Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Should I send Christmas gifts to my good tenants?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

December 4th, 2011

 

It’s December.  There’s already been a little snow and you are feeling the Holiday Spirit.  Deck the Halls is playing from your CD player and you are planning to buy your tree this week.

Who’s naughty?  Who’s nice?

Part of your holiday tradition is to buy Christmas gifts for your family and friends.  Since you became a landlord, you now have some tenants.  Hmmm, you think how the past year has gone and you realize you have some great tenants.  Not only do they pay on time, they have been very understanding of your need to get an appraisal done, were patient when it took the plumber an extra day to fix that leaky toilet, and even called you about some potential maintanence issues allowing you to go in and repair before a larger (and more expensive) problem hit you and your wallet.   They saved you a small fortune!

My tenants are nice.  Should I buy them gifts?

You truly appreciate your tenants.  You want to thank them and Christmas seems like a great time to do it.  What about buying them a small gift?  It could be a small gift for the entire family, right?  You know they have two kids, so what about toys?  Or a how about something for the parents?

You head for the mall to take a look and hope you come up with an answer.  Hmm, Harry Potter novels seem like a good idea.  At least you know your children love them.   What about this nice calendar for 2012 for the family with pictures from scenes from the best Caribbean beaches?  Hold on, look at these gift cards for Future shop,  Best Buy…hey maybe this one for a family dinner at Boston Pizza? What about simply a nice bottle for red wine?  Christmas cards?  Movie passes?

Wait a minute, what if my tenants misunderstand my motive for the gifts?

Hold on. You served the tenants a notice of rent increase for January 1st.   What if they taken the gifts the wrong way?

You’ve never done this before.

There’s the possibility they might think they are paying you a lot of rent money…perhaps too much rent money.  You are getting rich “off their backs” and throwing them a token in return for your spoils?  Will they think that?  It’s not true, but what if they they do?

That calendar of Caribbean beaches?  Could they think that’s your holiday thanks to December rent?  Those gift cards? You have 50 inch tv and eat at restaurants all the time because you are a rich landlord (you don’t and don’t, but they might think that)?  You only want to give gifts as part of the holiday spirit and to show your appreciation, but what if they are not Christian and think you are trying to push some sort of religious agenda on them?

Not only could you ruin your relationship, they might want to move out when the lease ends.  Could this backfire on you?

There’s no set and easy answer

What do experienced landlords do in this situation?  How can I learn from others with experience to make sure I don’t make newbie mistakes?  Landlords have different ways of dealing with all sorts of situations.  This is one of them.

Some landlords find sending gifts a great relationship builder.  Others avoid it.  Others take a middle position and send cards.

Read what landlords think at the Ontario Landlords Advice forum HERE

My tenant hasn’t paid the rent on the 1st? What do experienced landlords do?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

December 1st, 2011

 

It’s the nearing the first of the month.  You have a regular system with your tenant where you call them the day before and prepare a time to pick up the rent at the rental property.

For months, things worked well.   You always meet at the rental property.  Sometimes you set a time for 5 pm.  Sometimes you set a time for 6 pm.  One time you and your tenant were both running late so you set a time to meet at the front door at 7:45 pm!  It’s all good.

This time you call to set up a time to pick up rent and no one answers.

You think “I can’t reach my tenant to set up a time to pick up rent, it’s shouldn’t be a big problem.”

Or is it.  

You call a couple more times and no answer.  You leave a couple voice-mail messages requesting a call back.  

Nothing!

The First of the month comes.  No contact, no replies, no nothing…and no rent!

No rent and you still have to pay your mortgage.  You decide to go visit the property.  You knock on the door, ring the doorbell…no one answers.  You try back a few days later.  You think you see a light on, but still…no one answers.

You read the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board Website and see you can serve a form called an N-4 for non-payment of rent.

Should you fill it out and serve it?  You begin to remember how good your tenant has been for the past six months.  Is this a one off situation? You also begin to read the form N-4 and does it ever look serious and confrontational.  The form N-4 looks to want to create a fight!

You don’t want to fight.  You just want your rent.

So what should you do?  

Experienced landlords discuss this in a great thread at the Ontario Landlords Association advice forums HERE

What would you do?

