Archive for the ‘Landlord rights’ Category

Oshawa Student Landlords To Face A Demerit System

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

December 1st, 2012

Ontario Landlords

Own Student Rental Properties in Oshawa, Ontario and Tenants Noise or Bad Parking Can

Lead the Landlord Into Closing Down For a Year or More!

What’s Going On In Oshawa?

Student rental properties in Oshawa are already licensed. Now the City of Oshawa has created a new system to have even greater control over landlords and tenants.

What Is It?

They have created a new system whereby each landlord and their properties are subject to a demerit point system.

A Demerit Point System? You’ve Got to be Kidding.

Unfortunately, it’s really happened. Student landlords in Ontario already have enough challenges, and then this new system comes along.

Does This Apply to Every Landlord in Oshawa?

No. it will apply to rental properties in the northern part of Oshawa near the campus of Durham College and the campus of UOIT.

Why Is This Happening?

Student rental housing has caused conflict between landlords, their student tenants, and residents in the area for a long time. Licensing, and this new system is yet another stage of the conflict.

How Does the Demerit System Work

Here’s how it works.

1. If the rental gets up to 7 demerit points, the landlord will get a letter with a warning.

2. If the rental gets up to 15 points, the landlord will lose their license to operation for at least a year.

How Does a Landlord Lose Demerit Points?

The landlord will lose points for things such as:

- Tenants making noise

- Tenants parking their cars in unauthorized ways

- Landlords operating without a valid license.

So the Tenant Makes Noise or Parks Wrong and the Landlord is Punished?

Yes. This is particularly frightening considering landlords have so few controls over what tenants can do. Even in ‘pro landlord’ provinces such as Alberta tenants can get out of control.

How Long Do These Demerit Points Stay On the Landlord’s Record?

The demerit points stays on a property record for two years.

Is This System Permanent?

This new system will exist for at least a year and likely more.

How Much Will This System Cost?

A councillor admits the government doesn’t know how much it will cost but they should ‘do something.’

How Can this Be Defended?

The councillor who started this whole plan says this is another tool for the government to deal with landlords who ignore city bylaws.

What If the Landlord is an Investor and They Hire a Bad Property Manager?

It will be the landlord who is punished. This is why investors should be careful to only hire the best property management service companies to manage their properties that can deal with bad tenants and bad situations.

 

Landlords The Message Is Clear. The Demerit System Oshawa Ontario Landlords Face Is Simply More Evidence the Government Wants to Blame Landlords for Tenant Actions Without Giving Landlords Any Real Power to Control Tenant Behaviour. Discuss this at the Ontario Landlords Forum

Housing Minister Wynne’s Letter to the Ontario Landlord Association

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

 To the Ontario Landlord Association Re. Changing the Annual Rent Increase Guideline

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne

Today the Ontario Liberal government introduced proposed legislation to amend how the annual Rent Increase Guideline is calculated under the the Residential Tenancies Act.

(more…)

OLA Member in the Toronto Star: Credit checks critical in vetting tenants

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

“A bad tenant cost me $28,000 over 9 months!”

October 18th, 2011

Landlord says she was too trusting and ended up with a bad tenant

“The person I spoke to said she made $62,000 a year,” says [Stoymenoff], who acknowledges she should have done a credit check.

“My questions always have been, ‘Do they have a secure job and what is their income?’ She came through with flying colours and both her references said she was a very trustworthy, good person.”

Stoymenoff also didn’t realize until the tenant was evicted that she had been renting out rooms in the house to other people and the property had fallen into disrepair.

She gouged out the doors and frames to install hinge locks with padlocks in the dining room and all three bedrooms.

Finally, in March the tenant was ordered by the Landlord Tenant Board to pay $3,400 and to start paying monthly rent.

She paid the $3,400 and one month’s rent of $1,750. In June, an order was issued to pay the full amount and Stoymenoff received $5,000.

[Shirley] was finally evicted in August, nine months after the first application was filed, owing $13,820 in unpaid rent and more than $3,000 in unpaid utility bills. Add on legal fees and the repairs required for the house and she is out more than $28,000.

“The registrar told me ‘we know her’ and the sheriff’s office knew her, too. The police have also told me they’re investigating her for fraud,” Stoymenoff says.

