Tag Archives: apartment rentals

LIVING THE HIGH LIFE

LIVING THE HIGH LIFE

Too many modern flats are samey and soulless. A new book celebrates the architects coming up with creative solutions for our overcrowded cities

Michael Webb is a lucky man. An architecture and design critic, he has lived for nearly 40 years in a modernist hilltop apartment in Los Angeles, the same development where Orson Welles used to live. It is “well-planned…with abundant natural light”, surrounded by trees that give shade and privacy, and has windows “that pull in breezes from the ocean”. Two of its previous owners, Charles and Ray Eames, loved living there so much that when they moved out they wrote to its architect, Richard Neutra, to thank him.

The Isokon building in London (1933), designed by Wells Coates

Unsurprisingly, Webb is a strong advocate for flat-dwelling. In the introduction to his new book, “Building Community: New Apartment Architecture”, published by Thames and Hudson, he speaks of an “urgent need to build many more apartments” to relieve housing shortages in our cities, to use land more economically and to avoid long commutes to suburbia – which he describes as a “wasteful delusion”. (You can’t imagine him being a fan of the British government’s proposed solution to the housing crisis, which is to build houses in new, commuter-friendly garden villages.)

Sadly, he explains, most modern apartments are terrible. Risk-averse, profit-hungry developers conspire to produce blocks and towers packed with “claustrophobic cells [that] open off double-loaded corridors. Light and air come from one side only, and balconies are usually vestigial.” A brief survey of the finest modernist and brutalist schemes – from the Isokon building in Hampstead to Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseille – is a depressing reminder of our current paucity of imagination.

In an attempt to demonstrate the “unrealised potential” of the apartment building, Webb has gathered together 30 examples of recent developments from around the world. They range fom luxury flats to social housing; from low-rise buildings to high-rises. There aren’t as many photographs of the interiors as there might have been and while Webb has interviewed many of the architects you long to hear the voices of the residents (who are, after all, the ultimate judges of a building’s success). But it’s fascinating to see these creative responses to the deceptively simple challenge of fitting a lot of people into a small space.

 

CityLife, Milan, Zaha Hadid Architects (2004-14)

During the noughties, starchitects were falling over themselves to build apartments for the well-to-do. Zaha Hadid’s flats form part of the gated residential complex at CityLife, a 1km sq development in central Milan, which includes skyscrapers by Hadid, Daniel Libeskind (who also designed apartments) and Arata Isozaki, as well as a park and its own subway station. The streamlined curves of some 1930s flats (see the Isokon building) were a nod to the design of ocean-liners. Hadid’s apartments, with their rippling façade of cedar and white enamel, have all the subtlety of a mega-yacht. She wasn’t commissioned to design the apartment interiors (“probably just as well”, says Webb) but she did “shape the spaces”, adding even more curves for interior designers to contend with.

 

The Interlace, Singapore, OMA/Ole Scheeren (2007-13)

Imagine two giants playing Jenga and you have the Interlace, an apartment complex that is at once outrageous and awe-inspiring. Ole Scheeren, its architect, was so bored with the clusters of high-rises that were springing up all over Asia, that when he got a brief to fit 1,040 units over 20 acres, he decided to try a novel approach. The result is a kind of deconstructed high-rise – complete with Olympic-sized swimming pool and a thoughtful amount of greenery – that Scheeren believes is a prototype for affordable living. He is proud that the Interlace is 90% occupied, “unlike many upscale towers that have become ghost towns because apartments are bought for speculation and sit empty.”

 

25 Verde, Turin, Luciano Pia (2007-13)

If the Swiss Family Robinson moved to Turin they would feel right at home in this green-fingered fantasy. The block incorporates 150 trees, looked after by residents with help from gardeners, who also tend the building’s communal garden. It is part of a growing trend for architects to “build” live trees into their creations. As well as being pleasing aesthetically, trees muffle noise pollution and provide shade and privacy. The 63 apartments, which, says Webb, “have attracted a diversity of middle-income residents”, range in size from 480 to a generous 1,720 sq ft.

