Category Archives: landlords

8 Things You Should Always Do Before Signing A Lease

things to do while apartment hunting

Make sure you know the full picture before you move in with all your stuff.

Finding the perfect rental can be a challenging process— scouring listings, cramming multiple viewings into a single day, and feeling like your ideal place is a needle in a haystack. So it’s understandable to quickly pull the trigger when you find that dream home in the perfect neighborhood with a reasonable monthly rent.

But before you sign on the dotted line for the keys to that perfect apartment for rent in Dallas, TX, there are some things to keep in mind. Pay attention to these 8 details, and you’re bound to be a happy camper once you’re all moved in.

8 Steps All Renters Should Take Before Signing a Lease:

  1. Read the entire lease

    Reading your entire lease will help prevent simple problems from popping up. But you can take this one step further and make sure you’re signing the right lease for your city or state. Ordinances vary by city and state, so be sure to call your local government to find out local regulations for landlord-tenant law. Fortunately, there are nonprofit renters’ rights organizations in most major cities, so a quick phone call can help make sure you’re on the right track.

  2. Remember: It’s a partnership

    The landlord-tenant relationship can be friendly, especially if it gets off to a good start. Present yourself well on viewing day and be as polite and professional as you would be for a job interview. They are probably showing the property to many prospective tenants — and you want to stand out in all the right ways. Also remember that as much as your landlord is trusting you with their property, you are trusting them to maintain a safe and healthy living environment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request repairs and note the response. If they’re not willing to hear your concerns or write repairs into the lease, it could foretell problems down the road.

  3. Visit the apartment at different times of day

    Maybe the master bedroom gets gorgeous morning sunlight — but also sits right under a street lamp, throwing off even the best sleeper’s circadian rhythms. (Potential solution: blackout shades!) Visiting a unit more than once and at different hours will help you get a better sense of the space, from changing noise levels to noting the best hours for soaking up the rays. And while it’s not possible to stretch out your visits over multiple seasons, it’s always a good idea to ask the landlord about the apartment under different weather conditions. He or she may be able to prepare you for a loud radiator come winter or give you the scoop on a lifesaving cross-breeze during the summer months.

  4. Ask about alterations (no matter how small)

    Most lease agreements will specify what changes you’re allowed to make to an apartment, but it’s always a good idea, before signing, to get specific. Whether you’re hoping to install patio stones in the backyard or just put some nails in the wall, be sure to bring up those enhancements at the first viewing. Landlords can differ greatly in what customization they will allow; taking it for granted that you can “make your rental home your own” could put your security deposit at risk. And if there are things you feel compromise the safety or integrity of the apartment, have your landlord agree — in writing — to make those repairs.

  5. Understand the rules for subletting

    Subletting can be a great option for renters who might need to move out early. Maybe you’re renting while planning to buy, and your dream home comes along mid-lease, or a job unexpectedly takes you to a new state. Subletting can help you avoid breaking your lease by letting someone else pay out the remaining months — but make sure your landlord allows it or would consider an exception to the rule. Penalties for subletting can range from a hefty fine to eviction, so best to be in the clear before passing off the keys to another renter.

  6. Ask what’s included (and be clear on what isn’t)

    Utilities and other hidden costs can add up if they’re not included in the monthly rent. Even if you determine that the basics like gas and electric come with the rental, be sure to ask about hidden fees like garbage pickup, on-site parking, or monthly pet fees. Or if the property hosts an on-site gym or free laundry, factor those savings into your household budget. If no utilities are included, try to get a ballpark idea of what they might cost and budget accordingly. Asking a neighbor or the previous tenant can help give you an idea of what others spend.

  7. Talk to your new neighbors

    Get to know your neighbors, even before you sign. If they’re in the same building, you can get an expert opinion on the ins and outs of your prospective rental. They can let you know what utilities usually cost, weigh in on the dependability of your landlord or property management company, and tell you what to expect from the neighborhood. Ask how long they’ve lived in their apartment: It’s a good sign if your neighbor has found reason to renew their yearly lease. Neighbors can be good for so much more than a borrowed cup of sugar!

  8. Have your papers in order

    Competitive rental markets like New York, NY, and San Francisco, CA, often see many qualified candidates vying for the same apartment. In these cases, the most crucial thing you can do before signing a lease is to be 100% prepared. Having your paperwork ready to go with your application will expedite the process and increase your chances of signing that lease.

