Ottawa Landlords – Credit Checks and Criminal Checks

The Days Of Renting Without Proper Tenant Screening Are Over

We’ve already discussed a number of important issues for Ottawa landlords in this blog.

Everything from the importance of fire prevention to how much you can raise the rent.

Our latest blog topic is especially important. It’s about “tenant screening.”

One bad call could end up costing you thousands of dollars.

Crime Prevention Ottawa

Crime Prevention Ottawa published an excellent booklet in 2009 to help small and medium sized landlords.

It’s called: Safety and Security in Rental Buildings: An Information Guide for Ottawa’s Residential Landlords.

It’s excellent and worth reading for landlords in Ottawa and anywhere else you might happen to be in Ontario.

In the Information Guide, Crime Prevention Ottawa makes it clear tenant screening is one of the most important steps to become a successful landlord.

Tenant Screening

Tenant screening means checking past behaviour of potential tenants.

With proper checks you can significantly reduce the risk of renting to a tenant who will cause you problems.

The guide also warns landlords who don’t conduct proper tenant screening.

No landlord wants to leave their rental unit vacant.

Vacancies means no money coming in (and money still going out with mortgages, taxes, etc.)

This means many landlords are tempted to rent to the best applicant the find in a given time frame, even if the applicant is only chosen because “there’s no one better” who wants to rent from you.

The Information Guide calls this “dangerous” as evicting a tenant in Ontario can be a long and expensive process.

More expensive than waiting for a qualified tenant.

What Happens If Don’t Screen Your Potential Tenants?

Is the advice from Crime Prevention Ottawa correct?

We think so. Just take a look around.

It’s only October and 2013 has been a year full of stories about bad tenants across Canada.

For example, a tenant who is a Freeman on the Land declared the property he was renting his ‘embassy.’

He was also wanted for assaulting his previous landlord.

In Barrie, Ontario a landlord had to deal with her basement tenant assaulting her two times in one night.

Another Ontario landlord is out thousands after a tenant left trash and damages behind.

Make Sure You Know Who You Are Renting To

Don’t become a victim. Be aggressive and proactive and make sure you screen potential tenants carefully.

Two important screening techniques are to conduct a credit check and a criminal check.

Credit Check

Bad credit can reveal a tendency to be financially irresponsible.

This is a trait that can expose you and your rental property business to a tenant with poor judgment and a willingness to take financial risks.

One of those risks might be not paying you rent.

If the tenants haven’t paid others what they owe, why do you think they will pay you the rent they owe?

Criminal Check

A criminal background check can protect you from a potential tenant with a history of dangerous actions.

It will also help you ensure the safety of other tenants in your property, as well as neighbours.

Doing Tenant Credit Checks and Criminal Checks

The good news for landlords is you can now do credit checks and criminal checks in a fast and economical way.

Protect yourself, your rental property and your tenants.

Proper tenant screening is a key element of being a successful landlord.

Ottawa Student Landlords – Time For Class For University of Ottawa or Carleton Student Tenants

We are now just about two weeks in to having all the new students renting our properties.

Ottawa is a great city for students, and it can be a great city for landlords who rent to students.

It can be a very different experience for landlords compared to renting out to the jaded general public.

It rare for a student to have the time or motivation to manipulate and use the Landlord and Tenant Board as a weapon against their landlord. Unlike some other Ontario tenants out there.

There’s more!

The University of Ottawa is one of our nations’ best schools.

Carleton University has grown immensely over the years and now offers some of the best programmes in not only Canada, but in North America.

Students and Tenant Insurance

According to the Ontario Landlords Association many students aren’t aware of the value of getting tenant insurance.

The Ontario Landlords Association advises the following:

Student landlords have a great opportunity to ‘educate’ their student tenants and protect themselves (and help students know how to protect themselves).

This is great advice.

Tenant Insurance

Many students aren’t aware of tenant insurance.

Even if they know they might disregard it as an extra and useless expense. Remember, students are often on a tight budget and every cent counts.

Help Your Student Tenants Protect Themselves

A simple phone call can protect students from all kinds of mishaps in and around campus.

There’s the obvious— fire, water damage and theft—concerns but there are also liability concerns.

If someone is injured on the premises or a toilet floods over and causes water damage to a few floors below, it can hugely expensive and time consuming without insurance.

Not every rental unit problem is the landlord’s responsibility either.

“There can be a lot of misconceptions out there,” one insurance expert said. “It depends who was found to be negligent. Tenants can be held responsible.” Without proper insurance, tenants who are found to be at-fault are on the hook for damages.

Tenant insurance is especially important for students because student housing can be more risky than single-family homes thanks to high turnover rates—not to mention the parties.

Protecting possessions from theft is reason enough to seek out coverage.

Students may not have accumulated many material possessions but the belongings they do have is usually pretty valuable like notebook computers, TVs, textbooks and even musical instruments.

For those trying to make ends meet, tenants may be tempted to skip tenant’s insurance to try to cut costs.

Explain to them they should consider the cost of replacing their laptop or smartphone if they were robbed.

