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Ontario Landlords Be Careful- How Can You Run Safe and Legal Tenant Credit Checks in 2017?

January 6th, 2017 · Equifax, Ontario Landlords Association

 Ontario Landlords How Can You Run Safe and Legal Tenant Credit Checks

Ontario Landlords Know Running Safe and Legal Tenant Credit Checks Are the Key To Renting to Good Tenants!

Successful Ontario landlords know the importance of running credit checks on tenants.

After all, we’ve recently read a Toronto Star story about a Toronto tenant who was charged for defrauding landlords.

The crimes he committed included writing fifteen checks to 2 landlords when he knew they would be NSF (because the bank accounts associated with the checks had been frozen),changing his Equifax tenant report to look more attractive, and forging checks using his former companies logo and equipment.

He pleaded guilty to ten of the sixty-six charges and received a twelve month conditional sentence and a year of probation.

Even BC landlords are running credit checks and they can get a damage and pet deposit from tenants.

Alberta landlords have a lot of rights and can also collect damage deposits and are still doing thorough tenant screening (including tenant credit checks) these days.

It’s Important To Run Credit Checks On Tenants The Right Way

Many Ontario landlords are running tenant credit checks the wrong way.

And this wrong way can lead to lots of unnecessary problems for you and the person who is running the tenant credit checks on your behalf.

What is the Wrong Way To Run Tenant Credit Checks?

Some landlords are running credit checks on tenants via ‘friends’. This is the wrong way.

Friends include:

1. Mortgage agent

2. Mortgage broker

3. Realtor (real estate agent)

4. Works at Car Dealership

5. Bank or Credit Union Employee

We contacted Equifax Canada for help for Ontario landlords who want to run safe and legal credit checks.

Equifax Advice For Running Safe and Legal Tenant Credit Checks

We received advice from Paul Lefevre from Equifax Canada. 

Here’s what Paul from Equifax says about how landlords can run credit checks on tenants in a safe and legal way:

The Equifax Service Agreements that these “friends” (who are pulling on behalf of landlords) explicitly requires that the consumer credit files from Equifax Canada Co. are for their exclusive use ONLY.

They are clearly restricted from sharing with other entities. Federal disclosure legislation (PIPEDA) also defines the requirements for true and accurate disclosure to a consumer as to whom their personal information has been provided.

This practice is a breach of the Agreement and clearly puts their membership w Equifax at risk. There are no jurisdictions in Canada where this practice is allowed, no exceptions.”

So this means landlords across Canada need to use a certified tenant credit check company to run legal credit checks on tenants.

How Can I Run Safe Credit Checks on Tenants?

You can join the Ontario Landlords Association and get access to premium credit checks for only $10 per check.

It’s a huge savings and also by using a certified company you protect yourself from tenant complaints.

You can join the Ontario Landlords for only a low one-time registration fee and get access to legal credit checks.

You also get networking and the Ontario Rental Kit filled with premium documents such as leases and applications for Ontario Landlords to succeed!

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Ontario Landlords Association Membership Helps You Choose Good Tenants (And Avoid The Bad Ones)

January 10th, 2016 · Latest News, Ontario Landlords Association Membership Review, Tenant Screening Ontario

 Ontario Landlords Association Helps You Choose Good Tenants

Ontario Landlords Association Membership Helps You Choose Your Tenants Carefully! Landlords in Peterborough lost over $20,000 because they rented to a bad tenant (and didn’t run a credit check!)

Experienced and successful members of the Ontario Landlords Association like to help new landlords by informing them of how important it is to choose the right tenants for your rental property.

One of the most important factors determining whether your rental property is profitable and your landlord career is heading in the right direction is my making sure you put qualified people into your rental house, basement or condo.

After all, there are lots of good tenants out there and you need to find them. These good tenants are looking to find a safe and well-maintained property with a professional landlord to rent from. Renting to great tenants puts you on the path to a profitable and success landlord career.

