Posts in Kijiji Real Estate

How New Landlords can Protect Themselves from Problem Tenants

Everyone’s heard the horror stories about bad tenants first hand or through the grapevine, they can cause damage, cost money and sour your experience as a landlord. Here are a few pointers on how to avoid turning these nefarious tales of tainted tenants into reality.

Better safe than sorry: Rental Application Forms – This is the first and most important step in finding a great tenant because it tells you about their rental history, lifestyle, employment, friend and family references and other details that may help characterize the potential renter. Always check the facts and if you don’t get the right information, request more or move on. If information on the application sounds unlikely or fishy, it probably is so don’t reel this one in.

Protecting your interests: Move-In Inspection Report & Tenancy Agreement

A move in report is an essential step to protecting your interests, it’s even required in some provinces prior to move-in. This report should be created during a walkthrough with the tenant prior to move in, details are important to note because this will be the basis for resolving any disputes that arise from damage caused by the tenant. Similarly, a tenancy agreement sets the tone for the relationship between the tenant and landlord. There are many free online agreement templates but to best protect your interests it’s prudent to consult your local landlords organization, they often have great resources available.

Do your research: Short term gains can equal long term pains

Due diligence is your best friend. Before jumping into landlord/tenant relationships learn as much as you can. This is a job, the dwelling is your asset and rental income is a part of your future. You wouldn’t gamble with any of these in your day to day life so don’t roll the dice on this one; hedge your bets and protect your interests.

For more resources in Ontario and across Canada this is a great place to start!

Renting in a Landlord’s Market: Scoring a Great Apartment when Vacancies are Down

Low vacancy rates are great news if you are a landlord, but significantly less so if you find yourself searching for a new apartment. Finding a good apartment at a reasonable price is significantly more difficult when rental units have a low vacancy rate. Not only will the prices for accommodation be higher, but the competition between renters to land a choice apartment can get fierce. What do you need to do to land a great pad when vacancy rates are low?

Finding a Great Apartment When Vacancy Rates are Low

Be realistic. If you are moving out of your parents’ house, moving into a new city, or switching to a more central or expensive neighborhood, you may be in for a shock at the size of apartment your budget gets you, or the sticker price to live somewhere up to your current standard. Spend some time browsing apartments similar to what is within your budget on Kijiji before going to a showing so you have a good idea of what the market is like before you start going for showings – that way, you can identify a good deal when you come across one.

Separate wants from needs. Before seeing any apartments, figure out what you consider absolute must haves, and what you can live without. Is central air conditioning really a must have if you see a great unit that has good airflow? Do you need in unit laundry if there is a Laundromat in the building? Knowing what you will and will not compromise on before your search will help you make decisions on a tighter timeline.

Figure out the prices of all the things you think you need. Maybe you feel you need access to an underground parking spot, but have you looked into what the cost is for street parking in your city? How does the premium of having a reserved spot compare to a monthly parking pass in the area of the building? If parking is easy to come by in the blocks near your apartment, is it really worth shelling out the difference?

Be prepared to act. If you see a great place, assume landlords are telling the truth when they say they have a lot of interest. If you want to move in, be prepared to negotiate and lock down the agreement on the spot. Research what is standard in your province for documents required to sign a lease, and bring it with you to every showing. This may include a copy of your credit report, a letter of employment, bank statements or pay stubs, and the contact information of your current or past landlords. A reference letter from a prior landlord stating that you were a good tenant and paid on time may help you be more competitive as well.

Familiarize yourself with signs of rental fraud and local laws. Scams become more common when the competition for apartments is tight, because fraudsters know people are under pressure to lock down a good deal. Similarly, unscrupulous landlords may demand things that they have no right to, such as cash deposits before any binding agreement is signed. Be wary of any requests for cash or other similarly untraceable transactions. Stick to cheques, credit cards, certified cheques, and other traceable forms of payment, and never send money online for an apartment that you haven’t seen.

No Pets Allowed? What You Need to Know About Pets & Rentals

No Pets Allowed at your Rental?

Finding a pet friendly rental can be difficult. Even landlords that are friendly to animals in their own home may place restrictions on pets such as by type, size, or temperament. Based on where you live, the no pets clause may not be legally binding, or, it may enough to get you evicted if you break it. It’s always a good idea to make sure landlords are on board with pets, especially if you live in close quarters with them or with other tenants, but what if they aren’t? The recourse and laws vary by province:

Alberta Rentals: Landlords can refuse to rent to someone with pets. Pets could lead to an eviction if there is a no pets clause in the agreement, as this would be considered a breach of contract. Size and number of pets can also be restricted in the agreement. Source & more information at the CMHC website.