Now is a good time to hold class to teach basics of tenant’s insurance and ensure your renters have the right coverage in place to protect themselves.

To Discuss Insurance, Student Housing, and Other Issues Welcome to the Ontario Landlord Forum

Ottawa Tenants Demand Compensation From Ottawa Landlord … For Repairs and Improvements

The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act requires landlords to be responsible for the maintenance of the rental unit.

It also requires landlords to allow their tenants to have a reasonable level of enjoyment in the property.

What if these two aspects of the law clash?

This is yet another challenge Ontario Landlords face.

We can this this type of class going on in three buildings near Metcalfe and Somerset Streets in Ottawa.

According to CBC News tenants in the buildings claim the construction work going on by Taggart Realty Management is harming their reasonable enjoyment of their rental units.

According to the tenants, the loudest repair work is done in the evening when tenants come home from work.

Tenant Lisa Blais says the constant loud noise has been going on since May of this year.

In response Blais and her partner have created the Centretown Tenants Association.

The goal of the association is to demand Taggart Realty Management takes their concerns seriously and address them.

According to Blais, “The way that Taggart is doing this, by doing it in the evening hours and by using the tools and the drills and the jackhammers the way they are, incessantly, is unfair.

They are demanding:

  1. A 25% rent reduction (to be retroactive to when the repairs began)
  2. Fines against the landlord

She said 70 people have joined the association, including tenants from two nearby buildings who are also affected by construction.

When a tenant complained about a foul odour was giving her headaches, the landlord offered to provide temporary housing for until the smell went away.

Taggart and the tenants association met a couple of weeks ago to attempt to mediate the issue. So far it has been unsuccessful.

Are Tenant Complaints Above the Law that Non-Tenants Follow? Do Tenants Have Special Rights?

It’s a common tenant complaint that landlords don’t make repairs or improvements on their rental buildings. The Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board even have a special ‘Tenants Rights’ form (T6) to force landlords to do repairs.

We’ve heard numerous times from landlords that, like in this case, tenants also complain when landlords do repairs or make improvements to their rental properties.

We ask: Has Taggert Realty Management broken any bylaws?

You don’t have to be a renter to be inconvenienced by a neighbor doing repairs to their house.

Or the City doing roadwork near you.

We have noise bylaws for a reason.

It’s common for construction companies to do work in the evening…until the bylaws say it’s time to shut down.

Doesn’t complaining work is being done in the evening discriminate against those who work at night and people who stay at home during the day?

Does the Residential Tenancies Act trump the laws non-tenants have to follow?

We are going to follow this case carefully.

To Discuss this and Other Ottawa Landlord and Tenant Issues go to the Ontario Landlord Forum.

An Ottawa Landlord Received a Fine of $34,000 for Fire Code Violations!

Being a successful landlord means being pro-active and aggressively defending your interests. After all, we have challenges to face.

This can apply to everything from tenant screening to dealing with tenants problems.

It also means making sure your property doesn’t violate the Ontario Fire Code.

An Ottawa landlord found this out the hard way!

According to the Ottawa Citizen, an Ottawa landlord has been fined $34,000 fine for violating Ontario Fire Code violations.

Ottawa Fire Services said in a news release Tuesday that they received a complaint about violations at 19 Burnbrook Crescent, near Carling Avenue and Holly Acres Road, in September 2011.

When fire prevention officers inspected the property, they found it was being used as a duplex and its tenants were at risk because of the violations.

After several attempts to achieve fire code compliance, the landlord was charged.

On July 4, the landlord was convicted of five offences, including failing to provide a means of escape, failing to install a smoke alarm and failing to provide a certificate of compliance from the Electrical Safety Authority.

In addition to a $34,000 fine, the landlord was also ordered to pay a 25-per-cent victims surcharge.

This isn’t the first time we’ve read about charges over fire safety.  Last time it was a tenant.

On January 2nd, 2013 a huge fire broke out at 11 William Street in Orillia, Ontario. The fire caused over $150,000 in damages.

One of the tenants was charged for disabling a smoke alarm in the property on purpose.

According to Ralph Dominelli who is the Fire Chief in Orillia, it’s a very serious act if you disable a smoke alarm.

Chief Dominelli says that while the fire that broke out in the bedroom on the second upstairs floor was not being considered suspicious, the smoke alarms were not activated.

The Fire Chief said even while his team was fighting the blaze, no smoke alarms went off.

The Fire Department charged the tenant under the Provincial Offences Act. While the tenant only faces a fine of $235, the Fire department has the option to raise that up to one year in jail and a $50,000 fine.

The severity of the charge will depend on evidence pointing to why the smoke alarms were disabled.

At this time the Fire Chief cannot say why the smoke alarms were disarmed. However a professional engineering company was hired by the landlords insurance company. They have confirmed the fire began at the edge of a mattress.

Ottawa Landlords and the 2014 Rent Increase Guideline (It’s 0.8%)


According to a report at the Ontario Landlord Association, the maximum amount landlords can increase the rent in 2014 is 0.8%.

This is the Rent Increase Guideline for 2014.

