More landlords refuse to rent to social assistance recipients

An increasing number of landlords are reportedly not accepting people on social assistance until they receive the proper support system from provincial government.

Provincial governments will pay a heavy price for not having a fair system in place to support private landlords that house those on social assistance.

That is the view of many landlords who are now refusing to accept those on social assistance. “In Cambridge, we have 3,100 families waiting for non-profit housing and yet there are only a few hundred units being built,” says Kayla Andrade from Ontario Landlords Watch. “Investors are shying away until there are better systems in place.”

She says that landlords want a “three strikes and out system” in place. “They should have to pay their rent with social assistance money or their payment gets cut off,” she says. ‘Every landlord I know wants the three strikes and you are out system.”

While recognizing the frustrations of landlords dealing with non-paying tenants, the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO)  advises landlord not to refuse a rental to someone just because they are on social assistance support.

"To do so would be a serious violation of section 2.(1) in Ontario’s Human Rights Code (likely also in other provinces) and would certainly result in heavy fines and penalties against the landlord (up to $25,000). Landlords should conduct credit checks, income checks and reference checks, but should never consider social assistance support as a ground for refusal. Landlords can also better protect themselves by requiring guarantors and conducting criminal background checks on rental applicants."

Many landlords have cited the growing number of “professional” tenants taking advantage of loopholes in the system and more sophisticated methods to deceive the landlord.

“We are seeing more tenants bring their own credit checks, which are often fake, to landlords that do not cop on that they are false,” she says. “Work papers are also being forged. There are many places now to get these false papers and so it’s easier for them.”

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