 

Sugar Hill, New York, Adjaye Associates (2012-14)

“We tried not to make something merely acceptable to the poor – I find that idea quite offensive…what excited me was to create a building that was not just about housing [but rather] a new urban experience.” It was precisely David Adjaye’s excitement that convinced Broadway Housing Communities, a non-profit organisation, to commission him to build this 13-storey, mixed-use development in Harlem.

Clad in dark concrete that has been ribbed to catch the light, it is dotted with square windows which playfully reference the local architecture (although some neighbouring residents have compared it to a prison). As well as 124 flats – 70% are for people earning less than half the average wage and 25 are for homeless people – the building contains a children’s education centre, a children’s museum and workshops where residents are encouraged to make their own art.

It’s disappointing that the flats don’t have balconies and that most are single-aspect, with windows at just one end. It’s also a shame – especially given the family-focussed public areas – that there are so few three-bedroom flats (each floor contains only one, compared with five studio apartments). But architects have to work within tight constraints, both financially and in terms of the units they are asked to provide.

 

V_Itaim, Sao Paulo, Studio MK27 (2011-14)

One of the biggest objections people have had to living in flats is the lack of privacy. This is even more of a problem now, with the ubiquitous floor-to-ceiling windows found in modern developments. The architects of this tower block in Sao Paulo have devised an ingenious, and beautiful, solution. Shutters made from perforated freijo wood can be slid and folded across the windows, shielding residents from nosy onlookers and providing shade, as well as adding an ever-changing pattern to the concrete façade. If only the developers of the London flats that are overlooked by the viewing gallery at Tate Modern’s new extension, the Switch House, had been so imaginative.

Source: 1843 Magazine – ANNA BADDELEY | JANUARY 17TH 2017

Building Community: New Apartment Architecture, Thames & Hudson, February 23rd

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7-Step Process for Finding Great Contractors for Home Renovations

To be blunt, most contractors are terrible. As a landlord, I deal with it all the time. 

They don’t answer their phone. They don’t show up when they said they would. They don’t do what they said they are going to do.

But there ARE gems to be found in the rubble. The problem is most people have no idea how to identify that great contractor from all the bad ones out there—until long AFTER they’ve already hired one.

I want to share with you my seven-step process to identify a great contractor before hiring them. Whether you’re remodeling your own home, a rental property, flipping houses, or need a contractor for something else, here’s how to land a great one.

How to Find a Great Contractor

  1. Build your contractor list

What I mean by this is you need to get the names and phone numbers of a lot of different contractors in your area. I mean, if we’re searching for a needle in a haystack, we have to first get a haystack.

You can find potential contractors in a number of ways, but my three favorite are: 

  1. Referrals, meaning ask people you know who they have used
  2. Referrals, so yeah, asking people you know who they have used
  3. You guessed it! Referrals.

Human nature is to generally do what you’ve always done. It doesn’t guarantee success, but when you know a contractor has done great work in the past, it’s likely they’ll do it again.

So get in the habit of asking your friends and family often—even when you’re not looking for a contractor. “Who did this work for you?” Then, keep track of those referrals.

There are a few other ways to find contractors, as well. I like to talk to other contractors and ask who they like working with.

Rockstars tend to party with other rockstars, and good tradesmen tend to work with other good tradesmen.

For example, I have a great finish carpenter, so I can ask him, “Hey, do you know any great plumbers?”

You can also build your list by snapping a photo every time you see a contractor sign on the side of a work truck, or by searching Yelp, or by asking the employees in the pro department of your local home store who they like.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Finding an Incredible Contractor

  1. Pre-screening on the phone and in person

Just as with tenants, our opinion of the contractor begins the moment we start talking with them, whether over email, phone, or in person.

Do they carry themselves professionally? Do they respond well to questions?

