Tag Archives: tenants

Landlords can’t ask for ‘last month’s rent’ plus security deposit, thanks to new rent laws

Your security deposit is not supposed to be used as last month’s rent.

It is now illegal in New York state for landlords to require you to pay last month’s rent in addition to a month’s security deposit when you sign a lease. New rent reforms clearly state that in nearly all cases, “no deposit or advance shall exceed the amount of one month’s rent.”

Nor can landlords require renters with bad credit histories or annual salaries less than 40 to 45 times the monthly rent to pay multiple months of rent up front. In the past, they’ve typically asked for anywhere from three to 12 months worth of rent.

The new law lowers financial barriers to renting an apartment in New York City, a good thing for most renters. But it complicates things for renters who don’t meet the landlords’ income requirements (including students and retirees), have a blemish on their credit record or no credit history at all, such as international renters.

 

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Elizabeth Stone, the managing agent at Stone Realty Management, says the protections may backfire. “We are going to require guarantors or just reject the tenants outright. So those that have lower incomes are going to miss out because landlords are not going to take the risk,” she says.

A lease guarantor is someone who lives in the tri-state area and earns an annual salary of around 80 times the monthly rent. Another option is an institutional guarantor like Insurent (a Brick Underground sponsor), which charges renters a fee for the service, usually 70 to 85 percent of one month’s rent for U.S. renters and 90 to 110 percent of one month’s rent for international renters without U.S. credit history for the 12 to 14 month lease.

What’s the difference between a security deposit and last month’s rent anyway?

Your security deposit covers the cost of repairing damages to your apartment, while your last month’s rent is pretty much what it sounds like. The two are not supposed to be interchangeable.

While the security deposit is capped at an amount equal to one month’s rent, it doesn’t change the fact any rent paid in advance and the deposit are different things and a landlord is entitled to deduct money from the deposit for any costs associated with damage to the apartment when a tenant moves out.

Your lease will make clear what the security deposit is for; it’s designed to make sure you leave a clean, undamaged apartment with a working set of keys so the landlord can easily rent the unit to someone else.

In most buildings with more than six units, the landlord is required by law to put the security deposit in escrow, giving the tenant more protections than if the money was in a private account.

The practice of not paying the last month’s rent

Some New Yorkers claim they never pay their last month’s rent, figuring the security deposit can stand in as the rent.

Adam Frisch, managing principal at Lee & Associates Residential NYC, a real estate company representing building owners in Manhattan, says a tenant might tell a landlord, “I’m not going to initiate the final rent payment and you can keep my security and there’s nothing you can do about it.” He says they are right, “there isn’t much we can do about it,” but if there’s damage to the apartment, a landlord would be entitled to sue to recover the costs.

“Tenants have gotten away with this and will continue to do so, but they are not supposed to,” he says. Certainly, in situations where the apartment needs nothing more than a lick of paint, there’s no loss to the landlord.

Getting landlords and tenants in sync

In the past, the security deposit was legally required to be returned in a ‘reasonable’ time frame, a vague term that gave renters no reassurances. Landlords must now pay back the security deposit within 14 days of the end of the tenancy.

This has some landlords furious, saying the timing is too tight to assess and price out any damage or close the escrow account where the security is held. They are also required to do walk-throughs at the beginning and end of a tenancy so any damage can be properly itemized.

If walk-throughs allow renters to work towards correcting any issues and they know they will get their deposit back promptly, it’s possible landlords may find it cuts down on the practice of using the deposit as the last month’s rent.

Stone disagrees, pointing out the kind of tenant who makes a landlord take the security deposit as the final rent payment is the same kind of tenant who doesn’t take care of their rental during their tenancy.

“Limiting how much money [a landlord] can take up front and limiting the security deposit is designed to stop tenants being excluded from some of these apartments but I don’t think in practicality, it will work for them,” she says.

Source: BrickUnderground -DECEMBER 23, 2019  BY EMILY MYERS

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New short-term rental regulations you need to know if you own property in Toronto

New short-term rental regulations you need to know if you own property in Toronto Image

The City of Toronto will be moving forward with the new short-term rental regulations that were proposed and approved back in late 2017.

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal recently dismissed the appeal of the City council-approved zoning regulations for short-term rentals, so Toronto will soon have a different rental landscape.

