This month I’d like to start by announcing some exciting changes at Plex Realty Corp. Over the next few months I will slowly be transitioning our operation to the downtown core, much closer to our client base and most of the available income property inventory. As of March 1st, we will be moving our office to interim premises in Riverdale. My partner and I sold our office building in Leaside before the holidays and have been feverishly preparing for this move. We have seen this area transition over the past few years that we have been here and thought that the time was right to cash out. We are in the real estate game after all, so the thinking was that we had improved our building to the point where the price we’d receive today is as much as we’d ever see, so it was time to make this move. This is a strategy that I often discuss with my landlord clients after they spend significant dollars in renovations – it falls under the “time value of money” rule. Essentially money in your pocket today is worth more than money in your pocket tomorrow – so I was happy to put into practice what I so often preach.
I look forward to being a little closer to the downtown core and to not have to do the drive back out east everyday. Our phone number will stay the same (416-422-4882) as will our e-mail contact information. You can always reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Stay tuned for even more changes that we’re contemplating over the months ahead.
Last month I spoke about how income property sales in the Central core were off to a brisk start. It seems like February has been just as strong. Toronto Real Estate Board Members reported 3,240 sales during the first half of February, within two per cent of last February’s pace, TREB President Dorothy Mason reported today.
“This is very solid performance in line with some of the strongest results we’ve had, especially given the record January we just experienced,” Mrs. Mason said. “Consumers are showing that the colder months are a great time to get in to the market or make a switch to a different home.” Mrs. Mason noted that the overall health of the market is very good.
“Activity is accelerating nicely as we move towards spring,” Mrs. Mason said. The first half of February saw nearly 80 per cent more transactions than the first half of January, and that bodes well for the next few months.”
The average price of a resale home climbed in the first half of February, registering at $358,533, up three per cent from the $348,804 recorded during the same timeframe last year. Meanwhile, days on market rose to 35 from 34 in February 2006, and the average list-to-sale price ratio remained stable at 98%. Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood (E03) saw overall transactions increase by 38 per cent compared to mid-February of last year, fueled by strong sales of townhomes. That is very interesting to me since I bought in Riverdale over the holidays and have been renovating new premises there to move into. I think that certain key neighbourhoods like Riverdale, the Annex and the Beach will always be in demand and quality properties (especially income-generating ones) will be able to maintain their value.
One issue that I’d like to address this month has to do with tenants and pets. Please bear in mind that I’m a cat lover – any of you who have ever gone house-hunting with me knows how much I like to fuss over the cats that I find in rental units. A landlord client asked me the other day if he could deny a tenant who was looking to get a dog. Do you as a landlord have the right to request a tenant to get rid of their pet? The short answer is no. Only if the pet is dangerous, causes allergic reactions or causes problems for other tenants or the landlord, that a tenant must get rid of their pet or consider moving elsewhere as per a formal Landlord application to terminate tenancy based on animals. Even if you signed a lease with a “no pets” clause, if the pet is not a problem for anybody they can not enforce it; such no pet clauses are invalid under the law. Also remember that a tenant does not have to move or get rid of the pet unless you issue a written order to do so. I read a story a few weeks ago about a snake getting loose in a downtown apartment building and causing all sorts of panic amongst residents – I think this would be one of the rare cases where you could request that the pet be removed and not be given any resistance.
Another topic that I’d like to address this month is what your heating obligations are during these cold winter months. I have clients at the moment with an upper tenant who is not satisfied with their temperature, claiming that their suite is too cold. The temperatures are set under municipal bylaws. If the tenant is not the cause for the cold temperatures, such as by keeping windows open, or by setting a thermostat to a lower temperature, then the landlord has a responsibility to maintain a minimum temperature as set by the municipality. If the landlord is not meeting the minimums, a renter may put in a complaint to the city’s Building and Inspections department or their local city councillor. In Toronto the temperature must be a minimum of 21C (70 Fahrenheit) from September 15 to June 1 according to Chapter 497-2 of the Toronto Municipal Code under bylaw 499-2000.
Last month I talked about how the City of Toronto was contemplating a licensing system for landlords. I got a lot of interesting e-mails from many of you out there with your thoughts on the matter. I do appreciate all your comments and always welcome your thoughts on anything I might write about. At a minimum, it makes me happy to know that many of you are actually reading these newsletters. Next month I will fill you on how our move is unfolding and introduce you to some changes to the Plex website (http://www.plex.ca/) that we’re currently working on.
Stay warm everyone and please drive carefully in the snow.