Canadian Landlords Grapple with How (and Whether) to Lease to Immigrant Tenants

Canada has a large and growing immigrant population. In 2011, statistics revealed 1 in every 5 Canadians were foreign born – approximately 20 percent of Canada’s total population of 35,158,300.

Fifty percent of those immigrants throughout Canada are said to be renters, most of whom do not have easily verifiable employment and credit histories. This, of course, presents a challenge for landlords’ and property managers’ screening procedures.

So what’s a landlord to do? Some Canadian landlords are turning this challenge into opportunities for themselves by taking advantage of the newcomers who are in search of rental homes, but unaware of Canadian landlord-tenant laws. According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), some unscrupulous landlords are providing great examples of what not to do by charging a full year’s rent or more, up front.

In February 2013, prospective tenant Rafiqul Islam, a Bangladeshi immigrant, filed a complaint with the OHRC stating that his future landlord had charged him a total of $8800 in advance for a bachelor apartment.

Calculating Eviction Notice Periods for Termination Dates (Case Study: Ontario)

There is nothing more frustrating then going through the eviction application process with the Landlord and Tenant Board only to find the case dismissed due to a minor technicality. Making matters worse, if a case is dismissed the landlord must start the process over, as if it had never begun in the first place. Waste of time, waste of money and much aggravation. A common mistake among landlords is the miscalculation of notice periods. While there many types of lease violation and subsequent landlord-tenant cases, the most common case is the non-payment of rent by the tenant. By way of example to illustrate how to calculate notice periods, below are step-by-step directions for a non-payment of rent case. The tenant is late in paying the rent, so the landlord then serves a “Notice of Termination for Non-Payment of Rent” (in Ontario also known as Form N4) on the tenant.

Case Study: Ontario Tenant Eviction Appeals & the Canadian Appeal Process

It doesn’t occur often, but the dreaded eviction appeal does happen. It creates extra work, usually additional losses and always more stress for the landlord in Ontario (or anywhere, for that matter). Often, tenants use the appeal process as a ploy for delaying eviction. This is even more aggravating for the landlord. The scenario typically unfolds like this in Ontario: The landlord files an application to evict with the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board. The case is generally heard within one month of being filed. When a decision is made for the tenancy to terminate, the tenant will then have to move by the date set by the court. The tenant has 30 days to file an appeal to the Divisional Court. The tenant files the appeal and the original decision to “terminate and force the tenant to move” is “stayed” or put on hold until the appeal hearing.

New Brunswick Landlord-Tenant Law Summary

What types of leases are permitted in New Brunswick?
The only lease permitted in New Brunswick is the standard form New Brunswick Residential Lease Agreement. This lease is a prescribed form that contains the specific rules and obligations that the landlord and tenant must follow while abiding New Brunswick law. The landlord and tenant must sign two copies, and each must keep a copy. What are the laws regarding a security deposit?
Security deposits are paid in the beginning of a tenancy. A landlord may only charge an amount equal to one weeks rent for a weekly tenancy. In a month to month, year to year, or fixed term tenancy; the landlord may charge no more than the amount equal to one months rent. All deposits must be paid to the Office of the Rentalsman. When is the landlord permitted to enter the rented premises?
If there is an emergency, the tenant abandons the property, housekeeping is…

Nova Scotia Landlord-Tenant Laws Summary

Is there a prescribed lease form for Nova Scotia landlords? Yes, if a landlord decides to have a written agreement they must use the Nova Scotia Standard Form of Lease. The landlord may not start a tenancy unless a copy of the Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Act is given to the tenant within 10 days. Must a landlord conduct a walk through inspection of the rental premises? It is not required to do an inspection, it is optional. A pre-inspection of the rental unit completed with the tenant is an extra added assurance that the property will be returned in good condition. A small amount of time and a little paperwork, can save much aggravation later. What are the restrictions on security deposits? Landlords may charge a security deposit of no more than ½ months rent. The security deposit must be held in a trust account. What happens if a tenant is late on rent?

