A turn-key solution for the full rental process.
    • In general, you can expect higher quality tenants.
Cons
    • Most expensive option.
    • Depending on how many clients the agent has and the situation surrounding their properties, you may not be first on their priority list. 

6. Viewit.ca

At $54.95/month, Viewit allows you to post to their 245.1K monthly viewers. No account is necessary and you can post up to 10 photos per listing. Each listing expires after 1 month and is only published after their team approves of it. This way, you can rest easy knowing no one will be reusing your listing information as part of a scam.

viewit-best-websites-to-list-your-property-for-rent-canada

On the flip side, any edits, changes, or cancellations you would like to make to your listing requires contacting their team. Their turnaround time is within a business day but some landlords may prefer other websites that give them total control over adding and deleting posts.

Viewit also has additional paid upgrades to enhance your ad and even offers to send professional photographers if you want.  

Tenants can utilize their map view to see nearby listings or use the search and filter functions to narrow it down based on utilities. They can message landlords through Viewit directly.

Recommended for

Property Managers

Pros
    • Vetted postings to ensure that the listing information you provide will not be used to scam others.
Cons
    • Any changes you wish to make require contacting their staff, which takes editing and posting permissions out of your hands.

7. Rentals.ca

A relatively new website, Rentals.ca averages around 600K monthly views and is still growing. They also have a mobile app. Posting requires signing up for an account and you can select if you want your ad to expire in 15 or 30 days. There are three different ad tiers to choose from. 

    1. Free: no special perks on listing.
    2. Promoted: for $24/15 days or $49/30 days your listing gets increased priority on map/list, synced with Facebook Marketplace and mobile app notifications.
    3. Featured: for $124/15 days or $249/30 days, in addition to features in previous tiers, you also get top listings and priority, “Featured” tag, and highlighted on the map.
rentals-best-sites-for-rental-property-ads-listings-canada

For each listing, a floorplan and at least 2 images are required. The website allows you to keep track of your listings, their status, and even save drafts. Tenants can contact you through the website or the phone number you add to the listing. Rentals.ca requires each listing to be approved by their team, so the website contains very few fake listings. Most listings on website are for apartments/condos.

For tenants, the website provides good search and filter options, including a map view that shows nearby listings. Each listing also comes generated with a neighbourhood and transportation information. 

Recommended for

Property Managers and Individual Landlords

Pros
    • Website is easy to navigate and use.
    • Postings are vetted, which means very little scam listings.
Cons
    • Website and company are relatively new, so there is not as much experience and reviews on it.
    • Mostly targets larger cities and apartments or condos.

