What Should Landlords Look for in A Tenant Credit Report?

how to read a credit report for landlords

Being a landlord in today’s rental market requires diligence and experience. To avoid leasing their units to risky tenants, most landlords rely on tenant credit checks — it’s a foundational part of the tenant screening process. While these checks are very insightful, even seasoned landlords can overlook important information.

SingleKey offers a great way for landlords to screen tenants via our Tenant Credit & Background Check. We have helped landlords across Canada screen and verify thousands of prospective tenants, providing them with insights to help them make renting risk-free and hassle-free. To help landlords learn how to read the SingleKey tenant screening report, we’ll review the top 5 tenant credit check metrics.

how to read a credit report for landlords

Don’t forget to check out our sample tenant credit check report. We’ll be using it as a reference throughout this article.

How to Read a Credit Report for Landlords: 5 Key Tips

  1. Learn the Difference Between Poor, Good, and Great Credit Scores

The first risk indicator landlords typically review is the credit score. SingleKey uses an Equifax ER 2.0 score to create an accurate picture of the tenant’s financial health. A credit score is a useful metric encompassing the entire spectrum of a prospective tenant’s financial standing, including: 

      • Payment Behavior
      • Debt 
      • Income
      • Outstanding Debt
      • Late Payments

The average Canadian has a credit score of 630. So tenants with a score ranging from 600 to 700 are considered to have an average score. When reviewing rental applicants with a score below 600, landlords may want to look more carefully. A credit score below 500 is likely due to poor payment behaviour or a recent bankruptcy, indicating the riskiest applicants. 

tenant credit report for landlords

While a low credit score doesn’t mean that a tenant will be delinquent on rent, we can safely make the assumption that a tenant who doesn’t pay their bills on time is more likely to not pay their rent on time.

  1. Identify the Types of Debt the Tenant Owes

Another key piece of information on our tenant credit reports is debt. While large amounts of any debt aren’t a great sign, it’s important to understand that not all debt is created equally.

High-Interest Debt

landlord-tenant-credit-checks

Credit cards and risky loan options, such as payday loans, are high-risk debt because of their higher interest rates. Also, payday loans are often the last resort for borrowers and can indicate the tenant may be going through financial hardship.

Low-Interest Debt

On the other hand, debt categories like mortgages and HELOCs (Home Equity Lines of Credit) are significantly less risky because of the lower interest rates and the asset securing the loan. Also, individuals can rent out their property to cover the mortgage payment. 

Student debt and car payments are forms of debt that aren’t as risky as credit cards or payday loan debt. What is important here is whether the applicant has been able to make regular payments.

  1. Tally Up the Total Monthly Debt Payments

Credit reports outline the number of regular payments that a person has to pay towards items such as an auto loan, credit card, or cell phone. It is important to review these monthly payments because they show the portion of the applicant’s income going towards recurring expenses and bills.

For example, in SingleKey’s sample credit report, the “Payment Term Amount” shows how much money is to be paid, while the “Narrative” explains the frequency of payments.

tenant monthly debt payments

To give you a real-world example, if the applicant’s pre-tax income is $3000 per month but they have to pay $1000 towards their credit card and car loan payments every month, this doesn’t leave much behind to cover rent and living expenses.

  1. Calculate the Rent-to-Income Ratio

It’s important to know if the tenant can actually afford the expense of renting a unit. A landlord should consider how the tenant’s monthly income compares to how much they will have to pay for monthly rent. To simplify the process, SingleKey’s tenant credit report calculates the rent-to-income ratio so you won’t have to worry about it.

Looking at the tenant’s rent-to-income ratio gives you a good sense of affordability. If they make $3000 per month, but are applying for a unit where the rent is $2000 per month — that’s a red flag.  

We also suggest going one step further and using the (rent + debt payments) to income ratio. With this formula, both their monthly debt payments and their rent are used to get a better grasp on how much they can really afford. 

Our data shows affordability is one of the top predictors of tenant rent default. If a tenant is spending more than 50% of their income on rent, there won’t be much left to save for a rainy day. In this scenario,unexpected expenses or job loss would cause the tenant to stop paying rent.