Ask them some general questions, such as:

  • How long have you been in this line of work?
  • What skill would you say you are the best at?
  • What job tasks do you hate doing?
  • In what cities do you typically work?
  • How many employees work for you? (Or “work in your company” if you are not talking to the boss.)
  • How busy are you?
  • Do you pull permits, or would I need to?
  • If I were to hire you, when could you start knocking out tasks?

Then, set up a time to meet and show them the project, if you have one. Set an appointment and be sure to show up a few minutes early, just to see exactly what time they arrive.

Are they on time? Late? Early? Do they look professional? How do they act?

If everything feels OK after this first meeting, move on to the next step.

man sitting at desk working on a computer

  1. Google them

The first thing we do now when looking for information on a certain contractor is to simply search Google for their name and their company name. This can often unearth any big red flags about the person.

You’ll also want to add your city name and some other keywords to the search, such as “scam” or “rip off” or “court.”

For example, if we wanted to find out more about First Rate Construction Company in Metropolis, we would search things like:

  • First Rate Construction Metropolis
  • First Rate Construction scam
  • First Rate Construction sue
  • First Rate Construction court
  • First Rate Construction evil

These terms can help you discover major complaints about a contractor. But keep in mind, not all complaints are valid. Some people are just crazy.

What this will do, however, is give you direction about what steps to take next.

  1. Ask for references

Next, ask the contractor for references from previous people for whom they have worked. Photos are nice, but names and addresses are better.

Then, do what 90 percent of the population will never do and actually call those references!

You may want to ask the reference several questions, like:

  1. What work did they do?
  2. How fast did they do it?
  3. Did they keep a clean job site?
  4. You are related to [contractor’s name], right? (If they are, they will think you were already privy to that information and will have no problem answering honestly!)
  5. Any problems working with them?
  6. Would you hire them again?
  7. Can I take a look at the finished product? (This could be in person or via pictures.)

These questions will help you understand more about the abilities and history of the contractor. Then, if possible, actually check out the work the contractor did and make sure it looks good.

Another tip recently given to us by J Scott was to ask the contractor to tell you about a recent big job they’ve done. Contractors love to brag about their big jobs, so he or she will likely regale you with the story of how much work they needed to do and how great it looked at the end.

Find out the address, and then go to the city and verify that a permit was pulled for that project. If not, the contractor did all the work without a permit, which is a good indication they are not a contractor you want on your team.

  1. Verify

It’s okay to be trusting, but make sure the contractor is worthy of your trust first! To do this, first verify that they truly do have a license to do whatever work you intend for them to do.

If they are an electrician, make sure they have an electrical license. If they are a plumber, make sure they have a plumbing license. If they are a general contractor, make sure they have a general contractor’s license.

Next, make sure they do actually have the proper insurance and bond. As we mentioned earlier, you could ask them to bring proof, but you can also simply ask the name of their insurance agent and verify it with that agent. Either way, just make sure they have it.

Remember: this protects you.

  1. Hire them for one small task

Before hiring the contractor to do a large project, hire them to do just one small task, preferably under $500 in cost. This will give you a good idea of what kind of work ethic they have and the quality of work that they do.

If the work is done on time and on budget, and if it meets your quality standards, consider hiring them for more tasks.

Even if the contractor has passed through the first several steps of this screening process, 75 percent of them will still likely fail at this step, so don’t settle with just one contractor. Hire multiple contractors for multiple small jobs and see who works out the best.

Related: 14 Killer Questions to Ask Your Contractor

  1. Manage them correctly

Ninety percent of the time, when I have a disastrous situation with a contractor, the blame lies on no one but myself. If I had managed the job correctly, I wouldn’t be caught in the positions I’ve been in.

Here’s an example. I hired a contractor to paint a bedroom. He says $500. I say, “Great.”

He calls me, tells me he’s done, and I send him the $500.

Now, I go check out the property and what do I see? He didn’t paint the ceiling, despite the obvious need for it. And there are a couple paint splatters on the floor that are easy to clean—but now I have to do it.

I call the contractor and he says, “Well, you didn’t say I needed to do the ceiling,” and “No, the floor was perfectly clean when I left. Someone else must have made the drips on the floor.”

