VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you’re looking to rent in one of Downtown Vancouver’s newest buildings, taking a personality test may be your chance to get through the door.
On the Brixton Flats website, anyone interested in submitting an application for a studio, one, two, or three bedroom apartment needs to fill out an extensive application form.
It starts off with the usual request for information, including a prompt for your name and current address. You also have the option of putting down whether you have any pets or need a parking spot.
Want to give your application a boost by connecting your social media pages? You can do that too.
Then comes the part of the application where you are asked to rate statements like “I admire people who own expensive homes, cars and clothes,” or “I am relaxed most of the time.”
Andrew McLeod, co-founder of Certn — which runs a pre-screening software company used by a number of property managers, says the idea is to help tenants “put their best foot forward.”
“We built the platform, we designed it so that it would actually help enhance the scores of tenants, especially those that were good because not everybody has the best credit score,” McLeod tells NEWS 1130. “We wanted to figure out a way to look at something other than just the applicant’s credit in order to make them a better potential candidate.”
When NEWS 1130 tried to fill out the application, that portion of it was mandatory, citing “Management for this listing has required that the Personality Questionnaire be completed.”
McLeod says the questionnaire is supposed to be optional in British Columbia, and claims that is something he would look to get fixed as soon as possible.
But why should your personality dictate whether or not you are suitable for an apartment, especially in an already crowded rental market? McLeod stands by the idea that it’s all in the name of helping a person get past just their financial history.
“It means that this applicant is going to get a better chance of getting that apartment as opposed to just strictly looking at credit.”
The personality questionnaire isn’t being completely well received by all, after surfacing on social media sites like Reddit.
“Because it’s not hard enough to find and afford an [apartment] in this city, now they are asking people to take personality exams? What a mess,” writes one user.
However, the property management company in charge of Brixton Flats says it’s had a lot of success using Certn to help pre-screen interested applicants.
“Certn was introduced to us through another landlord as a great application software for us to be able to integrate into our website to be able to provide opportunities for tenants to be able to apply online and go through an initial pre-screening service,” explains GMC Projects’ Jordan Milne.
Milne however says he wasn’t aware that applicants were forced to fill out the personality test until NEWS 1130 brought it to his attention.
“We’ve had some great success with using Certn,” Milne says.
The application also contains a number of optional sections, asking what your SIN or drivers license number is and even asking questions like whether or not you’ve ever been convicted of a felony.
While asking for a prospective tenant’s criminal history is allowed, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC says a landlord must tell the tenant the “purposes for which they are requesting that information” if one is requested.
“If you look at the guidance document, Private Sector Landlords and Tenants, under ‘always authorized’ number nine is ‘consent for a criminal record check,'” McLeod explains. “So that’s in British Columbia, with the March 22nd the most recent guidance documents that were published, it does allow you to do a criminal record check. This question is not a mandatory question that needs to be answered, so you can continue through the application.”
But if you actually choose to answer, McLeod claims it gives the prospective tenant the ability to explain themselves, an option he says might otherwise be impossible.
“What if it was a complete accident… I don’t have the opportunity to explain that, and it might make it impossible to find a place to live,” he says. “It could have also been something that had come up 20 years ago and if you’re subject to a criminal record check, that is something that’s going to appear and you’re not going to be able to explain yourself.”
He adds the system complies with PIPA, PIPIDA and the latest Guidance Document landlords and tenants.
Certn’s screening services are used by a number of landlords and property managers across Canada, including here in BC, in Alberta, Winnipeg. McLeod says it’s been well received so far.
“It’s not something that landlords and property managers are forced to use, obviously,” he adds.
McLeod says the concept for the pre-screening software came out of his and his business partners’ own experience in trying to find suitable housing in the city.
“With our system [the landlord] is able to get a better picture of the applicant outside of just their credit. So if you’re a student or a new immigrant, or your credit’s not that great, you now have a much better chance of getting that property than you did before when they could only rent to a rich person who was born and raised in Canada and had all the opportunities in the world to get the best possible credit.”