“This is good news for Toronto residents and a step in the right direction when it comes to regulating short-term rentals and keeping our neighbourhoods liveable,” said Mayor John Tory in a release. “When we approved these regulations in 2017, we strived to strike a balance between letting people earn some extra income through Airbnb and others, but we also wanted to ensure that this did not have the effect of withdrawing potential units from the rental market. I have always believed our policy achieves the right balance which in this case falls more on the side of availability of affordable rental housing and the maintenance of reasonable peace and quiet in Toronto neighbourhoods and buildings.”

There are a few new rules that will be implemented soon. Short-term rental will be permitted across the city in all housing types, but only in principal residences (and both homeowners and tenants can participate). If you live in a secondary unit, you can rent out your home short-term, but only if the secondary unit is your primary residence.

You’ll be able to rent up to three bedrooms or your entire residence. If renting your entire home while you are away, you can do so for a maximum of 180 nights a year. If you are renting out any part of your home, you must register with the City and pay a $50 fee.

For companies like Airbnb, they will have to pay a one-time fee of $5,000 to the City, plus $1 for each night booked. This way, the city is benefitting from the success of a company that is leveraging local housing to make a profit.

There will also be a Municipal Accommodation Tax of 4% that you will have to pay on any short-term rentals less than 28 consecutive days. Companies like Airbnb will be able to volunteer to collect and pay the MAT on behalf of their users.

It seems like these changes will mostly impact the condo rental market. Most investors renting their condo units through companies like Airbnb are not renting out their principal residence; it’s usually a secondary residence. Without short-term rental income as an option, we could see a slight drop in investors in the new condo market. Fewer investors means less sales and more supply for end-users. This could result in price moderation or even a price drop in the pre-construction market.

We could also see some condo units hitting the resale market and long-term rental market, as investors look to other options to profit off their properties.

There will be a transition period as investors figure out what to do with their condo units, but in the long-run, this change seems to make sense in that it delivers more supply to the people who are living in the city, as opposed to just visiting.

Source:  Newinhomes on Nov 20, 2019

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Naborly protects landlords’ investments

As every landlord surely knows, running a credit check during the tenant selection process is paramount. However, not every landlord realizes what to do with the information the credit check reveals.

“Every independent landlord knows that to screen a tenant, you have to look at their credit, but a lot of them have no idea how credit relates to a tenant’s ability to pay rent on time,” said Jerome Werniuk, director of sales at Naborly Inc., which runs free credit and background checks. “Ninety-five percent of landlords have tenants show up with their own credit file, meaning they go to Credit Karma or Equifax, but when we hear professional tenant stories, these people come with doctored credit checks.

Doctoring a credit check is as easy as finding a template online and filling it in as one wishes. It’s what Werniuk describes as a huge problem within the industry.
While savvy landlords realize they can obtain credit checks from Equifax or TransUnion, many still don’t know, nor have time, to mine the information therein to decipher a tenant’s capacity for prompt rent payments.

“To get a credit file from either of the credit bureaus, they have to pay for it and a set-up fee for the individual’s report, but there’s a heavy credentialing process to pull somebody’s file,” said Werniuk. “Even when the landlord gets a credit file, they don’t know how to read it. They don’t know exactly what an R9 is or how someone paying a cell phone bill on time impacts their ability to pay rent. So credit is not necessarily a good tool for independent landlords.”

Naborly builds a different type of credit report using critical criteria like contemporary cost of living and verifiable income to determine a potential tenant’s ability to pay rent. It has proven so popular that, when it launched in February 2018, Naborly screened 100 people a week. Now, it screens at least that many people in a day.

“The biggest feedback we’ve received from landlords is our tool is amazing at assessing risk so that they can properly evaluate whether or not to accept the rental application,” said Werniuk. However, there remain risks that are extremely difficult to predict. Landlords have said that many of their previous evictions  were due to circumstances that changed after the tenant moved in, like job loss or some other unforeseen, and expensive, event in their lives. Nobody can predict those things.”

The average cost of eviction in Ontario is $9,000, and that could cripple an investment. In response, Naborly has rolled out Rent Guarantee, which doesn’t just risk assess but also protects the landlord for the full term of the lease. In effect, Naborly cats as the tenant’s co-signor, which shields the landlord’s investment.