  1. Focus on Collections and Bankruptcies

Collection items and bankruptcy demonstrate financial responsibility, and remain on a credit report for 6 years and have a significant impact on credit scores. Collections and bankruptcy can happen, but it’s important to ask the right questions when you see them on a tenant’s credit report.

1. What was the amount owing?

The amount owing is an important factor in determining how detrimental the outstanding payment is to the applicant.

2. How old is the default?

In cases where a bankruptcy occurred 5 years ago, that is not nearly as important as when the bankruptcy is fresh. The older the bankruptcy, the less financial strain the applicant is under. 

3. What type of debt was it?

If a collections item is for a payday loan, that is much more worrisome than if it was an outstanding phone bill.

Collection items and bankruptcy demonstrate financial responsibility, and remain on a credit report for 6 years and have a significant impact on credit scores. Collections and bankruptcy can happen, but it’s important to ask the right questions when you see them on a tenant’s credit report.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The 5 Things Landlords Should Look Out for on a Tenant Credit Check

  1. Credit Score
  2. Amount of Debt and Type of Debt
  3. Monthly Debt Payments
  4. Rent-to-Income Ratio
  5. Collections and Bankruptcy

Find the Right Applicant with Single Key’s Tenant Credit Report

Being smart with your tenant screening process keeps your renting risk-free. A good tenant will not only have a stable income, but they’ll have a reassuring financial history. Keeping in mind the 5 key risk indicators in this guide will help you get the most out of your tenant credit report and raise any red flags that you should be aware of. 

If you are looking for the best tool to screen your tenants, consider the SingleKey Tenant Credit and Background Check report. The five metrics we just reviewed are at the top of every report. 

Don’t forget that we also offer a free tenant review call to help walk you through the tenant report results, so book a call with us any time.

Want to Learn How to Choose Better Tenants? Watch SingleKey’s Viler Lika Explain How with REIN

how-to-find-better-tenants-landlord-tips-video

Want tenant tips from some of Canada’s leading landlord and real estate experts? This past February, the Real Estate Investment Network’s (REIN) JG Francoeur and Patrick Francy sat down with our founder Viler Lika to talk about how SingleKey helps small everyday Canadian landlords better manage their rental properties by choosing the right tenants in order to reduce delinquency risk right at the start.

In the interview, we dive into the real costs of evicting tenants, and how SingleKey can really help landlords across Canada deal with one of the most stressful and costly experiences of their landlord journey. Francoeur and Francy bring up some good points as well. They ask how SingleKey determines the worthiness of a prospective tenant and why we never decline tenants based on credit score alone.

Some of the questions we answer in the interview are:

  1. What sort of expenses does home insurance not cover?

  1. How can SingleKey’s Rent Guarantee help you cover eviction expenses?

  1. Are the best tenants always the ones with the best credit scores?

  1. How detailed should you be with a tenant’s references?

The video also includes a detailed rundown of SingleKey Tenant Credit Check and Background Check. Viler explains how landlords can use the information they find here to find the best tenants and to support the gut feeling they may have about a prospective tenant. The tenant screening report goes far beyond a simple credit report. If you’ve been interested in seeing our comprehensive tenant credit and background check in action, this is a great time to see it explained in detail.

You can watch the entire video on Facebook Live below.

REIN is a news and resource company that helps thousands of Canadians protect their investments and better prepares them for navigating the challenges of managing a rental property. They offer Canadians unbiased real estate education and advice through webinars, a membership program, and a free weekly podcast called “The Everday Millionaire.” REIN has been featured on CNN, The Globe and Mail, and CTV Canada.

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
# 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
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.

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.

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!

How to Screen for Great Tenants

“It’s none of your business what my credit score is!!” How’s that for a start?

Tenants that are soon to live in your property can come in all types : good, bad, really bad. This is why you should do your due diligence before renting out your unit.

If it sounds stressful, don’t worry!

Luckily, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to screen for great tenants and included some tips along the way. 

1. Looks are Deceiving, A Credit Report is Not

After narrowing down your potential tenants to a short list, it is time to select the best one.

A credit report reveals a detailed breakdown of an applicant’s credit history. Credit bureaus are responsible for collecting financial information and a credit report is a great tool to get this info.

An individual’s prior financial history is a good indication of what they will do in the future. Chances are that if someone consistently pays their bills on time, they are most likely to pay their rent on time as well.   