The Final Verdict: The Best Rental Sites in Canada

CraiglistKijijiFacebook MarketplacePadmapperRealtorViewitRentals.ca
Monthly Traffic (Sept 2020) 17.86M 3.4M 25M 385.9K 15.68M 245.1K 600K
Account Required
Listing User Experience - Very dated website
- Mostly used by legacy users
- Simple interface: easy to list a property
- You have to keep reposting the listing so it shows up at the top or pay to boost it
- Listing status helpful
- No need to boost listings
-Communications with renters is easy, and it's nice to see their profile, to make sure you were speaking with a real person
- Very confusing and complicated interface
- Only allows posting on mobile app, no desktop access for listing
- Good experience for tenants
- Agents will post listing for you
- Limited control control since all edits, deletions, etc has to be approved by their team - Allows you to keep track of your listing status and save drafts
Renter User Experience No real search or filter functionality Renters have a hard time to filter and limited search capability Easy for both tenants and landlords Many glitches when searching for listings and makes you log in multiple times. Polished and professional look and feel. Lots of listings to choose from. Tenants can use map view to see nearby listings or filter to narrow down the listings based on utilities. - Provides good search and filter options
- Including a map view of nearby listings.
Communication Tenants can only message landlord. Very limited. Just message landlord. All messages are in an inbox, which is not very organized. The marketplace app separates messages from your personal ones. Ties it to the listing and sets reminders. Very basic. Realtor's contact info is included in each listing. Easy to get in touch. Send email through Viewit directly or call on provided number. Tenants can contact you through the website or the phone number you add.
Fees No - Basic : free
-More visibility: $130.95/month
- Most visibility: $392.95/month
No No - Fees vary for posting unit
- Most realtors charge 1 month's rent
- $54.95
- Additional costs optional
No Cons - Low vetting.
- traffic is shared with other categories.
- Low vetting
- 2 ad limit for free account.
- Low vetting - Mobile only - Most expensive option, costing 1 month's rent. Must contact their team for changes. New website so not enough reviews on it.
# of Pictures 24 10 ( Free) 50 3 (Recommended) N/A 10 2 (Minimum)
Ad Expiry 45 or 7 days 60 days (Fees may apply to extend) No No N/A 1 Month N/A
Fake Listing Many fake listings Many fake listings Many realtors with fake listings to get business Many fake listings None. Listings vetted by realtor. None. Listings vetted. Very few fake listings.
Pros Can list virutal tour options - Interactive ad maker.
- Cross-post ad to Newsfeed, Timeline and Groups
Shows a mapview of rentals A turn-key solution for the full rental process. - No fake listings
- Offers professional photographer
- Popular with large property manager
- Shows a mapview of rentals.
- Provides neighbourhood and transportation information
Fees No - Basic : free
-More visibility: $130.95/month
- Most visibility: $392.95/month
No No - Fees vary for posting unit
- Most realtors charge 1 month's rent
- $54.95
- Additional costs optional
No Cons - Low vetting.
- traffic is shared with other categories.
- Low vetting
- 2 ad limit for free account.
- Low vetting - Mobile only - Most expensive option, costing 1 month's rent. Must contact their team for changes. New website so not enough reviews on it.
Best For Small Landlords Small Landlords Individual Landlords + Realtors Large landlords, realtors, property managers Realtors Property Managers Property managers, Individual landlords

Best Rental Websites in Canada by Province

Besides the top Canada-wide rental sites we featured above, each province has specific rental websites that are popular in the region. We highlight some of the best ones below. 

British Columbia

RentBoard

120K visitors per month

RentBoard has an ad credit system where you buy a certain number of credits, for example 30 days, and can either use it all up for 1 ad that is listed for 30 days, post 2 ads for 15 days each, or 30 different ads for 1 day each. If you take an ad down early your unused credit is saved for the next time you decide to post.

Point2Homes

280K visitors per month

Signing up for an account on Point2Homes requires approval from their team and prices vary by region. This site is mostly used by real estate agents, property managers, and brokerages.

Alberta

Rentfaster

385K visitors per month

Rentfaster lets you list an ad for $35 until it is rented out for a maximum of 6 months. Some limitations apply as outlined on their website. Once your unit is rented out, you can deactivate the ad and reactivate it for $30 at a later date.

RENTcafe

150K visitors per month

RENTcafe is very popular with tenants, but signing up to post your listing is a multi-step process. It involves registering with its affiliate company Yardi to use their property management software. It is recommended for property managers.

Immediate Rent

2K visitors per month

Immediate Rent is one of the newest entrants in this space and they doing things differently – they are the first rental portal allowing payments in over 100 crypto-currencies. As a landlord, you can advertise your property for free. No Listing Fees. No Monthly Fees, No Platform Fees.

Ontario

Torontorentals.com

85K visitors per month

TorontoRentals is now part of Rentals.ca, so listings on TorontoRentals will also appear on Rentals.ca and vice versa.

Condos.ca

600K visitors per month

Condos.ca has a large database of users looking to rent or buy condos. The site will put you in contact with a realtor/condo professional to help you list your property.

Quebec

Louer.com

70K visitors per month

Louer specializes in rental units in Quebec and also has a French version of their website. It allows you to post listings for free, but your account must be approved before you can use it.

Duproprio.ca

1.2M visitors per month

Duproprio is the largest real estate website in Quebec for buy & sell as well as rentals. They offer three tiers for ads: free, $49.95/3 months, or $199.95/3 months. Each tier offers a different number of photos you can include and the number of weeks the listing is featured.

Finding great tenants for your rental property in Canada is one of the hardest things about being a landlord. It is a lot easier when you know where to list your ads. Using a trustworthy website with a lot of traffic is always a good first step. 

If you are a landlord with house rentals or apartments for rent looking for tenants, SingleKey can help make your renting process easier, faster and safer. With our Tenant Credit Check in Canada you can screen your potential applicants in less than 5 minutes to find the perfect renters for your property.

