Places4Students.com has been encouraging residents in the communities surrounding our partner schools to consider renting their spare room to a student, due to low vacancy rates in the rental market and students experiencing difficulty finding affordable housing accommodations. As a result, we have received many questions from interested people and shared a lot of related information during the last several months.
A summary of that information and answers to the frequently asked questions we've heard are below. (The first part of this blog was posted two weeks ago and is linked at the bottom.)
4. How do I select a student tenant?
a. How do I screen prospective student tenants?
We recommend you interview prospective tenants (in person or online) to get to know them and determine whether they would be compatible with your personality and lifestyle.
b. What questions can’t I ask?
Discriminatory questions related to age, race, gender, nationality, religion, disability or sexual preference should be avoided.
c. What references can be requested?
Landlords can ask for academic, work or character references.
d. Can I run a credit check?
Most student tenants don’t have a credit rating yet. It’s recommended to request a guarantor(s) in such cases (a parent, guardian, friend or relative who will agree to being financially responsible for the rental payment, should the tenant not pay).
5. Do I need a rental agreement?
Generally, tenants who rent a single or shared room have the same rights as most other residential tenants in Ontario. However, if they share a kitchen or a bathroom with the owner or the owner’s immediate family members, special rules apply. In this case, the tenant does not have a legal right to remain living on the premises without the owner’s consent, and can usually be evicted at any time without notice.
The exception is if the tenant enters into an oral or written agreement with the owner and the owner breaks the agreement by forcing a tenant to move out early, or disposes of a tenant’s property. In both instances, the tenant may be able to sue the owner in Small Claims Court if they have evidence to prove their case.*
*Legal Line https://www.legalline.ca/legal-answers/do-tenants-have-rights-if-they-only-rent-a-room
a. What needs to be in the rental agreement?
If the landlord decides to sign a lease agreement with the student tenant, sample templates and other resources are available at: https://www.places4students.com/Help/Index?tc=8&id=34
b. What are my legal obligations?
All aspects of a signed lease between the landlord and tenant must be adhered to.
c. Can I ask for a deposit?
The landlord can request a deposit of one month’s rent or less. The deposit should be allocated towards the last month’s rent, unless there has been damage to the rental.
d. What forms of payment should I accept?
Students tenants usually prefer to make rental payments by e-transfer.
e. How do I manage a room for rent if I choose not to sign a rental agreement?
The tenancy would be arranged on a month-by-month basis with the student tenant.
f. What is a Roommate Agreement?
This is a contract between roommates sharing a rental space that outlines each person’s responsibility and what the expectations are. If prospective roommates want to sign an agreement, sample templates and other student resources are available at: https://www.places4students.com/Help/Index?tc=3&id=33.
6. What are the expectations of student tenants?
a. What do students prefer? Do they have specific rental expectations?
This differs widely and can be determined during the interview and screening process.
b. Are there safety factors to consider?
Yes, landlords must provide a safe and well-maintained environment for their tenants. Health and safety standards range from a fire safety plan, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, safe electrical systems, secure doors and windows, working appliances, hot/cold running water, heat, sanitary environment with garbage removal, and bug/rodent-free accommodations.
c. How can I protect myself to ensure the room is taken care of by the tenant?
Take photos before and after the student moves into the room and document its condition. Be sure to discuss this precaution with the student and explain your expectations for care of the rental, to avoid potential discrepancies upon move-out. General wear and tear is to be expected.
d. What should I do if I have an issue with the student tenant?
It’s always best to have open communication and develop a positive relationship with the tenant, so that any issues can be discussed calmly, politely and respectfully together. If differences cannot be resolved after a reasonable amount of time and effort, then consider ending the tenancy.
e. Should I conduct exit interviews?
Yes, it’s highly recommended to meet with student tenants before they move out for several reasons:
To receive feedback from the student and learn about areas that could be improved upon with the rental
Walk through the room to inspect its condition and notify the student if any damages need to be repaired or there will be associated cost
Offer to provide a rental reference for the student when the experience has been positive
Request to be referred to another student looking for a room to rent
Ask the student for a tenant review
7. Is additional information available?
Places4Students.com posts a weekly blog with off-campus housing information for both landlords and students. Below are a few topics that may be of interest.
SEE ALSO: FAQ's for Landlords Renting a Room to Students - Part 1
The Places4Students.com Team