Now, you might be saying, “But that’s ridiculous! It’s clearly his fault.”

But it’s my responsibility to manage him correctly. Therefore, when you work with a contractor, always get a detailed scope of work that clearly lays out 100 percent of what is going to be worked on, what’s included, and what isn’t.

Then, never pay anything until you’ve inspected the work. On larger jobs, be sure to spread out payments over the course of the job, so they don’t get too much money up front. You always want them hungry for the next paycheck.

To help with this, I put together a really simple “Contractor Bid Form” over in the BiggerPockets FilePlace—100% free—so you can fill this out every time you work with a contractor. Just go to BiggerPockets.com/bigform.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re a real estate investor like myself or not, you’re going to need to deal with contractors in the future. By following this seven-step process, you’ll save yourself time, stress, and a lot of money.

Source: BiggerPockets.com by

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The Least Discussed Reason Wannabe Investors Don’t Take Action (& How to Overcome It!)

I’ve never fully understood the obsession with figuring out why other people fail to take action when it comes to real estate investing.

It seems like a lot of people genuinely look for justification not to start.

“If Jimmy didn’t start because he had no money, and I have no money, then I’m justified in not starting yet.”

This is entirely the wrong mentality! Why not focus your energy on figuring out why successful people DID take action?

Regardless, I’m going to tell you the real reason some who are interested in investing never take action. It’s something that isn’t discussed very often.

But first, here are some of the most stereotypical excuses.

Why Some Wannabes Never Take Action: The Typical Responses

Don’t get me wrong. All of these excuses are pretty understandable—yet unfortunate.

Let’s briefly discuss each.

Fear

Fear is a beast. And taking the plunge into real estate isn’t easy.

That being said, everybody experienced the feeling of fear when they bought their first property. It may not have been crippling, but it was there. Anyone who tells you they weren’t at least a little scared is probably not being completely honest with you.

This is why it’s important to make decisions based on numbers and bounce the analysis off experienced investors. Don’t bring your emotions into the deal at all.

Emotions are dangerous—leave them out of investing.

Nervous businessman peeking over desk

Lack of Experience

This excuse drives me nuts!

NOBODY had experience before they took action—you gain experience BY taking action!

If this is your excuse, either quit or work under somebody for free to gain the experience you so crave.

This is a silly excuse to me. Just take action!

No Money

This is an understandable excuse and probably the most common.

I have been investing since 2015. To date, I have never paid more than 6 percent down on a real estate transaction.

Leverage is wonderful. It is risky but wonderful. I house hacked my first duplex for less money than most of my cars have cost.

Theoretically, you could sell your car and buy a house.

You can overcome the “no money” issue by utilizing FHA loans, VA loans (if qualified), seller financing, purchasing subject to the existing mortgage, partnering, other people’s money, hard money lenders, etc.

My point is this: While having no money is scary, if you have knowledge and time, you can invest in real estate!

male showing empty pockets implying moneyless

Not Enough Time

YOU HAVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME AS EVERYONE ELSE!

Set your priorities, and either make REI a priority or find someone with time and provide money/knowledge!

This is a cop-out excuse.

I purchased a property while spending six weeks on a remote island and only having access to the internet through my cell phone a couple of times.

Figure it out.

Why Some Wannabes Never Take Action: The Least Discussed Reason

We have ruled out the most common excuses. And yes, they are just excuses.

Now let’s talk about the least discussed reason some wannabes fail to take action (and how to avoid it).

You’re LAZY!

That’s it.

The number one reason some people fail to take action is the amount of work required.

This excuse is behind the time, fear, and experience excuses. You know it’s going to take a lot of time and energy to make this happen. You’re afraid because it takes a lot of work, and you don’t fully understand what to expect. You don’t have experience because you haven’t done it yet.

In the military, there is a common phrase we use in combat: “Complacency kills.”

Although the meaning is a little different when applied to real estate, the message is the same. It’s not the one morning you sleep in or the one day you get nothing done that hurts you. It’s not the hassle you avoided today or the excuse you used today in order to procrastinate.