“It’s based on the Naborly report and the risk score we give, which directly correlates to a tenant defaulting on rent,” said Werniuk. “We give a quote for how much rent guarantee will cost. They can have Naborly become a guarantor on the lease, meaning if the tenant ever defaults then Naborly steps in and covers the rent for up to six months. Our primary customer for Rent Guarantee is the landlord who only owns one or two units because if they don’t collect rent for two or three months, they’ll have issues paying their mortgages and they could lose the property.”

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Most landlords plan to ban cannabis use in rental units: Survey

marijuana

Ahead of legalization, most property owners believe cannabis use will decrease the value of their residential assets

marijuana
The majority of landlords polled in a new survey have responded negatively to cannabis use in rental units, going so far as to offer lower rent to tenants who agree to not smoking in units.
The survey conducted by real estate website Zoocasa was conducting in anticipation of cannabis legalization, coming into effect across Canada tomorrow (October 17).
A whopping 88 per cent of landlords say they plan to prohibit smoking in their buildings, with 65 per cent willing to consider lowering rent for tenants who don’t smoke cannabis inside their suites. Sixty-four per cent of Canadians agree that building management or strata councils should have the right to ban cannabis use.
weed
Tenants seem to be on the same page – with only 35 per cent of respondents who identify as renters affirming their right to smoke cannabis inside their homes.
Stigma towards cannabis use remains high among homeowners and buyers, despite impending legalization; sixty-four per cent of property owners still believe smoking inside of homes with decrease the property’s value. Fifty-seven percent believe growing cannabis inside a home for personal use would decrease its resale value. Prospective buyers agree, with 52 per cent saying they’d be less likely to purchase a home if they knew marijuana had been cultivated there.
Cannabis retailers are also seen as less-than-desirable neighbors, with only 31 per cent of Canadians comfortable living near one. Fifty per cent of Generation Xers (those born between 1961 and 1981) believe a dispensary in the neighbourhood would devalue their home.
weed
Zoocasa conducted the online survey of more than 1,300 Canadians from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.
Source: Western Investor- Tanya Commisso October 16, 2018
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How to keep your income property from taking over your life

How to keep your income property from taking over your life

For Terri Ronci, renting out her in-demand Toronto condo meant having the financial freedom to seek out a career change.

After years in advertising she wanted to go back to school to pursue other interests and return to her hometown of Montreal.

“I had a really great conversation with my dad who (said), imagine if you could rent that place for more than you’d have to pay out, it might give you that cushion and (be) a retirement nest egg,” she said.

“If you sell it, that money is available now, but in the long term, think about the steady income that this investment will bring in, along with the fact the selling price will go up. It’s the best way to maximize the return on your investment.”

Ronci, 40, decided to rent – and the decision paid off. She was able to cover her mortgage and expenses with the rent she got off her condo, and have enough money leftover to pursue the lifestyle changes she was after.

In Ronci’s case, having a well-situated apartment and trustworthy property managers made renting her condo on the side a lucrative and stress-free process.

But while an income property can be rewarding, would-be landlords need to think about what they’re buying and the kind of return they’ll get for their efforts, said Milton, Ont-based realtor Andrew Roach.

“When I talk to my investment clients, we sit down and we say, what are you willing to invest … and we’re not talking just about money,” said Roach, 38, who owns multiple properties on his own or through side ventures.

“When buying a property people are investing more than just their hard-earned money. They’re also investing their time and energy.”

A property manager and the careful screening of your tenants will go a long way toward safeguarding your free time, but it’s often the finances that can trip people up the most.

““You have to make sure the income being produced, the cash flow, can support the debt, said Brenda Burjaw, director of commercial services at Meridian Credit Union Limited.

Whether you’re renting out one condo to supplement your income or a slate of properties, she adds, the money side is the same.

You have to do your due diligence up front to make sure the property will give you the return you want, you should be clear on your risk tolerance (since that will guide your strategy) and you need to carefully budget to make sure you can cover off the operating cost of running the unit – both in terms of capital needs for big expenses and to service the debt outstanding on your mortgage.

Operating costs are the part of the equation that you can have some level of control over by budgeting for repairs and maintenance, said Burjaw.

