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Legal Framework For Rent Reporting In Canada

Below you will find information regarding your use of FrontLobby, including consent requirements, the legal framework in your Province, and more.

Contents                                                                                                    
 

Summary 

 

FrontLobby provides a cloud platform for housing providers to screen potential tenants, manage their tenancies, and a portal service to enable housing providers and tenants to report rental history, on-time payments and debts, to consumer reporting agencies (commonly known as Credit Bureaus) when desired (the “Platform”).

Under Canadian Provincial and Federal law, housing providers and tenants can report rental history (positive and negative) using the Platform. As long as the information reported is accurate, the Platform has numerous automated protections and guidance in place which help ensure users are protected and that reporting and usage of the different services remains in compliance with relevant legislation.

Here is how reporting rental history works:

For a tenant who gives consent
, reporting to Credit Bureaus may occur if the reporting function is activated. Consent must be provided by the tenant logging into the Tenant Portal, verifying identity, reviewing the Lease Record, and then manually checking the consent checkbox.

For a tenant who pays on-time and does not owe money, but has not given consent
, housing providers may use the Platform for their internal recordkeeping and management purposes. If the housing provider activates the option, then the tenant will have the choice to opt-in by consenting to receive the benefits of reporting to Credit Bureaus (e.g. improved Credit Report, positive Tenant Record). If such tenant does not opt-in by consenting, the housing provider may still maintain a Lease Record using the Platform. As long as the tenant does not owe a debt, such Lease Record will remain in the control of the housing provider and only be used for their internal recordkeeping and management purposes and not shared.

For a tenant who does not pay rent when owed and thus owes a debt
, applicable legislation enables housing providers to report that debt without notice or consent under an approved purpose (e.g. to collect the debt). Late payments may be immediately reflected on the Lease Record and upon a debt being owed for 30+ days the debt may be shared with Credit Bureaus.

FrontLobby provides free Legal Defence for members. FrontLobby will handle the defence and cover the costs if there is ever a complaint. See Legal Defence for details and applicable terms and conditions.

FrontLobby’s constant goal is customer protection and compliance. Please ensure the information you report is 100% accurate. If accuracy is in doubt, do not report it. FrontLobby handles the protection of all individuals and the security and accuracy of information processed using the Platform with the utmost priority. Misuse of the Platform will not be tolerated.

The Details

 

What Is FrontLobby?

FrontLobby is a cloud-based SaaS platform offering various 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 (e.g. Equifax, TransUnion, Landlord Credit Bureau).

Is Consent Required To Report To Credit Bureaus?

If there IS NOT A DEBT owed by the tenant, then YES, consent is required to report rent payments to Credit Bureaus in Canada. FrontLobby recommends adding notice and consent clauses to all tenancy Applications and Leases (see Lease clauses). 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”), has 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):

“An organization [Landlord] may disclose personal information without the knowledge or consent of the individual only if the disclosure is for the purpose of collecting a debt owed by the individual [Tenant] to the organization [Landlord];” https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/sc-2000-c-5/latest/sc-2000-c-5.html

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

“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/

Reporting debts outstanding for 30+ days to credit reporting agencies (Credit Bureaus) is of course the primary and established process used for the purpose of collecting debts by creditors across all industries. It is also a formal and regulated mechanism as specified by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Summary of Regulatory Approvals & Complaints = All Green Lights:

As the trailblazer of rent reporting to Credit Bureaus in Canada, we are regularly in contact with the regulators that oversee our business.

As part of our ongoing commitment to compliance, communication, and transparency, we are pleased to share with you an update on our continued innovation in the rental industry.  

British Columbia – Compliance confirmed, no complaints 

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia completed a proactive review of the business and no concerns were found. We appreciate the regulators professionalism and guidance.

Saskatchewan – Compliance confirmed, complaint dismissed

The Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan received one complaint about debt reporting which was initially reviewed and thought to be non-compliant. After we had the opportunity to provide information, a second level review concluded we are compliant, usage of our platform is compliant, and the complaint was dismissed. Result, Landlords may report debts to Credit Bureaus through FrontLobby, without consent, and do not need an order from the Office of Residential Tenancies. We appreciate the regulators professionalism and guidance.

Ontario – Compliance confirmed, all complaints dismissed

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services of Ontario received two complaints regarding consent requirements. The complaints were initially reviewed and prior to us being given the opportunity to provide relevant information, some aspects were incorrectly thought non-compliant and an inaccurate Proposal was made by the regulator. Upon Appeal, the concerns were reversed with the regulator withdrawing and removing their Proposal entirely. Instead, the regulator asked for minor updates to the Dispute Policy and for us to share some general statutory reminders with users, which we of course consented to and were already compliant with.

