I-TIP: Look up your landlord

Before you rent, do a little research on your landlord. The Residential Tenancies Branch has a database that keeps a record of landlords and tenants who have had to turn to the province to solve rental disputes.

Do some research with Residential Tenancies Branch before you rent

There's lots to consider when you're looking at possible rentals. One thing you should also consider is looking into the background of the rental agency itself. 1:22

Location, counter space, roomy bathroom, evidence of bedbugs — oh, and is there parking?

There's lots to think about when you're looking at possible rentals. One thing you should also consider is looking into the background of the rental agency itself.

You can always check out online reviews and ratings of rental agencies, but there are a few places you can go in Manitoba that give you an official public record of past complaints and issues involving the landlord.
Residential Tenancies Branch director Laura Gowerluk shows CBC reporter Katie Nicholson how the database works. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

One easy search you can do from any device is a quick scan of Court of Queen's Bench records. Simply enter the name of the company in the name search field and you can review the company's past court dealings.

A Queen's Bench search may turn up a number of legal items that aren't particularly useful for potential renters. You might, for example, find small claims actions with contractors or utilities that might not be relevant.

A more focused search for potential landlord trouble can be done at the Residential Tenancies Branch. The provincial government division has a database that allows the public to look up both landlords and renters. If there have been Residential Tenancies Branch orders against your landlord or tenant, records will be in the system.

The Residential Tenancies Branch orders database can be used by the public at a cost of $5 for 30 minutes. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

The database organizes its orders by category. You'll be able to see whether a landlord has any active claim orders, possession orders, rent payment redirects, repair orders, security deposit orders, uninhabitable orders or utility orders. It's also a handy tool for landlords who can screen renters for previous or outstanding orders.

Accessing the database costs $5 per half hour, which is a minor expense when you consider the costly headache it could prevent if you sign on with a company with a checkered past.