Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Most Tenants Leaving Condemned Huntington Hills Find New Apartments

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

December 24th, 2011

What’s this story about?

Huntington Hills was said to be “unfit” for habitation after the owner failed to comply with a couple of Alberta court orders to fix safety and health concerns.

The owners had two years of warnings after Alberta Health Services informed them there were serious health concerns with the building.  One of the main concerns was asbestos.

What happened to the tenants?

This left many tenants living in Huntington Hills to scramble to find new places to live, even a day before they were to be evicted.

Many of the ninety tenants scrambling to find new housing were newcomers to Canada and seniors with low incomes.

Fortunately, before the deadline only three had found a new rental.

How did these tenants handle it?

Two tenants involved feel they are happy to home for the Christmas break.  They are Melissa and Andrew Rayburn.  Just days before being forced to move they and their two daughters managed to find a new rental within blocks of their Huntsville building.

According to Melissa: “It’s been really stressful but I guess I’m glad that we left because I don’t want to live in a place that could make my kids sick.” Melissa is six months pregnant and said  “I’m really glad we’re out of there. We don’t need the hassle.”

Why didn’t the government work closely with the Huntington Hills owners to solve this before it came to this point?

That is something only the owners and the government know.

Ontario Caps Rent Increases to 2.5%

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

December 11th, 2011

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty

 

The press release came last Tuesday.  It shocked a lot of landlords in Ontario!

What’s the news?

Beginning in 2013, the Ontario government will cap annual rent increases to 2.5%, not matter how much inflation is.

Here’s the Ontario government propaganda:

December 6, 2011 1:00 PM

MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT PROPOSES TO STABILIZE RENT INCREASE GUIDELINE TO PROTECT TENANTS

Legislation to be introduced today would, if passed, ensure that the annual Rent Increase Guideline is capped at 2.5 per cent to protect tenants and families.

The proposed changes would also ensure that the annual Rent Increase Guideline never falls below one per cent. 

Tenants would benefit from greater certainty that would ensure affordable and stable rents so they have safe and affordable housing. For landlords, this would ensure a fair return so they can properly maintain rental properties.

The guideline would continue to be based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index. If passed, the new guideline formula would take effect starting in 2013.

Ontario continues to build new affordable housing and repair existing units for families with housing needs. The province’s investments in affordable housing have created thousands of jobs and resulted in the construction and repair of 270,000 housing units and the provision of 35,000 rent supplements for Ontario families on fixed incomes.

What do you think, Alberta Landlords?  In Ontario no matter what the inflation rate is, rents are capped.

To read more go to the Ontario Landlords Association website here Ontariolandlord.ca

 

100 Families flee over fears of mould

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

December 8th, 2011

 

It’s a landlord’s worst nightmare

According to a CBC report, mould and asbestos allegations at a Calgary apartment complex are going to force over one hundred tenants out and force to find new places to stay.

Residents in the over 50 unit complex very served two week’s notice that they must vacate their rental apartments.  This is because of a judge gave an order to move by December 15th because of concerns by the AHS (Alberta Health Services) stating the property is not currently safe to live in.

Alberta Health Services stated there are older court orders for the building owner to fix the property…orders which were ignored.

Little has been said about the tenant’s responsibility to control mould issues in their homes.  Instead the media has focused on the tenants as “victims.”

What do you think?

 

Death and Crack Dens: Known druggie hide-out faces 2nd court order

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

December 1st, 2011

 

A 47 year old tenant found dead in November.

Local residents saying the house has been a long term irritant in the neighbourhood.

Some calling it a known Crack Den.

The province’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods southern Alberta team (called “SCAN”) began investigating the residence a few years ago.

In Feb. 2011, a judge ordered the house shut down for 90 days after the owner failed to cooperate with police. Then the house was sold to new owners who let the previous owner move back in as a tenant(!), police said.

After the November homicide SCAN applied to the courts for another 90-day order. It was granted and takes effect on December 2nd, 2011.

