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Landlord vs. Company

Andrew Vidler | Interrobang | Culture | May 26th, 2014

On the surface, the choice between giving your rent cheques to an individual homeowner versus the employee of a property management company can be a seemingly arbitrary one. After all you're still handing over large, predetermined amount of money to a stranger in exchange for a roof over your head, and both types of landlord are bound by the same set of regulations and laws.

Tenant vs. Landlord
Jordan Granger, a Human Resources Student at Fanshawe College has experienced a landlord nightmare of his own:

“I had a landlord that would come down into my apartment whenever he wanted. I lived in the basement of a house and he wouldn't allow things like using the laundry that was right down the hall. He also attempted to charge extra money per night if I wanted to have a guest stay over for the evening, and would barge in to check on us every time I had people over, all while having very loud religious meetings upstairs at 7 a.m.”

As soon as his lease was over, Granger removed himself from this situation, and for good reason as this landlord was explicitly ignoring several aspects of the landlord tenant act that legally would have forbid these actions.

The most glaring violation in this case is the unannounced entry into the apartment on multiple occasions, as the Landlord/Tenant Act stipulates that the tenant can refuse entry to their landlord if they have not received at least 24 hours' notice that they will be there. Despite their legal obligations, many landlords will repeatedly violate regulations either knowingly or through plain old-fashioned ignorance, especially when renting to students.

Unfortunately for students, once trapped into a lease with a landlord there isn't much that can be done to escape the situation, making it of the utmost important that no matter who you has written your lease, that you read it carefully, ask questions and ensure that you have covered everything could be a concern going forward. Knowledge of the Landlord Tenant Act, and your rights as a renter is the only surefire defense against such a situation.

Tenant vs. Rental Company
On the flipside, however, is London resident Sarah Kay, who has found herself on the wrong side of a poorly run rental company:

“I've rented from landlords and rental companies in a couple of different cities. The company I rented from was fantastic for leaving you to your own devices, but when it came to building maintenance or something wrong in your apartment it could be weeks until you saw a sign of them. By the time we left the apartment was close to being unsafe.”

Renting from an established business seems like it would be a no brainer, after all they would less likely than an individual homeowner to make mistakes when it comes to being a top-quality landlord right?

While this can be true for certain elements of the renting experience, the lack of a personal touch can put tenants into a different set of difficult circumstances, and when this happens it can be nearly impossible to get your voice heard by those who mattered.

Many of these issues stem from the way that a normal property management company is constructed a tenants call will be routed to a receptionist, who will then reroute it to the appropriate channels.

“It was usually a voicemail,” Sarah said. “Then it wouldn't be answered until you tried to call again.”

Much like renting from an individual landlord, the best way to avoid any issues going forward is ensure that you do your research prior to putting pen to paper, as many rental companies can be found online, reviewed by people who have had genuine experience with the best and worst the company has to offer.

Another effective strategy is to request references from whichever representative is showing you the building, but be warned, often these references can be employees of the company itself, and a balance between official and self-researched sources is necessary. It can often be a matter of luck before finding the perfect landlord.
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