It is common knowledge that landlords screen potential renters to reduce their risk. They will ask questions related to occupation, lifestyle and make their own judgments based on the potential renters age, appearance and other characteristics. Such questions are used to weed out renters who might be prone to late or missed rent payments or cause damage to the rental unit. In addition, some say that screening potential new tenants protects the building’s existing tenants from having undesirable neighbors that are smokers or drug users, noisy, combative, and a host of other problems.
Canada-Bedbugs.com received a call from a couple in Toronto that had been asked by their potential landlord to provide a doctor’s note from their family physician saying that the doctor had not treated the couple for bedbug infestations at anytime in the past two years (it should be noted that the landlord also asked for verification that the couple were non-smokers). Is this ethical?
At what point does the process screening tenants become intrusive? Is it fair to discriminate against a potential rental candidate simply because they have battled bedbugs in the past? It is fair to your existing tenants to allow a renter to move in if they have not been bedbug free for at least two years?
We do not know about the policies of the Government of Ontario, but the Government of British Columbia’s Residential Tenancy Branch explains that there are no regulations against requiring the prospective tenants to provide a doctor’s note confirming that they don’t have any bites or bugs on them at the current time.
Doctor’s notes will not guarantee that prospective tenants won’t bring the bugs into your building. Nor will the prospective tenants doctors always be aware of bedbug infestation that their patients might be trying to escape.
What is fair to the existing tenants of a rental building? What is fair to potential renters trying to escape a bedbug infestation?