What Is a Good Tenant?

There are a number of characteristics of people who are a joy to rent to.

1. Good Tenants Treat Your Property With Care

People who care about the property will keep it maintained. If there are any repair issues they will contact you so you can get it fixed fast before it becomes a bigger (and more expensive) problem.

2. Good Tenants Pay the Rent

Getting your rent paid is the engine that drives your landlord success. Evicting tenants in Ontario for not paying rent can take months (or even longer).

3. Good Tenants Pay the Rent on Time

Good tenants make paying the rent a priority. They know they have a business agreement with you and know they are obligated to pay you on time.

4. Good Tenants Follow the Lease They Signed With You

Decent people have self-respect and will honour what they sign. They will follow the things they agreed to and not ‘use the system’.

5. Good Tenants Respect You

You treat your tenants with respect and good tenants will respect you back. They will appreciate you and the investment you made to provide them with a home to live in.

What is a Bad Tenant?

There are also tenants who will not pay rent and leave you with a huge financial mess. These are people who know how to manipulate the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board and can end up causing you an incredible amount of stress and huge financial losses. We are talking about sleepless nights and emptied bank accounts.

Tenant Leaves Peterborough Landlords With Over $20,000 in Repairs and Unpaid Bills

What happened a couple who are landlords in Peterborough provides a warning for other Ontario landlords.

These landlords were like many of us. They worked hard for years to come up with a down-payment for an income property to help with their future retirement. After buying a nice house in the northern part of the city they couple invested their time, money and energy to make it safe, pretty and well-maintained. Again, like most of us they wanted to rent out a property they would stay in…a property they were proud of.

When they began to advertise the unit for rent they found someone they thought was a ‘nice person’ and whom they had a good ‘gut feeling’ about. They didn’t bother with a credit check or other tenant screening techniques because they ‘felt’ he was going to work out. Fast forward and the tenant left leaving thousands of dollars in damages, unpaid utility bills and huge clean up costs. The property was nearly destroyed!

Remember the couple bought the property to supplement their income during their retirement. The devastation was so severe the wife had to leave retirement and go back to work to help them afford the bill to get the house presentable again. By relying on their ‘gut feeling’ they rented to a tenant who abused both the property and his landlords.

How Can Ontario Landlords Choose Good Tenants?

You need to choose your tenants by screening them carefully. This should always include a credit check on your potential tenants before ever signing a lease and handing over the key.

A credit check will show you not only their financial history (for example, do they pay their bills on time? Do they owe people money? Have they ever walked away from a debt?), it will also confirm things such as identity, employment and past addresses.

Become a Member Of the Ontario Landlords Association

For only a low one time registration fee (that’s right, a one-time registration fee, no annual fee) you can get access to premium documents, network with successful residential landlords with millions of dollars in properties in Ontario, and run premium credit checks for a low OLA member price.

It’s a great deal to help you choose good tenants (and avoid the bad tenants who can end up costing you thousands of dollars!)

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2015 Rent Increase Guideline for Ontario Landlords

January 18th, 2015 · Latest News, Ontario Rent Increase 2015

 Ontario landlords rent increase 2015

There was a post on the Ontario Landlords Forum with a question that many landlords have. The landlord, gchen said his rental is in Ontario and asked how much he could raise the rent in 2015.

A helpful OLA member answered: that while Alberta landlords can raised the rent as much as they want to, Ontario landlords can raise the rent by only 1.6% in 2015.

When Does The Guideline for 2015 Begin and End?

The 2015 guideline applies to rent increases that will be taken between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.

How Often Can Landlords Raise the Rent?

Landlords may increase rents once every 12 months for sitting tenants by the guideline amount without seeking approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board.

How Much Notice Do You Need To Give Your Tenant?

Landlords must provide 90 days written notice using the prescribed LTB Form N1.

How Is the Ontario Rent Guideline Calculated?