Is there anything you wish you’d asked a landlord before signing on the dotted line?

 

Source: Trulia.com – By Christine Stulik | Apr 12, 2017

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Landlord licensing needed to fix ‘unacceptable’ conditions for low-income renters, report says

Cheryl Horne points out a hole in the bathroom of her Scarborough apartment that has gone unfixed for five years.

ACORN surveyed 174 low-income tenants about conditions in their units

Cheryl Horne is paying more than $1,000 each month for cockroaches, broken cupboards, an unsealed door that lets cold air in and gaping holes in her walls and ceilings. And her rent is about to go up.

The single mother of five calls the conditions of her Scarborough apartment “ridiculous.”

“It’s hard. It’s driving me mad,” Horne said. “But there’s nothing to do. I have to just live with it,” she said in an interview with CBC News in her unit at 3967 Lawrence Ave. E., which is near Orton Park Road.

A new report released by ACORN, a national organization of low and moderate income families, says the plight of tenants like Horne highlights the need for the city to move forward on landlord licensing.

Their State of Repair survey was distributed to 174 ACORN members across the city to measure the extent of substandard living conditions in Toronto’s rental apartments. Results reveal the majority of tenants have major deficiencies in their homes.

Cheryl Horne Acorn report door

Cheryl Horne said the hole in her door is making her feel unsafe in her Scarborough apartment. (Laura DaSilva/CBC )

Andrew Marciniak, a lead organizer at ACORN Toronto, spoke on CBC’s Metro Morning about the severity of the situation.

“People are living in squalor and paying high rent,” he said.

Of the members surveyed, 95 per cent reported violations of Toronto’s property standard bylaws in their apartments and nearly 70 percent said repairs were needed in their unit the day they moved in.

Marciniak said that cockroaches rank among the most common complaints.

“83 per cent of people say they have seen cockroaches in their home, and about a third say they see them every day,” he said.

In addition, half of respondents lack heat in winter and a quarter have mold in their apartments. Marciniak said that bed bugs, poor ventilation and faulty elevators also plague about a quarter of the tenants that were surveyed.

Basic repairs seen as hurdle

ACORN wants the City of Toronto to implement mandatory annual inspections of all buildings with three or more floors and more than 10 units. The program would be similar to the DineSafe restaurant licensing system. Landlords that fail the inspections would face large fines.

“That would teach them a lesson,” Horne said. “They live happy wherever they live and they own a building. Why can’t they make people happy the same way?”

Getting basic repairs done is a hurdle nearly 70 percent of respondents said they struggle with.

Horne said numerous written requests to her landlord have gone unfulfilled.

Although there is a complaint system for tenants through the city’s 311 system, nearly one third of respondents said they see no point in calling.

‘I’m not going to keep silent’

“Because they’re afraid,” Horne said. “A lot of people are complaining about it, but they’re keeping silent. I’m not going to keep silent.”

Horne said her building manager sends maintenance workers who are not qualified to do repairs, and they often make them worse. “You can’t bring people in to do the work of electrician or plumber that don’t have a licence,” she said. “You have to bring professional people.”

ACORN has been pushing for a policy to ensure landlords face the same scrutiny as other business owners in Toronto.

“We’d like to see landlord licensing,” said Marciniak. “Also, an engagement program for tenants so they know their rights and they know the city is looking out for them.”  

In June, Toronto city council voted 33-6 to ask municipal licensing staff to start public consultations on a plan to crack down on bad landlords.

ACORN Canada president Marva Burnett said ACORN members will be at city hall over the next two months as city council reviews a staff report to ensure any new program is the best one possible.

“Toronto city council and Mayor John Tory have a golden opportunity to leave a legacy and ensure all tenants live in a healthy home,” Burnett said in a statement.

Source: By Laura DaSilva, CBC News Posted: Nov 01, 2016 8:00 AM ET

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A reminder to not take shortcuts

Hefty fines to landlords are a sobering reminder to investors that buildings should be up to code, or they could face the same sort of financial repercussions.

Two landlords in two separate cities are facing substantial fines for building code violations, proving shortcuts can be costly.

A property owner in St. Catherines, Ont., was ordered to pay $8,000 for fire code violations and will also face probation.

