Tag: rental market

Top 11 Misconceptions – Landlord and Tenant Rights

Posted on January 23rd, 2019

$500 damage deposit.  No pets allowed.  Landlord requires 6 months deposit up front.  Post-dated cheques required.  WRONG.

It’s been almost a year – a year since the Standard Form of Lease was made available by the Government of Ontario to help clear up the inconsistencies that you typically see in rental agreements/contracts.  This form lays it all out – the details about the specific unit (i.e. parking, utilities, etc.) along with the rights and responsibilities of both tenant and landlord as per the Residential Tenancies Act.  Any landlord entering into an agreement to lease for either a single family home, apartment unit, condo unit or secondary unit like a basement apartment must complete this form (as of April 30th, 2018) and provide it to their tenant to sign.

Unfortunately, even with this new form, inconsistencies and misunderstandings still come up all the time in rental agreements and listings.  Based on our experience, we wanted to outline the top 11 misunderstandings we witness regarding rentals.

  1. Landlord won’t supply the keys unless 10 post-dated cheques for the remaining rent term are provided: WRONG.  The tenant can elect to pay by post-dated cheques but they are not required to do so.
  2. Landlord is charging an administration charge for a NSF cheque: RIGHT.  But it can only be A MAXIMUM of $20.
  3. Rent deposits are not allowed: WRONG.  A rent deposit is allowed but it can only be the amount of one rental period and can only be applied to the last month that the tenant is living in the unit – NOT the last month of that rental period.  For example, if a tenant signs a one year lease beginning in January and provides a deposit of one month’s rent to be applied to December, if the tenant then elects to stay in the rental property longer, that deposit is carried forward until the last month that the tenant is actually living in the unit.  In addition, the landlord is required to pay interest on the deposit amount each year.
  4. The landlord cannot charge a key deposit: WRONG.  A landlord is allowed to charge a key deposit BUT the cost of this deposit can only represent the true cost of replacing the keys and cannot be applied to anything else (i.e damage).  This deposit must be refunded once the tenant returns the keys when they move out.
  5. The landlord cannot stop a tenant from smoking in the property: WRONG.  While the Residential Tenancies Act doesn’t address smoking, the Standard Form of Lease does provide space to address this concern.  The Landlord can outline smoking rules and prohibit smoking (including cannabis products) if they choose to do so.
  6. The landlord can require the tenant to obtain liability insurance: RIGHT.  The landlord is allowed to ask the tenant to obtain liability insurance and ask for proof of coverage.
  7. Common clause seen in rental agreements: “Tenant is responsible for paying the first $100 of all repairs to the unit.” – WRONG.  Has anyone seen this clause in an agreement to lease before?  Probably, yes.  This is not allowed. The tenant IS responsible for the full cost of repairs due to their own negligence but owe nothing when it comes to regular maintenance and other issues commonly encountered in any property (i.e. appliance stops working, plumbing issues, etc.).  The landlord must keep the rental unit and property in good repair and comply with all health, safety and maintenance standards.
  8. Landlord can evict a tenant for having a pet: RIGHT. BUT for only the following reasons:
    • The pet makes too much noise, damages the unit or causes other tenants to have allergic reactions
    • The breed or species is inherently dangerous, or
    • The rules of the condominium corporation do not allow pets.

The landlord cannot enforce a no pet rule for reasons beyond those noted above – this is an unenforceable term.  In addition, the landlord cannot charge a pet deposit in case of doggy damage.  Of course, the tenant is responsible for their pet and must repair any damages as a result of that pet.  If a tenant has been charged a damage or pet deposit, they can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to get the money back.

9. Landlord can require tenant to sign for another year rental period after the first year is over: WRONG.  The tenant and landlord can agree to another fixed term tenancy but are not required to.  If the tenant was originally on a fixed year term, they will automatically go month to month unless both parties agree to another fixed term lease.

10. Landlord is selling the rental property so the Tenant must move out.  WRONG.   The tenant must move out (with the proper 60 days notice) only IF the new owner of the property wants to occupy the unit him/herself or has a family member occupying the unit.  This notice can be provided once an agreement to purchase has been finalized and it’s been determined that the new owner plans to use the home for personal reasons.

11. Tenant can hold back rent payments while waiting for the landlord to fix or make repairs to the property.  WRONG.  The tenant must pay their rent but if the landlord isn’t keeping the property in good repair, the tenant may apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for assistance.

 

What’s the deal with rent increases?  If you’ve been listening to the news, you’ve probably been hearing some changes to rent increase guidelines over the past couple of years.  It’s important to understand your rights as a landlord and as a tenant when it comes to this important piece of the rent equation:

  • Landlord must give 90 days notice for any rent increase and provide notice on the proper Landlord and Tenant Board Form (N1)
  • Landlord has the right to increase rent every 12 months
  • Landlord can only increase the rent by the guideline amount (based on CPI) up to a maximum of 2.5% (even if CPI is higher than this).  Coincidentally, the interest the landlord must pay on the last month’s rent deposit is equal to this same amount.
  • Landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board using form L5 to increase rent beyond the rent guideline for the following reasons:
    • Their municipal taxes have increased by more than the guideline plus 50 per cent. (For example, if the guideline is 1.8%, the taxes must have increased by more than 2.7 %).
    • They incurred operating costs related to security services.
    • They incurred eligible capital expenditures.
  • IF a unit was first occupied as a residential space after November 15, 2018, these units DO NOT fall under the rent control guidelines and therefore, landlords can charge whatever increase they want while still following the 90 days notice and only one increase per year rule.  A similar loophole (dubbed the 1991 loophole) was just abolished in 2017 by the Liberal Government.  We’ll see how long this new loophole lasts but it’s important for tenants to be aware of this rule when searching for a new property to rent.