However, if you ALWAYS avoid hassle, procrastinate, and sleep in, you will never succeed.

Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. If you want to succeed as a real estate investor, or in life in general, you need to kill the urge to be complacent—before it kills you!

Related: Getting Started In Any New Real Estate Business

Start Investing NOW: Here’s How

Goals

The first step to conquering the excuse of laziness is to sit down and set goals.

You need to long-, medium-, and short-term goals. These goals should be similar to a five-year plan, yearly goals, monthly goals, and weekly goals.

Think of the cartoons you watched as a kid where a rider would tie a carrot to the end of a long pole and dangle it in front of a stubborn horse/mule in order to motivate them to move forward.

Goals are the carrot you dangle in front of yourself.

No matter how driven you are (or aren’t), there will be days when you lack the motivation to do any work. At these times, it is important to have a carrot (goals) to chase in order to stay on track!

Pensive young entrepreneur looking at laptop screen and drinking coffee at table in cafe

M.I.N.S.

Some of you may have noticed I didn’t say you need daily goals. You may have even been bothered by this and decided to tune out (haha).

The reason I didn’t mention daily goals is that, while they serve a purpose, I prefer to think in terms of the “most important next step.” This is sometimes called M.I.N.S.

M.I.N.S. should be determined every night before you go to sleep. This will ensure you knock out the most important next step toward your weekly goal(s) first thing the next morning.

If you can knock out the most important next step toward your goal every morning, it will snowball into accomplishing your goals quickly!

The key is determining what this step is the night prior, and then doing it first thing the next morning!

Accountability

Most of the actions you take to achieve your goals will not be fun or easy.

It’s easy to find “busy work” to use as a distraction. This busy work is more fun and often easier than accomplishing the most important next step would be.

Since we are all human (I think), it’s safe to assume that you will have days, weeks, months, or even years when you fail to do the difficult task(s) that need to get done.

This is human nature and a hard habit to break. And this is why accountability is crucial to your success as an investor.

You need to find some people who are on the same path as you, as well as a few who are farther down that path, and get together to grow and hold each other accountable!

A common way to do this is through mastermind groups. A mastermind group is comprised of people who have lofty goals for life and are determined to achieve these goals. They meet regularly, whether in person or on conference calls, and talk through their struggles, successes, and so on in order to help each other progress.

These mastermind groups are great for helping you grow and holding you accountable to achieve more!

Mans Hand Reaching For Red Ladder Leading To A Blue Sky

Systems

Real estate investing isn’t easy at first (most things aren’t).

Imagine REI as a large flywheel, and every step you take gets it to move just a little bit faster. As the flywheel speeds up, it takes less and less effort to keep it moving.

This is the power of systems!

Every time you complete a task, remember how you did it. If you complete that task a second time, create a system for streamlining the process. The simpler you can make tasks in real estate, the easier it becomes to buy homes!

For example, one of my favorite systems to date is my Google Drive folder for lenders. Every time I have applied for a loan, I needed to provide the previous two years’ tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, photo IDs, verifiable income, etc.

I created a folder titled “Lender Documents” in Google Drive that has all of this information in it, separated by tax year.

Now, when I apply for a loan, I simply email a link to this folder to my lender and wait for them to tell me if they need any more documentation (which is minimal, if any)!

Talk about streamlining the lending process.

Don’t forget to create systems as you journey down the path of real estate investing. It will make your life so much easier!

Use Laziness to Your Advantage

Lazy people will often find the easiest way to accomplish a task. Use this mentality to succeed as a real estate investor—without losing all of your hair.

Real estate investing isn’t easy, but it is extremely rewarding.

Embrace your laziness, and use the safeguards above to continually attack your goals.

Take the time to put in a lot of work now. You will be happy that you did!

Source: BiggerPockets.com by

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The History Of Toronto’s First Apartment Building

toronto first apartment

So many people live in apartments or condominiums in Toronto that it’s hard to imagine a time when renting a small portion of a larger building was a radical, even a shockingly salacious way of life.

