Once you’ve found the place you want to call home, there are still a few more hoops to jump through. The landlord will want to check up on you! Normally, the landlord will want to call your current employer, a previous landlord, and perhaps run a credit check.
Understanding the application
The landlord may do an initial telephone screening before you even see the property, to find out how many people would be living there, what you do for a living, whether you have any pets, and so on. If you pass the telephone screening, you can arrange to see the property. After viewing the property, you’ll be asked to complete an in-depth application form, such as the one provided by TenantsBc.ca.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) advises that prospective landlords can ask questions to help assess the suitability of a tenant, but they cannot infringe on the rights of the tenant under the Human Rights code for your province.
Landlords can ask for:
- Where you work.
- Your annual income.
- How many people will be living in the residence and their names.
- Whether you have pets or if you smoke.
- If you will give permission in writing for them to obtain a credit check.
- If you will provide references.
Landlords cannot ask about:
- If you plan to have (more) children.
- Details about your ethnic background or religion.
- Your sexual preference.
- If your family will be visiting.
- Your social insurance number.
- Your current or planned marital status.
As mentioned earlier, landlords can obtain, with your consent, a credit check from Equifax Canada or Trans Union Canada. They can also contact Rent Check Credit Bureau, a credit bureau strictly for the housing industry.
Common questions the landlord may ask your employer and references:
The landlord may contact your employer to confirm your employment status.
- How long have you been employed at that company?
- What is your current position?
- Do you work full or part time?
- What is your annual salary?
You will need to provide some references, including, if applicable, the name of your last landlord, and possibly 2 or 3 previous landlords. Your prospective landlord will be looking for some of the following information:
- What period of time you were a tenant?
- Were you late paying the rent at any time?
- Did you own any pets?
- Was the home damaged while you lived there, beyond normal wear and tear?
- Did you give proper notice when moving out?
- Would they rent to you again?
All provincial government bodies have samples of various forms you may need as a tenant, including rental application, residential tenancy agreement, and more. If you have time, review these forms so you know exactly what to expect.
Questions to ask your landlord:
As a tenant, there are many important things you may want to know before they become an issue. Here are just a few items you may be curious about:
- What happens if you need to break your lease?
- How much can the damage deposit be?
- How often and by how much can the rent be increased?
- When does the landlord have the right to enter your suite?
- Should I get a copy of the tenancy agreement?
The answers to these and other questions can be found at the links below. The laws vary from one province to another, so be sure you’re looking at the information for the correct province.
- BC: Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre
- Alberta: Service Alberta
- Saskatchewan: Government of Saskatchewan
- Manitoba: Government of Manitoba
- Ontario: Government of Ontario
Insuring your property
As a tenant, there are many reasons to purchase tenant insurance; to protect your own personal property kept in the rental unit, to cover certain types of accidental damage you may cause to the unit itself. For example, if your faulty toaster oven starts a fire that damages your unit and complex, you may be responsible for damages to both your unit and complex. Tenant insurance is also used to defend yourself if someone slips and is injured at your premises.
Many landlords are aware of the benefits of tenant insurance and will actually require you to provide them with proof of insurance before they allow you to move in. Customers of Square One automatically receive a standard Confirmation of Insurance to provide to their landlord upon quickly and easily purchasing coverage online or by phone.