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Landlord/Tenant Myths Debunked: Part 1

13 February 2013

Are you an investor thinking of buying a property to rent to tenants? Are you concerned because you’ve heard horror stories of tenants withholding rent because of neglected repairs, or phones ringing off the hook at all hours of the night? Or are you a tenant currently in a bind with your landlord, and wondering if they can kick you out because of a pet; or if that third rent increase in six months is legal? These are just some of the biggest landlord/tenant myths that are out there, and they – as well as some other common ones – are debunked below.

The laws only apply if you have a written lease
Agreed-upon leases, in writing, are advisable to protect both tenant and landlord, and to make sure that everyone understands what’s expected of them. However, even if you don’t have a written lease, all residential tenancy laws still apply to all parties – even if they’re not put down in writing.

Landlords can include “not pet” provisions within the lease
This is a shocker to many people, seeing as how so many landlords specifically state within their lease that tenants cannot have pets. However, such clauses are actually illegal – a landlord cannot discriminate against tenants simply because they have a pet. But that doesn’t mean that landlords are constantly forced to deal with unruly animals. Should the pet ever cause a problem for other tenants, or cause damage to the building, the landlord can evict the tenant on the basis of their pet.

If needed repairs are neglected, tenants can stop payment on their rent
This is one of the myths that scares landlords the most. Should small repairs go overlooked, such as running toilets, or a loose step out front, tenants can withhold payment of their rent. This is simply not true. As long as the tenant is living in the property, they must pay rent for doing so. If repairs are not done properly or in a timely manner, they can file a Maintenance and Repair application with the Landlord and Tenant Board (in Ontario.) Rent payments are also given to the Board in trust until the repairs have been completed.

It’s illegal to evict tenants during the winter
No one quite knows where this one came from, but it’s not true. Tenants should not think that just because the temperature has dropped they can stop paying rent, and landlords shouldn’t be concerned about going through long months of rent-drought at the end of every year.

Rent can go up at any time, and for any amount
This is one that both tenants – and potential investors – need to be aware of. Some investors make the mistake of thinking that should they ever run into trouble with their rental properties, such as a furnace that conks out in the middle of a winter’s night, they can simply raise the rent to cover the costs. This is not true. Rent increases are provincially mandated, and usually come once a year. The rental amount can only be increased by a specific amount, also mandated by the government, and sufficient notice must be given.

These unfortunately, are only some of the most common myths associated with residential tenancy agreements. Come back tomorrow when we’ll review some of the other most rampant myths – and bust them apart!

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