Tag Archives: apartment rentals

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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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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Ontario’s potential rental housing crisis in 11 statistics

Ontario Rental Housing Crisis-compressed

Earlier this week, the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) published a major report prepared by Toronto-based real estate market data firm Urbanation on the state of the Ontario rental market with a focus on the province’s largest region, the GTA.

A number of the report’s key findings will come as no surprise to those who have recently searched for rental housing in the city and surrounding region. Demand for rentals has hit multi-decade highs, according to the report, “driven by robust economic and population growth, job creation for prime renter cohorts, and a decline in homeownership affordability.”

While the report makes some encouraging observations on expected increases to the rental supply, the housing advocate concludes that a significant supply shortfall will remain and likely worsen unless the pace of construction ramps up quickly to meet demand.

Without policy action, the FRPO expects Ontario renters, especially those in the GTA, will experience mounting challenges in finding suitable housing.

Here are 11 stats from the report that illustrate the difficult market conditions that the province’s renters face:

1. The vacancy rate for purpose-built rental buildings sat at a 15-year low at the end of 2016. It was 2.1 per cent in the province and 1.3 per cent in Toronto.

2. The vacancy rate for Toronto condos — many of which are purchased by investors and added to the city’s rental pool — was even lower at the end of last year, sitting at a seven-year low of 1 per cent.

3. Eighty-five per cent of purpose-built rentals in Ontario are over 35 years old. Upgrading this aging existing stock will require a significant investment from rental owners, possibly to the tune of $5 billion over the next 5 years, the report estimates.

4. When looking at the age distribution of renters, the 25 to 34 year old demographic made up 21 per cent of total renter households in Ontario, making this cohort the “prime renter age segment.” The 35-44, 45-54 and 65+ age segments each made up 19 per cent of the total. Over the next five years, however, the prime 25 to 34 year old segment will see “accelerated population increases” thus further increasing demand for rentals.

5. Immigration to the Greater Toronto Area represented 30 per cent of Canada’s immigration total. Ninety thousand immigrants came to the region in 2016 and a similar number are expected to arrive in 2017. As the report notes, the majority of recent immigrants rent when they arrive.

6. After hitting a five-decade high in 2011, the homeownership rate in Ontario is expected to “flatten or decline in the next 10 years.” Affordability issues, higher interest rates and stricter mortgage policies are all expected to contribute to this trend.

7. By mid-2017, the cost disparity between owning and renting in the GTA remained at its highest level in more than five years.

8. On the rental supply side, purpose-built rental development reached its highest level since the 80s in both Ontario and the GTA. However, after the new rent control measures were unveiled as part of the province’s Fair Housing Plan, the rate at which new purpose-built rental buildings were proposed slowed when compared to previous quarters, with some projects originally proposed as rental even indicating a change to condominium.

9. On the rental demand side, the report forecasts that rental demand will outweigh supply by approximately 57,500 units over a 10-year period, or 5,750 units per year. This unit total “does not necessarily represent the level of additional rental development required to bring the market into a state of balance, but rather represents a level that keeps conditions from worsening over time.”

10. There is only one rental unit under construction per 1,000 GTA residents. In Vancouver, the ratio is over three rental units while in Montreal, it’s two units.

11. According to the report, rental starts need to double immediately and eventually triple from current levels just to satisfy demand.

Ontario Rental Housing Crisis-compressed

Source: Buzz Buzz News Canada –  

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The average cost of rent in major Canadian cities in September (MAP)

 

Although there has been a little fluctuation in prices, the ultra-hot Canadian rental market continues to increase across the board.

While some city’s prices for one-bedroom rentals remained unchanged since last month, the most expensive in Canada has now surpassed $2000, according to the latest report by PadMapper.

Not surprisingly, Vancouver and Toronto continue their domination as the top two cities with the most expensive rental markets in Canada.

Last month, Vancouver’s median rent for one-bedroom showed a decline of 4.8%. But one month can change a lot in this market, and the price of a Vancouver one-bedroom has jumped up 1.5% from last month bringing it to $2,020. Two bedrooms have also gone up in the city, and are now renting at $3,160.

In Toronto, rent continues to increase every month as the city saw a 4.3% hike in one bedroom rentals, which are now $1,930. Two bedrooms also increased to $2,440. The most shocking part about rental costs in this hot city is that one-bedrooms in Toronto are up 15.6% since this time last year. Let that sink in for a minute. Actually don’t, time is money…

PadMapper

Trailing behind Toronto is Barrie, which also experienced a massive 15.4% annual growth rate over the past year. One and two bedrooms have settled this month with medians of $1,200 and $1,450, respectively, in the Ontario city.

Meanwhile, Montreal remained in fourth place. Rent in the popular Quebec city has experienced a 3.5% hike to $1,190, with two bedrooms now renting at $1,520.

Back to the west coast, where Victoria remains in fifth place with its median one bedroom costs increasing by 4.5% to $1,150, and two bedrooms growing slightly higher than last month to $1,490.

The largest drop in rental in Canada was in Quebec City, where one bedrooms dipped to $810, and two bedrooms went down 5% to $1,130.

But in Ontario, Hamilton climbed up three spots on the list to become the 11th most expensive rental market in Canada. This city’s growth rate for one bedroom units is up 5.3% to $1,000, and two bedroom rent grew 2.6% to $1,200.

Calgary remains steady, as one bedrooms are $1,020 just like last month, and two bedrooms also remain unchanged at $1,300.

The cheapest city to rent on the list is still Quebec’s Saguenay, which jumped a little to $640 for a one-bedroom, and $730 for a two bedroom. It’s probably one of the only cities in Canada where you never have to think about having a roommate these days.

PadMapper

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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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