“You need to be mindful of always having some sort of a reserve set aside for when you have to re-lease the unit – paint it, replace an appliance, fix a window,” she said.

“Each year a prudent property owner should look and budget what the coming year operating costs are going to look like, and find efficiencies where possible.”

A condo is a good option for anyone who is low risk or doesn’t want to spend much time worrying about their side property because condo fees take care of a lot of the maintenance. If your tenant agrees, you can also automate payments and appointment bookings by signing up with a company like Get Digs, which lets renters pay with their credit cards and make sure landlords get the rent on time.

That will keep you from having to chase tenants for their rent, since legislation brought in in places like Ontario means you’re no longer allowed to ask tenants for post-dated cheques to cover their rent for the year ahead.

Property managers can help ease the burden, for a fee, and so can having a go-to list of people to call in an emergency to replace a window or fix a leaky toilet.

If you choose to outsource that work, you’ll need to factor property management fees into your budget and consider how that will impact your cash flow.

You should also be thinking about whether your tenant will pay the hydro bills and whether you can charge extra for amenities like parking.

When you’re estimating your costs and possible return, it’s also important to be conservative, said Pauline Lierman, director of market research with Urbanation Inc., a firm that tracks the rental condo and new purpose build market in Toronto.

“You have to look at what the balance sheet of the condo is, what the maintenance fees are,” she said.

“Be aware of what the type of unit you have in your building is renting (at), be aware of who else around you may be adding new units going forward.”

But while careful math and planning is needed to make sure a rental side hustle pays off, for landlords like Ronci, the result is worth it.

“If you’re wanting to make a change in your life, an investment like this can give you the break or pause you need to breathe.”

Source: Financial Pipeline – ROMINA MAURINO
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Would legal cannabis become a rental property nightmare?

Would legal cannabis become a rental property nightmare?

Canadians will soon be able to add marijuana to their collection of household herbs, and that’s creating a nightmare for the country’s landlords.

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set to legalize recreational weed in July, apartment owners are concerned about safety and potential damage to their buildings if tenants grow plants and smoke up in their units. Landlords are lobbying provincial governments for legislation that would ban marijuana use in rental units or allow them to add restrictions to lease agreements.

“We’re hammering away at this pretty tirelessly,” according to David Hutniak, chief executive officer of Landlord BC, a housing-industry group in the province of British Columbia.

“Can you imagine you’re living in a 100-unit apartment, and in theory, there could be 100 grow-ops in that thing? I mean, that’s ridiculous,” Hutniak told Bloomberg.

Cannabis stocks have jumped and businesses are primed to cash in on Canada’s long-awaited pot party. Yet federal regulations on recreational use of the drug in the country, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2001, are still being worked out. Proposals include allowing people to smoke in private residences and to grow as many as four plants per rental unit. Provinces have the right to set rules in their own jurisdictions, including age limits for possession of weed and whether landlords can restrict use on their properties.

Read more: Legal marijuana shops could boost nearby property values – study

One reason landlords don’t want tenants lighting up is that many rental buildings are fairly old, so “smoke and smells are easily transmitted through hallways between units” and can disturb others who don’t want to partake, Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations president John Dickie explained.

Growing pot requires certain humidity levels that may damage apartment walls, and the electrical wires required to run the operation can start fires, according to Hutniak. Budding plants also give off a pungent aroma that can seep through door cracks.

Failing to implement regulations that allow landlords to ensure smoke-free, grow-free units could lead to higher rents, according to William Blake, spokesman for the Ontario Landlords Association. Some provinces, including Ontario, block landlords from extracting damage deposits from tenants, said Blake, who once spent more than $5,000 to clear the smell from a marijuana smoker’s unit.

“This is not a political issue for us – we care about taking care of our tenants and keeping costs low,” Blake said. “When we have to pay out thousands of dollars, landlords will want to raise the rents for the next tenants.”

Finding an affordable apartment in supply-squeezed cities like Toronto and Vancouver is already challenging, and vacancy rates are at record lows. For people who use pot, the search may get even tougher: It is “legal and legitimate” for landlords to select tenants who don’t smoke, Dickie argued.

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca – by Ephraim Vecina13 Feb 2018

 

Would legal cannabis become a rental property nightmare?

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