For an update please see:

http://www.torontonews24.com/toronto-crime-news-releases/1736-woman-faces-four-charges-in-fraud-investigation-nina-willis-47-photograph-of-woman-released

Being a Landlord is a Business

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

by Margaret Therrien  October 5, 2011

 

I have been invited to write in this forum and am pleased to respond. First, I must state that I am not authorized to speak for, nor am I paid by any business, political party, organization or entity. My opinions are my own. For the purpose of clarity, the author considers a small landlord to be someone who owns and rents out one or more self contained residential units such as a house, a basement apartment, a duplex, or triplex but not larger than a four-plex. A small landlord may or may not live in one of the units.

Operating a small business in Ontario or in any jurisdiction means that the proprietor must abide by the laws of the land. For most businesses this means that they have to obey employment laws, environmental laws, safety laws and local bylaws. Businesses must deal with an increasing amount of red tape and comply with an increasing number of rules. Some bureaucracy and rules are needed to maintain a civilized society, but, in Ontario the interference of government and the burden of red tape has become a major drain on the productivity of businesses. To put this in perspective, there is apparently a rule specifying what colour a chicken farmer must paint the interior of his barn!

There are honest business people and there are dishonest business people in every sector of the economy. Most businesses (including landlords) treat their customers well and provide the product or service according to the terms of the sale or contract. If they did not, the business would soon not have any customers. A good customer (tenant) is not just someone who pays the invoice (rent) on time; that is only part of the relationship. A good business relationship is a win/win situation. Both are happy and continue the relationship.

Most businesses can choose who to do business with. If a repeat customer constantly complains about the product, and the proprietors efforts to please the customer result in more complaints, the proprietor can choose not to interact with the customer and refuse future business. Businesses must be competitive in the marketplace and price their product accordingly. Two businesses can sign a contract and each side is expected to live up to the contract. If two businesses have a disagreement that they cannot resolve themselves, they can go to court to obtain restitution. In court, they are equals. These are just some of the responsibilities and rights of a business person.

Landlords seem to have more responsibilities than the average business but none of the rights of other businesses.

In the marketplace, one can buy a $200. pair of shoes that are well made and will last for years. One can also buy a $10 pair of shoes that are not of the highest quality. You get what you pay for. This logic does not apply to the residential tenancies business. An individual can rent a low rent unit then turn around and apply to a government board and insist that the less expensive product be upgraded to a much higher standard with no change in the price.

A residential tenant can choose to do business elsewhere and move without permission from a government board: a landlord does not have the right to no longer do business with a tenant.

A customer has the option of finding another product/service with a lower price. Most businesses can increase their prices when warranted or when the market will bear a price increase. Tenants have the option of finding another supplier with a lower price but landlords cannot increase prices at will. If the business is a residential tenancy the government controls what the business person can do.

If a customer of a small business willfully damages the proprietors property it is called vandalism. The police will arrest the individual and usually issue a restraining order barring the person from the premises. In residential housing, the customers, because they are called tenants can damage the property and then get a government paid lawyer to help them at a government funded board to make the business owner fix the damage. The board will often make the proprietor of the business refund some of the payment for past services to the customer due to the “substandard” condition of the proprietors premises (caused by the customer).

In a store, if a customer is harassing other customers, he or she will be told to leave by the proprietor. Police will respond and remove the offending individual. It is in the best interests of the proprietor to remove the bad customer otherwise they will lose their good customers. A landlord has no authority to remove a bad tenant to protect the enjoyment of the good tenants. When it takes months and months of red tape and bureaucracy to finally get permission to evict a bad tenant, the good tenants will have all moved because the landlord could not protect them.

A business can post a sign saying “no dogs allowed except service dogs”. A business does not want a poorly trained dog with an irresponsible owner damaging the property or bothering other customers. A landlord is expected to welcome a tenant’s rottweiler who is aggressive to other customers (tenants) damages the property, defecates in the premises and barks constantly. Other customers are entitled to peaceful enjoyment. A landlord however cannot protect other tenants from situations like this. The landlord cannot do anything without permission from the government board. By the time, the proprietor can obtain an eviction order, the good tenants will have all moved; again the reason for many to move is because the landlord could not protect the good tenants from the bad tenant..

If this sounds like something out of an Orwellian novel, you are not far off the mark. It seems that being a residential landlord in Ontario is no longer a business with rights. Landlords must get approval from Big Brother before taking any action.

In a civilized society there must be protections for people from unfair business practices, however, where residential tenancy legislation is concerned, the pendulum has swung far too far to the left and it is time to bring it back to the middle.