“When the court issues a probation order it’s a reflection of the seriousness of the violations,” Fire Chief Dave Wood told local publication, Niagara this Week. “Property owners are responsible for making sure their tenants are safe at home and we have zero tolerance for those who continually neglect their responsibilities. Fire alarms and extinguishers have to work when lives are at risk.”

In a separate case, an Alberta landlord – who had previously been warned about building violations – was fined over $20,000.

In that instance, the owner ignored warnings to address improperly-sized basement windows as well as fire alarm installations.

“All of these things are about minimizing safety risk so someone can escape in case of fire,” Judge Mike Dinkel said during sentencing, according to the Calgary Herald. “The interconnected alarm is so people upstairs can get out. These are pretty crucial things. You don’t want to follow them just to fulfill them, but because they save lives.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth by Justin da Rosa18 Dec 2015

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How landlords can steer clear of bad tenants

for rent

Any landlord who has been involved in the real estate rental business for more than a few years has likely come across a tenant disaster, or at least knows somebody who has. One of the most common comments we hear from prospective, current, and former landlords relates to the headaches caused by accidentally renting to a bad tenant.

The relationship between landlord and tenant is known to be rocky, at the very least, and disastrous or expensive in a worst-case situation. Bad tenants have left landlords with garbage to clean up after suddenly leaving a property, pet damage and repairs in suites clearly marked as not allowing pets, damage to property after massive parties, junk removal requirements after night-time move-outs, and everything in between.

Horror stories are everywhere, and news travels fast: selecting the right tenants is the most important step in the real estate rental business. Landlords who can master this skill will succeed in the business, while the opposite is also true, unfortunately. Bad tenants are the number one reason for landlords leaving the industry and selling their properties in search of greener pastures.

Landlording is a risky business. Selecting a disreputable tenant who causes major damage to a unit can leave a landlord with a significant bill for clean-up and repairs, scare off other regularly paying tenants, and even label the landlord as inattentive or with the classic slumlord designation.

Unfortunately, there is rarely any insurance that can protect landlords in this area, and a problematic tenancy resulting in a massive expense will almost never pass the strict criteria that an insurance policy will require prior to paying out on a repair claim.

Tenancy laws throughout Canada differ greatly, but they all set out specific protections for both landlords and tenants. Most landlords assert that the laws favour tenants in almost every situation. Certain provinces, such as Alberta, offer slightly more protection to landlords than other provinces, where landlords can be forced to endure a problematic tenancy for months, or even years.

How to screen your prospective tenant
The best and most sure-fire way for landlords to avoid having to deal with this problem starts at the very beginning of the landlord-tenant relationship. Landlords who screen their tenants properly will greatly reduce the risk of future loss, maintain their reputation in the greater community without blemish, and not be constantly stressed about their rental properties.

Here are three tried and true methods of selecting the best and most qualified tenants and learning ways to avoid costly disasters.

1.) Rental documents
As any real estate or courtroom lawyer will tell you, good documents are the starting point of any successful business relationship. Having a successful tenancy requires good, clear, concise definitions of everybody’s responsibilities and rights. Skipping this step means a tenancy relationship is beginning without a solid foundation, and during times of difficulty there may be nothing to refer to for clarification.

Rental application form

This document is probably the most important of any document in the entire rental process, which comes as a surprise to many new landlords.

A good rental application will require information on:
the applicant’s job
their supervisor
their income
current address
landlord reference, friends and referees
government identification
next of kin and extended family members
any additional details believed to be relevant to the approval process

This information will help landlords gain a better understanding of the tenant’s characteristics. More importantly, however, it gives the landlord some good contacts to track down the tenant if they should disappear. Visithttp://hopestreet.ca/rental_resources/ for a free download of a comprehensive Rental Application Form.

Move-in inspection report
This is the second-most important document in the landlord-tenant relationship. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked.

Most provinces require a landlord and tenant to complete a move-in report upon onset of a tenancy. This quantifies and documents the condition of a property so that, when the tenant leaves, any damage caused is clear. A thorough and concise move-in report card is a sure-fire way of avoiding significant disputes over tenant-related damage. Most provinces require a landlord to produce this report prior to deducting any funds from a tenant’s security deposit.

Residential tenancy agreement
As the name suggests, this document will establish the terms of the working relationship between the tenant and landlord. In general, the more detail it provides the better, and sourcing a free online residential tenancy document is not sufficient to cover a landlord’s interests.

