Tenancy agreements can be complicated. Toss in local tenancy laws and individual landlord policies, and things can get downright confusing.

Unfortunately, misconceptions about the lease may lead to a false sense of security and, ultimately, to income loss. Don’t be caught off-guard.

Recognize these leasing myths, and avoid problems down the road:

The tenancy will run for the term in the tenancy agreement.

The term stated on the lease may not represent the amount of time the tenant will remain in the property. Given the rental market, it is likely that a tenant will want to stay beyond the standard one-year lease. Local tenancy law may allow the tenant to continue beyond the original term. British Columbia, for instance, has all but done away with fixed-term leases. Landlords need to plan ahead and consider that the rental applicant applying for a one-year term may wind up staying for years.

Likewise, the tenant may leave before the end of the fixed term. In most cases, the tenant will not be liable for payment of the “full” rent stated in the lease. The landlord is required to find a new tenant as soon as possible should the existing tenant leave early. The exiting tenant will not be liable for rent once the new tenant is in place.

If the tenant agrees to a provision, it is enforceable.

The tenancy agreement cannot violate local tenancy laws. So, an Ontario lease that provides for a security deposit will not be enforceable, even if the tenant agreed to it.

Landlords who use leases with controversial or illegal provisions risk income loss. The most common problems are charging fees not expressly allowed under the tenancy statutes, and attempting to pass landlord responsibilities on to the tenant.

If it’s not in the lease, just add it later.

Modifications of a tenancy agreement are tricky. Generally, a lease can only be modified if both the landlord and the tenant agree to the change. Otherwise, the original lease terms will remain in effect for as long as the tenant stays in the property. That’s why landlords need to think about policies that will prevent income loss over the long term and include those provisions in the original agreement.

It’s also best to avoid subsequent verbal promises that impact the lease provisions. Modifications should be in writing so that tenants cannot later claim that the landlord waived rights or changed the terms of the lease.

Automation is a money-saver.

Technology seems to offer ease in communicating with tenants. But there’s one significant downside to online leasing: anonymity. A tenancy agreement is less about court action and more about educating the tenant so problems don’t arise in the first place. That’s better done in person. Face time with the tenant can build trust and respect. A computer or smartphone can’t do that.

Additional Tips:

While the tenancy agreement is crucial, other landlord forms carry as much weight. For instance, the rental application is instrumental in screening out problem tenants and in locating a tenant if the landlord needs to take legal action. The move-in condition report is not nearly as complicated as the lease, yet it serves to prove that a specific tenant caused damage.

The best way to avoid disputes over the tenancy agreement is to be choosy when it comes to tenants. Look at the previous rental history as well as credit to determine if the prospect is both tenant-worthy and credit-worthy before agreeing to execute a tenancy agreement.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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Some landlords rely on eviction laws as a safety net to stave off income loss. Unfortunately, that net is full of holes:

Not every problem tenant can be evicted.

A British Columbia landlord recently discovered that she could not quickly evict a tenant for paying late and living in filth. Despite the headaches and stress associated with problem tenants, eviction is not available in every situation. The tenancy laws set forth very specific reasons for a tenant to be evicted, and tribunals do everything possible to salvage the tenancy, despite the landlord’s objections.

Evictions take a lot of time.

Even in cases where the landlord is likely to win an eviction, the process still takes time. And time is money when it comes to rental properties that are being damaged or not producing due to a bad tenant.

Although the laws on the books might provide for a quick resolution — Newfoundland, for example, is moving to expedite evictions when the tenant renders the property uninhabitable — the process for most landlords is painfully slow. A landlord will need to prepare and serve notice, wait for the notice period to expire, and then proceed to a hearing. Hearings can be delayed by the tenants, or the case may be dismissed when the tenant pays rent at the last minute. Later, the tenant defaults again and the process repeats. Meanwhile, the disgruntled tenant remains in the property and is more likely to cause further damage.

Eviction rights do not prevent property damage or income loss.

Nothing in the eviction statutes prevents the tenant from paying late, not paying, or damaging the property. In fact, tenants who are familiar with all the protections and loopholes provided will feel emboldened to game the system.