The services offered by FrontLobby were thoroughly reviewed (e.g. tenancy management platform, applicant screening, rent reporting, and debt reporting), with no compliance issues found. The two tenant complaints were thereby effectively dismissed with no element from the complaints being relevant (e.g. the claim that their personal information had been shared without consent was not founded).

The Ontario consumer reporting agency’s license and registration continues unabated and unencumbered following the review and its license was renewed for a further 2 years by the regulator on May 27, 2022. We appreciate the regulators’ assistance in working with us to ensure consumers remain protected pursuant to the legislation and for verifying the compliance of our services.

How Do Tenants Benefit From Using FrontLobby?

FrontLobby provides significant benefits for our tenant members. Tenants can finally build credit by paying rent and create a Tenant Record to help them receive priority for future housing. Even if a tenant is having financial difficulty, as long as they communicate with their landlord and create a reasonable payment plan, they can still receive the same benefits.

Rent is many consumers’ largest single monthly payment, but to their detriment it is rarely reflected on their credit reports:

  1. FrontLobby facilitates tenants to positively impact their credit reports through the inclusion of rent payments.
  2. FrontLobby assists consumers new to credit and new to Canada with building a credit file and gaining access to credit.
  3. FrontLobby enables consumers with thin credit files to positively impact their credit reports and thus unlock credit and better rates for credit.
  4. Tenants with poor credit, but a history of always paying rent, they find it harder to secure housing. FrontLobby enables them to show potential landlords that despite a low credit score, they are a responsible tenant and should be rented to.
  5. Relevant to COVID-19 and beyond, FrontLobby enables rent deferral agreements and payment plans to be registered which then enables tenants to create a positive tenant record that they can use when applying to rent in the future and still help strengthen their credit rating despite unexpected financial difficulties.
  6. From a housing supply and quality standpoint, FrontLobby helps increase the supply and quality of rental housing for responsible tenants. FrontLobby substantially reduces the risk and cost of delinquent tenants which encourages more rental housing to be created, enables smaller landlords to afford to continue providing rental housing (e.g. basement suites), and enables all landlords to afford more repairs & improvements and even reduced rent prices. The small percentage of individuals who are intentionally delinquent, cost the rental housing industry over $3 Billion per year in Canada which impacts the housing supply for everyone.

It is only those few tenants who choose to be intentionally delinquent and choose to not communicate with their landlord that will find there is accountability and consequences for such choices and for the problems they cause that negatively impact landlords and other tenants.

FrontLobby’s goal is for all parties to fulfill their responsibilities, act responsibly and for landlords and tenants to benefit as a result.

Is Tenant Data Disclosed To FrontLobby?

No. A housing provider 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.

How Are Credit Bureaus Involved?

Equifax, TransUnion and Landlord Credit Bureau are all consumer reporting agencies, commonly referred to as Credit Bureaus. Credit Bureaus typically hold information regarding payment histories, which may include payment histories attributable to tenancies reported to them by housing providers and tenants using FrontLobby. Information is disclosed to Credit Bureaus 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).

Landlords May Use FrontLobby To Report To Credit Bureaus:

In Canada, it is well established practice for landlords to report debts to collection agencies and share that information with Credit Bureaus, such as Equifax and TransUnion for the purpose of collecting debts and mitigating fraud. Reporting to Credit Bureaus commonly occurs indirectly through collection agencies or directly by large landlords. FrontLobby enables landlords of all sizes to report debts to Credit Bureaus and to be involved with reporting positive rental histories to benefit tenants.

Applicable credit reporting, consumer protection and privacy legislation enables landlords to report to Credit Bureaus: a) with consent; or b) without consent when they are doing so for an approved purpose such as for the purpose of collecting a debt owed to them, for investigation of a breach of an agreement or a law, or to detect or suppress or prevent fraud.

FrontLobby does not maintain any “tenant lists”. FrontLobby facilitates the reporting of both positive and negative rental history to Credit Bureaus, enables free tenant access to Lease Records, and provides several dispute mechanisms.

As long as the information reported is accurate, the Platform has numerous automated protections and guidance in place which help ensure our landlord, property manager and tenant members are protected and that reporting and usage of the different services remains in compliance with relevant legislation.

Landlords May Screen Applicants Through FrontLobby:

The ability for housing providers to screen their applicants for rental history, credit and tenancy-worthiness and the practice of providing rental history references to other landlords is recognized as an accepted and established practice throughout the industry.

With consent, landlords may view information from Credit Bureaus (e.g. Equifax, TransUnion, Landlord Credit Bureau) through the Platform in connection with the applicant wanting to enter into or renew a tenancy agreement. Landlords must have consent from the applicant before viewing such information.