The annual rent increase guideline is determined according to section 120 (2) of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 which averages the monthly Ontario Consumer Price Index over a twelve month period that ends at the end of May of the previous calendar year.

If the calculation for the annual guideline amount exceeds 2.5% in any given year it will be reduced to 2.5%.  The RTA was amended in 2012 when a maximum cap of 2.5% was implemented for all guideline increases. 

If an increase of more than 2.5% is required, the landlord must follow the process to seek approval for an Above Guideline Increase.

Are Some Properties Exempt from the Annual Rent Increase Guideline?

Another helpful Ontario Landlords Association member named gchen said he bought a condo that was built recently. He wondered how much he could increase the rent and if there was anything special for his situation with a new rental property as opposed to an older rental property. Another OLA member asked:

“When was your property built? You might not be covered by this very low guideline and can raise the rent according to market rates in your area.”  

Gchen wrote he owned a new condo built in 2012. This means he can raise the rent as much as the market demands as long as he provides property notice to his tenants.

What Ontario Income Properties Are Exempt From the Guideline?

Some properties are in fact exempt and it’s important for landlords to be aware of this.

Exemptions from the Annual Rent Increase Guideline:

The annual guideline applies to most, but not all residential rental properties in Ontario.  The Act lists situations, in section 6 (2), in which a landlord may increase rent to an amount that is not limited to the guideline amount. 

The provisions of the RTA that deal with the maximum amount by which rents can be increased do not apply with respect to a rental unit if:

  • it was not occupied for any purpose before June 17, 1998 – meaning it is either in a new building (often a condominium building) built since 1998, or an older building with a new unit or never occupied, residentially or otherwise, before June 17, 1998;
  • it is a rental unit no part of which has been previously rented since July 29, 1975 – meaning only the owner has used or occupied the unit since 1975; or
  • no part of the building, mobile home park or land lease community was occupied for residential purposes before November 1, 1991 – meaning the building was probably commercially used before 1991 and then was converted to residential use.
  • In the above situations, an N2 rent increase form can be given when increasing the rent by any amount.  In most other situations (unless the rent increase is by agreement of both parties) an N1 form should be given to increase rent only by the guideline.

  • Landlords are required to provide 90 days written notice when increasing the rent using either the N1 or N2 form. 

If you need more information go to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board site.

A question for landlords across Ontario: Are you going to raise the rent in 2015?

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Toronto Star – Ontario Landlords Association Membership Review

October 3rd, 2014 · Ontario Landlords Association Membership Recommendation, tenant credit checks

 Toronto Star - Join The Ontario Landlords Association

Toronto Star Recommends Ontario Landlords Association Membership – Join A Group Such As the Ontario Landlords Association and do credit checks for $10 per check and use their supporting tools to assist you

New Ontario landlords continue to write in telling us how happy they are to get true information about the challenges of being a small landlord and our tips and advice on how to choose good tenants and avoid renting to bad tenants.

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Ontario Landlord Problems – Bad Tenant Trashed My Rental Property

September 1st, 2014 · Landlord problems, Latest News, Ontario Landlords Association, tenant credit checks

 Ontario Landlord - Bad Tenant Trashed My Rental Property

An Ontario landlord in Peterborough Ontario finally evicted his bad tenant and found his rental property trashed!

Ontario landlords are getting used to reading about bad tenants. These are people who rent your income property and can cause you lots of problems and become major headaches.

These bad tenants don’t pay rent on time. Or sometimes don’t pay rent at all.

They don’t respect your property and can leave trash and damages behind when they move out.

Often bad tenants will bother other tenants and even owners in neighbouring properties. This can lead to lots of complications as many new condo landlords are finding out.

Bad Tenants Are Everywhere

We read stories in the Toronto Star about ‘Tenants from Hell’ cheating one small landlord after another who doesn’t screen their tenants carefully.

Or about tenants who admit they should have red flags and even go to jail.

