Hello Fall and Furnace Calls

GuelphFallWell, the October weather has arrived! Bring on the pumpkin-spice lattes, knitted scarves, fall boots and turn on that furnace. We have been receiving a lot of phone calls to our emergency lines for furnace repairs and heating issues this week. And so it begins.

It is important for tenants and landlords to know their rights according to the Landlord and Tenant Board through the Residential Tenancies Act, specifically when it comes to heating a rental unit around this time of year. We highly recommend that landlords schedule an annual furnace inspection around the end of August to ensure that the furnace is in operating order for the fall.

Whether your lease includes utilities in the monthly rent or the tenants are responsible for paying their own utilities, the landlord must ensure the heat is in working order for the tenants’ use during their time of tenancy.

If the landlord provides heat to the rental unit (i.e. heat is included in the monthly rent), the Act requires the landlord to keep the heat in the unit at a minimum of 20 degrees Celsius between September 1 and June 15 of any given year. In addition to this, many municipalities across Ontario have their own regulations regarding heating of a rental unit. You can contact your local municipality to inquire and obtain further information on these bylaws. The City of Guelph’s Property Standards Bylaw, for example, requires each rental unit to maintain a minimum indoor temperature of 21 degrees Celsius in all occupied areas of the unit. Guelph’s Bylaw also states that no portable heating equipment shall be used as a permanent primary source of heat in any room.

Tenants: If you are responsible for paying your own utilities and the furnace breaks down, you should contact your landlord immediately for this repair. They must ensure that the furnace or means of heating is in good working order during your tenancy. If your landlord fails to provide heat to the unit in accordance with the RTA, you may submit an application to the LTB to have the Board determine the appropriate remedy.

With the cooler weather arriving and winter temperatures fast approaching, tenants are reminded that windows should be kept closed to preserve heat in the unit. If you as the tenant have any plans to leave the rental unit unattended for a weekend or any extended period of time, please ensure that the heat is left on to prevent pipes from freezing and damage being caused to the unit. You have been warned! If the pipes freeze and burst causing a flood in the unit, it is often the responsibility of the tenant who shut off the heat to pay for the cost of repairs and replacement of the property that has been damaged.

So now that you know your rights and obligations as landlords and as tenants, you should be prepared for what this cooler weather has in store for us.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Inspirah family!

Smoke Alarm Testing and Maintenance Forms

We cannot stress enough the importance of our tenants returning their Smoke Alarm Testing and Maintenance Forms. If you are currently residing at one of our rental units and have not completed the form below, please ensure to do so as soon as possible.

smoke alarms – testing and maintenance form

Inspirah Rental Management asks for all of our tenants to test the smoke alarms in their rental units on a regular basis and notify our company immediately if the alarms malfunction or are not in working order.

If you have not submitted this form, please take the time to test all smoke alarms in  your unit and sign off on the form to confirm that the alarms are in working order. Once completed, please return all forms directly to our office or email to tkleinsteuber@inspirah.com.

Have questions on how to complete the form or how to test your smoke alarms? Do not hesitate to email us or call 519-515-0411, press option 2.

How to Handle Tenant Conflict

tenant fightingIt’s that time of year again. As we approach September, students are beginning to move back to their rentals after a much-needed summer off of school. The City becomes busier and traffic begins to slow as students return to University towns to begin their next year of education.

A summer off of school usually means 4 months away from roommates. It is natural for some conflicts to arise between housemates as they adjust to the change in living accommodations once more. Major conflicts between tenants are rare, but do occur, and it is important to know how to handle these situations. These struggles typically begin small but can escalate quickly.

Tenant conflicts can take on many forms. Sometimes these disputes are only a simple misunderstanding and can be easily resolved by a mediator such as a mutual friend, another roommate or the landlord. Unfortunately, not all tenant conflicts are this easy to resolve.

Sometimes, the conflict can become much bigger than a simple misunderstanding. Certain instances may arise where further action is required. Maybe one tenant is severely damaging the rental unit or verbally abusing another roommate in the home.

Many tenants may not know what to do in these types of situations.
In cases where privacy has been violated or harassment has occurred, the misbehaviour should be documented. This means that the tenants should write down any incidents, reporting the date, time and exact situation that occurred. Any written communication between the tenants should be saved and documented. If the situation is harmful in any way, the police should be notified and all documentation should be provided directly to the authorities.

If property has been damaged, photographic evidence is highly recommended. This may be property belonging to another tenant or it may be the rental property itself. It is important to take photos to document any damage caused and notify the landlord immediately of any damage caused to the property.

Tenants often have disagreements regarding pets in the home. If a tenant does not properly care for the pet or if the pet soils the home, this can cause major problems between tenants. In these cases, photos are extremely important to document any damage. If a tenant is having issues with another tenant’s pet(s) in the rental, it should be discussed prior to taking possession of the unit or bringing the animal into the unit. Speaking about any concerns beforehand with your roommates can save everyone a lot of headaches in the future.

The message to take from this as a tenant is the importance of documenting all issues to ensure that you can effectively defend your claim if necessary. Always keep your landlord involved with more serious tenant conflicts.

The landlord should investigate into the situation and gather all the facts from all tenants and parties involved. Once this has been done, the landlord will help come to a resolution taking all parties into account and may include options for both sides dependent on the extent of the tenant conflict. Solutions will vary dependent on the situation and the landlord. Some minor issues may be resolved simply by the landlord discussing with a tenant to keep noise levels to a minimum during certain times of the day. Other situations may call for more drastic measures. For example, the landlord may offer to relocate a tenant to another unit if the conflict cannot be resolved between multiple tenants.

Landlords should stay unbiased and listen to both sides of an argument before jumping to conclusions. There is a fine line between perceptions and it is important to investigate thoroughly to help resolve tenant conflicts. Prevention is always easier than resolution; communication with your roommates about smaller issues as they arise will typically help prevent larger conflicts.

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!