Family Day in Guelph

familyFamily Day is this Monday (February 15th). Most of us will get the day off to spend quality time with our loved ones.

Are you looking for ideas to spend your Family Day in Guelph?

If  you are in need of some Family Day inspiration, visit the City of Guelph’s website below offering a wide range of events happening around town.

http://guelph.ca/seasonal/family-day-fun/?platform=hootsuite

We wish you and yours a wonderful Family Day long weekend!

Guelph’s Student Rental Market Seminar

Attention Investors

Do you have questions about Guelph’s student rental market and how this is changing?

Join our President, Mark Roberts, along with 5 additional local experts to get your answers on Tuesday, January 12th @ 7 pm.

Event is FREE but seating is limited. Register at http://www.guelphinvest.com/srs2016/

Investors: Be Prepared to Invest

PropertyLink-027Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Mark Roberts and I am the President of Property Link Management Services Inc., a local property management firm based out of Guelph with over 15 years of experience in the industry. My company manages a portfolio of approximately 300 rental properties in Guelph and surrounding cities, with just over 100 units being student-based rentals in the area.

In my experience, students begin their search as early as November for a tenancy beginning May 1st. That is six months in advance to their planned move in. Typically, the majority of our available rentals are secured by Reading Week (mid-February) and then the market begins to slow around early March.

Last year, we noticed a huge market shift specifically in March, where many landlords and investors began to panic. My phone was ringing off the hook at this time with investors wanting our company to help locate suitable tenants for May as they had been unsuccessful.

After walking through these units and meeting with these panicking landlords, I determined these were not properties we wanted to take on or add to our rental portfolio as there was a reason why they were struggling. Whether it be worn out carpets, a need for repaint, outdated kitchens/finishes or proximity to the University of Guelph, there was a reason these units were not renting and students were not interested. These investors were not prepared for the market shift that occurred in Guelph last year and did not understand the need to put money back into their property to attract these tenants going forward. These are not the type of investors that we want to work with.

As we are all aware, new construction has been occurring in the south-end of Guelph for the last few decades proving to be quite profitable for investors. Several mid-rise buildings offering 1-3 bedroom units at reasonable rental rates and complexes of starter-family homes/townhomes offering 3-4 bedrooms for the larger groups of students looking for a more home-like style of rental have all been popular with student tenants for many years. These units are all located directly on a bus route to the University, allowing students to make the decision to travel a bit further from campus for a tenancy in a newer property rather than the older homes located within walking distance.

However, as of this year, students no longer have to make the choice between proximity and quality of rentals. Guelph was introduced to multiple new student-purpose built rentals in the south-end within walking distance to campus. Our flagship property, the Gordon Terrace, located at 803/807 Gordon Street has 99 bedrooms all with ensuites to every bedroom, along with Solstice, located at 1291 Gordon Street, has approximately 600 bedrooms with an ensuite to every bedroom. Solstice II is currently under construction at 1211 Gordon Street and will include approximately 250 bedrooms. This complex is set to launch in September 2016. These complexes have been extremely attractive to the student market and has taken just under 1000 students out of the rental pool for other independent properties around Guelph.

With all of this new supply hitting the Guelph market in student rentals at a faster rate than students are enrolling in the University of Guelph, students are going to dictate this market as their standards increase for rental housing options. These new rental opportunities are all well-marketed and present higher quality than students have ever seen in Guelph all within walking distance to campus. We saw it last year and I believe will see it even more so in the near future where the demand for student homes further from campus with less amenities or older finishes decreases drastically. Rentals that are close to campus, shopping and transit should be able to sustain themselves as long as investors are willing to put money into updates. Units that are not in the most desirable locations or with landlords unwilling to invest money back into the property will see vacancy rates increase, rental rates decrease and the market will seriously affect their investment in the future.

My suggestion to investors in Guelph is to be prepared to invest in your investment. If you are not willing to put money into updating the unit to attract the student market’s higher expectations, your property will suffer and you will see less return on your investment.

If you have a student rental property that you would like advice on, please do not hesitate to contact me at Property Link Management Services Inc. by phone at 519-515-0411 x 230 or via email mark.r@propertylinkms.com.

Guelph’s Low Vacancy Rates Affecting Low Income Households

payingcashIn April, 2015, Guelph’s vacancy rate was the lowest seen in Ontario at an admirable 0.6 percent. Although this may seem to be great for investors and landlords in the area, many low income households  are suffering.

Typically, housing is deemed affordable by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) if the household is paying less than 30 percent of their income before taxes. The current range of available Guelph rental units does not meet these guidelines for affordable housing, according to a newly released City report.

Guelph’s rental market is in need of smaller rental units, meaning one bedroom or bachelor apartments, to account for a lower income household and Guelph’s reduction in the average number of persons per unit. This lack of available smaller housing is causing families to seek larger units with higher rental rates and spend beyond their affordable limit.

As affordable rental housing is becoming a large issue within Guelph, the City of Guelph is aiming to finalize an affordable housing strategy before the summer. You can read more about this issue and its effects in the Guelph Tribune’s article found below.

