Being a landlord can be a very rewarding experience. To succeed as a landlord, you must take the time to learn about the industry you are operating in and understand the specific legislation, rules, and regulations that govern that industry. Unfortunately, many people who decided to become landlords do not have the fundamental education that is needed to develop and maintain a healthy landlord/tenant relationship that is free from conflicts and unnecessary stress.
LandlordBC works to provide education and support to landlords in British Columbia. We developed the Landlord Registry™ to provide easily accessible education and resources to rental housing providers – like you! The Landlord Registry™ is an interactive e-learning tool that guides the user through the process of finding the right tenant, entering into a residential tenancy agreement, managing a tenancy, and ending a tenancy. The program answers some of the most common questions landlords have, while also addressing the rights and responsibilities of tenants. It is important that a landlord, like yourself, understands both sides of BC’s Residential Tenancy Act so that you can mitigate your risk and operate in a professional manner.
1. Human Rights
The BC Human Rights Code dictates that a landlord cannot discriminate against a tenant based on a specific set of qualities. These include race, ancestry, religion, sex, or marital status. Did you know that as a landlord, it is possible to unintentionally discriminate against a prospective applicant during the initial interview? You are operating a business and need to conduct yourself in a professional manner. The Landlord Registry™ provides examples of application questions to ask, and question best avoided as to not place you or your prospective tenants in a sensitive or uncomfortable situation.
2. Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)
Once you have started to process of collecting someone’s personal information, you are responsible for protecting that information in accordance with the Personal Information Protection Act. The Landlord Registry™ provides examples of what information constitutes personal information and what information you are legally allowed to request from a tenant. For example, what identification is a landlord legally allowed to request? As well as how long you are obligated to securely store information that you have collect on applicants, current tenants, and past tenants.
3. Not all agreements are equal – Using a written Residential Tenancy Agreement
There is a misconception that if the Residential Tenancy Agreement is not in writing then the agreement does not exist. Not only is that incorrect, it is also a risky mistake that can cost you substantially. A thorough, written tenancy agreement is the cornerstone of the business relationship you are entering with your tenant. Having an agreement sets out the expectations for both parties (landlord and tenant) and can include things like who is responsible for yard work or parking restrictions. It is important that all expectations are laid out at the very start of the tenancy and agreed to by all parties. Not taking the time to complete a proper written tenancy agreement can come back to haunt you later.
4. It is all in the details – Residential Tenancy Branch Forms
LandlordBC members have access to proprietary tenancy forms (application, residential tenancy agreement, and condition inspection), however legislation dictates that in certain situations government issued forms must be used. The Government of BC websites provides links to 36 forms that may be needed at different times during a tenancy. Do you know which form applies to your situation? Or the difference between certain versions? The Landlord Registry™ lays the ground work for managing potential tenancy issues and explains when and why certain government issued forms are needed. No landlord wants to end up in a situation where they are required to serve notice to a tenant, but it is important that you have done your due diligence and understand the legislative language used before you are faced with a problem.
5. Managing your tenants
As a landlord you are a business owner, and tenants are your customers. Most tenants, like most landlords, are decent hard-working people who are looking for safe and secure, long term, rental housing. The best way to keep your tenants happy and limit the risk of damage to your property is to manage the tenant/landlord relationships in the most professional way possible. You can do this by learning about the proper procedures for documentation and serving notices. Also, understanding what you, as a landlord, have the right to ask of your tenants and what your tenants have a right to ask of you. The Landlord Registry™ will provide you with education on common issues like subletting, service notices, rent increases.
LandlordBC launched our Landlord Registry™ in 2017 with the goal of education landlords on their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancy Act. You can complete the registry by visit www.landlordregistry.ca. The cost is $39 for three-year access to the program.