Information for Landlord and Tenants

Useful Information Share at the Landlord and Tenant Board (Ontario)

FrontLobby is a cloud-based SaaS platform offering services to housing providers and tenants. Two of the services offered are an internal recordkeeping platform for tenancy management purposes (which includes optional email communication capabilities) and a portal service to enable tenants and housing providers to send rent payment history to be reflected on credit reports with Credit Bureaus.

(Prior to Oct 2021 two separate corporations, one which operates the SaaS platform and the other a consumer reporting agency, were using the Landlord Credit Bureau trademark. They now operate under two separate brands – FrontLobby and Landlord Credit Bureau).

No. Using the platform and creating a Lease Record on FrontLobby is not disclosing or sharing tenant data with FrontLobby, just as using any other property management software platform is not a disclosure. Using tenant data for tenancy management purposes (which include for example communicating, collecting rent, debts, and accounting), is a valid use of tenant personal information under the purpose for which it was originally collected – to manage the tenancy. Any tenant today would reasonably expect their landlord to be using an online system for tenancy management purposes.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has been clear that (emphasis added):

Where an organization [Landlord] has transferred data to a cloud-infrastructure provider [FrontLobby]… such actions would be considered as a transfer for processing…The organization [Landlord] would remain in control of the information.” https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/opc-actions-and-decisions/research/explore-privacy-research/2010/cc_201003/

A transfer for processing is a “use” of the information; it is not a disclosure. Assuming the information is being used for the purpose it was originally collected [tenancy management], additional consent for the transfer is not required [from the tenant].” https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/airports-and-borders/gl_dab_090127/

With regard to consent, if the third party is using the information for the purpose it was originally collected, additional consent for the transfer is not required. Once individuals have consented to do business with a particular company, they cannot refuse to have their information transferred to a third party for processing, as long as the purpose stays the same.” https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/collecting-personal-information/consent/gl_oc_201405_faq/#fn1

Transfer is a use by the organization. It is not to be confused with a disclosure.” https://www.priv.gc.ca/media/1992/gl_dab_090127_e.pdf

In summary, Landlords do not disclose tenant information to FrontLobby by using the platform (“the [Landlord] organization would remain in control of the information”). Landlords and tenants may use the platform for processing (e.g. internal recordkeeping / storage / communication / administration of their tenancies) and with the tenant’s explicit consent or under a legislative exception (e.g. PIPEDA Section 7(3)(b) Disclosure without knowledge or consent is allowed for purpose of collecting a debt) to use the platform to report (“processing… is not a disclosure”) directly to Credit Bureaus (disclosure to Credit Bureaus only). FrontLobby merely facilitates processing. If there is misuse of the FrontLobby platform, FrontLobby does investigate and assist, but liability rests with the party misusing the platform. 

LCB is a consumer reporting agency, commonly referred to as a Credit Bureau, registered and licensed in Ontario (license #4741054). LCB holds Tenant Records which consist of payment histories attributable to tenancies. Information is disclosed to LCB only with the tenant’s explicit consent or under a legislative exception (e.g. PIPEDA Section 7(3)(b) Disclosure without knowledge or consent is allowed for purpose of collecting a debt).

If there IS NOT A DEBT owed by the tenant, then YES, consent is required to report rent payments to Credit Bureaus. FrontLobby recommends adding notice and consent clauses to all tenancy Applications and Leases (See Here). The FrontLobby platform requires a tenant who does NOT owe a debt to login to the platform, verify ID, and check a consent box to report rent payments to Credit Bureaus. If the tenant does not login and check the consent box, the record will remain internal to the housing provider’s records and is not disclosed or shared with anyone.