If you are searching for a 1 bedroom apartment, we currently have a few options for you. Please contact our office for further details about these units at 519-515-0411 x 228.

Low income families challenged by Guelph’s low vacancy rate

Housing stock not meeting all of city’s affodability needs

Guelph Tribune    By: Doug Hallett

Guelph’s extremely low rental vacancy rate is part of a challenging housing situation for low- and moderate-income households in the city, says a new city report.

Renting is generally more affordable than home ownership in Guelph, but renters are experiencing bigger challenges than homeowners, says the report, which is part of a city hall effort to finalize an affordable housing strategy before next summer.

“Rental households face a greater challenge in finding housing given the city’s vacancy rate of 0.6 per cent (as of April 2015), which is the lowest in Ontario and . . . well below a widely accepted balanced and healthy vacancy rate of three per cent,” the report says.

In general, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation considers housing to be affordable if it costs less than 30 per cent of a household’s pre-tax income. While 20 per cent of ownership from front page households in Guelph have been spending over 30 per cent of their household income on housing, 41 per cent of rental households have been above the affordability threshold.

The report, which goes to council’s infrastructure, development and enterprise committee today (Oct. 6), says the range of housing options available in Guelph is not fully meeting the affordability needs of low- and moderate-income households.

“The potential involvement of the city in financially incenting the creation of affordable housing across the full continuum will be reviewed” next year once the affordable housing strategy is finalized, the report says.

The approaches that the city comes up with for “addressing affordable housing issues on the market end of the continuum” will complement non-market strategies contained in the approved Guelph and Wellington 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan, it says. “This review will provide direction to the future of the city’s affordable housing reserve, which has historically been used to support the creation of affordable market and non-market housing.”

The local market hasn’t been produced enough smaller housing units – bachelor and one-bedroom units – to meet the needs of smaller households in Guelph, the report says.

One-person households have been the fastest growing household type in the city over the past 15 years, accounting for one-quarter of all household types and 43 per cent of all renter households. The number of persons per household is also shrinking in Guelph, furthering the need for smaller housing units.

“A comparison of the city’s current housing supply with the number of bedrooms required by a household shows an insufficient number of smaller units for today’s smaller households, which means households need to seek out larger units which may result in affordability challenges,” the report says.

On the non-market side, no new social housing units have been created locally since 1995, and, as of the end of 2014, there were 881 Guelph households on the rent-geared-to-income waiting list for social housing units, the report says. Social housing in Guelph and Wellington County is administered by the county and financed on a cost-sharing basis.

Within Guelph, about 96% of the housing supply is market housing – 65% ownership and 31% rental, the report says. This leaves four per cent as non-market housing, which includes social housing and subsidized market housing, as well as emergency shelters, transitional housing and supportive housing.

On the positive side, overcrowding and the state of repair of the overall housing stock are not significant problems, the report says. And although the city’s targets for affordable rental housing haven’t been met, its annual affordable housing target for ownership housing – set at 27% of new residential development – has been met over the past five years.

The rental market consists of “primary” market units and “secondary” market units, and it’s in the primary market that the city’s vacancy rate was down to 0.6% in April.

The primary rental market includes buildings containing three or more units specifically developed for the rental market, typically apartment and townhouse units.

Secondary rental market units include accessory apartments, rented condominiums and other housing units rented out by the owner of the unit.

In recent years, the city has generally exceeded its target for creation of at least 90 accessory apartments, which are generally created in houses by their owners.

An average of 117 registered accessory apartments were created since 1995, and that rose to an average of 145 accessory apartments being registered annually from 2009 to 2013, the report says.

The secondary rental market provides choice of affordable dwelling types, but the supply is “not as secure” as the primary rental market, the report says.

It says the secondary rental market accounts for about 45 per cent of Guelph’s rental housing stock.

Hello Fall and Furnace Calls

fallToday is officially the first day of fall and the cool, crisp weather this season brings is fast approaching. Bring on the pumpkin-spice lattes, knitted scarves, dig out your autumn boots and prepare to turn on that furnace.

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 in the coming weeks.

How to Avoid the “Problem Tenant”

frustratedThere is no denying that every landlord/investor is nervous about “problem tenants”. These are the tenants that are late in rent every month, usually with a different excuse each time, or the tenants that damage the property and vanish, leaving behind many repairs without payment. This brings on the question many investors ask our company before hiring us to manage the unit, how do you avoid renting to these problem tenants?

Although the truth is you can never fully avoid renting to these problem tenants no matter how thorough you are with processing an application before acceptance, you can take some precautions to help your chances of avoiding the wrong type of tenants for your rental property to protect yourself and your investment. The odds of renting to the dreaded problem tenant will drastically decrease if you follow the suggestions below. Trust us on this; we do this for a living.

1)      TRUST YOUR GUT

More times than not, your gut will be accurate about a person upon meeting them for the first time. Pay attention to the individual’s appearance, behavior and body-language as this can tell a lot about the person as a tenant. An unkempt appearance or rude behavior can be seen as red-flags.

