Posts Tagged ‘Property Management’

Alberta Landlords Association Launches Fire Safety Campaign!

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Alberta Landlords Make Sure Your Rental Property Is “Fire Safe”

Alberta landlords know the importance of maintaining our rental properties. We know that to be successful you want attractive and properties that your tenants will find comfortable and want to live in.

Experienced Alberta landlords know if the place feels like ‘home’ it will attract all the good tenants out there and lead them to want to rent from you. Who doesn’t want a nice home to live in? Bright rentals with big windows, clean, nicely decorated, with great working appliances…it’s the key to success for Alberta residential landlords.

Experienced and successful landlords also know it’s important to make sure your Alberta rental property is safe and up to legal code.

To promote all residential landlords in the province to make sure their rental property is safe the Alberta Landlords Association has launched our “Alberta Landlords Fire Safety Campaign” for 2016!

We want every landlord in in Alberta to make fire safety a priority.

To help make this happen and to save lives we contacted Tina Parker. Tina is a technical adviser at Alberta Fire Services and was very helpful.

We truly thank Tina for taking the time to answer our questions. Please see our questions and her answers below:

1. What are the responsibilities of residential landlords when it comes to fire safety?

Depending on the jurisdiction in which these properties reside in, there may be different requirements or different permitting requirements. It is best to check with the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to determine what they require the landlords to complete. The AHJ is usually the local fire department or it could be the Office of the Fire Commissioner.

Here are a few examples from various areas within our province:

– http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/Fire/Documents/2010-2503-CFD-building-owners-brochure.pdf

– http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/Fire/Pages/Inspections-investigations-and-permitting/Inspections-investigations-and-permitting.aspx

– http://www.rmwb.ca/Municipal-Government/municipal_departments/Emergency-Services—Law-Enforcement/RES/Fire-Prevention/Fire-Safety-for-Businesses-and-Contractors.htm

– http://www.cityofgp.com/index.aspx?page=408

2. What are the rules for rental properties regarding making their property fire safe? Are there general guidelines or specific rules? Where can these be found for landlords to learn to make their rentals safe for tenants?

Often times landlords are governed more by their insurance provider to comply with codes and standards, not limited to the Alberta Fire Code.

There are Alberta Building Code and Electrical Code standards they may also need to comply with. Depending on where the rental units are in the province of Alberta, it might be best if the owners contact the local AHJ to ensure they have all the applicable permits and request an inspection of the property to ensure they meet the required code(s). Those local AHJ’s may also have a check list that would their municipalities require business owners/property owners to utilize.

Also, this website may be of assistance to you and your organization:

– http://www.programs.alberta.ca/living/Dynamic.aspx?N=770+599+609

This site provides inspection reports that may be of interest and it also has a handbook that provides you with information from Service Alberta. This handbook reviews the Residential Tenancies Act and goes over rights and responsibilities. ( http://www.servicealberta.ca/621.cfm)

3. What are the rules for landlords when it comes to smoke detectors?

2.16.2.15. Smoke Alarms

1) Smoke alarms conforming to CAN/ULC-S531, “Smoke-Alarms,” shall be installed in accordance with Subsection 9.10.19. of Division B of the ABC in each dwelling unit.

2) Smoke alarms shall be installed by permanent connections to an electrical circuit and, when acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction, the interconnection of smoke alarms can either be hard wired or wireless so that activation of one smoke alarm will cause all alarms within both dwelling units to sound. (See Appendix A.)

3) Smoke alarms shall be installed in areas that are common to both dwelling units and connected in conformance with Sentence (2).

Please note these wordings are taken from the most current code. Depending on when the property was built/permits issued, they may need older code wordings.

4. What are the rules for landlords when it comes to carbon monoxide detectors?

2.16.2.16. Carbon Monoxide Alarms

1) Carbon monoxide alarms conforming to CSA 6.19, “Residential Carbon
Monoxide Alarming Devices,” shall be installed in accordance with Sentence
9.32.3.9.(2) of Division B of the ABC in the primary and secondary dwelling units.

2) Carbon monoxide alarms shall be installed by permanent connections to an
electrical circuit and interconnected so that the activation of one carbon monoxide alarm will cause all alarms within both dwelling units to sound. (See Appendix A.)

