Ontario Landlord Sparks Legal Trouble by Asking for Rent in Advance

by | Feb 25, 2013 | Tenant Screening

An Ontario landlord is the focus of a Human Rights investigation after allegedly requiring an immigrant to pay 12 month’s rent in advance.

According to a news report, the man secured a lease on a small apartment, using his brother as a co-signor, and paying first and last month’s rent. A few days later, he was told that he could only rent the apartment if he paid an additional $8,880 dollars — essentially paying the year-long lease in advance.

The tenant filed a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal alleging discrimination based on place of origin and citizenship, according to the report.

Ontario’s tenancy laws allow landlords to collect first and last month’s rent, but do not provide for a damage deposit or other fees to be collected up front.

A tenant advocate says she contacted the landlord and was told that their standard policy is to charge recent immigrants, as well as the unemployed, the full lease payments in advance.

It is suspected that requiring advance payments is a widespread practice in Ontario when renting to immigrants and to students. The Human Rights Legal Support Centre told reporters that many tenants opt not to come forward with the complaint for fear of losing their few housing options. In fact, in a recent newsletter, the Centre fielded a similar question from a recent immigrant who claims he was ordered to pay six months rent up front.

When renting to immigrants, landlords may face a more difficult task performing tenant background checks due to the lack of local references or a credit history in Canada. However, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre cautions landlords that refusing to rent or demanding illegal deposits from immigrants will be viewed as a violation of the Human Rights Code.

According to the report, the tenant in this case is requesting $10,000 in damages, $150 in costs, and a letter of apology from the landlord.

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).

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in 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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