Most local rental associations will sell well-written and well-researched versions of residential tenancy agreement documents with several carbon copies for each party. Landlords and tenants fill in various fields relating to names, address, and rental amounts.

Addendum to residential tenancy agreement
This can be a small side document that forms part of the agreement and sets out additional rules for items such as pets, smoking in the unit, or penalties for late rental payments. These documents are harder to enforce but establish good guidelines for the day-to-day operations of a rental property.

2.) What to look for when showing rental property
The first interaction with a tenant provides a great opportunity to gain an impression of them. During the initial showing, the tenant may be more concerned with looking around their new home than acting in a manner consistent with getting their application approved. Some careful observations by the landlord can be extremely useful when considering the tenant’s application.

Here are a few things to look for:

Did the tenants arrive on time?
Tenants who are respectful of their landlord’s time are good tenants to have. Common excuses for showing up late are that the tenant got lost, or was not able to round up family members or kids. Are these seemingly minor excuses reasonable? Probably not. Tenants who do not arrive on time for a showing are not likely to pay their rent on time either. Avoid these tenants at all costs.

Are the children well behaved?
Tenants who want something – in this case, to move into your rental property – are likely to be on their best behaviour. They will speak politely, act respectfully, and maintain a professional manner. Kids, on the other hand, can be cautioned numerous times to behave but have shorter attention spans. Are the kids bouncing around the property in a rambunctious manner? Be sure their behaviour will become much worse when the landlord leaves the premises. If the tenant’s kids are behaving poorly during the showing, expect the property to be returned to you with obvious damage from rambunctious kids.

Did tenant take off their shoes?
If a landlord has to ask the tenant to remove their shoes, this is a good indication that they are not in the habit of doing so. While this may be a personal choice, and can be a cultural issue, tenants who remove their shoes are likely to cause less stress on the flooring of a rental property. Avoid tenants who plan to wear shoes inside their rental property.

What does the back seat of the tenant’s car look like?
This is a tried and true technique for learning whether the prospective renter will keep the rental property clean, or let clutter, dirt and debris build up. Avoid tenants with garbage in their car, as this will mirror the cleanliness of their home.

3.) Verifying information in a rental application
The rental application contains the most comprehensive set of information about the prospective renters and should take the most time to review and confirm.

Renters are extremely unlikely to include information in their application that they know will hinder their chance of having it approved. In addition to thorough follow-up of the details in the application, follow the smell test for your rental tenants. If a landlord happens to smell a skunk hiding in the rental application, then the balance of probabilities suggests there is in fact a skunk hiding there. In practice this means that if a tenant’s information seems too good to be true, it usually is. Ask the following questions:

Does the tenant’s stated income seem unreasonably high?
Look for ways to confirm this income, such as a letter of employment from a reputable business. If the income is from self-employment, ask for a recent tax return to confirm it. Remember: the more intrusive the questioning, the less likelihood of a disaster or massive repair bill from a problematic tenancy.

Is the employer reputable?
A quick Google search to confirm the existence of the company or place of work provided by the tenant should be sufficient. If it does not exist or is extremely difficult to find online, then it is likely to have been made up. If the tenant claims to be self-employed, ask for a business card or marketing/promotional materials to prove the company’s existence. If it cannot be confirmed, decline the tenant’s application.

Are there gaps in the tenant’s rental history?
If a tenant’s application lacks previous landlord information for a period of time (typically six or 12 months), they may be trying to hide a less than positive past tenancy. If they refuse to provide comprehensive chronological information for the past two years, ask where they lived during the missing time. A backpacking trip overseas or living with parents are acceptable responses; disclosure of a problematic tenancy followed by court eviction is not an acceptable response.

Ask the current referees if they can provide names and contact information for other referees
Following these strategies will help you weed out undesirable applicants and greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the likelihood of a rental catastrophe.

Source: SHAMON KURESHI Special to The Globe and Mail Published Tuesday, Sep. 03, 2013 6:00AM EDT

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Is it time to sell your rental property? Or time to buy another?

Landlords should be paying close attention to the conflicting views and data on Canadian real estate.

According to Statistics Canada, 69 per cent of Canadians own homes, so most of us have reason to worry about the fate of the housing market. Landlords, in particular, make a conscious choice to invest in real estate that goes beyond just a place for their families to live. As a result, landlords should be paying close attention to the conflicting views and data on Canadian real estate.