If there IS A DEBT owed by the tenant, then NO, consent is not required to report the debt to Credit Bureaus for the purpose of collecting the debt owed. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which oversees the Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”), have stated that a creditor (e.g. landlord) can report a debt to a Credit Bureau without consent for the purpose of collecting the debt (PIPEDA Section 7(3)(b)), (emphasis added):

Our office has found that landlords do not have the right to disclose information such as a poor payment history to an unregulated or ad hoc ‘bad tenants list.” However, formal and regulated mechanisms, such as credit agencies [Credit Bureaus], may be notified…” https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/privacy-in-the-landlord-and-tenant-relationship/

Despite best efforts, a rental relationship may not go smoothly. From your perspective, the tenant may have been disruptive or damaged the unit, had a poor payment history, or other factors. However, this does not give you the right to disclose this information by, for instance, contributing to an unregulated ‘bad tenants list.’ Formal and regulated mechanisms, such as credit agencies [Credit Bureaus], may be notified…
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/02_05_d_66_tips/

There are certain exceptions to PIPEDA’s consent requirements for disclosure of personal information TO PURSUE A DEBT [PIPEDA Section 7(3)(b)]…” ii
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/02_05_d_66_tips/

No, but the information reported does need to be accurate. Should there be a challenge regarding reporting debts to a Credit Bureau at the Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”), it will be important to share the information within this document with them (Note: rent reporting is relatively unknown in Canada and so many housing providers, tenants, legal professionals, and even knowledgeable LTB members may not be familiar with the legal framework of reporting debts to Credit Bureaus or how the credit system works and is governed).

Reporting to Credit Bureaus is the jurisdiction of the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, under the Ontario Consumer Reporting Act (“OCRA”), and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, under the Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”). These institutions and legislation provide the governance for a creditor, including landlords, to report to Credit Bureaus. This legislation provides that a creditor can report a debt to a Credit Bureau without consent for the purpose of collecting a debt.iii

The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act (“RTA”) does not contain any provision regarding the reporting of debts to Credit Bureaus nor provide jurisdiction to the LTB regarding such reporting.

To the contrary, the Provincial and Federal legislatures have created extensive specific legislation and regulation around Credit Bureaus which governs any creditor, including landlords, reporting debts to Credit Bureaus and such reporting is not subject to the RTA. The Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner of Canada has stated (emphasis added):

Our office has found that landlords do not have the right to disclose information such as a poor payment history to an unregulated or ad hoc ‘bad tenants list.” However, formal and regulated mechanisms, such as credit agencies [Credit Bureaus], may be notified…” https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/privacy-in-the-landlord-and-tenant-relationship/

Despite best efforts, a rental relationship may not go smoothly. From your perspective, the tenant may have been disruptive or damaged the unit, had a poor payment history, or other factors. However, this does not give you the right to disclose this information by, for instance, contributing to an unregulated ‘bad tenants list.’ Formal and regulated mechanisms, such as credit agencies [Credit Bureaus], may be notified…
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/02_05_d_66_tips/

There are certain exceptions to PIPEDA’s consent requirements for disclosure of personal information TO PURSUE A DEBT [PIPEDA Section 7(3)(b)]…” iv
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/02_05_d_66_tips/

Sending a debt to a Credit Bureau is not a violation of any section of the RTA, Regulations or Ontario’s standard lease. Therefore, any claims related to such conduct fall outside the jurisdiction of the RTA and the LTB’s authority to resolve such a dispute.

From a policy perspective, the RTA does not give jurisdiction to support a proposition that effectively other creditors and other landlords should be harmed and defrauded by a “shield of secrecy” that the legislature clearly did not create in the RTA – the “shield of secrecy” being the idea that debts would not be allowed to be reported to a Credit Bureau ever, unless the LTB had first ruled on them. Nor does the RTA give the LTB jurisdiction to suggest that it has sole authority over debts being reported to Credit Bureaus even above all superior courts, other governmental bodies and specific legislation. Any suggestion otherwise would be an attempt to unilaterally and dramatically expand the scope of the RTA.

If a landlord reported inaccurate information on a person’s credit report, there is an extensive regulatory framework of remedies and legal causes of action that an individual can pursue, which the RTA does not govern.

A valid debt is still a valid debt regardless of if the LTB has not held a hearing regarding the debt. However, if the LTB has held a hearing and ruled that there is not a debt, or that the amount of debt is different, then the landlord may attract liability if they reported inaccurate information. The tenant’s recourse would be via the legal causes of action outside of the RTA. 