Cost of Evicting a Tenant: the Ultimate Guide for Canadian Landlords

cost of evictions in Canada
cost of evictions in Canada

Delinquent tenants are arguably the biggest risk a landlord faces when they decide to invest in rental property. While landlords try their best to screen for good tenants to keep their rental income secure, sometimes the unexpected can still happen. Landlords still have to deal with evictions when they end up with delinquent tenants who may not pay their rent or may even damage the property.

So how do landlords evict tenants in Canada? What does the eviction process look like and how much does it actually cost to remove a delinquent tenant?

When calculating the cost of evicting a tenant, Canadian landlords need to keep three things in mind:

A. Loss of Rental Income During Evictions

The only recourse that landlords have to deal with non-payment of rent and tenants who refuse to leave the unit is to go through the provincial tribunal or court to file for tenant eviction.

The problem is that the process of eviction in most provinces suffers mainly from long delays due to a high backlog of hearings. So it takes a long time  to carry out eviction procedures from start to finish.

The duration of the eviction process in Canada depends on three things:

Statutory Delays

Statutory delays are periods of time that a landlord must wait before they can apply to their provincial tribunal or court to remove a tenant. This set number of days differs in each province.

The purpose of these additional wait times is to give tenants the opportunity to pay any outstanding rent owed to a landlord. If the set number of days passes, the landlord can then apply for an eviction order on the grounds of non-payment of rent.

How long does it take to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent in each province?

In British Columbia, a landlord must issue a 10-day notice to end tenancy for unpaid rent when a landlord fails to pay rent by the agreed upon date. Within the 10 days, if the tenant fails to pay the outstanding balance of rent, a landlord must wait the respective 10 days before they can apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to claim the lost rental income.

When a landlord wishes to remove a tenant in Alberta, the landlord is to serve the tenant with a 14- day notice to vacate the unit.

In Saskatchewan when a tenant is 15 days late to paying rent, the landlord has the right to immediately end the tenancy by serving the tenant with an eviction notice.

In Manitoba a landlord is entitled to evict a tenant 5 days after the rent is due. On the 5th day, the landlord can ask the tenant to vacate the unit and has full discretion in determining how soon the tenant should vacate the unit.

The average amount of time given to tenants to allow them to leave is between 5 and 10 additional days (this is at the discretion of the landlord as there is no guidance on this).

In Ontario, eviction proceedings take at least 25 days.

First, a landlord must issue a Termination Notice (N4 Form) when the tenant is late on rent, then they have to wait 14 days to file an application for eviction (L1 Form) with the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict the tenant.

In addition to this initial 14 days, and unlike any other province, there is also a statutory requirement that the landlord must wait an additional 11 days to allow the tenant to either pay the outstanding balance or vacate the unit before the landlord is allowed to hire a sheriff to enforce the standard order.

In Quebec, the landlord must wait 3 weeks from when the payment was initially due before filing to evict a tenant. Once a tenant is 21 days late, the landlord can then apply to the Tribunal to end the tenancy, remove the tenant, and recover the lost rent.

Following the application for eviction after 21 days, if the tenant pays the outstanding balance to the landlord before the Tribunal reaches a conclusion, then the termination of the tenancy is avoided.

In Nova Scotia, a landlord can only serve a delinquent tenant with a notice after their rent is 15 days late. Further, a landlord must wait an additional 15 days from the date the tenant is handed the eviction notice before the eviction can be carried out, totalling a minimum of 30 days of mandatory wait time before a tenant can be evicted.

In PEI, a landlord can issue a notice to evict the tenant as soon as rent is 1 day late. The tenant then has 20 days to vacate the unit. If they manage to pay the outstanding balance within 10 days, then the eviction notice is invalidated.

Similar to PEI, in New Brunswick the landlord can issue an eviction notice to a tenant as soon as rent is 1 day late. The tenant then has 15 days to vacate the unit.

In Newfoundland when a tenant is 5 days late in paying rent, a landlord will then serve a tenant with notice that the tenancy has ended, and the tenant then has 10 days to vacate the unit amounting to an average of 15 days for the entire eviction process.