Accuracy Of Data:

Before allowing users to contribute data, FrontLobby verifies all users’ identification, using document submission and/or a secure process provided by Equifax called Equifax eID. FrontLobby does not allow information to be contributed anonymously. FrontLobby only reports information from landlords and tenants who have had their identity and legitimate purpose verified.

Users contractually agree to only report factual information and to only use FrontLobby for a valid purpose, or risk personal liability.

FrontLobby also maintains a record of anyone who contributes or views data.

Additional Protections For Tenants:

FrontLobby proactively provides tools for tenants to receive notifications, receive free access to review records, and if information is disputed, there are multiple mechanisms in place to handle such disputes. FrontLobby will then investigate. Tenants may submit a dispute to FrontLobby or directly to the landlord. If the tenant disputes information directly to the landlord, the landlord and tenant may contact FrontLobby for assistance.

Further, a grace period is built into the platform before data is shared with Credit Bureaus, so that there is time to review their Landlord’s Lease Record, verify the accuracy of the information, dispute inaccurate information, and to pay any debts or agree to a payment plan if applicable.

Requests and disputes can be made by:

    • Emailing support@frontlobby.com; or
    • Mailing a request to:
      Attn: FrontLobby Legal & Privacy
      5331 Headland Drive, Unit 93071,
      West Vancouver, B.C. V7W 3C6.

If the individual requests, the landlord or property manager must inform them of the name and address of the Credit Bureaus they accessed reports from pertaining to the individual.

If a report from a Credit Bureau wholly or partly informs a decision to deny the individual’s application for tenancy, the recipient landlord or property manager must notify the individual of that fact. If the individual requests, the landlord or property manager must inform them of the name and address of the relevant Credit Bureau.

Legislation prohibits persons from knowingly supplying false or misleading information to a Credit Bureau.

Clauses For Your Application and Lease Templates

 
FrontLobby recommends adding the clauses below to Applications for Tenancy and Lease Templates:


Clauses to Add to Application and Lease

Specific Legislation & Guidance Regarding Reporting to Credit Bureaus

 

Examples of tenants being convicted of fraud for not paying their rent:

Toronto’s ‘professional tenant’ found guilty of fraud

Serial trouble tenant gets jail time for fraud

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada:

Can a landlord put my name on a “bad tenant” list?

“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, may be notified in appropriate circumstances.” https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/privacy-in-the-landlord-and-tenant-relationship/

Don’t shame ‘bad’ tenants

“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, may be notified in appropriate circumstances; 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/

Debt collection is not a blank cheque for disclosure

“Lastly, there are certain exceptions to PIPEDA’s consent requirements for disclosure of personal information to pursue a debt. It is important to keep in mind that these are limited to, among other factors, purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate under the circumstances.For instance, in past investigations our Office has found broad disclosure of detailed information about an outstanding debt to an individual’s family members, co-workers or on social media, to be wholly inappropriate.”  https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/02_05_d_66_tips/

For Ontario Landlords:

If the tenant has given consent, that is all that is required (Note: FrontLobby recommends adding the Lease clauses to all Applications for Tenancy and Lease templates).

If the tenant has not given consent, the Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) enables landlords to still report for certain purposes. Disclosure is allowed without the tenant’s knowledge or consent pursuant to:

    • Section 7(3)(b) for the purpose of collecting a debt owed by the individual to the organization;
    • Section 7(3)(d.1) for the purposes of investigating a breach of an agreement or a contravention of the laws of Canada or a province that has been, is being or is about to be committed;
    • Section 7(3)(d.2) made to another organization and is reasonable for the purposes of detecting or suppressing fraud or of preventing fraud that is likely to be committed.
    • Link to the Act: Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

Does the Landlord and Tenant Board have jurisdiction over the reporting of a debt to a Credit Bureau?

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.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has paramountcy over the LTB. In an Ontario Superior Court of Justice hearing, on September 20, 2021, Divisional Court File No. 756/21, the Honourable Justice D.L. Corbett denied a tenant’s complaint that her $31k rent debt was reported to Landlord Credit Bureau as follows:

“If you default on your rent, landlords will routinely report that to credit reporting agencies as a tenant who hasn’t paid the rent. Of course, the next landlord is not going to be keen to rent to you because why would another landlord want to rent to a tenant who did not pay their rent.”

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)]…” 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.

Is an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board required to report a debt to a Credit Bureau?

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.

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 Ontario Superior Court of Justice has paramountcy over the LTB. In an Ontario Superior Court of Justice hearing, on September 20, 2021, Divisional Court File No. 756/21, the Honourable Justice D.L. Corbett denied a tenant’s complaint that her $31k rent debt was reported to Landlord Credit Bureau as follows:

“If you default on your rent, landlords will routinely report that to credit reporting agencies as a tenant who hasn’t paid the rent. Of course, the next landlord is not going to be keen to rent to you because why would another landlord want to rent to a tenant who did not pay their rent.”