No. Any suggestion that an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”) is required to report a debt to Credit Bureaus is not based in legislation or jurisprudence from the Courts.v

The reporting of rental debts in Ontario to Credit Bureaus has long occurred as a regular, established and accepted practice by collections agencies and larger housing providers and has never required an order.

The Residential Tenancy Act (“RTA”) is silent on reporting debts to Credit Bureaus or collections agencies, whereas comparable legislation is not silent in other Provinces. If the Ontario legislature wanted to prevent reporting to Credit Bureaus in Ontario except with an order from the LTB, that would be stated in the legislation. It is not stated within the RTA. The legislature did not give the LTB jurisdiction over the reporting of debts to licensed Credit Bureaus. Any suggestion otherwise would be an attempt to unilaterally and dramatically expand the scope of the RTA.

To the contrary, the Provincial and Federal legislatures have created extensive specific legislation and regulation around Credit Bureaus which governs any creditor, including landlords, reporting debts to Credit Bureaus and such reporting is not subject to the RTA. The Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner of Canada has stated (emphasis added):

Our office has found that landlords do not have the right to disclose information such as a poor payment history to an unregulated or ad hoc ‘bad tenants list.” However, formal and regulated mechanisms, such as credit agencies [Credit Bureaus], may be notified in appropriate circumstances [e.g. PIPEDA Section 7(3)(b)]
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/privacy-in-the-landlord-and-tenant-relationship/

Despite best efforts, a rental relationship may not go smoothly. From your perspective, the tenant may have been disruptive or damaged the unit, had a poor payment history, or other factors. However, this does not give you the right to disclose this information by, for instance, contributing to an unregulated ‘bad tenants list.’ Formal and regulated mechanisms, such as credit agencies [Credit Bureaus], may be notified…
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/02_05_d_66_tips/

There are certain exceptions to PIPEDA’s consent requirements for disclosure of personal information TO PURSUE A DEBT [PIPEDA Section 7(3)(b)]…” vi
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/02_05_d_66_tips/

The RTA does not govern such an action, rather the Ontario Consumer Reporting Act and the Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) governs such specifically under Section 7(3)(b). This legislation provides that the landlord can in fact report without consent for the purpose of collecting a debt. None of the relevant legislation requires an order from the LTB or a court to report a debt to a Credit Bureau. In fact, very rarely do any creditors ever have an order prior to reporting a debt to Credit Bureaus (e.g. Telcos, credit cards, mortgages).

A valid debt is still a valid debt regardless of if the LTB has not held a hearing regarding the debt. A suggestion that a debt is not owed unless the LTB says so, is an unreasonable argument. However, if the LTB has held a hearing and ruled that there is not a debt, or that the amount of debt is different, then the landlord may attract liability if they reported inaccurate information. The tenant’s recourse would be via the legal causes of action outside of the RTA.

It is of course critical that any debt reported is accurate and validly owed. If the owing of the debt is in dispute, landlords should err on the side of caution and not report it until the dispute is resolved. However, if they do report it despite a dispute, that is not a breach of the RTA and if the amount of the debt reported is later confirmed by the LTB then validity is further confirmed, and if the amount of the debt reported is later invalidated then the tenant’s recourse is via the regulatory framework of remedies and legal causes of action outside of the RTA.

From a policy perspective, the RTA does not give jurisdiction to support a proposition that effectively other creditors and other landlords should be harmed and defrauded by a “shield of secrecy” that the legislature clearly did not create in the RTA – the “shield of secrecy” being the idea that debts would not be allowed to be reported to a Credit Bureau ever, unless the LTB had first ruled on them. Nor does the RTA give the LTB jurisdiction to suggest that it has sole authority over debts being reported to Credit Bureaus even above all superior courts, other governmental bodies and specific legislation. Any suggestion otherwise would be an attempt to unilaterally and dramatically expand the scope of the RTA.

Reporting to Credit Bureaus is governed by other governmental bodies and other legislation as referenced above, and if a landlord misreported information there is an extensive regulatory framework of remedies and legal causes of action for individuals which the RTA does not govern.