Court Delays

Court delays are the length of time between the issuing of the notice to the tenant or filing with the provincial tribunal, to when an arbitrator issues a decision. These numbers include any delays in scheduling a hearing date, and any delays in the arbitration proceedings including the amount of time it takes to release a decision.

How long does it take to get an eviction court order?

In British Columbia, after a landlord files the appropriate 10-day notice to end tenancy for unpaid rent and a tenant has not paid all outstanding rent or vacated the unit, the landlord must then proceed to claim the unpaid rent amount with the provincial tribunal (the RTB).

In BC, the tribunal can take 1-2 weeks to schedule a hearing for the two parties to plead their case depending on the availability of arbitrators and their caseload. Following the end of the arbitration, the tribunal will make the final decision within 30 days of the hearing.

In Alberta, it can take as little as 5 days to as much as 48 days for a landlord to have a hearing scheduled. On average, it takes 25 days after filing a dispute to get a hearing scheduled. Following the conclusion of the hearing, it takes an additional 10 days for the arbitrator to reach a final and binding decision. Depending on the outcome of the possession order, a landlord may further need to wait between 10 to 30 days before they can regain possession of the unit.

In Saskatchewan, due to the lighter caseload, hearings are scheduled approximately 7 days from when the claim is brought the tribunal.

Manitoba’s court system adds an additional 15 days in lost time. This is because it takes approximately 12 days for the hearing to be scheduled. Following the hearing, the arbitrators release the final outcome after 3 days.

Ontario’s court delays total an average of 51 days. It takes 14 days for the provincial tribunal to schedule a hearing. When the hearing date is set, it is typically scheduled for 4-6 weeks later.

Similar to Ontario, Quebec’s tribunal system is subject to heavy delays. It can take up to 3 months in some cases for a tribunal to release a final decision. However, on average, it takes 30 days for a final and binding decision to be made.

For Nova Scotian landlords, it can take up to an additional 20 days to receive a verdict for eviction. This is a combination of delays in scheduling the hearing and waiting for a conclusion by the arbitrator to be reached. 

In PEI, the provincial tribunal prioritises eviction hearings over other landlord-tenant disputes. So hearings are scheduled between 7 – 10 days after the landlord brings forth the claim to the tribunal.

New Brunswick boasts the shortest court delay length across Canada. Landlords there face shorter wait times as it takes an average of 5 days for the court to issue their decision.

In Newfoundland, after requesting a hearing at the Residential Tenancies, there is an additional 14 day wait before the hearing is conducted. While the average length of delay is 14 days, tenants, in some cases, can have up to 18 days to file an appeal and have the case reconsidered.

Sheriff Delays

Following the eviction decision from the court, landlords need to also account for the time it’ll take to hire a sheriff to enforce an order of possession or court order to remove a non-paying tenant and allow a landlord to re-possess his unit.

How long does a sheriff take to evict a tenant?

In every province except for Ontario, it takes between 1-6 days for the sheriff to enforce an eviction. However, in Ontario, due to the backlog of cases in the LTB there is also a high demand for sheriffs to enforce evictions. Therefore, following the issuing of an order to allow a landlord to regain possession of the unit, and following the statutory waiting period of 11 days to allow the tenant to move out of the unit, if the tenant does not leave, it takes an average of 30 days more for an Ontario landlord to hire a sheriff to uphold the eviction order.

This statistic is one of the key reasons why the process of carrying out an eviction in Ontario is longer than any other province. While we see the average across the country is only 4 days, in Ontario this process takes approximately 8 times longer than in the rest of Canada.

How Long Does the Eviction Process Take in Total?

It takes between 2 weeks to 3 months to remove a delinquent tenant (depending on what province you reside in). The province with the longest procedural delays during an eviction is Ontario and the province that has the shortest delays is Saskatchewan.

So how much rent in total can a landlord expect to lose?

You can calculate the total amount of rent a landlord expects to lose while going through the eviction process using this formula:

TOTAL LOST RENT $ = AVG EVICTION TIME (+1 MONTH TO FIND A NEW TENANT) X AVG MONTHLY RENT $

To determine the total cost in lost rent when faced with a delinquent tenant, it is important to consider what the monthly average monthly rent and utilities are in each province:

On top of not receiving rent for multiple months, a landlord can expect to spend an additional 1 extra month to post ads, screen, and sign a lease with a new tenant. This does not include any time spent repairing any possible damages to the property by the delinquent tenant.