The property won’t be closed under the new order, but the previous owner is required to leave the house and the new owner must get approval from SCAN before renting out any rooms, police said.

Police continued to watch the home and soon had another complaint about increased traffic and soon launched another investigation.

Albertans who suspect a property in their neighbourhood is being used for illegal activity need to contact SCAN toll-free at 1-866-960-7226 (SCAN) or online at www.scan.alberta.ca.

To read more click here.

Move over, Toronto – there’s a new hotspot in town

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

November 12th, 2011

Sky-high rents. Heavy demand for downtown office space. A magnet for company headquarters. It may sound like Toronto, but this commercial real estate hotspot is decidedly farther west.

Despite erratic markets and a lingering world recession, Calgary’s office and commercial real estate market rivals Toronto as the most robust in the country, driven predominantly by the continued growth plans of energy companies.

“We’ve got a vibrant downtown core, a strong commodity-based economy, low tax rates in Alberta and [many] corporate head offices in Calgary, most of those tied to the energy sector. Calgary is a dynamic place to be right now,” says Joe Binfet, managing director of Colliers International in Calgary.

Indeed, the Toronto Board of Trade’s 2011 Scorecard on Prosperity, which compares 24 of the world’s most prosperous urban centres, gave Calgary third place, just below Paris and San Francisco. Toronto came in eighth.

Don R. Campbell, president of the Calgary-based Real Estate Investment Network, says that on a per capita basis, Calgary has already redefined itself as a leader in commercial and office space.

“Jobs are pouring in, population is growing and businesses are flourishing – and this is during the world’s economic downturn,” he says.

When it comes to downtown office space, the demand in Calgary seems boundless of late. “One year ago, the vacancy rate in the downtown office market was 16 per cent; today, it’s under 8 per cent,” says Mr. Binfet. “We’ve had over two million square feet of positive absorption in the downtown office market for this year, to date.”

According to Mr. Binfet, in the past 12 months Colliers has leased more than one million square feet in Eighth Avenue Place, a Platinum LEED-certified development in the downtown core, with pre-leasing interest bubbling up for a second, 600,000 square-foot tower. And Eighth Avenue is far from the only hot property – the 1.9 million square-foot Bow Tower has been completely rented by energy giants EnCana and Cenovus, who are now looking for more space.

Oxford Properties, having completed Centennial Place in 2010 (two towers totalling 1.2 million square feet), has announced plans for a new 25-storey tower in the Eau Claire neighbourhood, which would create another 600,000 square feet of office space.

“Energy companies are expanding,” explains Mr. Binfet. “They’re securing space not only for today, but for their future growth.”

“If company ‘A’ is currently [occupying] 50,000 square feet, the presidents that we talk to are saying, ‘Given our growth plan, we need 75,000 square feet,’” said Greg Kwong, regional managing director of CB Richard Ellis Ltd. in Calgary.

A recent study by Jones Lang LaSalle, a financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate, found that Calgary’s Third Avenue commands rents for office space that are among the highest in North America.

Law, energy, and oil companies pay rent averaging $47.51 per square feet on Third Avenue. The study placed the street’s rents at 13th highest in the continent, a few slots below Toronto’s Bay Street, which came in at No. 9.

Todd Throndson, managing director of Avison Young in Calgary, says rents in the downtown core have jumped around 50 per cent this year, which has made it difficult for some companies to find space.

“It’s creating some struggles for the smaller organizations as rents go up and opportunities go down,” he said. “We have an AA market that’s around 2 per cent, and an A-class around 4 per cent, and those are very, very low vacancy levels, especially in a market like ours, which has such large tenants and the capacity to grow quickly.”

Although Toronto is still the top dog when it comes to the overall number of major corporate headquarters, Calgary is starting to nip at the city’s heels.

According to Calgary Economic Development, Calgary has 9.3 head offices per 100,000 people, nearly twice Toronto’s figure of 4.7 head offices per 100,000. And while Calgary is experiencing an increase in the number of headquarters heading its way, Toronto is experiencing a decline.

