One of the most complicated situations that may arise for any Ontario landlord is having to deal with a bad tenant with a diagnosed mental illness. While mental illness absolutely does not determine whether a tenant will be a good or bad tenant, you have additional considerations and responsibilities as their landlord.
Your responsibilities and freedoms as an Ontario landlord
The Ontario Human Right Commission (OHRC) has established housing guidelines designed to protect people with mental illness and all other citizens from being discriminated against, meaning Ontario landlords must be aware of these guidelines and do their best to follow them. Tenants with mental health issues should not be automatically assumed to be potential bad tenants, especially if they have proven in the past that they can consistently make rental payments, take care of the property, and respect those around them. It’s worth noting that attempting to evict tenants or deny rental applications based solely on mental health or other disabilities is in violation of these guidelines.
Ontario landlords are allowed to reject tenancy applications for a wide variety of reasons, including a proven inability to make payments on time or in full, bad references, a negative rental history (multiple evictions or bad references from previous landlords), insufficient income to cover rent payments, evidence of illegal activities, and even just having a hostile attitude. It’s important for landlords to avoid renting to tenants with a “victim mentality”, which can often lead to disputes between landlords and tenants.
Tenants with a victim mentality may see themselves as the recipient of discrimination or undue attention from landlords, roommates, and neighbours, often causing a variety of problems that can be difficult to navigate. It is not illegal for Ontario landlords to reject a tenant who does not seem like the right fit, as long as the rejection is not based on disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.
What should you do as an Ontario landlord?
In order to avoid having a bad tenant of any kind, it’s important for landlords to effectively screen tenants before accepting an application, and meet with them face-to-face. Meeting with a potential tenant in person will reveal many of the red flags that may indicate a bad tenant and will allow you to better judge their character and decide if they are the right fit for you and your property.
Landlords can also ask applicants to have a guarantor when they sign a lease – in order to avoid discrimination, it’s important that landlords make this requirement for all applications and not just those submitted by those with mental illness or disabilities.
For landlords who run into bad tenants of any kind, it’s important to understand that Ontario landlords are free to begin the eviction process after terms of the lease agreement have been broken. All Ontario tenants still must uphold their end of the tenancy agreement, meaning that rent payments must be made on time and in full, property must respected, and other tenants or neighbours must be respected and allowed reasonable enjoyment of their home. If a tenant proves to be unreliable, destructive, or cannot make rent payments on a consistent basis, then Ontario landlords have to legal right to pursue lease termination.
Ontario landlords and property management
As with any tenant, renting to tenants with mental illness can be a great, stress free experience for both parties – especially if they consistently prove that they can make rent payments and take care of your property. When screening tenants, you should only be reviewing ability to pay, as that is the most important part of the entire landlord/tenant transaction.
Property management experts know how to carefully navigate situations involving tenants with mental health issues or disabilities, and know what is considered to be discrimination and what is within a landlord’s legal right. Highgate’s experienced property management team will effectively manage these sensitive issues and manage your property in a caring, sensitive, and businesslike fashion, freeing you up to take care of the more important things in your life.
For more information about the property management and realty services offered by the experienced team at Highgate Properties, contact us today.