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!

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 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.

Is It Worth It To Offer A Discount On Rent In Order To Secure The Ideal Tenant?

tenant background check and verification services in Canada

As a landlord, you have positioned yourself in a vocation that has enabled you to secure a pretty stable income. Being a property owner certainly has its perks. In order to get the most out of your investment, it should be a top priority for you to find a tenant who is willing to pay top dollar. That’s what makes being a landlord worth your while. Or does it? 

The concept of “worth” needs to be examined a little bit closer here. Is it really worth it to rent your property to an individual simply because he/she is willing to pay higher rent than anyone else? Not necessarily.

Of course, renting your property is a business. 

But there are other things to consider when deciding upon who will live in your apartment, condo or house. Believe it or not, there are some aspects of your job that are more important than money. Before you snicker at that sentence, consider the headaches you may endure at the hands of a tenant who has little to no respect for your property. If a person is willing to outbid other potential renters but isn’t willing to maintain his/her living quarters, you may end up on the losing end of a bad deal.

“Your property may be great, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to bouts of bad luck with tenants, increased competition, and environmental nuisances like neighbourhood construction projects,” informs Holly Welles on Landlordology.com, “When the cards are stacked against you, a discount can help speed up the tenant search and reduce the negative financial effects of vacancies.”

Trade dollars for convenience.

A good tenant doesn’t lodge numerous complaints, come up with excuses about why his/her rent is always late or mistreat your property. Should such an individual deserve a bit of a discount on his/her rent? Absolutely! Consider the fact that, in the long run, this tenant will likely be saving you money on repairs and maintenance. Not to mention, he/she will spare you from the litany of hardships that could ensue in situations where you consistently have to address issues.

Welles also reminds us of other reasons to consider lowering your rent for certain individuals. “You could also offer discounts in return for more convenience,” she writes, “If a tenant can pay rent each month through automatic electronic payments rather than physical checks, for example, you can offer a rent reduction for making your financial life a little easier.”

Discounted rents are great ways to keep good tenants.

Remember that since a big part of your job is securing good tenants to live in your property, part of your responsibility is to hang on to the good ones you already have. Naturally, people consider moving all the time. If you’ve had tenants living in your property for some time and they are thinking of relocating, a discount may do the trick in having them stay put. 

Your gesture will offer a twofold benefit. 

1) It will ensure your property is inhabited by people you like and trust.

2) It will prevent you from having to go on the hunt for new tenants

Studies have confirmed that discounted rents make for great incentives for renters. 

On SoftwareAdvice.com, Taylor Short reveals the findings of one such study. Software Advice Inc. surveyed nearly 200 renters to find out which incentives would most likely convince them to stay.

“80 percent of renters would prefer a discount on rent, an easy-to-understand and direct incentive,” Short reports, stressing that “while you want to avoid dropping rents for all tenants, if you feel a good tenant is worth keeping, a discount could be the ticket. Base this incentive on the needs of the particular renter.”

Are you considering offering a discount on your rent in order to attract or keep the ideal tenant? For help with how to go about it, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with SingleKey. Give us a call at 1-877-978-1404 or email us at info@singlekey.com. You may also fill out the form on our Contact Us page!

5 Tips For First-Time Landlords

Tips and advice for first time landlords
tips for first time landlords

Congratulations! You’ve finally decided to rent that property of yours. As you’re most likely already aware, you’ve made a wise investment – one that is bound to bolster your income for years to come. But, before you pop the champagne, it’s vitally important to recognize that becoming a landlord for the first time is no easy feat. It’s certainly not as simple as collecting a fat cheque once a month.

Without being prepared for potential hardships, being a landlord can be quite difficult. To avoid headaches and make your new venture as a landlord a successful one, it’s wise to take a few very important steps.

Here are five tips for first-time landlords:

1. Get familiar with Ontario’s housing regulations.

As an Ontario home owner who plans on renting his/her property, your first step should be to learn as much as you can about the province’s housing regulations, namely the Residential Tenancies Act. You should also become familiar with the Landlord and Tenant Board, which is one of the governing bodies that uphold the regulations.

By becoming knowledgeable about Ontario’s housing regulations, you will fashion yourself a fair and capable landlord. Not to mention, you’ll avoid the legal ramifications of trying to impose rules on your tenants that are unlawful. For example, were you aware that unless your property is a condo (where rules are set by the condominium corporation), you cannot prohibit a tenant from keeping a pet on your property?

2. Carefully screen your potential tenants.

Employers perform background checks on their candidates, right? As a landlord, you have every right to put your potential renters through a thorough screening process. Naturally, you should meet and interview the people who wish to rent your property. Just as employers do, you should perform credit and reference checks. This will ensure you’re renting your property to someone who will be reliable with their monthly rent payments.

