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News brief: Nova Scotia landlords compiling illegal “Bad tenants” blacklists

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Renters looking unsuccessfully for a place to live in Nova Scotia may have more to blame than just bad luck and a lack of affordable housing.

Members of Nova Scotia ACORN, an organization that fights tirelessly for poor people, say they have found that there are at least two “bad tenants” blacklists maintained by landlords in Nova Scotia.

For the last year and a half ACORN members have been part of  a Facebook group called ‘Landlords Unite’.

“Described by the group as “a Nova Scotia based “Information Only” Group for Landlords, Managers, Superintendents etc. …… a place to voice concerns, make recommendations, post Ads, ask questions & share experiences” – the group is most frequently used by landlords to give tips on evicting tenants, getting around the residential tenancies act, and sharing the names of “Bad Tenants”, which they have compiled into a Do Not Rent list, an announcement on the Nova Scotia ACORN Facebook page states.  

One list has 256 names, another with nearly 3,200 names on it, was compiled through reports on a hidden Facebook group “Amherst Landlord Associates”, and by scanning police records for tenants who have never even interacted with the landlords who created the list, ACORN reports.

Not only do such secretive lists open the door to all kinds of questionable info, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada finds them illegal.

“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,” the Privacy Commissioner’s website explains.

“Landlords should get consent for obtaining and providing reference and/or background checks. Informal checks – such as looking at your Facebook page or Twitter feed, or asking another landlord about you – are a collection of personal information and, therefore, privacy laws apply. In general, we advise landlords not to turn to social networks as a means of conducting background checks,” the website states.

Meanwhile, ACORN is promising more on what it has learned during its year and a half investigation in the upcoming days. Check with the ACORN folks if you suspect your name may be on one of the lists.

You can find Nova Scotia ACORN on Facebook, and on the web. Questions? Email halifax@acorncanada.org.

See also: Sorry, no kids. Adult only rentals counter to Nova Scotia Human Rights legislation

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  1. Why should it be illegal to share “ bad tenants” if I don’t pay my mortgage I get flagged by the bank and I sure as heck don’t get away easily without paying my bills. If I don’t pay my credit card bills or utility bills I get flagged as high risk. Landlords should have a right to know who may be high risk and rent/ charge accordingly. I was a landlord for 6 short months and still have nightmares and anxiety from my experience!

    1. Simple, Kim, your bank’s lists are regulated and therefore held up by fact and legality. A private unregulated black list is not.

      Don’t recommend a tenant due to poor payment history? On the list!

      Don’t like a tenant for calling you out on your failed obligations as a landlord? Onto the list with whatever “facts” about them you wish.

      Dangerous and illegal.

    2. For one thing a bank has an actual process and reason to flag someone for missed payments, a Facebook group of landlords just bad mouthing people with no evidence can put people in a vulnerable position with no real cause.

      I am probably on that list because my old landlord got “offended” I told him he couldn’t go into my apartment without notice while I was at work and he immediately tried to evict me under false pretences because I “hurt his feelings” , then when I defended myself against an illegal notice to quit through the tenancy board successfully, he began harassing me until I was scared for my safety and had to leave. I even filed a police report but short of him actually getting violent there was nothing they could do because he owned the building and could come around as much as he wanted, just lurking out front all the time, in my backyard, outside my bedroom window…

      For every tenant horror story there are a hundred horror landlord stories, and tenants are the ones without power and in this market extremely vulnerable to homelessness.

    3. This list is unregulated – a landlord could add someone to it based on a personal grudge/an issue not related to rent payment or other issues. Tenants could be added to this list simply because they know and advocate for their rights. Also, a blacklist like this would prevent someone from every being able to get back on their feet – if someone falls on hard times and gets evicted should they be consigned to houselessness forever?

      Nonetheless, if landlords wanted to have this type of list be an option they could go through the legal proceedings and make their case to then have a properly regulated list. Breaking the law with no oversight is a different matter.

  2. For the pass 3 year I have been try to evicting my tanant for 15month of rent no bill pay destroying my life and my children. I am hoping to have her published do she never have to do any land lord the way she did to me.

  3. Perhaps a book of bad landlords should be put in place. There are usually good reasons for a tenant not to pay their. I will admit there are some who think they should live free but for the most part tenants are compliant. So perhaps before renting check out the rep of your landlord. Pry into their personal business. Take away their power.

  4. It’s not illegal if you get consent. Private landlords just have to add a sentence to their rental application form that the Landlord may collect and/or share information about the tenant. If the tenant won’t sign it, then don’t rent to them. If the tenant signs it and turns out to be a deadbeat, the landlord can share that information.

      1. That is an interesting and detailed analysis of one case, and I am by no means a legal or privacy expert, but I don’t think it is such a binary issue. The main takeaways I took were that you need explicit consent from the tenant, and that you have to be licensed to act as a credit reporting agency if your list is based on “credit information”.

        I believe the consent portion can be dealt with by having clear wording in the rental agreement (in the linked case, they didn’t have explain clearly enough, ref para 36).

        Regarding needing to be licensed, I believe this is only for “credit information” (i.e. based on the tenant payment history). If your tenant list was based on behavior, or the state of the apartment at the end of the lease, or other factors, then I suspect maintaining and sharing information based on a clear agreement would be acceptable.