Here is what to look out for in an Equifax credit report: 

    1. Personal Information – such as tenant’s name, address, date of birth and employment information. Make sure that this information matches the info on rental application.
    2. Payment Behavior – how often the applicant is late on their debt payments. Poor payment behaviour will be reflected in the credit score. 
    3. Credit Accounts Information –  the types of accounts, when they were created, the limits and amounts for these accounts as well as payment history.
    4. Debt Type and Amount – The debt amount is not the only important factor, mortgage debt is much safer than credit card debt and as the interest rate will be much lower.
    5. Type of Inquiry –  hard credit bureau inquiries can negatively impact the tenant’s credit score if done too often, soft inquiries do not. A tenant credit check is a soft inquiry.
    6. Public Records and Collections – from public court records such as bankruptcies, collections files, convictions and sometimes past eviction judgements.

2. No Income, No Rent

Credit check looks good? Awesome! 

But how often has your tenant switched jobs and addresses? If the answer is “often”, there is a chance you may have an unexpected vacancy in the near future.

These tenants may have the risk of losing their income and not being able to cover rent.

Another thing to consider is that individuals who work for a salary usually have a safer way to make money rather than those who depend on self-employment or freelance contracts. 

So what should you do? 

Always check the tenant’s source of income, check its reliability and compare it to the required rent payments. Alongside their income, double check their prior addresses and employment history to make sure they’ll be able to pay rent on time.

Not only this, but find out the amount of debt your prospective tenant has, and the monthly interest they are paying. This is important because if your tenant is paying $1000 or more in debt payments, they may not be able to afford the rent.

This credit report will tell you exactly what their total monthly debt payments are.

Tenant rent to income ratio screening tenants credit check

Quick Tip

Create a rent-to-income ratio. Take your prospective tenant’s monthly rent and divide it by their monthly household income. If the rent is over 30% of their income, recognize they are more likely to be delinquent.

An ideal candidate should have additional income to cover the rent payments in the case of unexpected expenses. 

If your tenant has been consistently changing addresses and jobs, be wary of them doing the same with you.

3. Run a Background Check

A background check is used to investigate a candidate’s history. It generally includes employment, education, criminal records, credit history, motor vehicle and license record checks. 

So how do I run a background check? 

It’s easy! All you need is:

  1. Tenant’s Full Name
  2. Driber’s license or Social Security Number (both optional)
  3. Date of Birth
  4. Current Address

4. Contact the Previous Landlord

The more information, the better. See if it is possible to contact the former landlord. Chances are the previous landlords will happily share their experience with your prospective tenant. They will relate to and understand your questions and will be inclined to help a fellow landlord.   By reaching out, you would be surprised by what you can find out!  While respecting the landlord’s time and not being too pushy, you should look to acquire more insights on the prospective tenant. Here are some sample questions that you can ask the former landlord:
  • Has the tenant paid you all the rent?
  • Does the tenant pay on time?
  • Has the tenant caused damage to your property?
  • Were they respectful towards the neighbors?
  • Would you rent out your property to this tenant again? 

Quick Tip

It is always better to try and contact more than one landlord in case they are just trying to get rid of their past tenant.

5. Join a Facebook Group

Have a question stuck on your mind but don’t know who to ask? Join a Facebook group of landlords from your province. 

Members of these groups share stories about their experiences and will provide advice that can help you with your current situation.

They will also often share information amongst the group about delinquent tenants and it might save you hours of figuring that out on your own. 

The Facebook admins assist with all questions relating to the Residential Tenancies Act and will help answer your questions!

Landlord Facebook Groups Across Canada

6. Interview the tenant

Have you taken all the steps to screen for a great tenant? Well, it still might not be enough. You can spend weeks screening a tenant but sometimes your instincts are the best judgement. 

Think of the screening as weeding through the candidates that you certainly do not want living in your property.

Quick Tip

When hiring a realtor, their objective is usually to find a tenant in the shortest amount of time. So you might end up with an average tenant rather than a great tenant, which may result in problems over time.

After thoroughly screening your prospective tenant and confirming they’re good on paper, talking to them over a cup of coffee might be the best screening of all.

“Talk to them? About what?” 

