Taking Steps Towards Smoke-Free Housing in Ontario

nosmokingWhile provincial and municipal laws protect Ontarians from second-hand smoke in enclosed workplaces and public spaces, many residents are still being exposed to unwanted second-hand smoke in their multi-unit residential residences. Smoking rates in Ontario are on the decrease, with about 20% of our population currently smoking. The demand for smoke-free buildings and rental units is on the rise, and very little rentals are currently 100% smoke-free. This is a huge opportunity for landlords and property managers to separate their rental units from the competition and adopt a non-smoking policy.

Landlords and property managers may not realize the important role they can play in helping Ontario housing become smoke-free to further protect our province from the known health risks of exposure to second-hand smoke.

A smoke-free environment is extremely important to many potential tenants and could be used as a valuable marketing tool for your rental properties. There is no doubt, demand for smoke-free rentals in on the rise in Ontario. By adopting a smoke-free policy now, you can stay ahead of the competition and appeal to a wide-range of tenants looking for smoke-free rental options. The benefits to your tenants’ health and safety are clear; this will increase the indoor air quality and ultimately make for a healthier environment for all.

To clarify, a non-smoking policy is entirely legal. The policy does not prohibit smokers from renting your property, does not force tenants to quit smoking and you cannot evict current smokers. Implementing a non-smoking policy is easy to do, provide a marketing opportunity to separate you from the competition and will ultimately save you money.

Smoke-Free Housing Ontario is an organization that is encouraging landlords and property managers to adopt a non-smoking policy in their rental properties across the province. There are many options that landlords are taking to adopting these polices including additional clauses in tenant lease agreements that forbids smoking within the unit, part of the building, the entire building or the entire property. As landlords and property managers, we have the choice to take action toward a healthier Ontario and go above and beyond the Ontario smoke-free legislation.

You can visit Smoke-Free Housing Ontario’s website for tips to implement a smoke-free policy in your rental units and make the transition easy for all involved. http://www.smokefreehousingon.ca/sfho/landlords.html

Let’s work together to protect the health and well-being of our current and future residents for a healthier, happier Ontario!

 

 

7 Things to Consider When Preparing an Investment Property

paintingWith new investment properties entering the rental market daily, it is extremely important to ensure your property stands out from the competition or at the very minimum, is in line with competing rental properties. To attract the most attractive potential tenants, a unit must be well-kept and clean.

We cannot stress enough the importance of preparing a rental property prior to putting it on the market to ensure the highest possible rent per month and to attract high quality tenants. If you are considering purchasing or have purchased a property you wish to convert into a rental unit, we encourage you to read over these 7 tips for preparing your property to rent.

1) Keep Records of Everything

Ensure you document the state of the home thoroughly including all maintenance and renovations you complete and the state the house is in. This should include everything throughout the house, top to bottom. Our company uses a large checklist to document any damages and the cleanliness of carpets, walls, appliances, blinds, windows, paint, baseboards, etc.

This will help you immensely in the long-run. It will be easier for you to hold tenants financially liable for any damage done to the rental property during their tenancy. Conducting semi-annual or annual inspections is a great way to keep track of the state of your investment and to ensure the home is well-maintained to minimize work and costs during a turnover at the property.

2) Fix Outstanding Maintenance

After your initial inspection is conducted, you may notice some outstanding maintenance. For example, there may be a stain in the living room carpet or the dryer heat is not working. It is very important to fix these maintenance concerns prior to advertising the unit. This will ensure pictures are accurate and attractive for your advertisements and the home is move-in ready when conducting showings of the property to potential tenants. This will also ensure that the potential tenants do not get turned off by any outstanding maintenance or damages and view the property at its optimal state.

3) Change Locks

This is for the safety of your new tenants. You may be unaware of the history of previous residents of the home and how many key copies have been made. Setting new garage door and alarm codes, if applicable, as well as changing all exterior locks to the home is a great way to ensure the safety of your new tenants and your property.

4) Clean Vents/Change Filters

Be sure to check the furnace filters and the HVAC ducts for any excessive dust build-up. Air flows can be blocked due to grime and dust and can affect your utility bills. Sometimes landlords will include the cost of utilities in the rent, this could help save you money.

5) Professionally Clean the Unit

We suggest to all of our clients to professionally clean their units prior to each new tenant moving in. This should include shampooing any carpets throughout the home, each bathroom, the kitchen, all appliances and windows throughout the home. Believe it or not, the cleanliness of a unit can drastically turn off potential renters and prevent individuals from moving forward with an application.

Your tenants will be happy to know the unit has been professionally cleaned, and you know that the home is being well-maintained between turnovers. Hiring a professional cleaning company over a no-name individual has many advantages. These companies have a reputation to uphold, usually offer discounted prices for multiple units and can take less time than the independent cleaners.

Our suggestion is to form a good relationship with a well-known cleaning company and include this in your advertisements to attract potential tenants.