In addition to its proximity to the lucrative energy market, Calgary is also attractive for companies to set up shop because of what the city and its citizens have to offer, says Mr. Campbell.

“[Calgary has an] educated work force to draw from, a high level of highly educated professionals,” he said. “And the size and infrastructure of the city allows employees to have additional free non-commute time, which leads to better and healthier lifestyles and therefore happier employees staying longer term.”

In terms of future growth, Mr. Kwong says the commercial real estate industry in Calgary is feeling very “bullish” right now, despite continued economic uncertainty here and abroad.

“The recession hit us just like everyone else, and it was very much a soft landing here and we bounced back a lot quicker than elsewhere in Canada,” he says. “We are very driven by the price of oil and the demand for oil, and until someone invents an alternative energy source to replace oil, Calgary and Alberta need to be here.”

“If oil continues to be priced above 60 dollars, then I believe the financial statements of the big energy companies, which are very positive,” says Mr. Throndson. “They have lots of cash and they are going to be very focused on growing their business opportunities, so I think we’re looking at a very healthy time period where Alberta is going to be strong economically.”

As for being “the new Toronto,” Mr. Binfet says it’s not a comparison many in his city would relish.

“I don’t think Calgary likes being compared to Toronto,” he says. “Calgary stands on its own, with an entrepreneurial attitude, a can-do spirit and a culturally diverse, vibrant downtown.”

To read the original Globe and Mail article click here

Simple keys to find great tenants

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

October 21st, 2011

The Calgary Herald recently had a good article called “Simple Keys to Getting Great Tenants.”   Experienced landlords know one of the keys to success as a landlord is finding tenants you can depend on.  By depend on, I mean “tenants who pay on time” and “tenants who respect your property.”

So how do you find these quality tenants?  The article provides some hints such as:

Get a Copy of Their Driver’s License – I have had more than one rental situation go bad. In these cases, a gentle reminder that I had copies of their ID prevented the situation from escalating.

Get an Entire Security Deposit and First Month’s Rent – This is at the moment of signing the lease. If they cannot afford it because they have not received their previous damage deposit, then take note that paying the rent in the long-term may be tight for them.

Get Post Dated Cheques – People who do not have chequing accounts typically do not have credit. I have accepted a bank draft for the deposit and first months rent in the past, but only while the cheques are on order. Do not accept cash.

Get Proof of Employment – I shy away from self employed people. I have had many people with seasonal work run into rent issues during slow periods in their field. I want to know where they work, when they work, the phone number and I also want two recent pay stubs. If everything else is in order, try to determine how long they have been self employed and ensure they have a good track record (a credit check my help in this case).

No Pets – No compromising on this one. The security deposit is not enough to cover flooring replacement due to stains, claw damage or water damage because of a leaky aquarium.

Friend them on Facebook – During the application phase and tenancy, insist they add you as a friend on Facebook. I have been friends with almost all my tenants and in addition to creating a bit of goodwill, this is a great way to find out the type of lifestyle they live.

Is this a complete list?  No, but it’s a good start and good advice for landlords just starting out.

To read the original article click here

 

Alberta Landlord and Tenant News

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Attempted murder trial presents two different stories

September 7, 2011

 

A landlord tenant dispute leads to death?  A Lethbridge jury will soon decide whether a Stirling man, charged with attempted murder, was acting in justifiable self defence.

Nicholas Gerard Verwer was charged with attempted murder and wounding with intent, following an August 2007 confrontation in Stirling. He was committed to stand trial after a preliminary hearing here in 2009.

The shooting victim, Derek Shawn Kennedy, died last year of what Crown prosecutor Richard Paziuk called unrelated causes.

In his opening address, the Crown outlined the sequence of events on Aug. 25, 2007, on a residential property at the edge of Stirling. Kennedy was the tenant in a home owned by next-door resident Verwer, Paziuk said.

