Education is a fundamental necessity for success and operating in the rental housing industry is no exception. As a landlord, you must strike a balance between your rights and responsibilities and your tenant’s rights and responsibilities as dictated by the multiple pieces of legislation that govern our industry. Trying to do this without basic knowledge often ends in frustration for all parties involved. To meet the need of landlords, large and small, from across British Columbia, LandlordBC developed the comprehensive online e-learning course, titled I Rent It Right™.
Over the course of a tenancy, the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) is the primary piece of legislation that a landlord must have a firm understanding of, and while most landlords understand that they must adhere to the RTA and its regulations, there are other pieces of legislation that can impact your business. The I Rent It Right™ course guides you through the steps that must be taken before a tenancy even begins, starting with the tenant selection process.
What do you, the landlord, need to know about tenant selection? In truth – a lot. The process used for selecting your tenant is the most important stage of a tenancy. However, there is not much guidance in the RTA to assist you with this. While the RTA kicks in when a tenancy begins, the tenant selection process is primarily governed by the Human Rights Code and the Personal Information and Protection Act (PIPA).
The goal of your tenant selection process should be to find the best possible candidate for the vacancy. This means making sure the person you choose to be your tenant will be able to afford the rent, take respect the property, and get along well with their neighbours and you. To do this correctly, you need to get as much information as needed to make an informed decision. Collecting personal information is where the PIPA becomes relevant.
LandlordBC’s I Rent it Righttm course goes into detail regarding what information landlords can ask for and, more importantly, what they cannot. The course addressing basic questions that many landlords often find confusing. Questions like:
- Are landlords allowed to run a credit check on applicants?
- Should a landlord take a photocopy of an applicants government ID such as a driver’s license or passport?
Many landlords are surprised to find that credit checks are generally allowed but taking a photocopy of an applicant’s ID is prohibited.
The Human Rights Code must also be considered during a landlord’s tenant selection process. Specifically, you must be sure that you do not discriminate against personal traits that are protected by the Code. These protected traits include race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or lawful source of income.
Most of these protected traits are common sense. Landlords, and people in general, generally understand that discrimination based on things like race, religion, and sexual orientation, is unacceptable. Less obvious traits, like family status, age, and lawful source of income is where it gets a little confusing. I Rent It Right™ provides guidance as to why these traits are protected and how you as the landlord can ensure that you are not unintentionally discriminating against someone and situations where a protected trait, like age, can be used as a deciding factor. For example, while landlords generally cannot discriminate based on age there are two situations where a landlord may use age as a deciding factor. One is when the person applying is a minor and the other is when the rental unit is in a 55+ building. Even in these two exceptions, there are nuances a landlord must be aware of to ensure they make an informed decision and do not, even unwittingly, unlawfully discriminate against an applicant.
I Rent It Right™ is a comprehensive e-learning course designed to provide landlords and rental property managers with the fundamental knowledge of operating a rental housing business in BC. Upon successful completion enrollees receive an I Rent It Right™ certificate and digital sticker. Completion of this course demonstrates your commitment to providing secure, professional rental housing. Proudly saying “I Rent it Right™ and let renters know that you are a knowledgeable landlord, committed to professional rental housing.
To learn more about this program and LandlordBC’s other great resources, visit www.landlordbc.ca
Information contained in this blog reflects the latest information at our disposal