3) Carbon monoxide alarms shall be installed in areas that are common to both
dwelling units and connected in conformance with Sentence (2).

2.16.2.17. Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Smoke Alarms and Carbon
Monoxide Alarms

1) Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms required by this Section shall be
inspected, tested and maintained in conformance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Appendix A

A-2.16.2.16.(2) The interconnection of carbon monoxide alarms may be hard wired or wireless. Secondary suites that have been upgraded in accordance with the AFC 2014 are permitted to install plug-in or battery-powered carbon monoxide alarms if such installation is deemed appropriate by the authority having jurisdiction.

5. Regarding enforcement of the laws, what type of fines can landlords face if they are not following the laws?

Please visit Service Alberta web page and the Safety Codes Council web page.

– http://www.safetycodes.ab.ca/Public/Pages/CodesPermits.aspx

– http://www.servicealberta.ca/621.cfm

Also, the Safety Codes Act lays out Penalties for Offences (Prohibitions – Offences 67(1)).

– http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/S01.pdf

6. What can tenants do if they worry their rental home isn’t fire safe?

They can contact the local AHJ and the Landlord and Tenants Council for their areas. Please see Service Alberta website.

7. What happens if a tenant disables a smoke detector? Can they be fined?

It depends on the circumstances around this. Fines may or may not be done; depends on the AHJ and the circumstances around the event(s).

8. Are there any great resources you recommend for residential landlords to learn more about their responsibilities when it comes to fire safety?

Having a good working relationship with the local AHJ and reviewing the web pages that have been provided to you. Also contacting their local Landlord and Tenants Council for clarity.

9. Are there any sites where tenants can learn about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to fire safety.

See above responses.

10. How can small private residential landlords go the extra mile to make their rental property ultra safe for their tenants.

Engaging with the local AHJ’s and also with the tenants on what is required and what is expected.

There are a lot of resources available for both tenants and landlords and we encourage both parties to review and engage in those resources.

Alberta landlords make fire safety a priority in 2015! If you have questions contact your local Fire Department and the provincial Fire Services Department who will be happy to assist you improve your rental property!

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.

 

Monday, April 25th, 2011

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Is it better to rent with utilities included?

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

By Dominique Jarry-Shore | Tue Feb 01 2011

With several cold snaps already behind us, renters may be wondering whether it’s better to have their heat and hydro included in the rent or pay it separately.

There are pros and cons to both.

When heat is included budgeting can be easier with set costs every month. This can be especially helpful where roommates are concerned since divvying up heating bills from month to month is an extra hassle. It also protects you from rising energy prices, since the amount of rent you pay will likely stay the same or rise by only a small amount, as set out by the Landlord and Tenant Board.

This year, the rent increase has been set at less than 1 per cent, and although landlords can apply for a rent increase over and above that amount .

If you’re planning on staying in your apartment for several years, it could be more advantageous to have the heat included because annual rent increases will likely be less than the increase in energy costs.

The drawback to having the heat included is that you have less control over how much you pay for it. If you’re someone who is good at saving on heat, and generally has a small heating bill, you could end up paying more than your consumption when it’s included in the rent.

Stuart Henderson is a member of the Ontario Landlord’s Association and a small-business landlord who owns about 50 rental units.

He says landlords will often adjust the amount of rent a tenant pays when the heat is included to account for a tenant who might waste energy. Even if you aren’t the type to leave the window open in the middle of winter, your landlord may have factored that kind of wastefulness into the price as a precaution.

Henderson says a more worrisome concern is rising energy costs and that uncertainty means many landlords are wary of including utilities in the rent.

He calls the 10 per rebate on hydro bills introduced by the McGuinty government a “very small help” and estimates costs for landlords have gone up 10 to 20 per cent in recent years due to a combination of factors, including the HST, the increase in the cost of energy, and in some areas, rising property taxes.

With the rent increase set at 0.7 per cent for 2011, Henderson says landlords are more and more willing to negotiate a rent that doesn’t include utilities.

This is where it can get interesting for renters.

By comparing similar units in the neighbourhood, renters may want to try bargaining for a lower rent in exchange for paying the heat themselves.

