Finding A Tenant: Rental Application 101

Finding the right tenant for your rental property can be a lot easier said than done, so it is important to properly screen applicants thoroughly before choosing one.  Part of that screening process should involve having prospective tenants fill in a rental application.  It’s important to understand that there are certain questions that you can and cannot ask during this screening process.   To help take some of the confusion out of this I’ve put a simple reference list together.  Check out the list below of some of the questions you are legally allowed and not allowed to ask tenant candidates.


As a landlord you can ask a tenant: As a landlord you cannot ask a tenant: 
You can ask questions that will help you assess the suitability of a tenant, as long as you do not infringe on his/her rights. For example, you can ask a prospective tenant:

  • What is your income?
  • Where do you work?
  • How many people will be living with you and what are their names?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Could you provide written permission for a credit check?
  • May I see your references and their current contact information?
You cannot ask questions that infringe on the rights of the tenant under the Human Rights Code for your province. For example, you cannot ask a prospective tenant:

  • Do you plan to have (more) children?
  • What is your ethnic background, religion, or sexual orientation?
  • Will your family be visiting?
  • What is your social insurance number? If you don’t provide your SIN, I won’t rent to you.
  • Are you married, single, or divorced?

If you have candidates answer these questions, make sure to follow-up on the questions you ask and confirm their statements.  Remember to:

  • Check the applicant’s credit bureau history and banking history.
  • Confirm the applicant’s employment situation.
  • Check the applicant’s tenancy history/evictions, if available.
  • Check court records, if available.
  • Check the applicant’s references and consider contacting previous landlords going back two or three tenancies

For additional advice and information about the legalities of renting out your property visit the Landlord and Tenant Board or the CMHC, they both have excellent resources.

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