In Ontario the government sets how much landlords can raise the rent for existing tenants every year.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is Linda Jeffrey.

The Minister says:

“The Rent Increase Guideline is based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index. This year’s rate will be the second lowest in history. It will help to ensure Ontario families have more money in their pockets while keeping housing affordable”

According to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

  • The average rent increase guideline from 2004 to 2013 was 2.1 per cent. The average rent increase guideline from 1993 to 2003 was 3.1 per cent.
  • The Ontario government passed legislation in 2012 to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 to ensure that the guideline is capped at no higher than 2.5 per cent.
  • The 2014 guideline applies to rent increases that occur between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014.
  • A tenant must be given proper written notice of a rent increase at least 90 days before the rent increase takes effect.
  • The guideline is calculated under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, which came into force on Jan. 31, 2007. The calculation is based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation that is calculated by Statistics Canada.

Many landlords have voiced their concerns that such a low rate will not allow them to cover their growing expenses.

Some tenants have also voiced their displeasure stating that landlords can raise the rent while wages remain stagnant and many landlords are using ‘above guideline’ rent increase to rents far beyond the rent increase guideline.

Top 10 Tenant Facts in Ottawa According to Ottawa Tenants (Ottawa Landlords Should Be Interested Too)

We would like to thank everyone who has emailed us with their support and comments after our first blog post.

In the news this week is the Ottawa Tenants Conference on June 8th, 2013.

On the Conference website is some really interesting information that also might interest landlords.

Please note these are facts from a tenant organization.

Top 10 Tenant Facts in Ottawa

Number 1: How many tenants are there?

According to the latest Census data, tenants comprise 40% of Ottawa households.

Number 2: How much to tenants pay for property taxes?

Tenants pay 1.7% more in property taxes through their rents than homeowners of comparable units, even though tenants have approximately half the income.

Number 3: Are tenants being displaced?

Ottawa lost 143 units through demolitions in 2009. In early, 2010, approximately 200 tenants were permanently displaced due to a rash of fires.

Number 4: How many evictions are there?

There were more than 69,000 eviction applications filed at the Landlord and Tenant Board in 2008, mostly tenants struggling to pay unfair rents.

Number 5: What about rent control?

Rental units built after 1991 are exempt from rent control. Market rate units in social housing are also exempt from rent provisions.

Number 6: What about funding for tenant groups?

In the mid 1990’s, the Provincial Government cancelled funding to tenant advocacy groups. In Ottawa, the Federation of Ottawa Carleton Tenants’ Associations, The Ottawa Council of Low Income Support Services, and the Ottawa Tenant Council all lost funding.

Number 7: Are tenant voices heard?

Landlords are well organized through organizations such as the Ontario Landlords Association. Conversely, tenants have no formal structure to have their voices heard. This creates an imbalance during consultation processes.

Number 8: What about the vacancy rate?

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the local vacancy rate is 1.5 per cent. Analysts agree that a ‘healthy’ vacancy rate is 3 per cent. Without rent control on vacant units, landlords can charge whatever they want since tenants have less choice. It also gives landlords more incentive to evict tenants as a way to raise rents.

Number 9: Is new rental housing being built?

Since 1995, only 9% of new housing built was rental housing, but this doesn’t keep pace with the number of units lost through demolition, conversion, or renovations (see number 3).

Number 10: What about converting rentals to condos?

When the vacancy rate rises above 3% for two consecutive years, landlords can apply to have rental units converted to condominiums. During the period of 2004 and 2005, when the vacancy rate rose above 3 per cent, there were 681 conversions of rental units to condominiums.

Ottawa ACORN Fights Ottawa Landlords


Are you a private landlord in Ottawa?

You should join a great Ontario Landlord Association because…

Get ready because ACORN is coming for you!

Ottawa Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) mentioned that renters deserve a superior minimum standard of expenses for their apartment’s maintenance. The Ottawa ACORN has been persuading the city hall to raise the minimum standards set for the residential properties and the implementation of the rules on absentee owners or landlords.

Many of the ACORM members are tired of battling with molds, floods and nuisance from their landlords.

Nadia Willard, a board member of ACORN pointed out that “Instead of saying minimum standards, can we not get these apartments, these landlords to ensure that what they live in, they can provide for their tenants.”

“A paint job every two years. Vents cleaned. Air conditioners working. Making sure that there are no bed bugs. It’s important for them to show in good faith that they will do that” she added.

So far, ACORN is working with the city’s law inspectors to come up with the newest and a more hands-on assessment plan with a new structure of the city orders for the troubled properties.

Lately city hall has initiated a campaign to clear out neglected buildings, however they did not say if they are taking into account reinforcing the laws and regulations for poorly maintained apartments. The appeal for an open discussion with the city’s officials was not given as of the moment.

ACORN’s conversation with the city bylaw officials begun last fall and it turned out positive “(The discussions) have been very positive. They know what they’re doing, and they want to do the right thing,”

“It’s not that they don’t understand what’s going on, it’s that (with) the bylaws, sometimes their hands are tied as well.” Willard said.

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