However, many of these stories seem like things Toronto landlords need to deal with because many of the stories come from tenants in the big city.

Landlords in Towns and Smaller Cities Watch Out

The reality is many of these stories come from Toronto media who have most of their readers from the same area. They like to focus on Toronto-centric stories to sell papers.

We receive a lot of emails from small landlords across Ontario telling their stories of tenants who haven’t paid rent in months or who left the rental leaving the landlord with clean up bills of thousands of dollars.

The Ontario Landlords Forum is also filled with posts from landlords all over Ontario.

Peterborough Landlord – I Want To Evict My Bad Tenant

Bill Buchanan is a landlord with rentals in Peterborough, Ontario.

Last Spring one of his tenants simply decided to stop paying rent.

When Tenants Stop Paying Rent Can Landlords Evict Them Out Immediately?

No, not in Ontario.

The landlord started the eviction process with the Landlord and Tenant Board of Ontario.

Many new landlords think the Landlord and Tenant Board supports and assists landlords, especially in situations where tenants don’t pay rent.

New landlords think they are investing their hard-earned money and helping Ontario by creating lots of new rental stock.

Unfortunately this isn’t the case. It can take months to evict tenants and experienced landlords say that in Ontario “tenants have all the rights.”

It Took Four Months To Evict A Tenant Who Stopped Paying Rent

That’s right, four months.

Four months of not receiving any rent (and still getting mortgage bills, utility bills, and you have to still pay your property taxes).

It’s also expensive to file evictions forms at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board. And this isn’t just for landlords who own houses, it also applies for landlords and investors who own condos.

Bad Tenant Trashed The Rental Property

After those four long months and lots of LTB Hearings the tenant finally left the rental property.

When the landlord went in he found the tenant had trashed the property. Everything from the plumbing to the windows were damaged.

The landlord saw a letter that led him to believe the City of Peterborough was going to financially help the tenant pay for moving to another rental.

How Can Landlords Avoid Bad Tenants?

Screening your tenants carefully is the key to being a successful landlord in 2014. This means you should also do tenant credit checks (and make sure you run credit checks the legal way from an accredited tenant credit check provider).

You can join the Ontario Landlords Association for only a low one-time registration fee and begin running credit checks on tenants for only $10 per check.

Ontario Landlords – Don’t let bad tenants owe your rent and trash your rental property.

Whether you own a house in Peterborough or a Toronto condo, make sure you know who you are renting to with careful tenant screening.

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Tenant Screening Ontario: How Bad Tenants Trick Good Landlords

July 1st, 2014 · Ontario Landlords, Ontario Landlords Association, tenant credit checks, Tenant Screening Ontario

 Ontario landlords tenant screening bad tenants tricking good landlords

The Toronto Star “Tenant From Hell” Is Fighting Her 7th Eviction.

How Do Bad Tenants Trick Good Landlords Into Renting To Them?

Last month we wrote about a Toronto landlord who is out thousands of dollars in lost rent, utilities bills owes, and property damages because he rented to bad tenants.

His tenants simply stopped paying rent, stopped paying bills for electricity, gas and water and when he finally managed to evict them they left a big mess behind.

He admitted this Mother and daughter team had tricked him into renting to them.

They seemed nice and explained they had never rented before so didn’t have any rental history for him to check up on.

Later he found out this wasn’t true and was stuck for the bill.

Oh, he also had to order the Sheriff which was another $300+ to his tab.

These bad tenants tricked him and ended up costing him thousands of dollars!

Tenant From Hell Facing 7th Eviction

The Toronto Star has a recent report on a person they refer to as the “Tenant From Hell”.

Why do they call this tenant that?

Because this tenant consistently finds small landlords, rents from them, and then stops paying rent.

At the same time all the ‘small repairs’ should promised to fix become major issues for the landlord because she calls the local Bylaw Department which serves the landlord with an Order to make the repairs.