6) Re-Paint Common Areas

You would be surprised by a coat of paint will do for a rental. Fresh paint can help make any unit look drastically more attractive to tenants. Our suggestion is to choose fairly neutral colours to appeal to the widest range of potential tenants.

Studies have shown that gray, beige and white suggest sanitation and cleanliness, these are both ideal characteristics tenants look for when renting.

7) Landscape

A first impression can make a break a tenant’s opinion of your property. The easiest way to improve curb appeal is to eliminate any weeds in the yard and move any garbage bags or furniture from the front of the home. If the stairs or walkway are damaged in any way, repaving this area will help improve the appearance and may prevent injuries in the future.

If you are investing in a rental property, keep these tips in mind prior to putting your rental property on the market. With this advice, this will ensure your property stands out from the competition, allowing you to rent your property to high quality tenants.

Selling a Rental Property – Landlord and Tenant Rights

soldunitSpring is in the air and with spring comes prime home sale season. It is important for landlords and tenants to know their rights when the owner intends to place their property up for sale. We will debunk the myths and clarify all legal rights both landlords and tenants have to make this process as smooth as possible for both parties.

Landlords can place their properties up for sale at any time during the tenancy. The tenant has the right to occupy the property until the end of the current lease agreement. written notice to the tenant to vacate only once the lease agreement expires if they intend to occupy the property or if their family intends to occupy the property. The new purchaser cannot evict the current tenant in order to search for new tenants.

month tenancy, tnotice to vacate the property once the property has officially been sold (all conditions have been met from the offer).

notice is provided to the tenant, the owner has the right to show the property between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tenants are not required to be present for the time of the showing. If the tenant refuses access for the relator or owner at the time of a showing after being provided with the appropriate notice, the landlord has the right to begin the eviction process. The landlord can claim damages if the tenant does not allow access, preventing the landlord from selling the property in a reasonable amount of time.

Pretending to move in to a unit or to sell a unit to simply evict the current tenant is not legal. Tenants should always ask for a copy of the Agreement once the offer has been accepted and conditions have been met. The tenant has the right to sue the landlord if this occurs. This can include the cost of moving and the cost of an increased rent at another property.

Owners/landlords, if you intent to sell your property, we suggest approaching the tenants beforehand to inform them of your intentions and make a plan to accommodate for showings that works for both parties. This will help prevent conflicts in the future between you and the tenant and ensure this process runs smoothly. If you have another property to offer the tenant this is a great way to ensure the unit is vacant for purchasers and allow time to fix up the property to appeal to the most buyers, while filling one of your currently vacant or coming vacant units.

If both the landlord and tenant understand his or her rights, the purchasing process is always smoother for everyone.

Is your landlord selling a property you are currently renting? Are you are in search of a new rental property? Do not hesitate to contact Inspirah Rental Management to see what we have available that may interest you!

Move Out Madness Program for Guelph Students

moveout

Are you moving out of a rental unit this month? Do you have bulky items that need to be disposed? The University of Guelph’s Off Campus Living (OCL) offers a Move Out Madness program that will assist you in disposing of your unwanted items.

Instead of leaving your items on the curb, why not help your community out and the next tenants moving into the rental? There are four types of service that this program provides: pick up of bulky items, clear the shelves, stuff swap and e-waste collection. OCL works alongside the City of Guelph, Habitat for Humanity, Guelph Restore, Guelph Food Bank, Meal Exchange Guelph and multiple groups at the University.

The program begins tomorrow (April 16, 2014) and runs until April 30. In order to participate, students must complete a registration form online. A link to the website is below.

http://www.uoguelph.ca/news/2014/04/program_helps_students_move_out_responsibly.html

Happy Moving Everyone!

St. Patrick’s Day – Celebrate Responsibly

stpatricksWith St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching, University of Guelph students and residents should note that the City of Guelph Police and Bylaw Officers will have a heavy presence on March 17th. The City is not discouraging celebrating for the occasion, but is reminding everyone to party responsibly.

Student Life Off Campus Living has sent out a newsletter we find may be helpful while preparing for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. This newsletter is attached below.

Some tips to consider:

  • Limit the number of guests you invite to any parties
  • Be courteous and let your neighbors know ahead of time that you plan to have guests over
  • Remember noise bylaws will still be in effect (city bylaws, condo rules and regulations, etc.)
  • Have a designated driver if you plan to drive anywhere

Be warned! Below is a list of a few common fines the City of Bylaw can issue.

  • Public intoxication           $65
  • Open alcohol in public    $125
  • Noise                              $365
  • Nuisance party                $750

For a larger list of tips and common fines, please refer to the attached Student Life Off Campus Living Newsletter.

St.Patricks Day Notice – Off Campus Living

We wish everyone a fun, safe and responsible St. Patrick’s Day! Party smart!

