Tag Archives: student rentals

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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Thinking of becoming a landlord? Here’s what you need to know

Being a landlord isn’t without its challenges, but covering one’s bases in the following ways is bound to yield quality tenants and rents.

Every real estate professional understands the importance of location, and so should every landlord. Steve Arruda, a sales agent with Century 21 Regal Realty, has been a landlord for 18 years and advises taking one’s time performing due diligence on prospective neighbourhoods.

“You want to know where you’re investing in and what the demographics are in that neighbourhood, and whether there are universities and families there,” Arruda told CREW. “I’ve rented in depressed neighbourhoods, and it’s challenging. The price may seem really tempting, but then you attract a lot of renters who may not have the best incomes, and they could become problematic because there are issues each month with payment. Location is one of the most important things. Make sure you know where you’re investing and what the demographics in that neighbourhood are.”

If investing in a house rather than a condominium, ensure big ticket items like furnaces, wiring, roofs and windows are updated “because those are the things that are quite costly to repair,” added Arruda. “It’s good to have those larger items updated, otherwise if they fail, it’s always at an inopportune time like winter, and you’ll be left with an angry tenant.”

Beyond material concerns, Arruda says landlords invariably become arbiters in disputes between tenants, unfairly or not, and that managing personalities is a delicate art.

“When you have a house with four units, like a multiplex, it’s hard to get everybody to get along, and you’re their first line of defence,” he said. “So, managing personalities, managing expectations and being able to handle that
stress level are crucial, because for an inexperienced landlord, the first call they get because of an issue with a tenant or an issue with a clogged toilet can make their already stressful life even more stressful. Always be prepared for anything, whether issues with tenants or the property itself.”

Additionally, tenants need to be thoroughly screened, and Arruda recommends landlords run their own credit reports and confirm bank statements are real. Even calling an employer to confirm the information provided by potential tenants isn’t beyond the realm of the reasonable. As well, call their previous landlords to find out what kind of people they are.

Over 18 years, Arruda also learned that units with dishwashers, washers and dryers are not only highly sought after, they attract good-quality renters.

Renu Ashdir, a sales agent with iPro Realty Ltd., says clients for whom she seeks rental accommodations flock to buildings with amenities like gyms, but warns too many amenities—especially swimming pools—result in higher condo fees.

“If you’re a person in your 20s and 30s, fitness amenities are the most used,” she said, adding older tenants prefer the security of a concierge. “People care about the kind of neighbours they have in a building and whether or not there’s transit nearby.”

Most importantly, says Arruda, “Look after your renters and know rental laws.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – by Neil Sharma12 Jan 2018
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Calling in the pros – Implementing a successful property management

Implementing a successful property management system is vital to the longevity, health and overall profitability of your growing portfolio of investment properties. Property management systems come in all different shapes and sizes, and can be completely tailored to your specific portfolio needs and wants. Rather than examining these different systems, which could take up an entire magazine, I want to explore three ways to increase your ROI by taking advantage of professional property management.

1. Set realistic expectations from day one
In my view, hiring a professional property manager is very similar to hiring an employee. You wouldn’t give a new hire a vague description of their tasks and responsibilities and then let them manage their job any way they want. You would give your employee a clear definition of their role and show them the kind of results you expect.

The same is true when engaging a property manager for the first time. The following are five simple questions to ask your PM – and yourself – as you’re working out the relationship. If everyone can answer every question definitively, you know you’re on the right track:

  • What is needed?
  • Who is doing what?
  • When will it be done?
  • How will it be done?
  • How much will it cost?

This may seem like a lot of work when you’re just getting started, but completing the above exercise will eliminate the roadblocks, misunderstandings and accidents associated with starting a new professional relationship, and will ultimately improve your ROI.

A professional PM will usually have all these roles pre-defined in their contract, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be challenged or negotiated to better suit your needs. Communicate above and beyond to maximize your results.

2. Hire a superintendent
This can be a hot topic depending on who you talk to – some investors dismiss the idea of hiring a super outright, and some absolutely can’t operate without theirs. I believe that if handled correctly, using a superintendent can be an effective management strategy for a medium to large building, especially if done in tandem with professional property management.

The greatest advantage of superintendents is that they live on site. This is extremely convenient when small issues arise that need immediate attention, like a spill in the hallway that needs cleaning or a tenant who needs to give you cash. For small, more regular tasks like mopping hallways and shovelling walkways, a super is usually the most cost-effective and efficient method. In my experience, waiting for your PM to deal with small items can take too long and not be as cost-effective.
I prefer my super to have a smaller role, meaning my PM handles all maintenance calls from tenants, major renovations, rent collection, tenant placement and regular reporting to me. It’s important to ensure the super is not impeding the job of your PM and vice versa. Each have their roles and should be complementary to each other. The PM is in charge, and the super is there to assist when needed, along with tending to a short list of responsibilities.