Section 22 of the Residential Tenancies Act is regarding a landlord interfering with reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit. Section 22 states in plain language (emphasis added):

22 A landlord shall not at any time during a tenant’s occupancy of a rental unit and before the day on which an order evicting the tenant is executed substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment OF THE RENTAL UNIT OR THE RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX in which it is located FOR ALL USUAL PURPOSES by a tenant or members of his or her household. 2006, c. 17, s. 22.

Section 22 specifically clarifies and restricts its application to the “RENTAL UNIT OR THE RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX” (which has been interpreted as: “interfere in any way with the Tenant’s ability to use or enjoy the rental unit’s facilities, or the residential complex”vii). It does not apply to the persons credit report. It does not cover reporting debts to Credit Bureaus. A credit report does not have anything to do with the reasonable enjoyment of a current rental unit facilities or the residential complex. A tenant may have great credit or terrible credit, and that may change during a tenancy for many reasons, but a credit report does not impact their current residential tenancy, as they already live there and tenancies cannot be altered or terminated because of a change in credit score. Furthermore, Section 22 only applies to the current rental unit and not to a potential future rental unit.

It is the failure to pay debts when owed that creates a problem, not a landlord reporting a validly owed debt. Any suggestion that a validly owed debt should be hidden so that other creditors aren’t aware would support an idea that other creditors should be “duped” into providing credit to individuals who have already accrued a significant debt.

For clarity, a tenant would almost certainly have the legal obligation to share the debt and tenancy situation on applications for credit/tenancy and therefore a debt would have the same impacts on eligibility regardless of the landlord reporting it to Credit Bureaus or not, unless the individual was to lie by not disclosing the debt and thereby commit fraud.

Reporting information to a Credit Bureau does not “interfere in any way with the Tenant’s ability to use or enjoy the rental unit’s facilities, or the residential complex”viii. In fact, nothing about reporting a debt to a Credit Bureau interferes with enjoyment of the “RENTAL UNIT OR THE RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX”. Reporting a debt to a Credit Bureau may interfere with someone’s ability to acquire other credit services, but this is governed by other legislation and legal actions and not the RTA.

It is of course critical that any debt reported is accurate and validly owed. If the owing of the debt is in dispute, landlords should err on the side of caution and not report it until the dispute is resolved. However, if they do report it to a licensed Credit Bureau despite a dispute, that is not a breach of Section 22 and if the amount of the debt reported is later confirmed by the LTB then validity is further confirmed, and if the amount of the debt reported is later invalidated then the tenant’s recourse is via the established regulatory framework of specific remedies and legal causes of action outside of the RTA.

Section 22 was drafted to cover concerns such as noise, changing the locks, maintenance issues, actions or inactions that impact enjoyment of the RENTAL UNIT, which is the physical space being rented. The legislature did not give the LTB jurisdiction over reporting to licensed Credit Bureaus through Section 22. Instead, the legislature specifically and clearly stated in Section 22 the limitation of the “RENTAL UNIT OR THE RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX.”

Sending a debt to a Credit Bureau is not a violation of the RTA, Regulations or Ontario’s standard lease. Therefore, any claims related to such conduct fall outside the jurisdiction of the RTA and the LTB’s authority to resolve such a dispute.

From a policy perspective, the RTA does not give jurisdiction to support a proposition that effectively other creditors and other landlords should be harmed and defrauded by a “shield of secrecy” that the legislature clearly did not create in the RTA – the “shield of secrecy” being the idea that debts would not be allowed to be reported to a Credit Bureau ever, unless the LTB had first ruled on them. Nor does the RTA give the LTB jurisdiction to suggest that it has sole authority over debts being reported to Credit Bureaus even above all superior courts, other governmental bodies and specific legislation. Any suggestion otherwise would be an attempt to unilaterally and dramatically expand the scope of the RTA.

In summary, the mere reporting of a debt to a Credit Bureau does not trigger Section 22 and the RTA does not give the LTB jurisdiction over reporting to Credit Bureaus. Any suggestion otherwise would be an attempt to unilaterally and dramatically expand the scope of Section 22 or the RTA generally. 