Amazingly, before 1899, there were no purpose-built apartment buildings in the city at all, making Toronto something of an anomaly in North America.

Sure, people rented rooms or floors of sub-divided homes (The Ward, a notorious slum that used to be located near current City Hall, was densely populated much earlier), but nothing had been constructed specifically for that purpose.

The first building in Toronto purpose-built for multiple occupancy was the St. George Mansions at 1 Harbord Street, directly opposite where the looming brutalist mass of Robarts Library would later sit.

In 1905, the intersection was part of a relatively quiet and affluent neighbourhood west of the University of Toronto campus.

Dappled sunshine filtered through young trees and little Model T Fords lined the curb. It was a “a district of substantial detached villas,” according to Richard Dennis in a 1989 research paper.

Dennis discusses the St. George Mansions and the real estate market leading up to their construction in detail.

toronto first apartment

As Dennis recalls, the permit for the building’s construction, the first of its type in Toronto, was issued in 1899 to A. W. McDougald, the president of the Improved Realty Co. of Toronto Ltd. He estimated the building would cost his company about $100,000 – the equivalent of about $2 million in today’s money.

The six-storey pressed brick and Bedford stone building, roughly “C”-shaped with a partially enclosed courtyard, took about five years to complete. Many of its 34 apartments had access to balcony space, though some were decorative Juliet-style affairs with heavy stone balustrades.

In 1904, shortly after it was finished, it contained 34 apartments and was home to 99 people, most of them wealthy middle-aged couples. Three barristers, two professors, two bank managers, and a director of an insurance company appeared on the occupancy list at that time.

Toronto was slow compared to other North American cities to build its first apartment block. The living concept had already appeared in Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and other nearby cities, and was established in the form of “apartment hotels” in Boston and New York City in the 1850s and 1860s.

Apartment hotels were typically marketed at single, city-dwelling businessmen. Buildings such as the New York’s Stuyvesant Flats, built in 1869, had “between six and ten rooms each” and were let for $1,200 to $1,800 per year, according to Dennis.

The buildings of this type often had a central restaurant, laundry, recreational facility, barber, and dentist—complete miniature communities for the residents that turned a handsome profit for the owners.

The living concept became less communal and exclusive in the later decades of the 1800s. Apartment buildings that were constructed around this time were private and self-contained and became accessible to middle class families.

toronto first apartment

The apartment building concept wasn’t without its detractors.

Observers fretted that apartment living was unsuitable for families, prompting one Milwaukee landlord to offer free rent for every child born or marriage proposed in his building. “It is a shortcut from the apartment house to the divorce court,” Dennis quotes the author of Housing Problems in America, written in 1917.

The St. George Mansions were targeted firmly at middle class occupants when they were finished in 1904. Economic evidence suggested middle income families were less likely to move and were more numerous than the upper class renters, making them the perfect market to tap.

Toronto’s rents spiked massively in the years the building was under construction – up to 95 per cent between 1897 and 1906 – in part due to a sudden uptick in immigration. There were more new arrivals than the number of new homes could accommodate, making apartment blocks and attractive idea for developers.

toronto first apartment

The second Toronto apartment building was completed a year after the St. George Mansions on University Avenue. The stone, brick, and steel Alexandra was a larger building: 72 suites across seven floors with panoramic views of the city from its penthouse windows.

Like the apartment hotels of New York, the property included a communal dining room and appealed to middle-class renters.

By 1907, Toronto had its first apartment building directory that included Sussex Court at 389 Huron St. and Spadina Gardens at 41-45 Spadina Road, both of which still exist.

The St. George Mansions and the Alexandra are both sadly gone. The former survived until after the Second World War when it was repurposed as Trinity Barracks, the Toronto home of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps.

One contemporary account described the building as “cockroach palace,” suggesting time wasn’t kind to Toronto’s first apartment complex.

Today, U of T’s Ramsay Wright Zoological Laboratories building, built in 1965, occupies its former lot.

