A clients story of courage & independence

An incredible story of courage & independence

I thought I was independent till I met with my latest client, let’s call her F.  She reached out to me through the internet about a year ago, planning a big move from Montreal to Toronto (you can see how organized she is with her timeline) in June of this year.

Not only was that a big move – to a strange city, it’s a big move in many other ways.  Because I have a son who lives in Montreal I know that Toronto (especially rents) are more expensive.  Like WAY more expensive.  So F and I had some early discussions on costs to rent in Toronto – of course because she’s organized, she understood and was prepared.  

Fast forward a year.  F came to Toronto for a holiday early May.  We met & took a look at some nice condos to rent.  It was a bit early for her to commit, like many renters she didn’t want to double up on rent payments.  So she went home & I continued the search with her virtually.

Then the rental pool evaporated.  With lack of supply, comes rent creep.  What was $2400 in May was now $2500 or $2550.  One nice condo we applied for had 8 other applicants, and rented for $260 a month more than the advertised price. 

We offered on 4 other condos with no luck.  I was getting very nervous at this point…..

The story has a happy ending, though.  We were able to get her a great condo in a luxurious, energy efficient building for her move in date. 

But this is not the only time F had made a big move.  You see, she came from overseas.  Alone, to study in Montreal.  Her native country is French speaking.  She moved her all by herself as a teen to go to school then establish a career.  

I know this is the path of many in Canada, but I just wanted to put her story out here and just say wow.  

What's happening in the Toronto rental market that caused a great tenant be rejected by 4 potential landlords?

This happens a lot.  I meet a potential tenant that hasn't rented for a while.  They are shocked to find out how difficult the process is!  Because of the current rental market being so tight, and rents so high, often landlords want a certain income to rent ratio.  

Now they can't tell you this because renting based on income is discriminatory.  So the vetting process can be extremely detailed and arduous.  In this case, as a single professional with good income, good credit, a long-term career with one company and good references she just didn't meet the rent to income ratio.  Landords were hedging their bets and renting to double income tenants.  

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A disturbing trend I've come across recently is the fraud in the rental space.   As an agent who handles a fair share of rentals; these issues have shown up over several ways this year.   I'll tell you about 3 instances I've had and the red flags that appeared with each! 

When I'm representing a landlord and an application comes in, I spend a lot of time going through an applicants documentation and getting references and looking through their background.  Here's what I do:

  • Call their employer by finding the employer's website and calling through their office to confirm employment.  I don't just call the supervisor on the application
  • Look carefully at the documents to see if they are real; company letterhead & credit reports can be faked or bought
  • Check social media & linked in
  • Call past landlords
  • Make sure there is a building at the address they're currently renting
  • Check that the landlords name and property owners names match.   If it's an apartment building call through the property management company if it's an apartment rather than calling the number provided.
  • Look at the credit report for signs of altering

With those things in mind, let's look at 3 things that have happened to me this year!

1.  Student rental Scam - fake rental and landlord

First of all, you should never have to pay to submit a rental application, or be asked for a deposit before you get a chance to see the place.   These scams are generally ads on sites like Kijijii and Facebook for rentals that look too good to be true.  They also steal MLS listings for homes and advertise them at lower rates.  I came across one recently through a family friend desperate for some student housing.  It was a big scam; and when I called them out they 'protested too much'.    Here's how to spot these scammers:

  • They demand payment to submit a rental application
  • They demand a deposit before you see the unit
  • Makes excuses why they are not available to speak to on the phone 
  • Will only communicate through messenger, text or email
  • The advertised price is way lower than other rentals
  • Their Facebook profile was just created
  • Their Facebook name does not match their user name ID (see the URL) 

2. Fake Rental Applications   

There are some very good forged documents out there.  I had some people submit an application on a lease I was advertising and here's what I found during the checks, among the other checks I did as above :

  • Inconsistencies in addresses on the application
  • Employment letter does not look real - no header or footer with information on the company letterhead

3. Forged Tenacy Papers

I had a call from a gal who had a great story, good employment, good credit, moving to Toronto from outside the city for work, can't come in to look for a place so needed virtual showings.  Could I help her find a place.  Sounds great right?  

Now I don't usually check tenants out before I help them (and I'd helped out a client with an out of town move this year already in a similar situation)  But with everything going on right now, I felt it couldn't hurt to see what her references would say.   So she sent in her application & 

then came the paperwork - the address of her job didn't match up with her story.  The company had never heard of her or her supervisor.  There was even no property listed at the home she had put for her address!  Other red flags for scammers include what she did:

  • get overly upset when called out 
  • provide complicated excuses for 'mistakes' on application forms
  • call the fact checker a liar, unprofessional, etc.

So be careful out there folks! 


A big thank you to the communities of Guildwood, West Rouge & Port Union for the terrific support last Saturday for my Community Shredding Event.  About 30 families participated - and their generous food donations filled our Jeep to the brim!   The food donations were taken straight to Feed Scarborough - the Scarborough Food Security initiative and will be distributed to local satellite food banks in the area.   Judging from the huge line up outside the Manse Rd. food bank Saturday, it's much needed. 

Chartwell Guildwood was my partner for this event and provided the venue and great snacks.  Thank you Kelly & Dianne for your wonderful support.  As always, Papersavers was gracious, friendly, professional and helpful!  

One interesting sideline - My husband, myself, Dianne and Alex from papersavers all grew up within the same area!   Such a big city/small world!