Secondary Suites Pose Unique Challenges for Landlords

by | Jul 20, 2015 | Tenant Screening

Recently, the Calgary City Council failed to pass a measure that would have eased zoning restrictions and simplified the process for secondary suites in some of  the most crowded areas of the city.

tenant screeningOther cities throughout Canada have embraced the idea of secondary suites as a way of alleviating affordable housing shortages. Councillor Druh Farrell, a proponent of the Calgary measure, added that secondary suites allow more of the rental market to remain in the private sector. In addition to providing much-needed inventory, these suites also can aid first-time homebuyers by offsetting mortgage costs.

According to a recent poll conducted by Global News Ipsos, the majority of Calgary residents are supportive of regulated secondary suites.

The proposed bylaw and zoning changes in Calgary could have accommodated more student housing in neighbourhoods adjacent to colleges. There was some concern, however, that such rentals would generate complaints from neighbours over issues like noise and parking, and from tenants over the condition of the properties, and that secondary suite landlords must be regulated.

It was, in fact, this issue of regulation that appears to have derailed the secondary suite measure in Calgary. While Mayor Nenshi described the outcome in his city as a “fumbled ball”, it does point to the unique challenges that arise from increasing housing density in existing neighbourhoods.

Homeowners wishing to become landlords in order to generate extra income  may face unique challenges. For instance, providing the tenant a secure space, and one that is up to par with building codes is an important step. With a higher likelihood of complaints from neighbours, and the fact that the tenants and owners will share space, it is key for first-time landlords to pick the right tenants.

A common trap that plagues new landlords is choosing tenants based upon ideals of what makes the perfect fit. That places the focus on an applicant’s personal characteristics. That strategy seldom works when it comes to screening tenants. What’s more, it could be discriminatory.

A tenant screening policy that focuses on an applicant’s qualifications is the better strategy. It can eliminate the risk of renting to potential problem tenants without violating rental applicants’ human rights.

It is easy for landlords to learn how to obtain tenant credit checks and how to effectively screen tenants. TVS provides a library of tips for landlords on the topic at

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 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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