Here are some tips for negotiating a better deal on your rent where heat and utilities are concerned.

1) Compare apples to apples. Take some time to research the prices for similar units in the neighbourhood both with heat included, and excluded from the price. That way you’ll have a better starting point when bargaining. Craig’s List and other online housing sites can be a good place to start.

2) Find out how is consumption is measured. Sometimes heat is included in the rent because it’s not possible to determine the exact consumption in your unit. This is especially true in some older townhouses where one heating system may be used for a couple of units. Find out how exactly your consumption will be measured to make sure it’s fair. If this seems suspect, you might want to skip offering to pay your own utilities.

3) Check the energy efficiency of the apartment. Are the windows winterized? Which was does the apartment face? Keep in mind that a basement will cost more to hear than a top floor apartment.

4) Find out who you’re you dealing with. You’ll probably have more of a chance negotiating a rent with a small-business landlord as opposed to a large company-managed building where rules may be less flexible

Dominique Jarry-Shore is an editor with thestar.com. She lives in an apartment in downtown Toronto.

http://www.moneyville.ca/article/931309–is-it-better-to-rent-with-utilities-included?bn=1

Landlords want tenants to clear snow

Monday, January 31st, 2011


BYLAW: A city hall committee is set to consider a proposal for a new bylaw that would govern who has to shovel what

By KATE DUBINSKI, The London Free Press

If there’s ever been a time when snow removal has been on Londoners’ minds, this has been the year.

But some landlords are crying foul over suggestions they be made responsible for clearing snow from their London tenants’ walkways and driveways.

“What’s next? Are landlords going to be responsible for making sure their tenants eat their vegetables every day?” said Jane Schweitzer, a representative of the Ontario Landlord Association.

“It’s Canada. We all know we’re going to have to deal with ice and snow. I don’t think the city should be involved in these issues,” added her husband and fellow landlord, Mike Schweitzer. The couple are based in Brantford.

The Ontario Landlord Association represents landlords with properties that have 10 or fewer units.

The city’s built and natural environment committee will hear arguments Monday for a new property-standards bylaw to deal with snow removal in rental units.

“There’s no recourse for Londoners. Right now, you either kick up a fuss with the landlord or property-management company, or you go before the landlord and tenant board, which takes time and money,” said Tiffany Roschkow. She is proposing the city consider a new bylaw to make landlords responsible for shovelling or plowing walkways, driveways, ramps and parking spaces.

“It makes sense. You move into a rental property and you expect that kind of thing to be done for you.”

Roschkow lives in a three-storey walk-up in Wortley Village.

Several days before Snowmageddon, the building manager there died, leaving no one responsible for the snow clearing, Roschkow said. Piles of snow built up around cars and around the dumpster and recycling bins. Tenants began leaving their garbage bags in the hallways.

“For the garbage, I called the city and they came out right away because it was a property-standards issue but for the snow, we couldn’t do anything about it,” Roschkow said.

Someone eventually cleared a pathway to the front door about the width of a standard shovel. that didn’t help much when an elderly tenant out doing errands fell on the walkway, she noted.

“There was nothing being done about it, so I started nosing around and I realized that London doesn’t have a bylaw for rental units like Toronto does,” said Roschkow.

In London, landlords are responsible for keeping rental units in a good state of repair as required under the Residential Tenancies Act.

In Toronto, an additional property-standards bylaw states, “Steps, landings, walks, driveways, parking spaces, ramps and similar areas shall be cleared of snow and ice during and immediately following a snowfall to provide safe access and egress for persons and vehicles.”

The Ontario Landlord Association recommends leases include a section about who is responsible for snow clearing.

Ward 11 Coun. Denise Brown supports Roschkow’s proposal for a newer bylaw.

She has a visually impaired acquaintance who was stuck in his house after Snowmageddon in December and whose landlord told him to shovel his own driveway. “Eventually I had my son and husband do his driveway, but I can’t do that for the entire ward,” Brown said.