Well, first things first, ask about what you want to find out. You should ask about their past renting experience, and see if their story aligns to their references and feedback from past landlords. 

An easy way to start up that conversation is by saying “I know how difficult landlords can be when it comes to their property. How was your past relationship with the landlord?”

You might just find out that they’re in court right now for an eviction.

Final Word

As a landlord, you cannot rely on the paperwork alone to carry out a tenant background search. You have to be creative and willing to engage with tenants on a personal level. Conversations can help you better understand the way your tenants relate to others and how they handle conflict, all of which are essential to achieve the best tenant screening.

Following these 6 steps will minimize the risk involved in renting your unit. Investing in proper tenant screening pays off down the road. With SingleKey, you can get a comprehensive tenant screening report in minutes, including a background check, credit report, employment history, past addresses and evictions, and criminal record.

How Bill 184 Affects Landlords in Ontario

Bill 184 – How it affects landlords in Ontario?

Bill 184 – How it affects landlords in Ontario?

Over the past few weeks, hundreds have taken to the streets of Toronto to protest against a new piece of provincial legislation, called the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act or Bill 184, that many experts fear will allow landlords to evict tenants with ease and cause “increased homelessness” across Ontario. Also known as the “Mass Eviction Bill” by its opponents, the new amendment to the 2006 Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) has become a hot topic of discussion between tenants and landlords as the real effect of this bill remain in dispute over its lack of clarity.

Here is a summary of the key points that you need to know as a landlord for Bill 184:

  1. Bill 184 now allows landlords to retrospectively seek compensation from tenants who have remained in a unit longer than agreed, even after they have left. 
  2. Tenants who have been paying an improperly increased rent amount are not permitted to make a claim if they have already paid the raised rent price for 12 months. 
  3. Landlords will now receive hefty punishments where they are found to have acted in bad faith with a tenant. 
  4. Landlords will be required to include a sworn affidavit as part of their application to the LTB to terminate a tenancy. 
  5. Landlords can now negotiate repayment plans with the tenant as opposed to using the LTB to do so and can more easily evict a tenant who does not uphold this agreement.

The main opposition to the passing of Bill 184 is the tenant community. Many tenant rights activist groups are of the belief that this bill takes aim at individuals who have suffered heavily from the pandemic, the working class. This new piece of legislation has been perceived as giving landlords the power to pressure tenants to move out of a unit without any oversight by the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). Further, tenants are even more concerned that the bill fails to include a way for tenants to legally oppose the eviction. Ultimately, those who oppose the bill, see it as a collection of landlord favouring amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act that look to displace tenants.

One of the main focus of this bill is to deal with the backlog at the LTB by forcing tenants and landlords to cooperate. Bill 184 does provide some benefit to landlords; however, this is only because residential landlords are among the most vulnerable people affected by the pandemic and many are in need of immediate relief. 

Many landlords have tenants who can no longer make rental payments. In such cases, landlords are forced to carry the expense, resulting in thousands of dollars lost every month.   Ultimately, as a result of the unaffordable expense of affording multiple homes, these landlords are forced to offload real estate they can no longer afford to pay off outstanding mortgage payments. Bill 184 does a decent job of providing minimal liberation by allowing landlords to act more hastily and less bureaucratically. 

Below we have outlined in more detail the changes that can be expected from Bill 184 that most affect landlords: 

More power against over-holding tenants 

Under the current compensation scheme for landlords in the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords have the power to apply to the LTB to seek compensation for rental arrears from are tenants who overhold a unit. Overholding means tenants who have occupied a unit for longer than agreed upon. Landlords can also claim for damage caused to a rental unit where a tenant remains in possession of the rental unit beyond the expiry of the lease. 

Bill 184 expands this same power to allow landlords to make a claim to the LTB even after the tenant has vacated the unit. Provided that the claim is made within 12 months of the date the tenant vacates the unit, landlords can receive full compensation. Bill 184 further proposes that landlords are permitted to apply to the LTB to claim compensation (up to 12 months after the tenant has vacated the unit) from a tenant where the tenant interferes with another tenant’s ability to enjoy their rental unit and from a tenant who has not paid utilities. 

In such cases, what was once intended to be a profitable investment for a landlord, would then have become a financial nightmare. This amendment allows landlords to retrospectively claim for lost rent or unpaid utilities suffered by a landlord including compensation for not being able to have new renters occupy the unit. 