This lost income also does not include extra costs such as legal expenses, court fees, etc that may be incurred during eviction proceedings.

The average landlord renting a 1-bedroom unit can expect to lose between $2,000 to $4,000 worth of rent while going through the eviction process. In Ontario, landlords are subject to much higher losses as Ontario landlords can expect to lose $9,000 in rent! This is due to the lengthy eviction process in Ontario (3 to 5 month) combined with the higher avg. rent prices.

B. Eviction Legal Costs

In addition to the rental income that landlords lose during the process of evicting a tenant, they also spend thousands of dollars in legal costs.

There are 3 types of legal costs:

Legal Fees

Legal expenses mainly include the cost of hiring a paralegal to deal with a case on behalf of a landlord. Paralegals will file relevant paperwork, handle the eviction hearing and any other negotiations that may be necessary throughout the process.

Legal Costs For Eviction in Canada

In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the average landlord spends between $700- $800 to hire a paralegal to carry out the eviction process. 

However, in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland, the average landlord spends approximately $400 – $500 on legal expenses over the course of an eviction.

Unsurprisingly, Ontario and Quebec are the most expensive provinces in relation to hiring legal assistance due to longer eviction processes. In Ontario legal fees cost $2,000 on average and in Quebec they cost $1,000 on average.

Court Fees

Court fees are the payment to be made to the court or a tribunal in order to file a claim or order to evict a tenant. Generally, the average spend for court applications is between $50 to $100. Ontario, once again, remains as the outlier as the cost to file an application with the LTB for eviction is $175 (nearly twice as much as the next most expensive province).

Sheriff Fees

The cost of hiring a sheriff to enforce an order to remove a tenant widely varies across Canada. The average amount ranges between $100 – $200. In Ontario, due to the high demand for sheriffs, a landlord must also spend approximately $400 before a tenant is removed by a sheriff. On the other hand, landlords in Newfoundland, PEI, and New Brunswick pay a measly $50 – $75 for the same service.

C. Estimated Property Damage Costs

Lost rental income is one of the scariest expenses that a landlord can face. The only thing that can make a landlord’s job harder is when a delinquent tenant damages their property before vacating the unit.

In Canada, 1 in 6 eviction cases includes a claim for compensation for damages to the unit in addition to lost rent. The average landlord claims between $1,500 to $3,500 in court against a tenant for damages caused to their unit.

Damages caused to a landlord’s unit tend to extend the waiting time and the amount of losses that a landlord suffers before they are able to find a new tenant and begin renting the unit out once again. It can take 1-2 weeks just to do simple repairs to the property. Landlords may not be able to recover the full amount of damages from the tenant in court so they may still be left with some expenses to cover out of pocket.

What is the total cost of eviction?

In all Canadian provinces, even the least expensive ones, the costs of eviction can be substantial. From the many days it takes to begin eviction proceedings to the additional months it takes to remove a tenant; landlords lose an average of 2 months (60+ days) of rental income going through the process. They also have to account for an extra 1 month of lost rental income till they find a new tenant.

The average cost shouldered by landlords across Canada is between $4,000 to $5,000 in eviction expenses. These costs can even reach $11,000 in more expensive provinces with lengthy processes such as Ontario.

How do landlords protect their rental income and keep renting risk-free?

For a landlord to protect themselves and their unit, the first step to be taken is to perform a proper tenant screening when signing a new lease.

Tenant screening services offer financial insight into the tenant’s history. Some services, like SingleKey offer a comprehensive  Tenant Credit and Background Check in Canada that includes a full credit check, as well as a background check and a social media scan. All this information comes wrapped in one report, and you can get started in just 5 minutes.

For landlords who are looking for additional peace of mind and protection for their unit, products such as the SingleKey Rent Guarantee program offer just that. The SingleKey Rent Guarantee Program protects landlords from losing rental income by guaranteeing up to $60,000 worth of coverage.

SingleKey collaborates with Queens MBAs to Launch in the US

consulting with singlekey
consulting with singlekey

As students of the Smith School of Business Accelerated MBA program at Queens University, we were tasked with finding an interesting growing organization that we could engage with on a consulting project to help us apply what we were learning in our program. 

