What Questions Can a Landlord Ask You?

After weeks of searching, you’ve finally done it – you’ve found the rental of your dreams.

It has impressive windows that let in plenty of light while showing off the Toronto skyline, provides fantastic amenities, and is centrally located in the city – making getting to work or school an absolute breeze thanks to its proximity to the TTC.

Enamoured with the unit and aware of the current vacancy rate in the GTA, you’re eager to sign the lease agreement so you don’t risk losing it to anyone else. You’re so anxious to sign the lease, that you almost disregard the landlord’s laundry list of inapt and inappropriate questions.

This eagerness can cost you if you’re not careful. You may feel obliged to answer their queries, not wanting to leave the fate of your rental property in limbo; but did you know that the Ontario Human Rights Code bars landlords or property managers from asking certain types of questions that are under protected grounds and areas?

According to the OHRC, questions that violate the Human Rights Commission include:

  • Your race, or ethnic background.
  • Religious beliefs and/or practices
  • Ancestry
  • Place of Origin
  • Sex (including gender identity or pregnancy)
  • Marital status, including individuals with a partner of the same-sex
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age (Including people who are 16 or 17 years old, are emancipated or otherwise no longer living with their parents)
  • Receipt of public assistance

Landlords are permitted to ask you probing questions that help them deduce whether or not you are the right fit for the rental. Now that we know what a landlord can’t ask you, let’s look at what questions they can ask you without infringing on your rights:

What is your income?

Landlords can ask you questions that pertain to your income and ask for supplementary proof to support your income – including if you work and where. In the circumstance of student tenants who may not have a steady income, landlords may ask you for a guarantor. Be aware that they may only ask this of you if it is a requirement for all their tenants.

How many people will you be living with?

Some properties are not equipped to house a certain number of people and landlords can be held accountable in the event of a tragedy that leaves them facing substantial penalties. Note that landlords may not refuse occupancy to you based on disabilities or special needs and must accommodate you up to the point of undue hardship.

What are your references?

You may be resolutely adamant about your capacity as a tenant, but you are a perfect stranger to your prospective landlord. References will serve to aid you in establishing your character and assist property-owners to discern squatters from responsible tenants. Choose your references wisely; you don’t want to compromise your eligibility for a property because of an abysmal reference.

When you’re looking for a rental, you should perform searches through reputable rental websites, know what your rights are, and be prepared to ask questions. Having the right questions prepared can be vital in determining whether this property is the right fit for you – no matter how perfect it might seem.

About Amanda Pereira - 4Rent.ca

Amanda Pereira is the Communications Coordinator for Media Classified, the parent company of 4Rent.ca. 4Rent has been successfully connecting apartment hunters and property managers since 2009. Prospective tenants can explore a variety of rental listings across Canada, including condo-like apartments, single home-dwellings, student housing and more.

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