Source: BlogTo.com

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5 Things I Learned in My First Year Owning a Rental Property

I was determined to own property, in some form. Sadly, I couldn’t afford anything in my home city of Toronto, so I decided to buy a property in a neighbouring city and rent it out until, or if, I was ready to move.

After looking at several possibilities, I decided to buy in Hamilton because of transit options, affordable housing prices and a low vacancy rate.

I found a cute bungalow divided in two units. After all the paperwork went through, I found great tenants.

It’s now one year later, and I’ve learned a lot. Here are five lessons I learned:

  1. Plan for Extra Costs

I needed way more money than I thought in order to buy and manage a rental property. The closing costs alone were thousands of dollars in cash. In Ontario, closing costs include land transfer tax, legal fees, a home inspection, pre-paid property tax and PST on Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation insurance — if you put less than 20 per cent down. My closing costs totalled $6,000.

In the first year, I spent $2,700 on maintenance, and that’s for a small, fully-renovated house. Just recently, a windstorm knocked shingles off my roof. Totally unexpected and $500 to fix.

Budget for all anticipated expenses, and then add a few thousand dollars to be safe.

  1. Figure Out the Rent

How do you know if you have enough money to be a landlord? Easy: use a spreadsheet. You need to know exactly how much your house costs to run so that you can charge sufficient rent.

And how embarrassing would it be if you forgot whether a tenant paid you first and last months’ rent? Think of an investment property like a business, and keep your books accordingly.

  1. Don’t Forget Tax Time

I was shocked when I had to pay $1,500 this April to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA taxes rental income at your marginal tax rate. I now have an automated monthly savings set up to set aside tax money and avoid last-minute scrambling.

  1. Check Your Tenant’s Credit Worthiness

What you need as a landlord is a tenant who pays their rent promptly each month. A credit score can tell you if a person has a history of paying their lenders on time. Ask for a credit report and employment letter to confirm that your tenant can pay their rent each month.

  1. To Include Utilities or Not?

I decided to include utilities. I have two units but one meter, and I couldn’t figure out a way for each tenant to split it fairly without hassle. So I called the utility companies, asked them for the monthly average of the previous year, added 30 per cent, and included it in the rent.

You can also let the tenants pay utilities themselves. Because electric and gas are so expensive in Ontario, you don’t want to be on the hook unless you have to be. It’s a lot easier for tenants to leave the lights on when someone else is footing the bill.

A Learning Experience

I learned that owning an investment property is much like having a child. Make sure you can comfortably afford it before you start trying, and if it’s exhausting you, consider hiring a nanny—that is, a property management company.

 

Source: Tangerine.ca – Written by Danielle Kubes Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

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Surprising facts every renter should remember

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Did you know that three of the leading causes of financial losses for renters are fire, crime, and liability suits? Lucky for you, tenant insurance can help you keep your bank account in tact — and get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

Let’s take a moment to consider the facts:

Fire

With tenant insurance, you can rest easy knowing that a fire in your apartment won’t leave you out in the cold. Not only could your policy cover the belongings you lost in the fire, but it could cover other unexpected expenses like a roof over your head and food in your belly while you wait to get back into your home.

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(Viewing this from your smartphone? Click here to enlarge.)

Fast Facts for Renters: Fire

Fire doesn’t care whether you rent or own your space. Thankfully, tenant insurance covers all the things that make your rental a home.

  • Nearly one quarter of all residential fires in Canada happen in apartments
  • The average cost of damages in an apartment fire is over $65,000
  • The most recent study of fire losses in Canada found that in 2007 alone, fires in apartments led to more than $185 million in damages
  • That same year, Ontario had more apartment fires than any other province: a total of 1,650 fires that led to more than $55 million in damages
  • In British Columbia, the average cost of damage caused by one apartment fire is over $140,000 — that’s more expensive than in any other province

Source: “Fire Losses in Canada (Year 2007 and Selected Years).” Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners.