To prevent income loss, tenants need to be held accountable for their actions. That doesn’t come from eviction laws. Only when bad tenants are staying in a hotel or sleeping on someone else’s couch will they realize the consequences of their actions.

The best way to prevent income loss is to act as though eviction is not an option. At best, it’s a last resort. To avoid evictions, consider these strategies:

Before renting to the next tenant, take the time to read through the tenancy laws in your province or consult with a landlord attorney. Understanding what the process is like can serve as incentive for landlords to adopt a stringent tenant screening policy.

Screen tenants based on financial responsibility and past rental history. A tenant credit check can flag a tenant who pays bills late. That’s an indication of a tenant who likely will pay the rent only after paying other, more pressing, obligations. Speak with the previous landlords to determine if the tenant takes a tenancy agreement seriously. This is a crucial step in tenant screening that, unfortunately, if often overlooked.

Hold tenants accountable for rent payments from day one by signing up to Report Rent Payments through TVS and Landlord Credit Bureau. Include the Notice to Tenant in the tenancy agreement. Tenants who realize that late payments will be tracked and reported to a credit bureau are not as cavalier about dragging out rent payments over weeks or damaging the property.

Keep close tabs on the tenant. Don’t overlook breaches of the tenancy agreement, especially for unpaid rent. Give an inch, and you’ll lose a mile.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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Toronto Star Wins Bid for More Transparency in Ontario Tribunals, Landlord and Tenant Board

May 21, 2018

The Toronto Star Newspapers Limited has won a legal victory in its bid to gain more transparency in Ontario tribunals, including the Landlord and Tenant Board. The court ruling resolves a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of tribunals that withhold records from the press and the public based on privacy concerns. Provincial courts generally are more […]

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How to Show Your Rental Property Like a Pro

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Attracting the right tenants improves short-term cash flow. It also enhances the value of the rental property in the long term. It’s a given that a landlord wants tenants who not only pay rent, but also care for the property. The best tenants, in turn, want a property that is well-kept. Professional property managers know […]

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May 7, 2018

Nightmare tenants don’t start out that way. They seem nice — at first. Before they stop paying rent or start making threats. It’s extremely difficult to flag someone who is being dishonest, especially in the 45 minutes to an hour that a landlord typically spends with a new applicant. So, how can landlords avoid income […]

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Landlords: 3 Things Your Lease Can’t Do

May 7, 2018

A lease agreement is a powerful tool, but when it comes to managing rental properties, the lease can’t do it all: The lease can’t prevent tenants from paying late — at least not alone. Standard lease agreements provide a due date, along with a grace period — usually 3-5 days — before a late penalty […]

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Seattle Landlords Battle Restrictions on Criminal Background Checks

May 7, 2018

Small landlords in Seattle are taking on the city’s new tenant screening restrictions, one ordinance at a time. In March, a court handed landlords a victory by declaring the city’s first-in-time ordinance unconstitutional. Now, the Pacific Legal Foundation has filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s “Fair Chance Housing” law which limits a landlord’s ability to […]

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Adult Adoption Ruling Highlights Perils of Rent Control

May 7, 2018

A 67-year-old woman will continue to reside in a two-bedroom New York City apartment at the rate of $100 a month, after a housing court ruling recognizing her adoption by the former tenant one month before he died. The woman, who previously lived in another unit in the same building, befriended the aging resident. She […]

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Landlords: Are Tenants Calling Your Bluff?

April 23, 2018

It seems every time you read a newspaper there’s another story about a tenant who trashed a rental property. And it seems that behind every landlord nightmare story, there’s a manipulative tenant — someone who pretended to be qualified, then stopped paying rent and destroyed the rental home. Suffice it to say that manipulative tenants […]

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Landlord Calls for Emergency Eviction Law

April 23, 2018

A New Brunswick landlord¬† finds himself advocating for a change in rental laws after tenants wrecked his property in under two months. According to a news report, the tenants told the sympathetic landlord that they were struggling financially and couldn’t afford to pay a damage deposit. They paid one month’s rent, and then defaulted. After […]

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