Clearly the current government does not respect residential landlords because the government has created a set of rules, mandatory paperwork, red tape and bureaucracy that make it extremely difficult to run a residential tenancy business. The legislation even overrules contracts (tenancy agreements) between a landlord and a tenant. The government seems to be of the opinion that all landlords are dishonourable people and all tenants are victims. Under the current rules, it is the landlords (and the good tenants) who are the victims. A landlords biggest challenge is to protect good tenants from a bad tenant. There is an old fashioned phrase that says “One bad apple can spoil the whole bushel”.

Many landlords have tried to vent their frustrations with the current mandarins in power. The elected officials in government are not listening and will not likely listen. What is the point of complaining to the very people who authored the odious Residential Tenancies Act and gave a mandate to the Landlord and Tenant Board to be Big Brother. Is it an overstatement to say that bad tenants, backed by the government are holding landlords (and good tenants) hostage?

Small landlords, like most other businesses provide a valued product or service to the community. People need gas stations, grocery stores, barbershops, automotive repair shops and other services but they are not legislated to the point where they cannot close and revamp their business or refuse business. Small landlords are not civil servants who are paid union wages to provide an essential service. Because rental accommodation is needed, the current government has essentially legislated landlords into a status similar to that of an indentured servant.

What can a landlord do?

It is apparent that there is no point in attempting to reason with the current government (Liberal). They have shown themselves to be totally insensitive to the plight of small landlords and the rights of landlords to conduct their business without Big Brother approval of decisions and actions. The current legislation is bad but it will undoubtedly get worse if the Liberals win in October. Here is a twitter quote from a Liberal called @mcguinty4more “Time for landlords to give written explanation why a tenant was denied! No explanation = LTB good! “

Here is another Liberal opinion from @mcguinty4more “Let’s make Law Enforcement evictions stop! Police harassment of tenants must end! NO MORE SHERIFFS! “ Such rhetoric is reprehensible.

We live in a democracy and there is an election in October. A change in government is needed. It is time to fire Big Brother.

Who should landlords support this year in the provincial election; there is no point in scattering our votes amongst the various parties. Each of us gets one vote. In my opinion, the NDP are not likely to empathize with the plight of landlords and are not known for being business savvy. The Green party seems focused on global warming and other environmental issues and are unlikely to form the next government since they currently do not have a single seat. The PC party platform book called “changebook” shows that the party and the leader have their feet on the ground and understand the difficulties of running a business. The PC platform states that they will reduce the red tape involved in running a business. I believe the slogan is “We will be the best friend small business ever had”. These statements are generic. All business people must each interpret the statements in terms of the business that they operate. No party can be expected to provide exact details for every different kind of business. Does the platform say that the rule governing the interior paint colour for chicken barns will be changed or eliminated? No it does not. In politics, the message must be short and simple.

Assuming the PC party forms the next government, small businesses (including landlords) will have a much better chance of being heard.

The Liberals get help, volunteers and massive donations from the big public sector unions such as the teachers. No such body of support exists for the PC party. If landlords want a government that will listen to them then perhaps landlords could help make change happen. There are 107 electoral ridings in Ontario Every single riding has small businesses including small landlords. Find out who your local PC candidate is and volunteer to help; a donation would not hurt either. One months rent from one unit could be a very good investment (yes you get a tax credit).

When kindness doesn’t pay (Part 2)

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

When things go wrong don’t expect any help from the government

July 1st, 2011

Late payments, a mountain of garbage building up, the tenants lying about us going through their personal things, strangers coming in and out of the property through the windows, the police monitoring the property…it was getting to be too much!I knew I needed to take a step back and hire professional help.

Fortunately through the Ontario Landlords Association I knew where I could find good help.  I contacted John Schutten from a local property management firm called Ready4Rent and asked him to take over.

John gave proper notice and did his initial inspection of the property.  He went in and inspected for any maintenance or safety issues and took photos.  Like so many unruly tenants who have no respect either for the property or their own safety John found they had removed all the smoke alarms, were storing motorcycles in the house, had ripped off all the screens from the window and the place was a mess!

As a true professional, John communicated with the tenants and gave them an opportunity to change their behavior and start following some maintenance and safety rules.  The result?  They didn’t listen, continued to ignore the rules and continued their destruction of my property.

John had asked me what I wanted to do- I said I wanted them out.  I couldn’t trust them, I was suspicious of their drug activities, the place was becoming a fire-trap, they were wrecking my once beautiful home…I wanted them gone.