In exchange for re-roofing a barn, he said, the accused offered Kennedy reduced rent. But the landlord-tenant relationship broke down, he told the jury, and Verwer gave Kennedy an eviction notice.

Kennedy then moved in with his parents in Stirling, Paziuk said, but he went back to see Verwer after he learned several large signs – one saying “Derek Kennedy evicted” – had been fastened to the fence, facing the highway into town.

After arriving, the Crown said, Kennedy found himself facing an irate Verwer armed with a 22-calibre rifle. He told police he threw up his hands and began backing away toward his car, as Verwer followed with a stream of profanity.
When he reached a trellis, court was told, Kennedy turned and tried to make a run for his car. But a bullet hit his lower spine, and he collapsed on the spot.

The injured man reached out his arm, hoping to be helped to his feet. Instead, the prosecutor said, the accused reloaded his gun.

Using his arms, Kennedy told police, he was able to hoist himself into his car and drive to a friend’s home in Stirling. He fell to the pavement as he tried to leave his car, and an ambulance was called.

After emergency treatment in Lethbridge, the jury learned, Kennedy was sent to Calgary for specialist care. He was left with serious disabilities.

White, in his defense presentation, said Verwer feared Kennedy, a 28-year-old with martial arts and kick-box training. The accused, now 50, said Kennedy had threatened him with a beating.

So Verwer reached for his gun when Kennedy approached his door, after ripping one of the signs off the fence.
“He was scared to death.”

The accused pointed his gun to the ground, White said – not toward the victim. As they approached the trellis, he said, he swung the weapon’s butt and hit Kennedy on the arm.

The two wrestled for the gun, but Verwer held on.  “He had no intention of pulling the trigger.”

As Kennedy drove away, White said Verwer called police. “I have accidentally shot someone,” he said.

Read more at the Lethbridge Herald here

Message to Alberta Landlords – When kindness doesn’t pay (Part 3)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

How could they do this to my property?

August 29, 2011

This is a warning to all landlords in Calgary, Edmonton and the Rest of Alberta.  Although I’m in Ontario, I hope what happened to me helps others all over the country.

I was very happy to have hired property manager John Schutten.  John spoke with the tenants and managed to get Teddy and Nancy to sign a form called an N11 (“Agreement to End a Tenancy”) from the Landlord and Tenant Board.  John told me in Ontario even if the tenants sign a form saying they will leave, we needed to take it with a grain of salt because they could ignore it and continue to stay.  Both John and I thought it was likely I’d have to order the Sheriff to physically evict them from my rental property.

I knew we needed to get an eviction order through the Landlord and Tenant Board.  John attended the hearing at the LTB on May 17.  The tenants didn’t even bother to show up!  This was actually a good thing because many tenants will show up with fake maintenance claims in order to stall the whole process  and live rent free.  We were granted the eviction but couldn’t get the Order right there and then.  In Ontario you have to wait to receive the order via snail mail.

Finally May 31st arrived!  This was the day the tenants were supposed to vacate the property according the LTB Order.  My fingers were crossed they would obey the law and leave when the LTB said they had to get out!  John did an inspection and these tenants had not packed a single box!  We couldn’t consider the property abandoned so we had to take an expensive next step…ordering the Sheriff.  Off to the Sheriff’s office John went with the LTB Order in hand to book the Sheriff.  Cost?  $320!

In some places, you can wait weeks before the Sheriff’s office has time to come to your property.  Fortunately, Hamilton is a large city and they work every day of the week.  The Sheriff came and posted a letter on the door stating the tenants had 72 hours to leave and take all their belongings.  The tenants had until June 7 at 10 am to vacate.

I felt relieved this whole ordeal was about to end.  My happiness and relief ended when I thought how much money I was out dealing with the eviction process in Ontario.  The Sheriff cost over $300.  Plus the LTB cost me $170.  I had to pay John for his professional and experienced help.  I also didn’t receive April or May rent.  Now it was June and another month of no rent.  My tax bill and mortgage still had to be paid!