No. Section 23 of the RTA states:

“The landlord shall not harass, obstruct, coerce, threaten or interfere with a tenant.

There is no definition of “harassment” in the RTA. Past LTB decisions have stated “generally speaking harassment is usually considered to be a course of conduct that a reasonable person knows or ought to know would be unwelcome”ix. For example, harassment has been found when a landlord repeatedly called a tenant insulting namesx. However, landlords reporting to Credit Bureaus has been positively addressed by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada:

Despite best efforts, a rental relationship may not go smoothly. From your perspective, the tenant may have been disruptive or damaged the unit, had a poor payment history, or other factors. However, this does not give you the right to disclose this information by, for instance, contributing to an unregulated ‘bad tenants list.’ Formal and regulated mechanisms, such as credit agencies [Credit Bureaus], may be notified in appropriate circumstances [e.g. PIPEDA Section 7(3)(b) Disclosure without knowledge or consent is allowed for purpose of collecting a debt]; however, ‘vigilante’ actions are seldom, if ever, permitted by law.
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/02_05_d_66_tips/

Canada’s financial system depends upon the credit reporting infrastructure created by Credit Bureaus. Reporting valid debts to Credit Bureaus occurs across all industries and is accepted as the normal course of action and the single most important and effective way of collecting debts owed. A reasonable person would not view the common action of reporting a debt that is validly owed to a licensed Credit Bureau as harassment, slander or abuse.

Polite emails from a landlord asking for payment of a debt owed to them and referencing the potential for reporting to licensed and regulated Credit Bureaus, which do not contain offensive or harassing content, would also not be construed as harassment, slander or abuse by a reasonable person.

In fact, any suggestion that a validly owed debt should be hidden so that other creditors aren’t aware would support an idea that other creditors should be “duped” into providing credit to individuals who have already accrued a material debt. This would undermine the integrity of the credit system and cannot be the intention of the legislature with the RTA.

The Credit Bureau system has numerous protections in place and an extensive regulatory framework of remedies and legal causes of action for an individual to access and dispute inaccuracies and to seek liability and compensation if appropriate, outside of the RTA.

Section 82 of the Residential Tenancies Act (“RTA”) allows tenants facing eviction to raise issues that could be the subject of an application under the RTA. Section 82 states:

82 (1) At a hearing of an application by a landlord under section 69 [Application by landlord] for an order terminating a tenancy and evicting a tenant based on a notice of termination under section 59 [Non-payment of rent], the Board shall permit the tenant to raise any issue that could be the subject of an application made by the tenant under this Act.

As described herein, reporting information to Credit Bureaus is not subject to a valid application under the RTA. It does not substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit and therefore does not qualify under Section 22 of the RTA. It is not harassment and does not qualify under Section 23 of the RTA. There also are no provisions in the RTA requiring an order from the LTB prior to reporting a valid debt to Credit Bureaus.

ii PIPEDA, specifically Section 7(3)(b).         
iii PIPEDA, specifically Section 7(3)(b).
ix PIPEDA, specifically Section 7(3)(b).
v https://frontlobby.com/en/2021/12/frequently-asked-questions-about-credit-bureau-placements/
vi PIPEDA, specifically Section 7(3)(b).
vii https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onltb/doc/2015/2015canlii54765/2015canlii54765.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQATInVzZSBhbmQgZW5qb3ltZW50IgAAAAAB&resultIndex=8
viii https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onltb/doc/2015/2015canlii54765/2015canlii54765.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQATInVzZSBhbmQgZW5qb3ltZW50IgAAAAAB&resultIndex=8
ix https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onltb/doc/2015/2015canlii36832/2015canlii36832.html?autocompleteStr=TST-62367-15&autocompletePos=1
x https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onltb/doc/2019/2019canlii87609/2019canlii87609.html?autocompleteStr=tsl-04311-19&autocompletePos=1 

iDisclaimer This information contained herein does not constitue, and is not intended to constitue, legal advice. Plese discuss any information with your legal counsel. This information is for general information purposes only. Information may not be the most up-to-date or address local requirements (e.g. city or province).