          1. I understand that you feel that the case study at https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/opc-actions-and-decisions/investigations/investigations-into-businesses/2016/pipeda-2016-002/ indicates that you can’t have a bad tenant list, I was trying to highlight that I don’t agree with that binary statement, and don’t see anything in the case study that states that landlords can’t share information with third parties if they have meaningful consent to do so.

            Perhaps I missed something in the case study.

            They have an entire section tips for landlords, https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/landlords-and-tenants/02_05_d_66_tips/ that states “Except in limited and defined circumstances, the individual’s knowledge and consent is required for the collection, use or disclosure of his or her personal information.”

            I’m no PIPEDA expert, but I don’t think there is anything in that blocks all sharing of personal information, just sharing without consent. I mention the credit info because that is covered by separate legislation.

            PIPEDA for example covers the use of cameras on a property. It doesn’t state that landlords can’t have camera’s but has rules that define their use.

    1. That’s not legal, the amount of people who don’t understand you can’t just add random things or makeup contracts and have them be legally binding is hilarious.. try it and get sued for defamation and end up paying their rent for them

  5. Too bad so sad for those tenants. I’m a landlord who had place trashed ,walls kicked in, doors kicked in unpaid tent gor months. I’ve got no sympathy for them.

      1. You are right. The list is illegal, regardless. Maybe those landlords that find themselves in a bad situation should look inward, “ what is the reason behind the dissatisfaction?’”

  6. As a renter, I have never paid my rent late. Always on time, some people may be getting on the list for other reasons. We have been trying to move but get no call backs, since Covid hit and we were first threatened with our lives then told by the Super if we did not like how things were to move.

  7. Most of the tenants breaking the law all the time. This lease agreement they sign doesn’t mean anything. They breach it from day one.

    1. Author

      No matter, the bad tenant list is illegal. When you access such a list, add to it or maintain it you are breaking the law.

      1. You obviously are not a land lord and have to deal with these losers So dont be a bad tenant and you wont be on the list. Simple.

        1. Author

          Even more simple, the list is illegal and if you add a name you would be conducting an illegal act and could be held liable.

  8. So is not wearing a seatbelt and driving over the limit, doing drugs…also illegal to not pay rent when you signed an agreement that you would. So if you don’t want your name on the list then be responsible. Lucky they even rented it you in the first place.

    1. Author

      No matter, the bad tenant list is illegal. When you access such a list, add to it or maintain it you are breaking the law.

    2. Sorry pal not true we are great tenants and have written proof in writing but it’s what your look like trust me on this I have a credit report that is right this minute 769 and they to get a place thanks to our awesome friends we have a roof for now but God will look after us trust in the Lord is he brings you to it he will bring you through it… Plus I do know a landlord(( fact)) there was this women tenant who went around getting high smashing walls and your name she did it and I asked him one day can’t your kick get out??? He showed me papers without her name and the crap he was trying to do just didn’t work these landlords do go through so much to get a person evicted it is really unreal I didn’t believe it until Ron showed me right there in black and white and I am not sticking up for anybody here I have had a landlord kick us out because he went with his lawnmower right beside my car spitting rocks right on my new paint Job and I said what the what the?? Are you doing and he finally said to be get it fixed and his next words were and you can move as well. That’s what I had over time but yes there are many many great tenants many bad also and many many landlords that will NOT DO ANYTHING BUT CONNECT YOUR DIME. The government needs to step in here oh I guess the Liberal gov have our backs in this as well ..

  9. I love how landlords think they are above the law! They also seem the only “profession” who have not had to suffer from a loss of income due to covid….even tho their tenants maybe have lost significant wages and have to take out loans to pay rent…then get labeled bad tenants and put on this bs list or evicted an taken to court so the landlords don’t lose out…SMH and then they wonder why most get label slum lords lol

  10. Good god, all the landlords swarming into these comments is hilarious.

    Stop playing the victim. You have enough wealth to own multiple properties, and that’s more than a lot of people who are struggling to keep a roof over their head with meagre wages or social assistance rates.

    N.S. tenancy law and the vacancy rate already heavily favours the property owners.

    So fuck off, please.

  11. For every bad tenant, there are as equally bad landlords. Refusing to do repairs, being unnessarily rude to tenants, targeting tenants who make legitimate complaints as troublemakers, the list goes on. Why aren’t these bad landlords having a list made up on them as well? There needs to be a board set up to do what the tenancy board does not have the resources to do. That is to make monthly inspections of these buildings and let the tenants know what times they will be in their building to allow tenants to raise their concerns confidently to an independent third party. There needs to be accountability on the part of bad landlords as well.

  12. People do need a place to live! Even the undesirable’s!

    It’s becoming clear that the private market can not handle the responsibility to house our people safely.

    Landlords do not have the power to choose who gets to live with a roof and who doesn’t-

    The allowance of housing as a commodity is seemingly problematic for a variety of people- people need safe and reliable shelter. It’s scary to not have a place to live, especially with dependants.

    What’s worse is that our province allows it- can the feds weigh in on this…?
    Displacement of peoples’ is maybe more than a human rights abuse.

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