Crime

Coming home to find that a stranger has been there — and worse, that they’ve stolen your TV and smashed your glass coffee table — is something no one should ever have to experience. But if something like this happens to you, know that renter’s insurance has your back — your insurer could pick up the tab for your stolen or damaged belongings.

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Fast Facts for Renters: Crime

Burglars don’t discriminate — and rental properties aren’t exempt from break-ins. Do your best to deter those pesky thieves, but know that tenant insurance has your back when you need it most.

  • In Canada, renters experience the greatest number of break-ins per household, with a whopping 125,000 cases reported in 2014
  • That same year, there were 248,000 reported cases of theft of personal property from rental homes
  • Cases of vandalism are decreasing year after year, but there were still 143,00.0 cases of vandalism to rental properties reported in 2014

Source: “Household victimization incidents reported by Canadians, by type of offence and selected household, dwelling and neighbourhood characteristics, 2014.” Statistics Canada.

Liability

Of all the types of coverage in your tenant insurance policy, liability coverage could be the most important when it comes to protecting your finances. This is the coverage you need when, for example, a court decides you’re legally required to pay for your friend’s Ray Bans and medical bills after you break his nose and glasses at one of your weekly baseball games. Plus, it can cover any legal fees you encounter in the process. Accidents happen, and battles over money are never pretty. Talk to your broker to make sure you’re covered.

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Fast Facts for Renters: Liability

In the event of a liability lawsuit, tenant insurance can protect your savings — and your credit rating.

  • A lawsuit can virtually bankrupt you if you’re held responsible for covering expenses that result from an injury or damage you caused to someone’s belongings — say goodbye to your savings and your credit rating
  • If you’re taken to court for a liability issue and need to pay a lawyer, you could be in the hole for thousands of dollars in legal fees
  • When your toilet backs up and the questionable puddles in your bathroom start to trickle into the apartment downstairs, you’ll have to pay for the damage
  • Don’t forget your landlord: if she claims that you ruined part of your rental unit, get ready to forfeit your damage deposit plus additional repair costs

You have options

Get protected before the unexpected happens. If you’re ready to get set up with your very own tenant insurance policy, connect with a licensed broker to learn about your options.

Source: Economical.com – Stephanie Fereiro  |  Published on: December 12, 2016  

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Liberals look to ease affordability concerns with release of housing strategy

Liberals look to ease affordability concerns with release of housing strategy

The plan will put a heavy focus on housing supply building tens of thousands of affordable housing units over the next decade and repurposing other cash to maintain housing supplements.

There are expectations that the plan will also include a new portable benefit that low-income renters can carry with them through the market.

Those are just two of a number of anticipated measures aimed at making housing in Canada more affordable, particularly for the 1.7 million households that are forced to spend more of their disposable income than they should on housing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Toronto to unveil the details of the plan, while Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos travels to Vancouver to make a simultaneous announcement on the West Coast to mark National Housing Day.

Recently released census data found that 1.7 million households were in “core housing need” in 2016, meaning they spent more than one-third of their before-tax income on housing that may be substandard or doesn’t meet their needs.

Outside of Vancouver, the cities with the highest rates of core housing need were in Ontario. In Toronto, close to one in five households were financially stretched the highest rate of any city in the country.

The government hopes that building 80,000 new affordable rental units, along with billions more in spending over the next decade, will lift 500,000 of those families out of core housing need and help a further 500,000 avoid or get out of homelessness.

The details of how the spending will roll out are of keen interest to housing providers and cities. Municipal leaders have been meeting with federal officials this week to talk about the national housing strategy.

The Liberals laid the financial backbone for the plan in this year’s federal budget, promising $11.2 billion over a decade in new spending. About $5 billion of that money the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is expected to turn into $15 billion by leveraging $10 billion in private investment.

Still, most of the money won’t be spent until after the next election in 2019, which concerns anti-poverty groups.

Those groups are planning demonstrations in multiple cities today, demanding the Liberals spend the full $11.2 billion before the next election.

Source: The Canadian Press

Liberals look to ease affordability concerns with release of housing strategy

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