Last week’s story about “blatant discrimination” in the rental market is the second report in as many months to surface in the Toronto media, thanks to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
But I’m here to provide a devil’s advocate type of response, while trying to watch where I step, and what I step in…
Surely there is some sort of “middle-ground” between being racist, and being a savvy investor, no?
When I first read the press coverage back in July about “rental discrimination” in the Toronto real estate market, I figured that this is a story that could gather some steam and eventually result in public outcry.
But I have to be honest and say that when I read the first sentence of this article in last week’s Toronto Star, I kinda paused for a moment and questioned my own approach to renting.
Here is that sentence, verbatim:
If you are a student, senior, disabled person, or a single person and looking to rent, good luck.
The article goes on to say,
“There’s obvious discrimination in rental housing, says the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s annual report released yesterday, identifying the problem as a key area that needs immediate intervention.”
I gotta tell ‘ya, this one was a bit of a head-scratcher for me!
I own a couple of investment properties, and I’ll be honest and say that my screening process for potential tenants is exceptionally thorough.
During my last search for a tenant in the Summer of 2008, I posted ads on Craigslist and Kijiji, and was forced to sort through about 200 inquiries in the first three days.
The results were rather disturbing, since about 95% of the people whom I had correspondence with were people that I would never consider renting to for a variety of different reasons.
From my perspective, I stuck my neck out and purchased a condo for investment purposes. I sunk my own hard-earned dollars into the venture, and leveraged myself while taking on a huge amount of risk.
Shouldn’t I be able to screen my prospective tenants according to ANY criteria I see fit?
Now obviously I’m not going to screen my prospective tenants according to the most extreme of criteria, such as race.
But if I don’t want to rent to students because they are immature, messy, disrespectful, drunk, haphazard, and careless, then who is the Ontario Human Rights Commission to tell me any differently?
I wrote about my experiences in searching for a prospective tenant in this post and that was only a fraction of the real story! I had one person email me who essentially said, “Dear Kind Sir, I am without a place to live in September and because I am currently unemployed, most Landlords refuse to consider me for tenancy. If you would be willing to meet with me, I think you’d find that I am an honorable a person as any, and that I will service the rent to the best of my ability.”
If it were up to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, I’d open my door as wide as it could go, and invite this gentleman in for coffee! This unemployed gentleman who admits he might be able to pay rent to the best of his ability.
I mean, what’s the big deal if he pays his rent or not, right?
It’s not like I bought this condo for investment and to acquire a good return on my capital.
Really, I’m just a philanthropist who is looking to help out an unfortunate soul.
I’m not going to put up a sign that says “(RACE) need not apply,” but I sure as hell am going to carefully screen my prospective tenants, and not only will I search for the best one, but I will weed out the ones who don’t fit the bill.
And what’s wrong with this?
What’s wrong with trying to find a tenant who will pay their rent on time, keep quiet, and live in a clean, orderly fashion?
I find it comical that the OHRC’s report mentioned “students” as part of the group that is being “discriminated” against.
In my opinion, not renting to students is called “smart business.”
I’ve seen how students live, and it’s not pretty. So why the hell would I want one or two of them living in my $300,000 investment?
How is this “discrimination?”
Bleeding-hearts, please don’t answer that question…
You know what else? I don’t rent to guys either. Boys, males, men, or gentlemen. Even the most gentlemanly of gentlemen! Women are cleaner, quieter, and less likely to have ten friends over for UFC 101 and have a spontaneous ten-man tag-team match and put holes in the wall. I only rent to women, no questions asked.
Is this discrimination? Well, before you answer that, first you should ask me if I really care…
I also aim to rent to white-collar people who have jobs downtown. These people are more intelligent, educated, and organized, and things like paying rent are first on their list of priorities since they keep tabs on their finances and update their bank-books regularly.
I’m looking for somebody that takes a proactive approach to paying rent and factors that into their monthly living expenses. Not somebody who fears the 1st of the month when their cheque may or may not bounce.
So as for these “discrimination” charges being played-up in the media, I have to turn a blind-eye.
There may be some extreme cases out there, but isn’t their a line to be drawn….somewhere?
Is there a watchdog that’s really going to tell me I have to rent to this person, that person, or the guy with the thing in the place?
I have a question – if I am forced to rent to somebody that I deem to not meet my criteria, just because I’m afraid of being accused of discrimination, will the Ontario Human Rights Commission reimburse me if this person stiffs me for the rent? Will they pay my court costs when I try to get this deadbeat evicted in front of the Landlord & Tenant Board of Ontario?
No? They won’t?
But I’m still expected to give everybody a “fair shake” and rent to the first person who can cut an uncertified cheque?
Well $%#$ me, right? I’m just a capitalist pig who is completely insensitive to the harsh economic realities in our city!
I fear that the bleeding hearts will label ALL landlords as the fat-cats who sit in their bay-windows eating caviar while watching the huddled masses trudge through the snow in ungodly cold; all while keeping their many leather-bound books in their seven spare bedrooms.
There is risk involved in acquiring a return on investment; any investment, and it seems to reason that investors would take steps to reduce those risks however possible.
If not renting to students, unemployed persons, or people who don’t have enough income to service the rent is considered “discrimination,” then I’m as guilty as sin…