This tenant then uses this to assist in delaying the eviction for months (even though she isn’t paying rent!)

How Do Bad Tenants Trick Good Landlords?

Both stories about landlords getting ripped off have several similarities.

Let’s go over some of them.

1. The Tenants Were Charming

Be careful of tenants who have well rehearsed stories to tell.

2. The Landlord Felt Safe Renting to Them Due to This Charm

Trust, but verify!

3. The Landlords Didn’t Run Tenant Credit Checks

A credit check reveals the cold, hard truth.

How Can Landlords Be Safe?

There are important lessons to be learned from these two stories. Let’s start with two of the main lessons every landlord should be aware of:

Lesson 1: Don’t Fall For Sweet Talk

First, never fall for the charms of a charismatic tenant with a good story and lots of promises.

It sounds easy, but in reality this is a tough one.

Why is it so hard?

Because landlords, especially small landlords, need to rent out their property to cover their mortgage. So when a well-dressed, well-spoken, polite and complimentary tenant comes along it seems like a dream come true.

It’s not only Ontario landlords who are getting tricked by sneaky bad tenants.

Even BC landlords are paying the price for renting to these smooth criminals.

And in the most landlord friendly province landlords are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars the same way.

One Alberta landlord lost over $100,000 renting to tenants who focussed on praising the rental house because it was so close to the local school for their son.

Lesson 2: Always Do A Credit Check On Tenants

Another similarity is neither landlord ran a tenant credit check on the tenants who eventually ripped them off.

A credit check would have proven to these small landlords that these tenants were not telling the truth.

While smooth talkers can spin convincing yarns on why you should rent to them, a tenant credit check will show you where they are really speaking lies.

The Ontario Landlords Association Helps Landlords Run Premium Credit Checks for Only $10/Check!

Ontario Landlords – Don’t Let Bad Tenants Trick Good Landlords (You!)

Make Sure You Do Tenant Credit Checks Before Renting To Anyone and Protect Yourself!

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Ontario Landlord Credit Check: Find Good Tenants And Rent To Them

June 1st, 2014 · Ontario Landlords Association, tenant credit checks, Toronto landlords

 Toronto landlords ontario credit check

Ontario Landlords – Credit Checks Are The Key To Renting to Good Tenants

The post on the Ontario Landlords forum is important reading for landlords.

The Toronto landlord bought a duplex and rented out both the basement and the upstairs.

He was lucky to rent to some good tenants for the downstairs unit based on their “nice personalities” and a couple of phone calls.

However, this Toronto landlord’s luck ran out when he used the same poor tenant screening system for his upstairs tenants.

These are the tenants who paid higher rent.

The upstairs tenants put him through the process. Be warned this is the same process Toronto and Ottawa landlords can encounter as it is province wide.

He wrote at the Toronto landlords site:

“Two women who Fooled me. Mom and a daughter. They were evicted after not paying rent for 81 days and not paying utility bills.

“They fooled me by saying they’ve never rented before only lived with family.”

“I verified employment but not credit. My fault .”

“They lied 100 times and you should avoid them like the plague”

“Yes they are finally evicted – thanks for following the whole story.”

“Took 81 days and so much red tape.”

“Not only did I lose 3 months rent they have not paid their utility bills for the same amount of time. All utilities were in their name so luckily enbridge and hydro switched to my name the day they were evicted and I’m not responsible for any usage whole they were loving there. However, water is different. I am responsible for their water bill – it gets added to my property taxes. Doesn’t seem fair at all but those are the rules “

“In addition, I have to pay 900$ to re sand and stain the floors as they scratched them up so badly.”

How Can Ontario Landlords Avoid Bad Tenants?

This landlord only did an interview and an employment check.

That is not enough.

Smart Ontario landlords know doing a credit check is key.

An Ottawa landlord told him a tenant credit check shows the ‘true story’ about a potential tenant’s past.

You can see their credit score, previous addresses, employment and if they owe anyone money.