In many cases, you’ll also have to trust your gut instincts. Be sure to have friendly conversations with your would-be tenants to get a feel for their personalities. Are they people you’d feel comfortable living in your property? Are you confident they’ll maintain the home and avoid causing any damage? Do you feel they can be trusted to pay your rent on time? Positive answers to these questions are a must.

3. Be diligent about collecting your rent on time.

If you’ve successfully completely step number two, it’s likely you’ve rented your property to someone you could possibly consider a friend. Naturally, it’s wise to welcome a tenant who you can get along with. However, the start of a new and friendly relationship doesn’t negate the fact you have a job to do. As a landlord, it’s imperative you collect your rent on time.

Make clear to your tenants when the rent is due by stipulating the day of the month when a payment is expected. Many first-time landlords find it difficult to ask for their rent when it is missed. However, allowing a tenant to get comfortable with the bad habit of either paying late or not at all isn’t something you should accept. Be sure to contact the Landlord and Tenant Board for information about the hopefully-avoidable task of filing eviction paperwork.

4. Learn all about landlord taxes and your eligible deductions.

Your new job as a landlord is just that – a job. Clearly, you’ll have new revenue to report come tax time each year. It’s important to remember that, as far as the Canada Revenue Agency is considered, it doesn’t matter what type of property you own – as a landlord, you’re making rental income. You must declare all of it.

That also means you can list some expenses that are eligible for deduction on your tax return. You are eligible to list such short-term expenses for your rental property as repairs, maintenance and painting. You’re also entitled to declare such long-term expenses as driveway paving, installing new windows and HVAC replacement. Remember that when your property expenses exceed your rental income, it’s considered a loss.

5. Keep all of your documentation in order.

To be a successful landlord, you also need to be a master bookkeeper. At the very least, you need to make sure your documentation is organized. There are particular forms you’ll need to keep handy at all times. They include rental applications, condition reports and locally required disclosures (such as the presence of radon, lead or mould in the property). Be sure to keep several copies of your documents. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have them saved to a hard drive or in an online database. And, under no circumstances should you give away your only copy of any document. If you need to have your tenant sign something, be sure to have the form returned to you right away.

SingleKey is your go-to platform for everything rental. If you’re a first-time landlord, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-877-978-1404 or email us at info@singlekey.com . You may also fill out the form on our Contact Us page!

Offering You The Key To Living Stress-Free!

Singlekey tenant landlord relationship
Singkey is here to help with landlord's biggest challenges - finding a right tenant and managing risks.

Welcome to the Single-Key Blog! We look forward to providing you with educational and entertaining reading experiences on a regular basis. Be sure to keep checking out our blog section as we will endeavour to give you timely updates about the world of landlords and tenants.

To be a bit more specific, our blog will provide landlords with ample information that will help for their jobs to be a lot easier. Suggestions about how to develop and maintain strong relationships with your tenants and solutions for receiving rent money on time will be abound in our blog.

However, this blog is for renters too! For great tips and advice about such topics as how to locate the perfect rental property or how to manage monthly rent payments, be sure to make this blog one of your favourite go-to places on the internet!

So, what exactly does Single-Key do for landlords?

We offer a unique service that guarantees that you will be paid your rent money on time each and every month. At Single-Key, we understand that the entire rent collection process can be a gruelling one. We’re sure that you’re quite used to hearing a wide range of reasons, from your tenants, as to why they may not have their rent payments by their due dates. Our services remove that headache from your life for good!

Attain the peace of mind you’re looking for by enlisting our services. For a monthly fee, we not only ensure that you receive timely payments from each of your tenants but we also professionally manage eviction situations. You’re likely to agree that the only thing more frustrating than having to hunt down tenants for rent money is having to serve them with eviction notices. When you register with Single-Key, evictions become our responsibility.

What does Single-Key do for tenants?

If you’re a renter, don’t assume that we’re out to get you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We’re here to help you! As much as we understand how frustrating it can be for landlords to have to hunt down their rent money, we know that, for you, securing rent money can sometimes be difficult.

Tough times are bound to pop up. People from all walks of life experience hardships such as job losses, unexpected car repairs, injuries that prevent the ability to go to work, deaths in the family and so on. Not only will there be times when money needs to be spent elsewhere or is simply hard to come by, but you’ll also experience moments when paying the rent just simply isn’t your top priority.

At Single-Key, we take the stress out of the entire “paying the rent on time” dilemma. If your landlord is a Single-Key customer, we offer you payment flexibility. That means that you will have some leeway with your rent due dates. If necessary, our services will enable you to postpone your rent for up to a month. In addition, you will be given the option of paying your rent with either cheque or Interac.

And here’s the best part – it costs you nothing! Monthly fees are paid for by landlords. For more information about how Single-Key is the key for landlords and their tenants to live stress-free, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-877-978-1404 or email us at info@singlekey.com.