Searching for a rental property can be tough in Vancouver, and while Craigslist seems to be the go to place to find a rental, it is important to know when someone is being scammed. My best advise is: Do your homework.
In BC we are legislated under the Real Estate Services Act and Residential Tenancy Act. The legislation is there to provide guidance, and protect both the landlord and consumer. It is important that you know the rules, this way everyone wins.
It is always helpful to ask for advice from your Property Manager if you are unsure about specific regulations, or you can check with the Residential Tenancy Office (http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/) for detailed information.
That said, over the past few weeks I have had a few rental properties, and in the course of conversations with prospective tenants, have heard some interesting stories. Here are the two highlights from last week that I felt were important enough to repeat:
1. We have been looking for a suite for a few weekends now, and the last few times, we have been asked to pay a cash deposit with the application. We didn’t feel comfortable with this, so did not apply for the suites.
This is a major red flag. If anyone asks you for a cash deposit, or a deposit just to apply for a place, you should walk. Deposits are taken once the lease is signed.
2. I am currently living in a place, and want to get a dog. Originally we discussed this with the landlord, and he was OK with this. Now he wants to increase our rent by $50 a month.
There are 2 issues here. The landlord has the right to allow pets, based on the strata bylaws in the building. He can take up to 50% of one months rent as a pet deposit. However, he can not charge extra rent for the pet. The rent that was agreed upon when signing the lease is the rent he is allowed to charge. Any increase would be subject to the consumer price index, in 2014 being 2.2%. If your rent is $1500, the allowable increase would be $33. An increase of $50 would be a direct violation. In addition, any rent increase would require a notice period of 3 month, and has to be in writing on the official forms you can download at the Residential Tenancy Office. In addition, the landlord would also have to do another Condition Inspection Report, noting any damages before the pet was brought into the suite, ensuring that the tenant is not charged for pre-existing damage out of the pet deposit once the lease is over.
If you need help in finding a place, or are looking for a property manager, please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.