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)]…” 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.

For British Columbia Landlords:

If the tenant has given consent, that is all that is required (Note: FrontLobby recommends adding the Lease clauses to all Applications for Tenancy and Lease templates).

If LandlordBC’s template “Application for Tenancy” was used, then consent may already have been given pursuant to Section E in that application (Note: FrontLobby still recommends adding Lease clauses to all Applications for Tenancy and Lease templates). 

If the tenant has not given consent, the B.C. Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) enables landlords to still report for certain purposes. Disclosure is allowed without the tenant’s consent pursuant to: 

    • Section 18(1)(c) it is reasonable to expect that the disclosure with the consent of the individual would compromise an investigation or proceeding and the disclosure is reasonable for purposes related to an investigation or a proceeding; 
      • Note: Section 1 defines “investigation” to mean an investigation related to (a) a breach of an agreement, (b)a contravention of an enactment of Canada or a province, (c) a circumstance or conduct that may result in a remedy or relief being available under an enactment, under the common law or in equity, or (d) the prevention of fraud if it is reasonable to believe that the breach, contravention, circumstance, conduct, or fraud in question may occur or may have occurred
    • Section 18(1)(g) the disclosure is necessary in order to collect a debt owed to the organization; 
    • Section 18(2); (3); and (4) may also apply if the above two sections do not. 
    • Link to the Act: Personal Information Protection Act

Monetary orders from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) are NOT REQUIRED to report to Credit Bureaus:  

      • RTB Decision October 14, 2011:  Landlord sent a debt to a collection agency without first establishing an entitlement to recover that amount by way of obtaining a Monetary Order.  Such conduct does not negate the tenant’s obligation to pay the landlord.  The landlord’s actions, with respect to sending the debt to a collection agency is not a violation of the Residential Tenancy Act, Residential Tenancy Regulations or tenancy agreement.  Therefore, any claims related to such conduct fall outside the jurisdiction of the Residential Tenancy Act and its authority to resolve such a dispute.  Dispute Resolution Services – Decision1698  
      • RTB Decision November 8, 2016:  Landlord sent tenant’s debt to a collection agency and did not file any Application for Dispute Resolution with the RTB nor get a monetary order.  Tenant complained.  The tenant’s application was refused pursuant to section 59(5)(a) of the Residential Tenancy Act because the tenant’s application did not disclose a dispute that may be determined under the Act. Dispute Resolution Services – Decision6592 
      • RTB Decision March 8, 2019:  Landlord sent tenant’s debt to a collection agency.  Tenant complained the Landlord didn’t have a monetary order.  Landlord did not apply for a monetary order and thus the RTB did not issue a monetary award in regards to this tenancy.  As the Branch was not involved in this matter at any point and did not issue the monetary order, they dismissed the application in its entirety without leave to reapply.  Section 9.1(1) of the Residential Tenancy Act. Dispute Resolution Services – Decision6370 

For Alberta Landlords: 

If the tenant has given consent, that is all that is required (Note: FrontLobby recommends adding the Lease clauses to all Applications for Tenancy and Lease templates).

If the tenant has not given consent, the Alberta Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) enables landlords to still report for certain purposes. Disclosure is allowed without the tenant’s consent pursuant to: 

    • Section 20(i) the disclosure of the information is necessary in order to collect a debt owed to the organization;
    • Section 20(m) the disclosure of the information is reasonable for the purposes of an investigation or a legal proceeding;
    • Section 20(n) the disclosure of the information is for the purposes of protecting against, or for the prevention, detection or suppression of, fraud, and the information is disclosed to or by (i) an organization that is permitted or otherwise empowered or recognized to carry out any of those purposes (e.g. a Credit Bureau).
    • Link to the Act: Personal Information Protection Act 

For Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Landlords:

If the tenant has given consent, that is all that is required (Note: FrontLobby recommends adding the Lease clauses to all Applications for Tenancy and Lease templates).

If the tenant has not given consent, the Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) enables landlords to still report for certain purposes. Disclosure is allowed without the tenant’s knowledge or consent pursuant to:

    • Section 7(3)(b) for the purpose of collecting a debt owed by the individual to the organization;
    • Section 7(3)(d.1) for the purposes of investigating a breach of an agreement or a contravention of the laws of Canada or a province that has been, is being or is about to be committed;
    • Section 7(3)(d.2) made to another organization and is reasonable for the purposes of detecting or suppressing fraud or of preventing fraud that is likely to be committed.
    • Link to the Act: Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

For Quebec Landlords:

FrontLobby does not currently operate in Quebec. 

Disclaimer 
 
Disclaimer: The information contained herein does not constitute, and is not intended to constitute, legal advice. 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). This document contains third party links, FrontLobby is not responsible for the content on such third-party websites.

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