Getting back in the Game with OCCA

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

October 28th, 2011

In 2010 OCCA was approached by a couple who did not have a lot of disposable income and were considerably behind in their rent.  They were responsible people who were proud and accustomed to paying their bills on time, but encountered some bad luck with the woman losing her job.  Very quickly they found themselves over their heads in credit card debt and student loans, and were getting behind in their rent payments.  They were challenged every month with how to spend what little money they had each month. 

Making only the minimum payments on their credit cards and loans, they still did not have enough to cover their groceries, utilities and rent payments.  They clearly needed help and were beginning to receive warnings of eviction from the landlord.  OCCA understands how quality of life can be impacted by the stress of financial obligation that would result from a change of employment, like in this couple’s case. They called OCCA for a free financial assessment and were immediately put on a program that accommodated their financial limitations. 

We at OCCA have always stressed the precedence of mortgage and rent payments over any unsecured credit debt.  OCCA represented the couple in their negotiations with their creditors over the course of the next two years until all of their unsecured debts were settled to their creditors’ satisfaction.

By ceasing monthly payments to their creditors they could allocate their earnings to their rent and utilities, and still had enough for their groceries.  For the first time in months the couple was feeling less stressed and was slowly gaining back respect with their landlord by making their rent payments on time and in full.  Communication between both parties was once again comfortable and confident.

A stress-free consumer is also a happy and low-maintenance tenant.

At OCCA, our objective is to ensure that our members’ basic financial obligations are taken care of. Our assistance is based on the premise that resolving debts, not avoiding them, is the most important step towards financial stability. We will assist the member to create a budget, offer a re-payment proposal to all creditors, and follow through with their offers. We believe that only the consumer can fix their own credit and an OCCA membership will ensure that the consumer has learned enough to deal with their finances independently and with confidence.

Time and time again, we have found that late or non-payment rent is a by-product of a tenant being overwhelmed with credit payments. All negotiations and arrangements made with creditors are based on the premise that food and rent are basic necessities of life and therefore take precedence over all other debts. As a landlord you can only benefit from encouraging your tenants to use this service.

OCCA’S TOP PRIORITY IS THAT THE CONSUMER’S RENT IS PAID FIRST!

For a complimentary asessment, call us today, toll free 1-866-USE-OCCA (873-6222) or visit us at www.occa.ca

 “Freedom from debt row!”

Ontario landlord politics

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

EZRA LEVANT: “There’s a word for what the OHRC allows- Bigotry”

October 12, 2011

 

In an opinion column in the Toronto Sun, columnist Ezra Levant commented on the Ontario Human Rights Commission policy on online rental property ads.

Levant explained some of the terms the OHRC policy on online rental ads deemed discriminatory.  These include terms such as “perfect apartment for a student” and “adult building.”

However, Levant describes “…reporter Sarah Boesveld was poking around the website Kijiji.ca and found 32 apartments that say “only Muslims need apply.” She called up the human rights commission..which said it’s out of its hands.”

What do you think?

 

Read the original Toronto Sun article here

Discuss this in our Politics forum here

 

Ontario landlord news: politics and rent increases

Friday, September 30th, 2011

“If Re-Elected, a Liberal Government will make Rent Increases Lower”

October 1, 2011

Ontario  landlords faced a historically low allowable rent increase of only 0.7% for 2011 despite facing huge new costs due to the HST.  As inflation rose, the 2012 allowable rent increase is 3.1%, which is still lower than provinces such as British Columbia.

Where do the parties stand on allowable increases?  The Liberals are clear: they will create a formula specifically designed to lower any any future increases.

Dr. Eric Hoskins and the Ontario Liberals have an unmatched record of standing up for and protecting tenants. 

When he got news of the 2012 Rent Increase Guideline, Eric wrote to the Minister of Housing asking for his assurance that if re-elected, our Liberal government will fix the legislation governing the rent increase, and make that increase lower.

The Minister of Housing replied saying that when the Legislature returns in the fall, our Liberal government, if re-elected, will make amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act to bring the rent increase in line with what tenants are facing in the real world

To read the original story, click here

To read the letter from the Minister of Housing, click here

To discuss this on the Ontario Landlord forums, click here