British Columbia Rentals: Landlords can bar you from keeping pets, as well as place restrictions on the sizes permitted, what type of pets, and the number of pets you can keep. However, there have been cases where the pets clause was too broad, and found not to be enforceable. If the clause is so vague that even keeping a single fish in a bowl would be a violation, it may not be binding. Source & more information at the British Columbia Residential Tenancy Branch Website and Fact Sheet.

Manitoba Rentals: Landlords can refuse to rent to those with pets, and no pets clauses are binding. Landlords must issue a breach of tenancy agreement notice requiring that the pet be re-homed before an eviction notice is sent to a tenant. If a pet is damaging the property or disturbing the other tenants, that is also grounds for eviction. Source & more information at the CMHC website.

New Brunswick Rentals: Landlords can refuse to rent to people with pets, and if there is a no pets clause, they could be evicted, but infractions are dealt with on a case by case basis. Source & more information at the CMHC website.

Newfoundland Rentals: Landlords can refuse to rent to people with pets. If pets are permitted by the tenancy agreement, or not mentioned specifically, the apartment is pet friendly. If the rental agreement states that pets are not allowed, the landlord can give the tenant written notice to comply with the agreement, and if they do not, they could be evicted.

Nova Scotia Rentals: Landlords can restrict pets if they are included in the landlord’s rules (which must be reasonable and for the purpose of fairness, safety, comfort, welfare, or protection of property). The rules must apply equally to all tenants, and all must be given a copy of the rules prior to signing the lease. If the landlord wants to introduce restrictions, they must give 4 months notice to existing tenants prior to their signing of a new lease. If these requirements are met, the landlord can seek to terminate the tenancy of the residents if they have pets. Source & more information at the CMHC website.

Ontario Rentals: No pets clauses are not considered legally binding, except in select cases. Even if you have signed a lease with a clause specifying that no pets are allowed, you can only be evicted due to having a pet if your pet is dangerous, or causing allergic reactions or problems for other tenants or the landlord, which requires a written order from the Landlord and Tenant Board to result in action being taken against a tenant. Source & more information at OntarioTenants.ca

Prince Edward Island Rentals: Landlords can refuse to rent to tenants with pets, and may include a “no pets” clause in the lease, which can lead to termination of the rental agreement if breached, but this does not apply to tenants who pre-date the agreement. Only new tenants will be subject to an introduced no pets agreement, not those who have been living there before it was introduced. Source & more information at the CMHC website.

Quebec Rentals: Landlords can refuse to rent to tenants with pets. If pets are not mentioned in the lease, they are allowed, provided that they are not prohibited by the by-laws of the building or residence in question, as the by-laws are considered part of the lease. If a tenant has a pet in spite of them not being allowed, they can be evicted, if the landlord can demonstrate that they cause a serious injury. The landlord also has the option to apply for a court order requiring the tenant to get rid of the pet. Source & more information at the CMHC website.

Saskatchewan Rentals: Landlords can refuse to rent to a tenant with pets. If pets are permitted in the tenancy agreement or not mentioned, the rental can be considered pet friendly. If a tenant has pets despite not being permitted to as per the terms of the lease, they must be given a fair warning to rehome the pet, but if they do not, they may be evicted. A reasonable pet fee of pet deposit may be charged, but it must be specified in the lease, however, the total security deposit, including a pet deposit, cannot exceed the price of one month’s rent; if it does, any portion of the fee above the mark of one month’s rent is immediately refundable to the tenant, and can be deducted from regular rent payments. Sources & more information at The Government of Saskatchewan Website and the CMHC.

Considering a Condo?

In cities like Vancouver and Toronto, condos are coming to represent a new type of real estate for a new type of owner. Commonly characterized as inhabited by young urban professionals seeking a worry free way to invest in real estate and baby boomers looking to streamline their lives. Looking past the glamour of living in a glittering glassy skyscraper, is condo life right for you? Will condo life, in fact, make things simpler?

Considering a Condo?

The perceived fixed prices of condo fees rather than surprise costs appeal to many potential homeowners- however, condo fees do go up over time, and there is no maximum to how much the increase may be. If you are considering an older building, make sure you have enough room in your monthly expenses to accommodate rises in condo fees. Even new condos can have significant rises in monthly fees (significant raises during the second year after construction are common), and you will likely still be on the hook to repair or replace broken appliances, or repair damage to your own unit. The costs are similar to those of home ownership, they are just structured differently as they are shared among all owners.