Conclusively, landlords who have lost rental income, utilities payments, or damages from overstaying tenants can now seek compensation even after the tenant has left the unit.  

New Rules for Rent Increase

According to the Residential Tenancy Act, a tenant (past or present) can file an order with the Landlord Tenant Board requiring that a landlord repay a tenant any money the landlord may have collected as a result of an improper rent increase. This means where a landlord increases the rent without serving the appropriate notice of a rent increase or increasing the rent above the appropriate amount set out by the Ontario Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs in the respective guidelines. This order must be filed within 12 months of the date of the illegal rent payment. 

Bill 184 adds to the current laws by stating that, where a tenant has already paid the improperly increased rent amount for a minimum of 12 consecutive months, then a tenant cannot seek reimbursement for such an improper rent increase. This new change applies so long as the tenant did not make an application to the LTB challenging the validity of that rental increase within one year from the first charge was made. 

Ultimately, landlords and prospective lenders and purchasers are given peace of mind. Rent payment amounts are no longer subject to challenge by any tenant where they have consistently been paid for a minimum of one year. 

Increased Punishment for Landlords and Corporations 

Under the current state of the law, the Landlord and Tenant Board can conclude that a landlord has acted in “bad faith” when terminating a tenancy. This includes cases where a tenancy is unfairly terminated for a landlord’s personal use, purchaser’s personal use, or for demolition, conversion or substantial renovations to the unit. Under these circumstances, a landlord can be ordered to make payment to the tenant. Pre-Bill 184, landlords could be ordered to compensate a tenant for any portion of increased rent that the former tenant has incurred or will incur from moving into a new unit for a one-year period after vacating the previous rental unit. Landlords could also be forced to pay for reasonable expenses incurred by the tenant including moving and storage. Finally, a landlord can receive an additional administrative fine of up to $35,000.

Bill 184 increases the maximum potential penalty that a landlord can suffer when acts are carried out in bad faith. This is because the bill looks to allow landlords more power to deal with removing a tenant. However, the LTB will now have the discretion to force the landlord to compensate the wronged tenant for a maximum of 12 months’ worth of missed rent where they are found to have acted in “bad faith”. 

In relation to corporations, Bill 184 looks to increase the maximum penalty that can be imposed on corporations that are found liable for breaches under the Residential Tenancies Act. These fines will be increased from a maximum of $100,000 to $250,000. 

Therefore, this increase in punishment that a landlord may suffer serves the needs of tenants as it acts as a deterrent for landlords acting unfairly. Landlords should be cautious as the new regulations subject landlords to paying a much heftier sum than what was previously imposed on landlords. This is in addition to the administrative fine that landlords may be subject to paying. 

Ending a tenancy better come with a good reason

When landlords apply to terminate a tenancy agreement, Bill 184 will require a landlord to attach a sworn affidavit outlining and explaining the reasons in detail for the termination to the LTB. This means declaring reasons for termination including, a landlord wanting to use the unit for personal use, or planned demolition, conversion or renovations to the rental unit. Additionally, the landlord is required to indicate in the affidavit whether he or she has served any notice of termination in respect of the same or another rental unit, within 2 years prior to filing the present application. 

With the new addition to the Residential Tenancies Act 2006, the LTB will be encouraged to take a landlord’s history of serving termination into account when concluding whether or not the landlord has acted in good faith. The amount of previous termination requests filed by a landlord will act as an important indicator as to whether landlords truly have sufficient and substantial reason to end a tenancy. 

The effect of deterring landlords from ending lease agreements and terminating tenancies for disingenuous reasons is to the benefit of tenants. The LTB will now have access to additional evidence to use in favour of tenants. 

This new amendment coupled with the increased fines means landlords are to be more cautious when ending tenancies. Where ending the tenancy does not align with the affidavit or is found to serve another purpose, landlords will be subject to hefty fines for acting in “bad faith”  

Bypassing the LTB

One of the biggest points of contention between the landlord and tenant communities is the proposed changes to the way landlords can address the issue of tenants not paying rent.  

Currently, disputes between landlords and tenants over rent arrears can only be addressed by the LTB. This has contributed to the extreme backlog of cases in the LTB. Pre- pandemic, eviction hearings and cases in the LTB could take an average of 3 months to be heard. 