One in 20 Canadians own rental real estate according to the Financial Industry Research Monitor. An Altus Group study shows that for households earning more than $100,000 per year, rental real estate ownership is twice that of the general population – about 10 per cent.

So the question is: buy or sell?

Buy

Donald Trump may very well be the next President of the United States. And the man knows a thing or two about real estate. So it may be of interest to aspiring Canadian real estate moguls to consider the opinion of Trump’s right hand-man, executive vice-president and senior counsel of The Trump Organization, George H. Ross: “I don’t agree it’s overvalued. I think it’s undervalued . . . and there is plenty of room for improvement.”

The supply and demand dynamics appear good on the surface for Canadian rental properties. Vacancy rates are below two per cent for cities like Toronto and Vancouver, according to CMHC. Rising real estate prices have likely helped to buoy demand for rentals, with price increases well in excess of the salary increases for average families in recent years. Some of those average families are now opting to rent instead of buy and that bodes well for landlords given that vacancies are often the biggest risk with a rental property.

Millennials are clearly helping to drive rental demand. Home ownership is unreasonable in many Canadian centres, so rental properties – particularly condos suitable for a single person or young couples – have got to benefit.

Beyond that, real estate is becoming a more attractive investment option for insurance companies and pension funds looking for alternatives to the crumby yields on bonds. And real estate investment trusts would be crazy not to take advantage of low interest rates to load up on more real estate. If real estate is where the smart money is going, why would anyone consider selling?

Sell

According to real estate brokerage CBRE Group, rental starts are twice their five-year average in the six biggest cities in Canada. These statistics are probably understating the actual numbers because developers often have projects registered as condos initially instead of rentals. Who is going to buy, let alone rent all of these properties? Canadian immigration is pretty steady year over year and it’s not like there was a second baby boom with a pipeline of young people looking to move out of their parents’ basements.

The Bank of Canada has expressed concerns over potential real estate corrections in certain cities, specifically singling out Toronto. “The adverse impact of the oil price shock in Alberta and continued robust price growth in Toronto . . . suggest[s] a risk of a correction,” said the Bank.

It’s no secret that stocks have been sliding lately. Global markets are mostly negative year-to-date and in particular, here in Canada, oil stocks are on sale. Isn’t the old adage to buy low and sell high? As in buy Canadians stocks and sell Canadian real estate?

If the Bank of Canada’s opinion or cheap oil stocks aren’t reason enough to consider dumping Canadian rental properties, what about the warnings from Deutsche Bank, suggesting Canada is overvalued by 63 per cent, or the International Monetary Fund’s prediction that “Canada’s overvalued housing market may be cooling off.”

So we have reasonable arguments in favour of buying as well as in support of selling your rental property. On a case by case basis, investors have got to consider things like:

  1. Their timeline for needing any potential capital from their real estate holdings. In other words, is a sale likely in the next five years to help fund retirement? If so, consider selling sooner rather than later as your timeline shortens and the risk of a real estate correction increases.
  1. Their exposure to real estate. Is real estate a large component of your investable assets? If so, consider diversifying into other asset classes simply for prudent diversification.
  1. Their capital gains tax. Is there a big tax bill looming if you sell that may be better deferred indefinitely?
  1. Their capitalization rate. In other words, what is your rent to market value ratio? Some rental properties are yielding a 10 per cent return relative to their market value, which is a pretty nice “dividend” even if prices do go sideways or down. On the other hand, in some hot real estate markets, annual rents are becoming puny relative to what a property could be sold for – as low as three to four per cent. Maybe that money could be better invested elsewhere.

Source: Financial Post. Jason Heath is a fee-only certified financial planner and income tax professional for Objective Financial Partners Inc. in Toronto.

To find out more about investing in real estate, attend our next real estate information session on October 22nd, 2015. Click here for more info.

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Got kids? Find another place to live

Twenty-two-month-old Ava McCubbin has a toddler’s chubby cheeks, blond hair and an infectious smile. She’s also a big reason why her parents, Gina and Bruce McCubbin, can’t find a place to live.

“When I contacted a landlord and I explained that we had Ava, she abruptly told me that she wasn’t welcome.”  Bruce McCubbin told CBC News.

The McCubbins moved to Toronto from Edinburgh, Scotland in July.  For Gina McCubbin, who grew up in Toronto’s east end, it was a homecoming. They had a temporary place to stay with Gina’s mother.  Bruce quickly found a good, full-time job, and the couple started looking for an apartment to rent.

