Should landlords be required to reimburse tenants?

As the spring thaw kicks off the unofficial season for tenant gripes, a leading landlord advocacy group is offering key advice about the demands for rental reimbursement.

The Ontario Landlords Association (OLA) says this has been a hot issue among its members, especially in the past year. “If you do not repair things tenants can go to the Landlord and Tenant Board and file a Tenants Rights’ claim for compensation,” explained one experienced landlord. 

“Tenants often win these cases. Usually the Landlord and Tenant Board adjudicator will penalize the landlord with a rent abatement.”

But experienced landlords know that good lines of communication between landlord and tenant cut down on unreasonable demands. One example shared by a member of the OLA involved a tenant losing his Internet connection.

“He could have filed a Tenants Rights’ claim at the Landlord and Tenant Board, but because of the trust and good communication between the landlord and tenant, the landlord explained that the whole block lost Internet and the tenant understood it was a Rogers’ problem not the fault of the landlord.

“Many experienced landlords who are professional and proactive have tenants who will want to cooperate with the landlord to solve any problems instead of going to the Landlord and Tenant Board.”

One of investor Erwin Szeto’s properties had a basement flood to which he responded by crediting the basement tenants with one month’s rent. Another investor, Daniel St. Jean, found that construction on the street where he had purchased income properties in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. was causing his tenants’ cars to get dirty.

“Though nobody complained about that, we felt bad because those are really nice houses, with rents in the $2,000 to $2,300 range,” he added.

“So we gave all our tenants a $100 gift card from a local carwash so they could get their cars all cleaned up. They were very appreciative of the gesture.”

As St. Jean demonstrated, it is down to the landlord to take a proactive approach. A member of the OLA added: “If there is a problem and you are a proactive landlord and fix it early and fast, most tenants will understand it might take a bit of to get a plumber or electrician over and appreciate your actions.

“There are a lot of great tenants out there, and they appreciate professional, proactive landlords.”


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