This PM-plus-super system frees up more time for me to focus on strategy, grow my portfolio and create value in my current assets. My accountant also appreciates the efficient system, as we save a fair amount of money on minor property maintenance with a super in place.

3. View property management as a service, not an expense
This is more of a way of thinking than an operational guideline. This particular piece of advice stems from years of wrestling with the same question over and over with my group of investors: “Paul, I like the property, and the numbers make sense to me, but when you factor in the cost of property management, the cash flow decreases, and the numbers are just average or below par. What do you think?”

There is no way to avoid the cost of property management. Either you are going to engage a professional to do it for you and pay for it out of the property’s cash flow, or you will handle the property management all on your own. You may think this will save you money or make your property more profitable. If you have spare time and energy and want to learn the business, I would encourage you to take on the PM responsibilities. However, if you’re busy with your career, family and lifestyle, like many of us are, by taking on the day-to-day management of your properties, you’re doing yourself a massive disservice.

Whether you pay a professional PM or not, it’s still going to cost you the same or more. By taking on the PM role, you’re going spend your own time, energy and gasoline and take away quality time for other activities you could be pursuing, like spending time with your family, getting some exercise (mowing the lawn doesn’t count), reading a book or sleeping. This may not sound like traditional ROI, but since most investors get into real estate to improve their lives, not just their bank balances, finding a good property manager will provide these other, highly attractive returns.

You cannot avoid the cost of property management. You either pay in dollars or you pay in your own time and energy. Either way, it must be done properly.

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine –  Contributor 14 Nov 2017

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Five ways to maximize your investment property

Wasim Elafech of Century 21 Bravo Realty in Calgary is among the banner brokerage’s top sales agents in the world. Century 21 operates in 78 countries with over 100,000 agents, and Elafech managed to become their number one unit producer in 2015 and number three in Canada last year, so he knows a thing or two about getting the best bang for your buck out of a rental property. He shared some of those tips with us.

1. Maintain the property
Elafech says some he’s sold properties to clients who in turn rented them out, but without putting in the necessary work. “The work you do doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to be brand new,” he said. “It will be liveable but it won’t look good. The floors will be cracked or peeling, and when people walk in they get the impression it’s a rundown property, but they won’t if you do the work. Make sure all the fixtures work, that they’re not broken; make sure door handles are loose or need to be replaced. If the place is well-maintained, 100% of the time you’ll get more money for your rental.”

Elafech added that properties are often reflections of the people who live in them.

“A really good tenant won’t look for a rundown place, first of all, so they wouldn’t take that place. You’ll attract the type of people your property looks like. People who accept living (in shabby properties) aren’t the best tenants.”

2. Bungalows yield higher rents
Bungalows are excellent rental properties because the top and bottom floor can be rented out as separate units. “One guy I know pretty much made his whole house different rooms with a common living room, couch and TV.”

Typically, however, the upper and lower floors of a bungalow can be rented as separate units. “Bungalows are the easiest houses to sell in certain areas here because you can rent the upper and lower levels, if it’s properly treated. In an area where you’re renting a whole house to a person, you’d get, say, $1,600 a month, but if you’re renting the floors separately, you can get maybe $2,200 a month. It’s about volume.”

3. Screen your tenants
Screening tenants adequately ensures your rental investment doesn’t become a nightmare.  “I see it a lot,” said Elafech. “They don’t want to lose a month on the mortgage payment, so if it’s been sitting for a couple of weeks they’ll rush into a deal and rent it to whoever comes next, and sure enough the people either do a midnight run or don’t pay. I’m going through that now with my client.”

Elafech recommends waiting it out, even if that means the property sits empty for a month or two. Ask tenants for references and their job history. “If the tenant is reluctant, there’s usually a reason. Keep a look out for red flags.”

He also suggested hiring a rental management company if an apartment building, rather than two or three properties, needs to be maintained. While pricey, they’re well worth it – and they screen tenants.

Sometimes, though, less is more.

“I have a client that’s renting out a house with a garage for $1,000 month that usually goes for $1,800, because he has a good tenant. He cuts the grass and maintains the property. He does everything for the landlord, so that peace of mind is worth more than the money he’d get from renting the parking pad and garage in the back.

4. Rent the garage and parking spot separately
Elafech mentioned a rental property he’s currently showing. “The owner is going to park his trailer on the parking pad, rent out the garage and both floors of the bungalow separately – rental income from upstairs, downstairs and the garage.”

5. Location, location, location
Location is everything in real estate, so Elafech recommends investing in a property that’s surrounded by prime amenities like transit and schools.

“In Calgary, we have LRTs and buses. Even having shopping centres and schools nearby is important. A client had a condo with an LRT across the street, and he got more for it than a similar place he owns that had a similar layout but was a bit bigger, because it was six or eight blocks away and farther from the LRT. In Calgary, when it’s minus-40 outside, you’re not walking, or waiting for a bus when it’s cold. People pay for convenience.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – Neil Sharma

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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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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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