Landlord 101 – Immigrants

September 10th, 2010 · 3 Comments · Rental Property

In the news a few days ago, a story about landlords taking multi-month deposits from new immigrants to Canada. This was reported in Quebec but I can assure you that it is also true in Toronto, Ontario.

I have said it before and I will say it again that immigrants are good credit risks. There is no reason I can see that landlords would ask for months of rent. The answer is that all too often they can get away with it.

Immigrants come to Canada and have no Canadian credit. Landlords use this as an excuse to turn down their applications, then they explain that if they are willing to request that the landlord accept 6 months of prepaid rent in lieu of their non existent vaunted Canadian credit, their application will be accepted. Meanwhile the immigrants are paying $100 per day for a motel and rather desperate to find more inexpensive accommodation. They also have no idea of Canadian law and so they just pay.

My experience working in buildings with hundreds of units clashes with the idea that international students and immigrants are greater credit risks. The opposite is true. If you are having problems with your tenants chances are that they are born and bred right here in Canada.

The best tenants I ever had in my own basement apartment were refugees from the Congo, priests who had been speaking out against injustices who were chased out of their house in the middle of the night by guys with machetes. They stayed for for over 2 years, were respectful, paid the rent on time, and even helped shovel the snow in the driveway just to be helpful, even though they were freezing to death. What’s not to like?

The worst tenant I had in my own basement apartment was a Canadian woman who called the city claiming the heat was not sufficient even thought it was, heated the apartment with the oven, took over the entire backyard with her beer drinking visitors and even let them play golf in my vegetable garden. Then she moved her brother in and he was a weirdo of the highest order, one of his class acts was to join the neighbours young children in the kiddie pool.

You don’t have to believe me, just go stick your head in any Landlord & Tenant Board and do your own informal survey. It’ll be 99% Canadian people. In fact I don’t remember evicting any immigrants for any issue, except for one guy who had been in Canada for over 20 years. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen ever, just that in my experience it didn’t happen very often at all.

I also found that immigrants were more likely to take apartments that would not meet acceptable standards and pay the rent and not bother the landlord. One place I rented to some nice Mexican visitors had a problem because as the residents left to go back home after earning some money cleaning and doing menial jobs for under minimum wage, they found replacements to take their rooms in the house and the landlord had no idea who lived there, even though they all paid their rent religiously on the 1st every month. We got all the current residents to sign a new lease and they’re probably still there. Just in case you were wondering that place was unbelievably ugly, 70’s tile, and an old lime green shag carpet throughout being some of the highlights.

I rented another place just this winter to three Chinese International students, it took a lot of effort to get over the language barrier but they’re still there as well paying their rent and being very respectful, last time I heard. Totally unlike the Canadian woman who moved in before and chose to argue with her husband day and night loudly and disturb all the other tenants, then declared the she was leaving and breaking her lease in December, the worst rental month of the year, after living there 4 months. Ironically she was very nice and worked with abused women when I qualified her. The problem was her horrible husband, as soon as he moved in the trouble started.

So landlords if you get some immigrant applicants you may want to take a chance on them being great tenants without a proven Canadian credit report. Any other landlords out there have experiences similar to mine? Or different? Please chime in!

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • J

    I currently have immigrant tenants stealing from welfare.

    I will be deciding what to do next in the next few days.

    • Rachelle

      Immigrants and refugees are different classes of immigrants. Feel free to report them “The Welfare Fraud Hot Line number is available for the public to report suspected cases of Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program fraud. Callers will be asked for the name and address and, if possible, the phone number of the person who may be cheating. Suspected cases may be reported by telephoning 1.800.394.7867.

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