Landlord's rights and responsiblities | the basics for new landlords

As a new landlord, there are a lot of questions you probably have and quite a few things you will need to know before looking for new tenants. Are you allowed to turn away prospective tenants with children? Can you evict a tenant that is living on your premises but is not paying rent? In order to run your business as effectively as possible, it will be necessary to learn about all of the different rules and regulation in the province of your rental property. If you are planning on renting out an apartment unit or property of any kind, you will find that being informed about these things will help you to deal with any challenges that come your way.

Understanding Relevant Tenancy Laws

Each province and territory throughout Canada has its own laws pertaining to tenancy matters. While there are certain laws that are the same in various places, there are still some significant differences that are worth taking note of.

One example of the legislative differences from place to place in Canada is that while you are able to collect a security deposit from tenants in most places, you are not able to do so in both Ontario and Quebec. In Ontario, you are only allowed to take a deposit if it is used for the tenant’s rent and it cannot be used to cover damages of any kind. In Quebec though, landlords cannot take a deposit from tenants for any purpose. In Alberta, unless stated otherwise in a written agreement, interest accumulates on the security deposit annually.

In a vast majority of places, matters resulting in breach of rental agreements are not directly mentioned in provincial or territorial laws, including things like owning a pet when the lease stipulates that they are not allowed. Even if the matter is not directly mentioned in the legislation though, it does not mean that the landlord cannot evict the tenant, provided they have a valid reason.

Legislation regarding landlord and tenant issues tend to change over time, and even the rules are not always absolute. It all comes down to the interpretation of the legislation by the court or Tribunal.

You will be able to get more information on these kinds of rules and regulations by taking a look at the Provincial and Territorial Fact Sheets to start with. You will also be able to get more information from books, guides, pamphlets and other things in your area that are published for the benefit of landlords. It is important, however, to make sure that the publication is not out of date and still contains accurate information.

You can also seek the advice of a legal expert to find out everything you need to know when it comes to how to successfully operate your business without being in violation of any local laws. If you choose to take this route, you will definitely want to find someone who is an expert when it comes to landlord tenant issues in the province or territory that your rental property is in. Because this is a specialized area of the law, you will definitely want to find someone who is experienced with it.

Privacy Laws

Some of the new privacy laws in Canada pertaining to landlords and tenants may affect the way that you get and hold onto information for prospective tenants. It is important that you make sure all of the questions you have prepared for those who are interested in the unit(s) you have available are in full compliance with these laws. For example, it is necessary to tell all of your tenants why you are collecting the information from them and what you will do with it.

To learn more about these issues, refer to the Privacy Commissioner’s website at:
http://www.priv.gc.ca/resource/io_pr_e.cfm

Or contact the Privacy Commissioner by phone at 1-800-282-1376 or by mail at 112 Kent St., Place de Ville, Tower B, 3rd Floor, Ottawa ON K1A 1H3.

Learn about Relevant Bylaws

Does the building that you will be renting out to tenants comply with all local and provincial bylaws and buildings codes?

Other than the guidelines that are laid out by provincial or territorial legislation, you will also have to comply with provincial and municipal bylaws. These bylaws set the official guidelines for fire and building safety, and you will have to make certain that you are not in violation of any. You will find that municipal bylaws also cover issues such as zoning and permits. As a first step in this process, you will want to get in touch with the primary branch of your local municipality, which is listed in the blue pages or your telephone book.

Research Current Market Pricing

Before you go ahead and determine how much to charge for rent, you will have to first compare what other similar units in the area are charging. There are some provinces that keep rent registry databases with this type of information on local units for the past several years. You can also get local Rental Market Reports from CMHC for no charge.

Keeping Records

You are required by law to keep records and receipts for all of the financial transactions for your business. If you are not familiar with bookkeeping for business matters, it is highly recommended that you consult with an accountant. It is important that you learn about as much as possible about how capital assets are different from expenses, and you will want to get help with setting up a Chart of Accounts, which is essentially a ledger that tracks income, expenses, and other types of financial information.

You will also have to document and track the overall condition of the rental property. Whenever a tenant moves in to a unit, you will have to conduct a thorough and official inspection of the premises, which both parties need to sign. It is also required by law that you use a standardized form to do this, though not in all provinces. If you cannot get a standard form in your province or territory, you can use the Initial Inspection Worksheet found in this guide.