Yukon Landlord-Tenant Law Summary

Is it mandatory to have a written lease in Yukon? It is not required to have a written lease, but it is strongly recommended for landlords and tenants alike. Yukon Territory allows oral, written, express, or implied agreements. If the tenancy agreement is written, it must be signed by both parties. A duplicate copy must be delivered to the tenant within 21 days after both the landlord and tenant sign the agreement.

Are landlords required to conduct a condition inspection report? It is not required in Yukon for a landlord to conduct an inspection report. However, unless a statement of condition is signed by both landlord and tenant when a security deposit is collected, damages may not be deducted from the security deposit.

Who is responsible for maintaining the rental premises? It is the landlord's responsibility to keep the rental premises in a good state of repair. The landlord must follow all health, safety, and maintenance laws, regulations, and standards. The tenant is responsible for any damages that may be caused by the tenant, the tenant’s family or invitees.

Ontario Court Finds that Property Management Companies Cannot Represent Landlords at LTB

Hiring a property manager or agent can be an excellent way to outsource routine operations such as finding a new tenant, collecting rents and assisting with the maintenance of the property. But one must tread very carefully to avoid crossing the line into the legal arena.

Recently the Ontario Superior Court ruled against a property manager citing that this manager provided legal services at the Landlord and Tenant Board violating the Law Society Act. The act specifically details in Sections 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7 exactly what a property manager may and may not do, including, but not limited to, the representation of the owner in court.

The Ontario Court found that Enzo Vincent Chairelli was “providing legal services” and although he was not prohibited from acting as the property manager, he is not permitted to represent clients at the Board. Chiarelli’s counsel, Joel Kary did argue that the definition of a landlord according to Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act includes property managers.

Quebec Landlord-Tenant Law Summary

Are written rental agreements required?
Quebec does not require a written agreement. If a landlord decides to have a written rental agreement it MUST be the official Quebec-approved form. These forms are ONLY sold in the offices of the Régie du Logement and in Quebec bookstores. If a landlord decides to do an oral agreement, they must give the tenant the form “Mandatory Writing” within 10 days from the start of tenancy. This form is also available only in the offices of the Régie du Logement or in Quebec bookstores. Can landlords collect a security deposit?
Landlords can not charge a security deposit in Quebec. Collecting the last months rent in advance is also not allowed. Are signed inspection reports required?
Although it is not required in Quebec to have a inspection report, it is recommended.

Northwest Territories Landlord-Tenant Law Summary

Is a written rental agreement required?
No, it is not legally mandatory to have a written rental agreement, but it will help avoid landlord-tenant disputes and ambiguities, and prevent false claims and lawsuits.

Can landlords charge tenants a security deposit?
Landlords may charge a security deposit in the Northwest Territories. When charging a security deposit in a weekly tenancy, the deposit may be no more than one weeks rent. In tenancies where the tenant pays monthly (i.e. month-to-month and fixed-term tenancies), the total security deposit can amount to no more than one month's rent. Other than in a weekly tenancy, the tenant must pay at least 50% of the deposit at the start of tenancy, and the other half, within three months from then.

May a landlord charge a pet deposit?
Landlords may charge a pet deposit in the Northwest Territories. The pet deposit is considered separate from the security deposit. It can be no more than 1/2 months rent. The landlord may only charge the pet deposit once, and it must be received at the start of the tenancy.
NOTE: Landlords may NOT charge a pet deposit for a tenant with a service animal due to a disability.

Newfoundland and Labrador Landlord-Tenant Law Summary

What is a good first step for a landlord before starting a new tenancy?
Service NL, the government agency responsible for consumer safety, suggests that landlords with investment property in the Newfoundland and Labrador province should require a written rental application from each prospective tenant. This involves investigating a tenant’s rental history, income, credit, and criminal background. From there, the landlord can approve a tenant and start the next step in the tenancy. Is a written lease agreement (tenancy agreement) required?
A written lease/tenancy agreement is not required in Newfoundland and Labrador but any changes to the tenancy MUST be written and follow the Residential Tenancies Act. If a rental agreement is in writing, the landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the tenancy agreement within 10 days of the lease signing. What happens if a tenant is late on rent?
If the tenant's rent is late by 15 days, the landlord may serve a 10 day written notice. The landlord may also charge a late fee, the amount of which changes and is set by Service NL.