There you have it – your review of the rental rules in Ontario.  If you are a landlord, tenant or Realtor, please read through the Standard Form of Lease in its entirety.  It’s important to know your/your client’s rights and responsibilities.  In addition, if you see a clause in a rental listing or agreement that goes against the rules, make sure to point it out so that these common misconceptions can start to clear up with each and every new rental agreement.

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Toronto’s Fiercely Competitive Rental Market

Posted on July 14th, 2017

“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”  – Dr. Seuss

From a one-bedroom shoe box in the Financial District to a three-bedroom townhouse in Markham to a four-bedroom semi in Oakville, the rental market in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area is seeing some unusual, unexpected and fast-paced activity. To an outsider, this rental market can be downright amusing to hear of multiple offers, bidding wars and listings renting within hours of being uploaded onto realtor.ca.  Unfortunately, this hectic environment is stressful to say the least for tenants.  With that said, here is our list of top ten reasons why renting in today’s market truly sucks:

  1. Your credit report is reviewed with a fine-tooth comb.  Sure you might have a great credit score but missing a credit card payment by one day five years ago may cost you big time.
  2. Your employment letter is scrutinized.  Why aren’t you making more money?  Why have you only been employed for three years?  Why doesn’t your title sound better?  Your manager sounded weird on the phone when called for a reference.
  3. You feel pressure to leave your pets behind.  While a landlord can’t kick you out for owning a pet after you secure a lease, you can be pooched if you disclose your pet loving habit to a landlord when making an offer.
  4. Expect to compete.  If you happen to find a place within 30 minutes of it listing on realtor.ca and the landlord’s agent miraculously needs less than the standard 24 hours to review the offer, you might be able to have your offer reviewed and accepted prior to another offer rolling in.  Any other time, you should expect to put on your boxing gloves and fight to the death for that 500-square foot condo with a view of the GO Train.
  5. Expect to lower your expectations.  As rental prices increase, all of your hopes and dreams for a new rental home might have to simmer down.  You might need to opt for a smaller unit, an option that is less updated or a home without appliances (I kid, I kid).
  6. Give away your car.  Many condos and some homes closer to the city don’t offer a parking spot.  With many new condos offering limited parking to the larger units in the building, expect to be paying a couple hundred extra to rent a spot (if you are lucky enough to find one for rent).
  7. Expect that the process will take longer than you think.  A few years ago, renting a condo was actually enjoyable.  You checked out a couple places at your leisure, chose your favourite option and negotiated on the price.  Now?  The struggle is real.  You and your agent desperately scrape together a few decent options to view within an hour of them being listed, you choose your least-hated option and offer hundreds of dollars over asking only to find out that your offer was not accepted.  The next day, you do it all again until one day, the rental gods take pity on you and convince an unsuspecting landlord to accept your offer.
  8. Expect to be rejected.  Rejection is never fun but if you are not a perfect, prospective tenant, rejection is imminent.  Work on contract for more money than if you had a full-time job?  Sorry, out of luck.  Need a guarantor?  Go live with your guarantor.  Your partner goes to school full time?  Make an offer once he graduates and has full time employment.
  9. Expect to be surprised.  Some rentals fly off the shelf so quickly that the rental agents don’t have a chance to update you and your agent prior to your showing.  You can fall in love with a unit and decide to make an offer, only to be informed that the unit leased the night before and it’s no longer available.
  10. Expect to drink.  Lots.  After every rejection, every missed opportunity and every unsuccessful experience, you might need a drink or two.  Don’t worry.  It’s completely normal.

As we have experienced and seen our fair share of nightmare rental search stories, believe it or not, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  The right place will come in time and you just need to be as prepared as possible.  Here are some tips to get you through your rental search.

  1. Drink (see point 10 above).
  2. Hire an experienced Realtor who can guide you through the process.  Sadly, some agents who list units will ignore requests from potential tenants to schedule a viewing.  In this market, they probably figure they can rent the listing quickly without having to do much work, including showings of their own.  By having your own Realtor, you can schedule showings easily and efficiently.
  3. Be organized.  Have all of your paperwork ready to go – credit report, rental application, employment letters.  You need to be ready to make an offer immediately when you find a place you like.
  4. Don’t negotiate.  Look at the comparables and if other units/homes in the building/neighbourhood justify the list price, then offer that.  The moment you fool around with offering a lower amount, the less motivated the listing agent and landlord will be to review your offer in a timely manner.
  5. More is more.  Provide as much ammo as possible to prove you are the best choice.  Previous landlord recommendation letters, ensuring your references are ready to take a call and give you an amazing reference when the time comes, bank statements showing you can easily afford the monthly rent payments, offer to meet the landlord in person – all of these can help to strengthen your offer and put you ahead of the competition.
  6. Audit your social media accounts.  You can bet that landlords and landlord’s agents are checking you out on social media.  Set your accounts to private, remove those incriminating pictures from yesterday’s kegger at your current home and tone down any profanity or strongly opinionated posts.
  7. Know the market.  Ask your Realtor to send you recent leases in the neighbourhood that you are searching so you are familiar with the inventory and pricing in order to bring you down to earth when it comes to your must-have rental list.
  8. Make yourself available.  Your daily lunch break at Burrito Boyz might have to be cancelled in order to check out a potential rental.  Friday nights and weekends may become a little less exciting during the search process but you’ll get them back eventually.
  9. Don’t limit yourself.  Creating a search parameter of a half block radius around the DNA condos on King West might not yield too many results and will lengthen your search process substantially.  Consider different streets and neighbourhoods based on recommendations from your Realtor, friends and co-workers.
  10. Don’t give up.  You will find a rental when the time is right.  Although this post might have put the fear of God into you, you might end up being pleasantly surprised by your own search process. 
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