Bill 184 aims to provide some relief, or at the very least not make the situation at the LTB worse. It allows disputes over rent between tenants and landlords to be negotiated without LTB intervention. Landlords can bypass the LTB and are encouraged to offer a repayment plan directly to tenants, something that was originally the responsibility of the LTB. For this repayment plan to be in good faith, it should be formulated following some form of discussion and negotiation with the tenant as, in theory, the plan is to the benefit of both parties. Additionally, this new change will allow landlords to claim for lost rent and remove tenants who have been withholding payment retroactively. Where the tenant refuses the repayment plan, or accepts and fails to uphold it, this constitutes sufficient grounds for the landlord to evict the tenant. 

Landlords and tenants are forced to work together to reach a solution where the landlord can expect some percentage of rent to be paid regularly, while also taking into account the difficulties that a tenant may be having to repay the rent. 

The introduction of increased compensation for tenants for evictions done in “bad faith” as discussed above, restrict landlords from imposing unfair repayment plans on tenants. Having to compensate a tenant for up to 12 months’ worth of missed rent in Ontario will cost the average residential landlord substantial financial hardship. Tenants are also given the right to appeal to the LTB where they believe their repayment plan or eviction was handled unfairly. The alternative to Bill 184, which is the current state of affairs, is for landlords to have to continue to shoulder the burden of tenants who continue to not pay rent.  

Conclusively, Bill 184 allows landlords to act with more urgency than being forced to wait in a three-month long line at the LTB. However, this solution does not protect landlords from having to shoulder thousands of dollars’ worth of lost rent as the repayment plan must be given a fair chance to work before steps can be taken to remove the tenant.  

The Current State of Bill 184

What this bill means for tenants and landlords is that, there is to be expected a drastic change to the Residential Tenancies Act that aims to force landlords and tenants to communicate, compromise and work together. 

While this new amendment to the RTA looks to provide relief for the LTB, the truth of the state of affairs at the LTB is that they face backlog and a lack of organisation that this bill fails to address. There are still many steps in between tenants not paying rent and a tenant being evicted including negotiating a payment plan and providing the tenants a chance to pay out on their repayment plan. These new amendments do not protect the average landlord from suffering thousands of dollars, and several months’ worth of missed rent. Additionally, claims for damage (on top of lost rent), brough against a tenant can still be expected to eat up landlord time and money because of the ongoing pandemic. 

As a result of the increased risk that comes with being a renter, many landlords are turning to insurance options such as SingleKey to guarantee rental income and protect landlords from delinquent tenants. The SingleKey Rent Guarantee provides landlords peace of mind knowing that they will are protected against tenants who do not pay the rent and who may damage their property.

How Can You Ensure Your Tenants Pay Their Rent On Time?

How to make sure tenants pay rent on time? Here are tips on collecting rent
How to make sure tenants pay rent on time? Here are tips on collecting rent

One of the most frustrating parts of holding the position of landlord is the mandatory task of collecting rent every month. The collection of rent is not only necessary in order for you to keep your job as a property owner one that provides a viable income, but it’s part of an understood (not to mention, written) agreement between a landlord and a tenant.

So why is it so hard to collect the rent on time? Many landlords complain of having to “run down” their tenants in order to make sure that their rent is collected in a timely manner. Is there any easier way to go through the process of getting paid each month? The following are some ideas that many landlords have tried.

Collect a year’s worth of post-dated cheques.

You just might be able to take the whole running-down-your-tenants thing out of the equation if you insist upon being paid in advance. Many landlords ask their tenants to provide them with post-dated cheques. A total of twelve to cover the forthcoming year is generally part of a standard request. Admittedly, this process doesn’t guarantee that enough money will be in the accounts of the tenants who provide the cheques. The last thing you want is for them to bounce.

On Landlordology.com, Sara Thompson also points out a couple of other issues that may arise with this method. “Most tenants I know are uneasy about writing 12 post-dated cheques especially to a landlord they just met,” she notes, “ Remember, it’s illegal to cash a cheque before the date mark.”

Have a heart to heart with your tenants.