On the evening of June 6 (hours away from D-Day, or E-Day for eviction) I drove by my little property after work to see what might be happening.  Good news!  I saw a U-Haul truck pull up in the driveway.  It looked like they actually started moving furniture out of the house.  I saw their things all over the front yard and sidewalk.  My Lord, they were even having a garage sale!

The next day the Sheriff came.  At long last my property was ‘mine’ again.  These rotten tenants were finally gone!  I was beaming.  The smile on my face was only matched by the spring in my stride as I walked to the front door to take a look and then change the locks.

Then I went inside.  No. This was just too much….. They couldn’t have done this to me…..

Discuss this in the landlord forums here

Tenants not surprised landlord fined for Health and Safety Act violations

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

July 2011

A Calgary landlord is being fined a record $207,000 under the Public Health Act.  The government stated this is due to numerous health and safety violation at several of their rental properties.

One of the lanldord’s tenants says the record fine handed to this Calgary landlord and his spouse “will be a drop in the bucket for the pair.” 

The Calgary Herald story explains how Wendy Boccinfuso has been living in a two-bedroom house on Edmonton Trail since October. The property is owned by Albert Kwok Kwong Wong, who was ordered to pay a record $207,000 fine under the Public Health Act for numerous health and safety violations at six other rental properties.

Jacky Augustin, 28, has been living below Boccinfuso in a one-bedroom basement suite for about a year. He said there’s black mould everywhere and he had to battle Wong to repair a leak coming from upstairs.

“The roof collapsed in the washroom because there was too much water,” explained Augustin. “It took him two months to fix it.”

Both Boccinfuso and Augustin are in the market looking for other places to live.  Both are clear they won’t rent from Wong again.

“I hope this is a wake up call for landlords and a wake up call for renters to stand up for themselves because we have rights,” explains Boccinfuso. “If you want a good tenant, you need to be a good landlord.”

The Landlord Albert Wong refused to comment on the situation.

To read the more visit Tenants not surprised landlord fined

To discuss this with fellow landlords visit the Landlord Advice Forums

Hoarders? What can a landlord do?

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

“Our hands are really tied under the Residential Tenancies Act.”

July 2011

Ontario News

Like a lot of residential property investors in Ontario are doing these days, the Toronto Star asked:  The threat from hoarders is real, but do property managers have the power they need to get access to apartments and protect their tenants? 

According to the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act landlords must seek the permission of their tenants to enter their rental units. Gaining access is often difficult. However, following the terrible fire at 200 Wellesley St. E. last September, the fire marshal’s office is now asking landlords to be vigilant about reducing risk to other tenants from the problems caused by hoarding, and to notify local fire departments if they see instances that are of concern.

What can landlords do?  Two members of the Ontario Landlords Association Andrew Ganguly and April Stewart of Landlord Legal were interviewed to help provide advice and guidance.

Ganguly explained “The problem we have is that our hands are really tied under the Residential Tenancies Act.”

“If I serve the required 24-hour notice to inspect a unit and the tenant refuses entry I’m stuck — the tenant doesn’t have to let me in. It causes a lot of anxiety because you want to keep an eye on it because you know you will be the one to be blamed but you can’t do anything about it.”

Stewart gave background information on Section 15 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 which allows a fire official to enter a premises “without a warrant or other authorization for the purpose of removing or reducing the threat.”

In one of Stewart’s cases, the tenant had piled up so much debris gathered outside and inside the house  the fire department issued such as order.

Stewart explained the landlord had not managed to get the Landlord and Tenant Board to issue an eviction notice. While the fire department is now asking the landlord to get rid of all the debris left by the tenant, the landlord knows that under the law he can’t do so as the tenant was not legally evicted.

Stewart said “Now the landlord is in a bad position, left in limbo with the status of the tenant because the landlord tried previously to get rid of the tenant but didn’t win the eviction case.”

Read more at the Toronto Star.

Discuss the article in the Ontario Landlord Forums.