 Aptly named Toronto A, our consulting team of 8 motivated professionals were eager to bring our A-game, academic tools, management skills and prior work experience to help an organization solve challenging and equally intriguing strategic issues.  The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that being prepared for the unexpected is critical, which is why deciding to work with our new client SingleKey was easy. They are an organization that helps residential landlords secure that much needed peace of mind.

Queens University & Singlekey Help Canadian Landlords

In the Spring we quickly realized that our consulting engagement will have to be virtual, but luckily with the aid of technology and the effortless diplomacy of SingleKey staff, led by Viler Lika, we quickly pivoted to videoconferencing. 

What struck us immediately when working with the SingleKey team is the deep commitment and passion they have for helping landlords feel secure when making tenant decisions.  After gaining an in-depth understanding of the organization, its people, and their strategic plans of moving across the border, we defined our new client’s requirements and scope of our consultancy.

Together we navigated the compliance hurdles that exist when operating in the US and leveraged our MBA education to navigate this powerful learning experience. We all brought unique talents and perspectives to market research and strategy and were given hands-on opportunities to practice our teamwork and leadership skills. 

Some of our work included industry and competitive analysis for the US expansion, search engine optimization, employee sales training and user experience management for their website to make sure it is secure and simple. SingleKey gave us a lot of feedback on our recommendations and incorporated them into their tactics for enhancing the experience that landlords have with processing credit and background checks.  

The next part of our project involved assessing referral program partners. SingleKey gave us a list of providers they were considering for a referral program as well as a set of criteria that was important to them in selecting a provider. The Toronto A team was to conduct more research on each one, complete demos for each company and present a top three to the SingleKey team.

Obtaining the key criteria was helpful in researching potential partners as it allowed us to have a better understanding of what SingleKey was looking for and allow a better assessment of providers through the lens of the SingleKey team. After narrowing down the list to a top three, we presented our findings and collectively decided that the best course of action would be for SingleKey to complete a demo with each of the providers to determine the best fit.

This part of the project made us feel like we were really making an impact by assessing referral partners and determining referral strategies that will help SingleKey reach more landlords across Canada and the US! From the start of our engagement (in May 2020) to the end (in October 2020), SingleKey sales grew over 300%, in part due to the successful US launch. 

Singlekey Helps Landlords Find the Best Tenants in Canada and the USA

As for Toronto A, we couldn’t have asked for a more positive experience consulting SingleKey as we gained firsthand insight into entrepreneurship and a growing business.

Viler let us drive ideas and make decisions while empowering us to steer direction when appropriate.  Each and every one of us are inspired to take on the challenges of more senior management positions in our own careers.  While some of us already have experience selecting tenants, and others are still working towards becoming landlords ourselves, all 8 of us now know where to go for support and advice to make sure we make the best decision.

We are confident that we will hear great things about SingleKey for years to come and are happy to have provided value to such an exciting company.

Best Practices for Finding Good Tenants

landlord tips for rental tenant screening and finding good tenants
landlord tips for rental tenant screening and finding good tenants

Finding good tenants could really save you a lot of headaches. Paid rent, no damage, complaints and  even more time for family and friends. It is always worth investing the extra time and effort to find a good tenant.

Although it may seem like a complicated process, it comes down to 2 things:

1) Having interested applicants to choose from 

2) Screening for the best applicants

This step-by-step article will focus on helping you put your best foot forward when marketing your rental listing.

Best Practices for Finding Good Tenants

Step 1: Say Cheese! Start with Great Photos

That’s right, take photos that people want to see. Landlords and property managers need to learn how to take good rental photos.

The purpose of these photos is to intrigue people to come and check out your rental property. In the rental market you are competing against similar listings and your unit’s photos are the first opportunity to make a good impression.

Your rental’s photos should provide a complete view of your unit. Make sure to showcase the appearance and size of your property. Angles are important. Be strategic with how you take your property’s pictures to really display the space and layout in the rental unit.

Make sure that your rental property is cleaned and ready to be rented. No one will be interested in a household with dirty laundry on the floor and paint that is already peeling off the walls.

 

Once the rental unit looks great, take photos with bright lighting, ideally during a sunny day, and consider having all the lights on.

landlord tips for finding good tenants

 

By helping your potential applicants know what to expect, it will usually be the most interested tenants that come to the viewing and provide their information.