“I want staff to look at Toronto’s bylaw and what happens in other cities and to bring back recommendations so we can set something up here.”

http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2011/01/30/17092936.html

Supporting the Fight Against Bed Bugs Province of Ontario Invests $5 Million in Local Public Health Unit Programs

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Supporting the Fight Against Bed Bugs Province of Ontario Invests $5 Million in Local Public Health Unit Programs

Dear Friends,

Today, I was happy to announce that the Government of Ontario is investing $5 Million to support the fight against bed bugs. The province’s 36 public health units will be able to apply for funding to support bed bug-related programs that emphasize coordination with other local services, education and awareness and/or provide supports to vulnerable populations. A total of $5 million will be invested by the province to support these programs.

In addition, a new public education website featuring tools has been launched to give Ontarians a one-stop-shop to get accurate information and simple, easy-to-use tips to combat infestations. The province is also distributing a guide, An Integrated Pest Management Program for Managing Bed Bugs, to stakeholders on how to identify bed bug infestations, perform inspections properly, prepare living areas for treatment and carry out pest treatments. The province and the public health units are also working to develop better ways to assess bed bug activity and infestations. This announcement was a response to the Top 20 Recommendations from the Bed Bug Summit at Queen’s Park which I hosted on September 29, 2010.

QUICK FACTS

· Toronto Public Health has seen a dramatic increase in infestation reports – from 46 in 2003 to more than 1,500 in 2009.

· Adult bed bugs are 3mm – 5mm in size – about the size and shape of an apple seed – and a reddish brown color. LEARN MORE

· Bed Bug Initiatives · For information on bed bugs and how to prevent or get rid of them, visit www.bedbugsinfo.ca.

The Toronto Sun: Ontario Rent Hike Lowest in 35 Years

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Ontario’s rent hike lowest in 35 years

By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief
Last Updated: January 2, 2011 5:20pm

Ontario rents will be allowed to edge up by only 0.7% in 2011.

It is the lowest increase in the 35-year history of the province’s rent guideline — the maximum annual rent increase allowable without seeking special approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board for a heftier hike.

“The McGuinty government is providing real protection for tenants by linking the rent increase guideline to the Ontario Consumer Price Index which prevents routine rent increases above the rate of inflation while ensuring landlords can recover increases in their costs,” said Liberal cabinet minister Jim Bradley.

Stuart Henderson, a moderator with the Ontario Landlords Association, which typically represents property owners with less than five units for rent, said the tiny increase has many of the group’s members wondering if they can afford to stay in the business.

“We’re the ones that are paying all these new costs — the price of gas, hydro, the HST — and then we kind of get kicked in the stomach with a 0.7% increase,” he said. “It leaves kind of the worst landlords in the market, people who are renting out fire traps, illegal places.”

The next provincial election will be held in October, and Henderson said the McGuinty government is clearly currying favour with tenants.

“It’s political opportunism,” he charged. “We feel that the McGuinty government is trying to protect against a backlash from tenants in Toronto.”

Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, said landlords may be complaining now but they weren’t protesting when the province allowed yearly increases in the range of 5% in the 1990s.

The recession has been very hard on many tenants, and unemployment in Toronto continues to hover at about 10%, he said.

”It’s not renting out a movie at Blockbusters — it’s people’s housing,” Dent said. “Any increase right now during this difficult time is hard for any tenant.”

Also, Ontario does not have “real” rent control because the landlord is only obliged to follow the guideline for an existing tenant, he said.

“If you move into a unit, though, a landlord can charge you whatever he wants,” Dent said. “The last tenant could have been paying $500 a month and they can charge you $2,000.”

http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2011/01/02/16734661.html

I could have never imagined how hard it is to evict someone.

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

To anyone interested in the services of Landlord legal –

I could have never imagined how hard it is to evict someone until I was faced with having to do it myself. It wasn’t until I started the process that I realized that it is impossible to do on your own without proper legal counsel. There are so many “t’s” and “i’s” that need to be crossed and dotted and if you miss one, you could lose a lot of time and money. That is when I contacted Landlord Legal.

The best part about April Stewart and her team at Landlord Legal is that they’re specialists. Evicting “bad” tenants for “good” landlords is all they do! I could have NEVER evicted my bad tenant on my own. He was a professional con who played the legal system with expertise. But what my bad tenant didn’t know was that April is more diligent and a lot smarter than he was. April’s a hard working, super persistent woman who is at the top of what she does and gets the job done, period.