Have You Tested Your Smoke Alarms Recently?

alarmIt is simple: smoke alarms save lives. We cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure that your smoke alarms are in working order. As a guide, you should test your smoke alarms once every month to ensure there are no issues or defects. Guelph’s Fire Code states that each residential dwelling must have smoke alarms on all levels of the unit and outside every sleeping area. Landlord, tenants and home owners each have responsibilities when it comes to smoke alarms. Do you know what your responsibilities are?

Homeowners are responsible for the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms. These alarms must meet the requirements of the Fire Code.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure each rental property conforms to the minimum Fire Code requirements. Zoning and Building regulations must also be followed. To ensure tenants understand their responsibilities and duties, landlords must provide their occupants instructions on how to test and maintain the alarms within their occupied dwelling.

And lastly, tenants are required to inform their landlords if any issues occur with the smoke alarms. Tenants are also responsible for ensuring that the batteries are not removed from the smoke alarms and that the alarms are not disconnected in any circumstance.

The Guelph Fire Department is promoting “Pushing The Button” beginning Monday, February 24th in hopes that all Guelph residents will test their smoke alarms to ensure they are all in working order. We are encouraging everyone to test their smoke alarms and are stressing the importance of notifying your landlord immediately if any alarms are not functioning.

Read the City of Guelph’s article below:

“Guelph, On, February 19, 2014 – The Guelph Fire Department is partnering with TVOKids and the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management to raise awareness about the importance of early fire detection at home.

During the two week spring campaign—“Push the Button!”—families are encouraged to test the smoke alarms in their homes beginning February 24.

“Kids love pushing the button to hear if an alarm is working and this fun exercise provides an opportunity for parents to talk about fire safety in the home with their family,” says Kim Hodgson, chief fire prevention officer with the Guelph Fire Department, adding, “Our goal is to have as many smoke alarms tested in Guelph homes as possible during the campaign.”

In Ontario, the Fire Code requires all single family, semi-detached and town homes to have a working smoke alarm on every storey of the residence and outside all sleeping areas.

To make sure the alarms are working, push the test button for 10 seconds. If the alarm doesn’t sound, the battery or smoke alarm may need to be replaced.

“It’s very important that each home has working smoke alarms because they are the first line of defence in alerting everyone in the home there is a fire,” says Hodgson.

Once the smoke alarms have been tested, families can visit TVOKids.com and enter the number of smoke alarms tested at home. The number will be added to the “Push the Button!” counter.

The “Push the Button!” campaign runs until March 9.

Visit guelph.ca/fire for more fire safety information.”

Make it a New Year’s Resolution to Save Yourself Some Money

Did you make a new year’s resolution this year? Why not make one to save yourself some money? With some easy energy savings tips, you could significantly reduce your hydro bill. As a student, you have enough bills to pay – tuition, textbooks, rent and groceries – why spend more money on your hydro bill than necessary?

energyMany university students are first-time renters and may be paying for their utilities for the first time. Here are a few tips provided by Guelph Hydro to save some energy at home and lower your electricity bill each month.

First and foremost, you should read over your lease agreement to confirm whether you will be paying a flat fee each month to your landlord for your utility usage or if you will be billed separately for your utilities. If you are paying for your electricity yourself, it is important to get familiarized with the Time of Use rates in Guelph for electricity. This is a breakdown of the money charged per usage between certain hours throughout the day. You will find the lowest rates in the evenings and over the weekends.

If you stay in Guelph over the summer months, be wary of your air conditioning usage. Air conditioners use a lot of power. When possible, avoid the use of your air conditioner. Instead, open windows around the home to let in some fresh air.

Get in the habit of turning off lights when you leave the house, or even when you are just leaving the room.  This is a very easy way to stop spending unnecessary money on hydro costs.

Not all students have the newest TV’s. Many will be passed down an old TV from your parents or an older sibling. These older models will use a lot of energy. Try turning off the TV when you are not using it, or even better, unplug it. This is a good tip for any electronics that you are not using. Unplug electronics when not in use. Cellphones and laptops continue to consume power even when fully charged. What is even worse is the charge will consume power even when it is not plugged into a device.

In the winter months, try minimizing the use of electric heaters. These will use a lot of electricity. To preserve the heat, keep doors and windows closed, dress warmly, and consider hanging thick-lined curtains to keep heat in.

If your hot water is heated electronically, the long hot showers you love will be costing you more money. Shorten your showers to help save yourself some cash. If you have any leaking taps in your kitchen or bathrooms, be sure to notify your landlord. A leaky hot water tap can slowly increase your bill.

When doing laundry, always try to wash your clothes in cold water and do your loads in off peak hours when possible. Air drying your laundry can help save you a ton of energy. Even better, take them home to your parents, they always love that!

By switching out your currently light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lights, this will significantly help reduce your energy consumption.

Follow these great energy saving tips and save yourself some cash this year. These savings can help you fund your textbooks for this semester, or your weekend plans, whatever you decide!