A common nightmare scenario for every landlord in Toronto in the GTA renting to strangers is winding up locked in a binding contract with a tenant who is unfit for occupancy. Stories of negative tenant situations often include property damage, unclean living quarters, and in some cases harassment. Rejecting the application of a tenant can be a tricky endeavour, and doing so legally and with tact can be even more challenging. Luckily for landlords, this is a common problem and there are ways to respectfully – and legally – reject an application.
Know what you cannot do
According to Canada’s Human Rights Act of 1985, a landlord cannot reject an applicant based on any of the identified prohibited grounds of discrimination. These include application rejection based on race, origin, skin colour, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, marital or family status, disability, and pardoned offences. Rejection of a tenant based on these grounds would result in a violation of the Canadian Human Rights Code. Technically, you also cannot require that a tenant give you their Social Insurance Number, but you can still run a credit check without it.
Know what you can do
Thankfully for rental property owners in Ontario, c. 17, s. 10 of Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act of 2006 allows all landlords to take several things into account when considering whether to approve or reject a tenant application. These grounds include income information, credit checks and references, and rental history.
Landlords are not obligated to rent their property to every single applicant, and can reject prospective tenants based on their own concerns, as long as the reasons aren’t breaking Canada’s Human Rights Act. Before rejecting an applicant based on any criteria, it’s important to first ensure that you are doing so according to Residential Tenancies Act and the Human Rights Act in order to avoid any potential legal problems. When turning down an applicant, particularly one that you think may be a problem, be sure to give them a concrete reason (bad credit, for example) and to not elaborate any further.
Treat all applicants equally
In order to choose tenants in a fair, balanced and legal manner, all applications should be completed and processed in the same way. This means that all prospective tenants should have to submit a rental application form that includes information on their job, contact information of supervisor/manager, yearly income, previous address, previous landlord references, government identification, and any other details deemed necessary by the landlord.
Applicants should be contacted within an appropriate window of time following your decision and informed of their approval or rejection. This gives applicants time to seek out other rental opportunities, and keeps the application process fully transparent for all involved parties. This process should ideally be done in writing in order to keep a viable record – email works perfectly for these kinds of communications.
Every landlord deserves to have ideal tenants, but it’s important to keep in mind the rights of applicants and legal repercussions when deciding to reject a prospective tenant. By knowing rights and laws, treating all tenants equally and being fair and transparent, you’ll be sure to attract the right tenant without the risk of a lawsuit.
If you want to properly screen, approve, and reject your rental applicants, your best partner is a property management company like Highgate. We know all of the legal ins and outs and will handle the tenant approval process professionally and transparently. Contact us today to find out more.