I hope I never have to use April’s services again but should I ever need to, you better believe that the only person I will call before anyone else is “The Terminator!”
– Nick S, Toronto

Landlords get a bad deal when it comes to bad tenants

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

By Hugh Adami, Ottawa Citizen December 19, 2010

Why would anyone want to be a small landlord when there is little protection in Ontario from bad tenants?

Take Mike and Cathy Clarmo, who live in the Osgoode community of Edwards. The only way they could get a tenant to leave their rental property was with a cash payout of $3,000. And that was after 4½ years of watching the house’s resale value plummet because of their tenants’ neglect.

Their problems all started because the Clarmos couldn’t say no to an acquaintance who wanted to rent the three-bedroom bungalow they purchased in 2004. The Clarmos had just finished renovating the house when the man — a childhood friend of one of their sons — showed up at their doorstep in the spring of 2005. The couple had been planning to sell the property, which was just down the street from their home, and hoping for a $20,000-to-$25,000 profit to put toward retirement. Mike explained their plans, but the man persisted. He needed a place for his wife and children.

Mike said OK, figuring he would make some of the investment back in rent, and sell later, when the house was sure to be worth more.

Instead, cracks started appearing in their nest egg soon after the family moved in. “It broke our hearts to see the condition of the house deteriorate as it did,” says Cathy.

Probably the worst thing was that the house constantly reeked of animal urine.

The family had a dog, cat and rabbit. Drywall and floors were damaged. The garage was so cluttered that the couple was sure there was a fire risk.

Photos they took also show the front yard of the home littered with junk, including car parts such as engines and tires. The woman, who drove a school bus, damaged the eavestroughing after backing the vehicle into the house, Mike says. Rent was often late.

The Clarmos decided to sell the property after a business deal went sour. In April 2009, they gave the tenants more than two months of notice to vacate.

The tenants offered to buy the house “as is” for a reduced price. The Clarmos agreed. But the tenants couldn’t get a mortgage. The Clarmos abandoned their plan to sell after the husband approached Mike and tearfully told him he couldn’t find another house to rent.

A year later, they planned again to sell the house. But the husband, whose wife was no longer living with him, told Mike he was now well versed in tenants’ rights. He wasn’t going to move, and if Mike wanted to terminate the tenancy, he would have to go before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Mike did so twice. He says he came away convinced that as the landlord, he was considered the bad guy.

At the first hearing, Mike spoke with a mediator, who suggested he allow his tenant to stay at the house rent-free for five months with the condition that he move by the end of this month. The man’s lawyer suggested that Mike could get him out by the end of October if he gave him a few thousand dollars on top of free rent for three months. Mike refused. He recalls the lawyer telling him that he would regret his decision as he was bound to lose the case.

Mike produced photos that he had taken of the house at the first hearing. The adjudicator joked about the one of the cluttered garage. “‘It looks like my garage,'” Mike recalls him saying. In his written decision, adjudicator Greg Joy dismisses or challenges every complaint made by the landlord.

The Clarmos found a prospective buyer for the home soon after and again applied to have the tenancy agreement terminated by Nov. 1, which was also the closing date of the sale.

The adjudicator in the second hearing reserved his decision, which allowed the tenant to stay put for at least the time being.

Mike’s lawyer suggested they give the tenant $2,000 to get out of the house. The tenant’s lawyer then came back with another figure — $3,000 — plus the demand that his client be allowed to stay until Nov. 15. Worried the board could rule in favour of the tenant and that the prospective buyers of the house would pull out of the deal, Mike agreed.

The former tenant would not return my calls.

The $3,000, which the couple feels was extortion, plus $1,400 in legal fees and $1,000 to refill the home’s oil tank are the smaller losses. The Clarmos did sell the house for $240,000 — about $25,000 more than what it cost them to buy and renovate the property in 2004. But the selling price was still a far cry from the $290,000 to $300,000 a real estate broker had told them the house would have been worth.

The Clarmos don’t know if they should be angrier with their tenants or the board.

They realize the board exists primarily to protect tenants, and with children, their tenant was bound to get even more sympathy. But, they say, their case illustrates the need for rules to protect the good landlords.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Landlords+deal+when+comes+tenants/4000351/story.html#ixzz18dUrkiwP