Should investors be on the hook for their tenants’ bad behaviour?

Investors should be bracing for more Canadian municipalities following in the footsteps of a small university town in Nova Scotia, which is suggesting that landlords face fines if their tenants routinely ignore noise and liquor laws.

The proposed nuisance bylaw, backed by the mayor of Wolfville, N.S. (home to Acadia University) and some of the town’s councillors, has been put to the town council.

But Gillian Irving, an Ontario investor with five student housing properties in Hamilton, says she wouldn’t be surprised if such a bylaw became more widespread across Canada.

“For me, investing in student housing is all about knowing the risks and mitigating them, like having a property manager who is all over [the tenants],” she says.

“My guy is known as the ‘party wrecker’. He goes around on Saturday nights and prevents those things from happening.”

Another way to be prepared for the risks of renting to students, adds Irving, is to include a clause in the lease that ensures the investor is covered in the event a fine is handed down for bad tenant behaviour.

Irving says: “There would never be any expectation that we would have to pay for it.

“In Hamilton, if there are noise complaints by a neighbor, [the police] will issue a warning and if they have to come back they will fine the students around $280.

“Multiple complaints do result in a letter being sent to the landlord. The city might try, if there were multiple noise violations, to get the landlord to pay, but our leases would be set up to prevent that.”

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  • by JS - Victoria BC 2014-11-06 1:14:39 PM

    "Another way to be prepared for the risks of renting to students, adds Irving, is to include a clause in the lease that ensures the investor is covered in the event a fine is handed down for bad tenant behaviour."

    This clause should be standard all leases (residential or commercial) as landlords are in the situations of providing real estate situations and not in the business of being responsible for other people actions. If the individual leasee is old enough and mature enough to seek out a rental situation, they are also old enough and mature enough to be responsible for their own actions. If you seek responsibility - you accept accountability.

  • by K. Read 2014-11-06 1:36:08 PM

    This is nothing new. Strata corporations require the owners to be responsible for behaviour of tenants and their guests.
    Fines are issued to the owner.
    Best protection is to have a reputable licensed property manager handle the leasing. There is a skill involved in selecting tenants, whether students or not.
    K. Read

  • by simon c, vancouver 2014-11-06 6:54:06 PM

    This is totally wrong! What would you think if the landlord were jailed for life when his tenant committed murder? This is another example of the authorities passing the responsibility of law enforcement to citizens in general. The authorities are finding easy targets to get their money (in fines, cost, etc.) but making no real efforts in educating the general public to observe and conform the law. How far are you willing to be pushed?

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