A self proclaimed tenants’ rights advocate caused a controversy this month with a posting on a community forum on Kijiji. The anonymous author offered tips on how rental applicants with bad credit could score a lease by deceiving the landlord.
The first thing the author points out is that small or “mom and pop” landlords are the easiest to manipulate. “Corporate” landlords, the author suggests, are a waste of time because they will require a tenant background check. Small landlords are less likely to go through the trouble of screening tenants, according to the posting.
To identify small landlords to target, the posting directs tenants to apply for rentals advertised on free sites like Kijiji, because smaller landlords are trying to save costs. The author also suggests driving around and spotting “for rent” signs on lawns. Alternatively, tenants should target ads in free community bulletin boards.
The author suggests those rental applicants on government subsidies who fear discrimination should use words like “Ontario Works” or “ODSP” to describe income, because “many mom and pop landlords don’t know the terminology.”
Those who have had problems with landlords in the past are told to enlist the help of a friend with a cell phone to pose as the previous landlord. The author writes, “It may be a bit dishonest, but finding a home is about survival and having a safe home is more important than a little fib.” The posting suggests prepping this fake landlord by providing them with details about the property, like the address, dates of tenancy, and the amount of rent, and to describe the tenant as quiet, or that their rent came directly from the government.
Finally, the author suggests that if an applicant has a pet, they should not tell the landlord. Instead, they should bring the pet as soon as they move in, and the landlord cannot do anything about it.
For the most part, others participating in this forum discussion criticized the advice, fearing that it will only encourage more scrutiny from landlords, and make it harder for tenants to find a place to live. But others agreed, referring to Ontario’s tenancy rules as too “landlord-friendly”, even calling for the end of tenant credit checks altogether so that a landlord could not reject a tenant for poor credit.
The author did offer one valid tip: Tenants should know their rights and responsibilities when it comes to rental housing.
That’s something everyone can agree on.