They immediately started noticing a pattern, one confronting many Canadians.

Euphemisms for ‘no kids’

“At first it was … ‘professionals only’ and it was like, OK, I get it.” Gina said.  “Then it became more blunt.”

The McCubbins soon learned to cross out rental ads targeting those ‘professionals’ and apartments billed as suiting ‘mature individuals’ and ‘ideal for quiet couples’ and even ‘not professionally soundproofed.’

for rent

The moment you put up a FOR RENT sign, your home becomes a business. (CP)

But they were surprised at how many stated outright ‘Adult Building’ or ‘Not suitable for children’.

“We really want to settle down, we want our roots in the community and you almost feel like you’re not welcome,”  Bruce McCubbin said. “It felt for me very disheartening.”

It’s also illegal.

Violates human-rights legislation

“Once a landlord decides to rent a unit to the public, they are obliged under human-rights legislation to do so in a way that does not discriminate,” said Cherie Robertson, a senior policy analyst with theOntario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).

There are some exceptions.

If the landlord is living in the same place and shares a bathroom or a kitchen with the tenant, for instance, they are allowed to stipulate who they want to live in the unit. The protections against discrimination don’t apply.

The same goes for buildings that are seniors’ residences or care facilities for people over the age of 65, but that’s about it.

The list of reasons why a tenant cannot be refused an apartment includes race, religion, marital status, sexual orientation and disability. Landlords also cannot discriminate based on income source (such as welfare or disability payments) or even, somewhat surprisingly, pets.

Discriminating against families with children is against human rights legislation in every province.

Discriminatory language in rental ads

In 2012, the OHRC conducted an inquiry and found that on some of the more popular rental listing websites, as many as 20 per cent included language that could potentially or intentionally target people who are protected by the human rights code.

CBC News found several examples of ads that contain language that is discriminatory toward families with children.

Ways landlords say “NO KIDS”

  • It’s a quiet building.
  • Adult lifestyle building.
  • Not soundproof.
  • Geared to young professionals.
  • Ideal for a student.
  • Seeking mature couple.
  • Prefer single professionals.
  • Great for working folks.
  • Ideal for quiet couple.
  • Too small for a family.

Calls to phone numbers listed on those ads were not returned.

Landlords can face thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees if they’re found to be in violation of a tenant’s human rights.

“It is frustrating.  You just hope that landlords realize that it’s a painful process to have a complaint filed against them. They want to avoid that and by being proactive in educating themselves they could do it quite easily,” the OHRC’s Robertson said.

Afraid to complain

While the commission has the power to act on its own, dealing with discrimination in housing is mostly a complaint-driven process.

And that can also be an issue.

Sarah Khoo and her husband were looking for an apartment in Toronto last March. They found one they liked, met the landlord and filled out an application.

He turned them down.

“He just rejected us because I have a child,” Khoo said.

In Khoo’s case, the landlord actually put it in writing.

He sent her an email — obtained by CBC News — saying the soundproofing is “not very satisfactory” and “Therefore we feel the apartment is not suitable for a family with small children.” The email didn’t cite any other reasons for rejecting the family.  

Khoo works for one of Canada’s big banks. Her husband has a government job. She says they have great credit, don’t smoke and don’t have any pets.

Yet their two-year-old daughter Ella made them unsuitable.

“I was angry. My husband was even angrier,” Khoo said.

Khoo didn’t file a complaint.

And neither did the McCubbins.

Experts say many tenants don’t complain, put off by the process and the possibility of being seen as a problem tenant.

Tip of the iceberg?

“For every one person that comes forward, we don’t actually know how many other people are facing the same issue,” said Annie Hodgins of the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, an organization that gives advice and information to people facing discrimination in housing.

Hodgins says the centre receives more than 1,500 calls a year from people facing discrimination. She estimates between five and 10 per cent of those involve family-based discrimination.

In a tight rental market, Hodgins says, that can often mean families end up in substandard housing.  Not to mention it can be deeply painful for those being discriminated against.

It’s not your home, it’s a business

“People say ‘Well, this is my house, I’ll rent to whoever I like.’ No, it’s not your house. The minute you start to generate revenue, it’s a business,” Hodgins said.

The fact is though, many of those businesses simply don’t want to rent to families.

