Toronto’s shrinking pool of desirable tenants is prompting landlords to offer incentives to lure people into their apartments.

Tony Marner, vice-president of Trivest Developments, says he’s given away about 300 TVs in the past year as an incentive in some of his buildings. Other landlords are offering Tim Hortons gift cards, TTC passes, cable, utilities and even rent to get prospective tenants in the door.
“It’s a tough market out there,” Marner says.

As more people abandon rental apartments for home ownership, landlords say they’re dealing with a pool of “riskier” tenants, and competition is stiff for people with a good credit rating and steady income.

But experts caution that there’s no such thing as a free TV. Harry Cho, staff lawyer for the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, says a reduction in rent over the long term would be better than something free in the short term.

“We’d really like to see better apartments, better services and affordable rents,” Cho said.

And sometimes incentives are conditional on signing a 13- or 16-month lease, which could mean legal problems if a tenant wants to break the lease.

“If the building isn’t well-kept, who cares if you get a free TV?” says landlord Andrew Ganguly, who relies on low rent as an incentive to rent his eight-unit building in south Etobicoke. “The real incentive is finding a great apartment.”