Screening Tenant-Applicants

How do I ensure that I am taking on a good tenant?

BC Landlord Guide- Screening Applicants
How do I ensure that I am taking on a good tenant?

A thorough screening of prospective tenants by the landlord before entering into any kind of tenancy agreement is the best way to avoid future disputes.

Tenancy Application Forms

Landlords may wish to have prospective tenants fill out an application form. However, they must not charge anything for accepting an application form, processing the application, investigating the applicant’s suitability as a tenant or accepting the applicant as a tenant.

Collecting Personal Information

When putting together an application form for prospective tenants, landlords should also be mindful of the limits to collecting personal information imposed by provincial privacy laws. A landlord may only request information that is reasonably necessary to make an informed decision about whether to rent the property to the applicant. Such information may include proof that an applicant is capable of paying the proposed rent as well as character references from previous landlords.

Refusing Applications

In refusing applications, landlords should be careful not to discriminate against any applicants. Landlords cannot discriminate against any applicants on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, source of income, or age (over 19 years old). Furthermore, landlords cannot discriminate against an applicant on the basis of whether they have children or not. Any such form of discrimination will open the doors to possible human rights complaints by prospective tenants.

Last revised: October 13, 2018

  • It is best practice to disclose on any application form the purpose and proposed use of any information collected.
  • In most cases, verbal or written acceptance of a prospective tenant’s application form will create a legally binding tenancy agreement even if no formal tenancy agreement has been signed yet and no security deposit has been given to you by the tenant. Therefore, think very carefully before accepting any tenancy application as you may face legal consequences if you change your mind about the tenant thereafter.
  • The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner publishes a comprehensive guide featuring answers to frequently asked questions about privacy laws with respect to residential tenancies. This guide is an excellent resource for any landlords who are concerned about what personal information they are entitled to collect from prospective tenants during the application process.

This article explains in a general way the law that applies in British Columbia, Canada and is not a substitute for legal advice specific to your situation.