Toronto Income Property Newsletter: December 2015

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy holiday season and all the best for a prosperous and happy new year.

I would especially like to thank all of our Plex clients for their trust and faith in us this past year. We are only as good as the people we serve and we have been very fortunate to have met some very wonderful folks along the way. It has been our pleasure to do business with you and we look forward to dealing with you and your referrals for many years to come. All the best.

- P.A.

Landlord & Tenant Rights & Obligations

I often talk about the obligations landlords have to their tenants and describe ways to keep your income property in the best possible shape and condition. Keeping a good relationship with the tenants is very important as well. There are some cases where the landlord and tenant may not agree on something that isn’t directly addressed in the lease. There are a few misconceptions that I have experienced on several landlord/tenant issues that I would like to clear up here.

Snow Removal & Garden Maintenance

Unless snow removal, grass cutting and overall property maintenance are mentioned in the lease, these items are all the landlord’s responsibility. Some tenants take care of these jobs but they are not obligated to do so. The best policy is to have a clause in the lease that sets out in detail who is responsible for what.

Pets

Some landlords think that they can ask a tenant to leave if they get a pet, especially if there is a “no pet” clause in the lease. The reality is that you only have to get rid of a pet if it is dangerous, causes allergic reactions or causes problems for other tenants or the landlord. “No pet” clauses are invalid under Ontario law. If a tenant is keeping a dangerous pet on the premises, that could be a basis for eviction through the landlord/tenant board.

Landlord Entry

Can a landlord enter the rental suite at any time? The answer is only in the case of an emergency, such as a fire or medical predicament. Otherwise the landlord has to give the tenant at least 24 hours notice to get in. A landlord should not expect to be granted access before 8:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m.

Heating Guidelines

The minimum temperatures that a building should be kept at are set under municipal bylaws. If the tenant is not the cause for the cold temperatures, such as by keeping windows open, or setting a thermostat to a lower temperature, then the landlord has a responsibility to maintain a minimum temperature of 21 degrees. If the landlord is not meeting the minimums, a tenant can complain to the city's Building and Inspections department or your city councillor. I often see thermostats blocked off so that the tenants cannot lower the temperature.

Repairs

Over time plumbing fixtures, lighting, appliances and other items within the rental unit are going to break or wear out. The upkeep of these items are usually the landlord’s responsibility unless otherwise directed in the lease. Do not leave things that need to be repaired unattended to because the problem can get worse. If you are quick to respond, you will maintain a strong quality relationship with your tenants.

Property Management

Should you hire a third party to look after your rental property?

Usually, this is a fairly easy decision based on economics. If you are paying $100 or $200 a month and it does not hugely impact your bottom line return, then it may be OK to consider it. Rates for these kinds of services do vary. If you are paying a percentage of your monthly income, again it depends on how much of your bottom line you are sacrificing. If you only have two rental suites, then it likely will be difficult to justify. If you own several income properties, or you live a little further away, then it may make more fiscal sense. Remember that if you keep your buildings in a good state of repair, and find good, responsible tenants, then there should be very little that you need to do. Over time there will be maintenance issues, but again these should be reasonably simple to handle.

If you do decide to hire a property manager, they should save you time, effort and money. An effective property manager should be able to maximize the rents you can get and have your suite vacant for as short a time as possible.

Remember too that property management services are tax deductible, as this is a direct expense item in the running of your property. Other services that you can expect from a professional manager or management company:

• Prepare property for rental (paint, cleaning, etc.) • Determine optimal rental amount
• Design a targeted marketing plan to attract tenants
• Conduct Tenant screening including credit checks, checking references, etc.
• Assist with Tenant move in
• Collect and submit rental cheques
• Prepare Detailed monthly accounting statements for tax purposes
• Conduct Regular property inspections
• Handle all maintenance issues
• Offer 24/7 Emergency Maintenance service

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