Last month, we blogged about the importance of developing and growing the landlord/tenant relationship. Naturally, it makes life a lot easier when you can get along with the people who rent your property. One of the reasons is that it opens the doors for important conversations. Are your tenants going through rough financial patches? Perhaps, you can get to the bottom of why the rent is always late by simply talking it out with your tenants.

“Discuss whether changing the payment date or method would help,” suggests GoCardless.com, “For instance, some tenants may prefer to make smaller payments on a more frequent basis. Asking your tenants to set up a Direct Debit or standing order will reduce the chances of them forgetting to make a payment.”

Sign up with Single-Key!

We’ll be frank about it. We simply can’t come up with an easier and more effective way to ensure that you collect your rent on time than to enlist our expert services! For a monthly fee, we guarantee that you will receive your rental payments on time. While you are able to sit back, relax and avoid worrying about collecting your money yourself, we offer your tenants flexible payment options that help them find easier ways to get their rents paid every month.

And in your worst-case scenario – one where your tenants are unable to pay at all – Single-Key will handle the eviction process as part of the service we provide to you. Enjoy the peace of mind in knowing you’ll never have to worry about running down your tenants for rent money again. Leave it up to us!

3 Ways To Develop And Maintain Strong Landlord/Tenant Relationships

How to have great tenant relationships as a landlord

Being a landlord is not easy. Depending on the size of your property, you may be responsible for a lot of homes. And you know the old saying…“A man’s home is his castle”. Naturally, people put a great deal of care into selecting the places they call home. They need to know that they can trust their property owners to quickly attend to concerns so that they may live peaceful, enjoyable lives in their domiciles.

Of course, a landlord’s job requires a lot more than property maintenance. The fostering and growing of positive relationships between yourself and the people who rent living space in your property is hugely important. It’s likely you have many different personalities to deal with. But knowing how to manage them all in an effort to bring about high-quality living situations for everyone involved is the key to being a top-of-the-line landlord.

Here are three ways to develop and maintain strong landlord/tenant relationships:

1. Screen potential tenants as if they were applying for a job.

Hiring manages have the tough task of composing job postings, reading resumes and conducting job interviews – all in the name of locating the perfect fits for their companies. Recruitment experts will tell you that expert hiring practices involve a vetting process that seeks to find individuals who mesh well within a company’s culture – not just trying to find people with ample skills and experience.

Your job as a landlord should not just entail doing your own background checks on potential tenants, but also include a process by which you gauge the personalities of the people showing interest in your rental property. According to Imperial Properties, “not only does this afford you the opportunity to review a potential tenant’s credit history, references and background, but meeting with your tenant prior to leasing will also allow you the ability to establish expectations for both parties early in your relationship. This helps build trust and understanding from day one.”

2. Be easy to access.

Developing and maintaining strong relationships with your tenants has a lot to do with how much they’re able to trust you. As is often said, trust is the cornerstone of any strong relationship. And a big part of gaining trust is being accessible. Make it known, to each of your tenants, the times that are best to reach you and be sure to provide various methods of contact.

“One of the biggest pet peeves for tenants is not being able to get in touch with their landlords,” says Paul Esajian of FortuneBuilders, “Many landlords view calls as an annoyance, and simply avoid them all together. This is the worst thing you can do for your property. Ignoring calls or emails is basically telling your tenants that they aren’t important enough for you to deal with. If you do this enough times, your tenants will feel the same way about you and the property.”

3. Offer flexible payment options.

Emergency situations arise in all of our lives. We’ve all encountered instances when the car broke down, forcing us to exceed our monthly spending budgets to secure the repairs. Your tenants will likely come to you with stories of their own, detailing why their rents may be late. You have a business to run. The rents must be paid. But your ability to help your tenants find ways to make those payments with a lot less stress will go a long way in providing everyone with more peace of mind.

At Single-Key, we offer landlords a unique way to receive timely payments without having to go through the hassle of running down their tenants. We not only guarantee landlords receive their money on time, but we offer tenants payment flexibility options. This includes the ability to postpone rent payment for a month and the acceptance of payments by cheque or Interac.

Single-Key is your key to growing and developing stronger relationships between you and your tenants. Not to mention, it makes your tough job as a landlord a whole lot easier! For more information, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 416-518-3489 or email us at info@singlekey.com.