Sustainable housing and real estate in Kitchener-Waterloo Region


Thinking of becoming a landlord?
February 17, 2009, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Rebecca Sargent, Rentals | Tags: , ,

Rental properties can be great investments, but they can also be huge headaches. A rental unit can help you bring in extra income that can go towards paying down your mortgage. The rental income amount can actually even help you qualify for an increased mortgage amount. They are great investments if you get good tenants who pay on time and keep the place well maintained.

How can you protect yourself from the headaches of being a landlord? Your most important job happens BEFORE you take on a tenant. As a landlord, you have the right to check the potential tenant’s credit rating, and rental history. Your relationship is a financial one, and so you should know if they are not paying their bills on time.

Take pictures of your apartment BEFORE you rent it out showing the exact condition of the place. This will help you if damages do occur upon tenancy and help you recoup the damages in court.

Your full rights and responsibilities are outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act (available at http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/DBLaws/Statutes/English/06r17_e.htm). Make sure you know what you are legally liable for and get proper insurance to cover you.

Here are some highlights for you:

– You must keep the property in good repair and up to health, fire and safety standards. – You have the right to inspect the property, but you must give 24 hour written notice to the tenant to do so.

 – The tenant cannot change the locks or bar your entry and there are legal avenues for you to take if they do.

– You cannot ask for anything other than the rent for the last week or month. You are not permitted to ask for a damage deposit.

 – It is a breach of the Ontario Human Rights Code to prohibit children in a rental unit. A “no pets” clause is also unenforcable under the Residential Tenancies Act.

– You are required as a landlord to provide an information package detailing basic landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities to your new tenants. It is available at www.ltb.gov.on.ca.

– You cannot require a tenant to provide postdated cheques to you.

– You can only increase the rent by 1.8% per year (in 2009) with written notice 3 months in advance. You cannot increase the rent until the tenant has been living in the unit for more than one year. If the tenant moves out, you are allowed to set a new rent before the new tenant moves in.

It can be very difficult to remove a problem tenant, so the best advice is to pre-screen them before they move in. There are legal channels to help you, but they can take time, and require that you pay up front and sue for damages later.

There are many useful resources available, and organizations to help you. Check out http://www.landlordselfhelp.com/frontpage.asp ; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (www.cmhc.ca) and the Landlord and Tenant Board http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca for more information. I also have a rental guide for potential landlords. Please ask me for a copy!