Step 2: List Your Unit on the Top Rental Sites

Around 43 million Americans and 4.4 million Canadians live in rental housing. This means that there will always be people looking for a place to live, especially in urban areas. 

It is your goal now to get as much exposure as possible to your listing in order to find qualified tenants who are ready to move in. 

Here are some of the best free rental listings sites to advertise your property:

When working on your rental advertisement, follow this format for greater traction.

        • Attention-grabbing headline
        • Highlights of your property (Size, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.)
        • Location (approximate/intersection)
        • Detailed description of your rules, fees and any other important information

When posting your rental’s photos, make sure to include a description of your property and your expectations. This will separate the interested viewers from the not so interested ones. 

Step 3: Pre-Screen Tenants and Schedule a Viewing

After hearing back from interested applicants, let all of the candidates know that you will be holding viewings on a specified date (preferably weekends). This saves time and is more efficient than having daily viewings.

Before inviting a rental applicant to a viewing, make sure to ask a few pre-screening questions, to avoid wasting time on tenants who will not qualify. Some key questions you should ask from the get-go are:

        • Their monthly income (to determine affordability)
        • Their credit scores (to estimate risk)
        • Their preferred move-in date (to save time)

Keep in mind, a lot of the time the viewing is the moment where the tenant decides whether or not they would like to rent out your property. With that said, make sure to:

        • See that the appliances are working in order as well as light bulbs, doors, etc.
        • Remove unnecessary furniture and items for a more spacious look.
        • Air out the unit with some fresh air before your showing.
        • If necessary, repaint the walls of the property.

COVID Alert! Virtual Tours

Note that in many regions, viewings are now done online due to COVID. Many landlords are doing Virtual Tours via video calls so that they can walk through and show the unit while chatting with the prospective tenant and answering their questions in real time. 

Step 4: Follow the Fair Housing Act

The law states that you can not discriminate against a wide array of people and behaviors. This means that questions regarding certain subjects must not be asked, including:

        • Origin
        • Religion
        • Gender
        • Race and Colour
        • Disabilities
        • Marital status

As a landlord you are responsible to follow this act and can face serious penalties if you do not. 

Also keep in mind that by discriminating against certain people, you may be missing out on a great tenant.

Step 5: Rental Application Form and References

Knowing exactly what to include in a rental application form can be difficult. Without the right information on the form, the application can make your decision challenging.

For this reason we included a list of the most important things to ask for.

  • Applicant information:
        • Personal Information (Name, Address, Date of Birth, Contact Info)
        • Credit Score
        • Pets
        • Smoking
        • Employment/Occupation/Income
        • ID/Driver’s License
  • Consent for Credit Check: Running a Tenant Background & Credit Check in Canada has become standard practice when renting, and most tenants will expect it. So, make sure to have a consent clause in your rental application form.
  • Proof of Income: In the form of recent pay stubs, employment letters or bank statements. This is critical to ensure employment and sufficient income to pay the rent.
  • Employment References: Asking for the applicant’s employment history and a reference from their manager will give you an idea of whether or not they are stable.
  • Previous Rental History: More often than not applicants will have previous history that you can learn from. By asking for this information and contacting the previous landlord you can ask about rent payments as well as the condition of their home.

    By having this information about the applicants, you will generally have a great understanding of their tendencies and whether you would like them to live in your property.  

    More importantly, rental applications will make it clear what type of applicants you should generally decline.

You may still receive applicants that do not meet all of your qualifications, but they can explain why they still proceeded with the application if this was the case.

Step 6: Do Not Settle!

Finding a worthy tenant is not an easy task, and if you do not feel confident about your applicants, there is no need to move forward with them.

Rental Property Landlords Tenant screening services

Finding good tenants is a marathon not a race. Invest the time and effort to find good tenants because it will save you a lot of stress and headaches that can result from dealing with a problematic tenant. Sometimes it may be worth losing a month of rent due to a vacancy to take the time to find the right tenant.

Evicting a delinquent tenant can cost a landlord thousands of dollars in lost rent, damages and legal fees – as well as significant time and stress. If you want to avoid these headaches and have complete peace of mind, consider enrolling in a Rent Guarantee Program.

Goodluck, and happy renting!