Three months after arriving in Canada, the McCubbins are still looking for a place to live. And still trying to understand why so many landlords don’t want their 22-month-old daughter living in their rental property.

“Families go to bed early. We don’t party,” Bruce McCubbin said.  “Ava’s a very, very nice, laid-back kid. She’s quiet and good natured. Not all children are little devils.”

Source: CBC By Aaron Saltzman, CBC News Posted: Sep 21, 2015 5:00 AM ET

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Home ‘suite’ home

Home ‘suite’ home

Income suites are a hot topic these days given the rising costs of homeownership in Canada. The concept is simple enough: a homeowner can turn an area of their home into a legal, self-contained apartment then collect rent each month to off-set the costs of owning and maintaining the property.

This can be a sound investment strategy for your clients; to actualize the dream of owning a home or to further expand their real estate investment portfolio.

But there are a few things to advise your clients on before they decide to become a landlord in their own home.

1. Financial implications

One of the most obvious advantages to adding a legal basement suite is the rental income, which can help pay down the mortgage or assist with the on-going yearly expenses and maintenance of a property once the mortgage has been paid off.

Another advantage is the increase in re-sale value because income suites attract a wider range of buyers, such as first-time homeowners hoping to climb up the property ladder, real estate investors wanting to build up their portfolio, or buyers who plan to live with extended family or elderly in-laws.

Having an income property does come with some tax implications. While the homeowner will need to declare the income they receive each month on their tax return, they will also have the benefit of writing things off, such as a portion of the yearly home maintenance, mortgage interest or utility costs, if they are included in the rent. There may also be other tax benefits or liabilities depending on the individual situation, so it is best to speak with an accountant for the details.

2. Know the rules

Find out what the rights and responsibilities are for both landlords and tenants by visiting the municipal bylaw office. They will supply the homeowner with a copy of the Rental Act, which outlines the rules and regulations governing rental suites in the area and the procedure to resolve any disputes that may arise during the tenancy.

The bylaw office will also determine whether the planned income suite complies with local zoning plans or if any permits are needed to legalize changes to the existing suite.

The homeowner will also need to determine how much to charge for the monthly rent and what utilities and amenities will be included, if any. Take into consideration whether this will include the heat, water or power in the rental amount.

Does the unit have in-suite laundry facilities or can it come furnished? Will the tenant have a dedicated parking spot or be allowed to have pets? They will also want to consider how much privacy they need in the exterior spaces of their home. Will the tenant have unlimited access to the backyard or deck area?

Browse the local rental listings on Kijiji and Craigslist or read the latest rental market reports on the CMHC website to find out what the going rates are in the neighbourhood.

3. Proper paperwork paramount

A large part of being a successful landlord is having all of the paperwork in order. This is not only important for maintaining a positive relationship with the tenant, but also protects the homeowner and their property if the tenancy does not work out for some reason.

One of the most challenging aspects of having an income property is finding the right tenant to move into the space. The tenant needs to be well suited for the homeowner’s individual lifestyle; renting to an Operatic singer who practises at home may seem like a great idea at first – free concerts every day – but what happens when it’s time to put that newborn infant down for an afternoon nap?

It’s important to qualify all of the prospective tenants who apply to live in the unit. Start by asking them to fill out an application form detailing their personal identifying information, employment status and previous rental history.

It’s also a good idea to have the tenant supply a few references that the homeowner can call to verify the information the prospective tenant has provided. Lastly, they will want their permission to perform credit history and criminal record check.

Once the perfect tenant has been selected, sign a lease – standard form leases are available at the municipal bylaw office – detailing every aspect of the arrangement from the rental amount, to property rules and the procedure for ending the tenancy.

On move-in day, the homeowner should perform a pre-inspection walk-thru with the tenant then fill out a rental unit condition report. This report will be compared to the unit condition report that is filled out when the tenancy is over.

The homeowner should also keep detailed records of how and when the rent is paid, any repairs or maintenance performed on the unit, document any disputes or problems with the tenant and, finally, ensure the tenant receives a copy of all of the paperwork for their records.

Adding a rental unit to a home can come with a unique set of challenges and not everybody is cut out to be a landlord. But for those of your clients who tackle this type of property investment, having an income suite can be a ‘sweet’ way to further expand their real estate empire.

Source: Real Estate Professional
May 29, 2015