Ontario Landlords And Credit Checks

Don’t be fooled by tenants with nice smiles and nice stories. This landlord got of lucky since there are lots of Tenants from Hell out there as the Toronto Star reveals.

Always conduct a tenant credit check.

Join the Ontario Landlords Association for a one-time registration fee and do premium credit checks for only $10/check.

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Ontario Landlords – Tenant Credit Checks

May 13th, 2014 · Find Great Tenants, Ontario Landlords Association, tenant credit checks

 Successful financial plans

Successful Ontario Landlords Know Tenant Credit Checks Are An Essential Part of A Careful Tenant Screening Process

A Toronto landlord writes:

“This woman met me and was very friendly, she was amiable and had a winning personality!”

“I confirmed her work and previous landlords reference, who said she was a wonderful tenant. As a newbie landlord, I was too happy to fill the vacancy.”

“Now five months later, I’m still waiting to get a cent of rent and trying to evict her!”

Unfortunately, this type of situation is not uncommon.

All you have to do is pick up a newspaper like the Toronto Star these days to see Ontario landlords in trouble.

The key to running a successful rental business in Ontario is to make sure you rent to good tenants.

You do this by screening potential renters carefully. If you don’t screen carefully the results can lead to stress and losing a lot of money.

A recent post at the Ontario Landlords Association website was from a Toronto landlord who rented to her tenant based on a “good feeling” she have her.

Upon moving in the tenant’s rent cheques bounced and she damaged the property, including carpet, the fence and the door frame moving in her furniture.

The tenant refuses to pay and the landlord hasn’t been able to evict her despite trying for over 5 months due to the way the laws protect bad tenants under the Ontario Residential Tenancy Act.

While still trying to evict this ‘pro tenant’ the landlords said she now realizes:

“Some people see the opportunity to get things for free, it doesn’t matter if they feed on the hard work of others. I realize now there are a lot of professional tenants out there. They can stay without paying rent and the Landlord and Tenant Board empowers them to live off the landlords costs.”

How Can I Avoid Professional Tenants?

Many landlords select their tenants based on a personal meeting with each other. If they like the tenant they hand over the keys.

Other landlords may add a bit of tenant screening. For example, they will call a former landlord reference or a work reference.

As you can see from the above Toronto landlord’s dilemma this isn’t enough to protect yourself from pro tenants.

Tenant Screening Ontario: Credit Checks

Landlords need to make tenant credit checks part of your tenant screening system.

When renting to someone you are giving them the use and control over a very expensive asset: your income property!

You need to use the same business practices that other industries use to evaluate whether or not the person applying qualifies for you to trust them.

A mortgage company would never give a loan to someone based on whether or not they were nice or had some personal references. They would also make sure to pull the client’s credit report without question.

How Can A Tenant Credit Check Help Me?

It’s very important for landlords to do a credit check because it will show you the potential tenant’s past and current pay habits.

Good credit and a high credit score means the tenant pays on time and doesn’t run away from their financial responsibilities.

These are people who will pay their rent on time because they know that not paying rent could lead to their years of hard work building their credit score can be destroyed. They won’t take that risk.

How Can I Do A Credit Check On My Tenant?

In years past it’s been expensive and complicated for small landlords to conduct tenant credit checks.

Not any longer.

If you become a member of the Ontario Landlords Association you get a lot of great services.

For only a one-time fee Ontario Landlords Association membership gives you access to premium credit check services from Equifax and TVS for only $10 per credit check (with no set up fee!)

You can also get access to GARDA premium credit and criminal checks that you can do from your own home or office computer.

Ontario Landlords – Make Sure Tenant Credit Checks Are Part Of Your Tenant Screening System!

You Can Now Join The Ontario Landlords Association and Start Doing Premium Credit Checks for Only $10 Per Check (With No Annual Fees).

Are You Ready To Invest $10 To Find A Great Tenant?

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