Since the Fall I was getting the rent paid by Ontario Works (welfare) every month.  On March 1 the money stopped.  No direct payment.  Not a cent.  I immediately contacted the welfare fraud department.  A while later I received a call from their case worker.  This case worker was different than the one I spoke to in the Fall.

She wouldn’t tell me very much because she said her hands were tied by the Privacy Act.  I told her the tenants were paying me via Ontario Works with a direct cheque, and it suddenly stopped.  The tenants were doing something else with their welfare check.  She told me this was not a fraud situation.  Tenants on welfare are able to stop their check going directly to the landlord with a quick phone call.  She said fraud was only for situations where the welfare recipient was working under the table, claiming other people under them, etc.

I asked the case worker, “So you are telling me that failure to pay rent with the shelter allowance part of a welfare check isn’t fraud?” The rent portion of their cheque is a shelter allowance, and these tenants were spending it on things other than for shelter!

I asked her what happens if they don’t pay rent and I report it.  She told me she could hold back the cheques until they produce a rent receipt.  I asked her “what happens if they produce a fake receipt?”  She answered it was not her job to decipher whether or not a receipt is fake or not!  She also said the tenants might be using up their last month’s rent and might move out.  My fingers were crossed!

After I finished with the case worker I felt very suspicious the tenants were going to issue a fake rent receipt so they could keep getting their shelter allowance while living in my house rent free.  I emailed the Ministry of Social Services explaining my situation and looking for help.  Here’s the response I got back:

“Thank you for your e-mail to the Ministry of Community and Social Services regarding your tenant.

When a tenant who is receiving social assistance is not paying rent, the local Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) offices may direct part of a social assistance recipient’s assistance to a third party, such as a landlord or utility company in order to cover rent or utility costs. These pay direct arrangements may remain in effect until it is evident that the recipient is able to manage their financial assistance.

A pay direct arrangement is purely an administrative arrangement that does not change the landlord-tenant relationship or any existing legal obligations. In particular, under this administrative arrangement, the Ministry of Community and Social Services does not take on any of the tenant’s legal or financial obligations.”

And here was my response…..

“I am most insulted with this lame reply.

I am not the first landlord to tell you about the scamming that is going on with regards to tenants having their cheques redirected to themselves only to turn around and use that money for other uses other than its intended purpose- which is to pay for the necessary rent.

Your hands-off approach, with the “it’s a landlord-tenant problem” is getting real old and tiresome.

This email is completely unacceptable as a response…you are the welfare fraud department- THIS IS WELFARE FRAUD!

What does a tenant have to do before they are investigated or charged with misappropriation of funds?

Perhaps the welfare fraud department is really just  a make-work project by the current liberal government who treat landlords as second-class citizens? I realize with these types of comments such as yours, there are no real efforts to stop this complete waste of taxpayers money.    I will forward this email on to the appropriate people.”

My head was spinning over the situation.  Not only were the tenants wrecking my house, potentially doing illegal activities, the police involved, …I was facing months of them living there rent-free!  The government didn’t care and was on the tenants side!

I began to investigate how OW and OPSP really work in Ontario.  Here is what I found out:

-A welfare or ODSP recipient can have their cheques redirected back to themselves at any time with one simple phone call requiring no explanation whatsoever!

-If the pay-direct cheque is coming to you, and it comes late, OW will NOT even confirm to say whether or not the cheque is in the mail!

-If the cheques stop coming, and the tenant goes into rental arrears, the case worker nor welfare fraud department does not care, and will always have the landlord eat the costs

-It has also happened where the tenant did NOT ask for the cheques to be stopped going to the landlord, yet the tenant received the cheque because the case worker made a mistake- too bad, so sad for the landlord, right?!

-Many welfare recipients have more than one address and cheques go to many of these addresses- yet again OW and welfare fraud turn a blind eye!

-Even after the tenant moves out, sometimes the cheques keep coming- yet again no clue for welfare administration – no checks and balances

-Case workers do NOT check with the landlord to validate any information, a tenant can say they are moving out, when they haven’t, and OW has the right to put a stop payment on a pay direct rent cheque- no warning to the landlord of course!

-Welfare fraud department will not follow up with landlord who has reported welfare fraud

I was learning fast. 

Thank God, because things were about to take another turn.  The tenants said they might agree to move…or maybe not….