Condos have their own by-laws and rules, and are not subject to tenant laws. For instance, pets can be banned or restricted by the condo board, you may not have a choice on the size or colour of your window shades or blinds, or you may be barred from certain renovations. Whether this is a selling point or a drawback, make sure you read and understand all the rules of the building you are considering before making an investment, as changing of the rules requires a majority of tenants to agree during a vote.

As everyone is an owner, every single decision must be made democratically, from renovations, to bylaw changes. To have input in the way things are run, be prepared to attend condo board meetings and to vote on a variety of issues. A wide variety of viewpoints will have to be considered before a decision is made.

If your main attractions to buying a condo are fixed maintenance costs and less responsibility, you may want to reconsider taking the purchasing plunge, and rent a condo or apartment instead. The best way to have fixed costs is still a rental, as caps on rent increases keep the price more predictable and you aren’t on the hook for major building maintenance or replacing your appliances. If what draws you in is a community, convenience, and amenities, check out the condos for sale near you.

Categories:Kijiji Real Estate

How to Plan and Budget for Your First Apartment

Getting ready to fly the coop and move out on your own is a huge milestone, whether you are a student or in the job market. It can be tempting to get carried away by blowing the budget on a one bedroom with den with high end finishes, but if your income only would cover the cost of a bachelor apartment or roommate living in your area, you will land in financial hot water. Here are some things to keep in mind when readying to take the big step of moving out of your parents home.

Don’t underestimate the costs. Paying the bills and living alone likely costs a lot more than you thought, even if you have thought it through. The very act of moving carries unforeseen expenses; if you don’t have much credit history, you may have to pay deposits of several hundred dollars when signing up for utilities, you may be forced to purchase a new router from your internet service provider, or buy several cans of paint to cover up that awful orange in your new apartment. Furnishing your apartment will likely cost several thousand (unless you spend a lot of time monitoring the free section of Kijiji), and setting yourself up with kitchen and living basics (flour, sugar, spices, soap, toilet paper…the list goes on) is a large expense. You want to ensure you have a few thousand in the bank before you take the plunge of living along.

Have a contingency fund. In addition to having money set aside for initial moving costs, try to bank as much money as you can before moving out on your own. Make sure you have enough to cover costs in case of an emergency or if your employment situation suddenly takes a turn for the worst. If you are living with parents now, take advantage of the opportunity to save some extra money. You will need it later.

Pay down debt. Even if your circumstances stop you from being able to get together a decent contingency fund, don’t try to embark on this big financial step if you have debts hanging over your head (especially credit card debt). Pay off anything outstanding before you owe monthly rent and are on the hook for all your living expenses.

Make a budget. Break down your monthly income (subtracting applicable taxes) and see what percentage you are planning on putting towards rent, utilities, and any other fixed costs. If you are planning to spend more than 30% – 40% on rent, re-evaluate your situation. You may be better off with more roommates, or saving for longer. 30% is often cited as the benchmark of what is considered a reasonable percentage to put towards rent, but if you live in a city like Toronto, Calgary, or Vancouver where rents are high, you may have to allocate a higher percentage to rent if you don’t have a large income to have an apartment at all.

How to Budget for your first apartment

If you have roommates…

Though costs are shared, budgeting with roommates is often more complex than doing so alone. If planning on sharing with roommates, make sure you are on the same page on key issues. No need to create a textbook sized room mate agreement like in Big Bang Theory (though having a signed agreement is not a bad idea); making sure everyone is aligned on key issues should be enough.

Agree on how costs will be shared. Talk about how utilities will be split and agree to what is a necessity before moving in. If you go over the bandwidth cap on internet services, how will you determine who pays what? Will you share your Netflix account, or have your own?

Space splitting – who pays more? Almost all apartments have at least one bedroom that is way better or way worse than the others. Before you decide who gets which room, agree on a fair way to determine how room size is going to determine how costs are split. If you decide one person will pay more, and one less, is that only on rent, or does that extend to other costs?

Groceries – shared or separate? Often one party will eat significantly more than others, or eat more expensive food. Agree to a system before it becomes a problem if you can.

Cleaning – will it factor into the budget? If one person does all the cleaning, will this offset other costs? Is it in the best interests of everyone to split the costs of a professional cleaning service for shared areas?

Whose name is on the lease? If it’s yours, understand that you will be on the hook for rent even if your room mates leave (or if they stop paying rent). Make sure you understand the potential worse case scenarios and have a back up plan, or, if possible, have multiple names on the lease.

Ensure they also have a contingency fund. Whether you are moving in with someone new found via Kijiji roommates, or moving in with an old friend, a roommate always needing to borrow money to make rent will get really old really quickly. While asking for their bank statements is a no-no, sit down and have a frank conversation with them about money and ensure you are both on the same page.