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How can landlords evaluate potential tenants?

Landlords are weary of having bad tenants, especially those that may default on rent, so they are allowed to do some checking to see whether you will in fact be able to handle paying rent.

Landlord are legally allowed to ask certain questions pertaining to your ability to pay rent on time and make sure you won’t damage the property and that you’ll be a good neighbour.

How can landlords evaluate whether you will make a good tenant?

Landlords can ask questions that will give them an insight into your financial situation without being too intrusive. They also want to know a little bit more about you to make sure you will be a good tenant.

They could ask you about where you rented in the past and ask you for references that include previous or current landlords. Basically, they can ask questions that will give them a clearer picture of what kind of tenant you would be up to a point.

For example, a landlord can ask:

  • What is your income?
  • Where do you work?
  • How many people will be living with you and what are their names?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do you smoke?
  • May I see your references, and their current contact information?
  • Could you provide written permission for a credit check?

The credit check

Landlords can ask for a credit check. While you are allowed to refuse, that may impact your chances of getting the apartment for which you applied. In fact, the landlord could reject your application if you refuse to consent to a credit check.

Why does a landlord want to conduct a credit check, if I provide him or her with other financial information, like my wages?

That is because often landlords will use the credit check to see where you are a trustworthy credit holder. You credit file will show a history of your borrowing from lenders, such as banks and other credit institutions. It will show whether you are a person who repays debt or whether you are in default of debt.

The credit check also serves other purposes. For example, credit bureau’s which hold your credit information will have information about where you reside and where you work. So that serves as confirmation of the information you are giving the landlord.

Landlords cannot discriminate

Landlords cannot ask questions that could amount to discrimination under the human rights code of the province or territory in which the property is being rented.

For example, no landlord in Canada is allowed to refuse to rent to people who have children. If the specific reason for denial are the children, then this is considered discriminatory.

The landlord can also not ask you invasive question that go to protected grounds under the human rights codes such as: race, colour, religion, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability and more.

Therefore landlords cannot ask you:

  • Do you plan to have (more) children?
  • What is your ethnic background, religion, or sexual preference?
  • Will your family be visiting
  • What is your social insurance number? If you don't provide your SIN, I won't rent to you.
  • Are you married, single, or divorced?

If you need advice regarding a situation in which you are trying to rent an apartment, you should consult a lawyer.

Read more:

Renting a home in Canada 

The Credit Check