2)      CHECK REFERENCES

We suggest to ask an applicant for a minimum of one reference from a previous landlord. It is best to have the applicant provide the landlord’s contact details for you to contact the individual directly to ask any questions you may have about the potential tenants (i.e. how long they rented, if rent was paid on time each month or if there was any damage done to the property during their tenancy with this previous landlord). This type of reference can be a huge lifesaver as most landlords will be very helpful when providing a reference either over the phone or via email. Trusting a letter already written provided by the applicant is not always a great idea, as this could be written by anyone. Obtaining the reference yourself helps to ensure the information is accurate and current.

3)      OBTAIN PROOF OF INCOME

Something as simple as an applicant providing a current pay stub or a letter from an employer is an easy way to confirm that the applicant is in fact employed where they are claiming to be and making the monthly income they have written on your application. If you have any doubts about the employment, a simple phone call to the employer to verify employment is a fast and simple way to confirm this information.

4)      PERFORM A CREDIT CHECK

We typically do not suggest trusting a credit check that a potential tenant has provided to you. It is always best to conduct your own credit report to ensure the information is up-to-date. This helps to identify if the applicant has had any issues paying bills late in the past, whether this is a regular occurrence or a one-time situation, or if they have been placed in collections for any debts. Although this will usually cost the landlord/investor a small fee to perform, this is well worth the money to save you from large losses going forward.

5)      ASK FOR IDENTIFICATION

Asking the tenant for photo identification as proof of identity is always recommended. We suggest making a photo copy of the identification and keeping this on file in case it is ever needed in the future. This will also show you that they have put the correct, legal name on the application and will verify spelling if necessary. It is very important to place the tenant’s legal name on the lease agreement with correct spelling to hold the tenant(s) liable to the terms of the lease throughout their tenancy.

6)      IF IN DOUBT, ASK FOR A GUARANTOR

If you are hesitant on any of the items performed above but would still like to proceed with this applicant as a tenant, consider asking him/her for a guarantor to sign the lease agreement with them. This can help ease your mind if there was a minor blip on their credit history or if the landlord reference provided a few concerns. A parent, family member or friend who may be willing to sign the lease to guarantee the rent will be paid and the terms of the lease will be met is a great option, especially for first-time renters or an individual who is newly employed. Don’t forget to take the necessary steps outlined above on the guarantor as well to ensure they are financially stable and the information they are providing is accurate.

It is essential to take your time to locate the right tenant for your rental property. Don’t rent to the first person you meet without performing these recommended steps before accepting the tenant. Renting a unit out quickly without taking the appropriate steps because you don’t want your unit to sit vacant is the worst thing you can do. It is always better to take your time and allow a unit to sit vacant if necessary to get the right tenants in your property that will care for the home and pay rent on time each month. This will help you avoid those dreadful problem tenants and will save you money, time and headaches in the future.

Guelph Council Passes New Permit System to Allow Food Trucks

food truckGood news for Guelph residents!

As of August 1st, ice cream trucks are permitted to operate on residential streets and food trucks will be allowed to get permits to operate in industrial/commercial areas across Guelph. Some elements of the bylaw change will not come into effect until next year.

This change brings much excitement to local residents and special events organizers around Guelph.

Read more about yesterday’s Council decision below.


Guelph council says yes to food trucks
New permit system will allow gourmet food truck in the city

Guelph Mercury – July 22, 2015

By Joanne Shuttleworth

GUELPH — Council paved the way at Monday’s council meeting for an influx of food trucks in the city. Jakki Prince says start your engines.

“I’m super excited about it,” said Prince in a phone interview Tuesday. “There’s been widespread interest from the community and from special events organizers. I think food trucks will add another layer of excitement to festivals and community events.”

Prince spoke to council at Monday’s council meeting, urging councilors to vote in favour of a staff recommendation to allow food trucks in the city.

They did, giving the new bylaw unanimous support.

Prince has a bricks and mortar restaurant herself — Sweet Temptations Cupcakery in the south-end — but is excited about how a food truck will help grow her business and get her name known in the city.

Her truck will sell her gourmet cupcakes plus ice cream, which is a natural pairing.

“I see the trucks as adding value,” she said. “Everywhere we’ve broadcast information about it, food trucks have been getting huge support.”

After a bylaw review, city staff recommended allowing food trucks to operate in the city. Some elements will take effect Aug. 1 while others will have to wait until next year.

Until now, the only mobile food services permitted in the city were coffee trucks, who set up in company parking lots on agreement with the company, or hot dog carts. Every year businesses had to apply for their site and run the risk of not getting it.

After forming a working group, which included the Downtown Business Association, the United Food Truck Unlimited, the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, Farmers’ Market vendors and staff from various city departments, the group addressed question such as who should be licensed, where should vendors operate and what classes of licenses should apply for food truck operators.

The new bylaw will allow ice cream trucks to operate on residential streets beginning Aug. 1. Also on Aug 1st food trucks will be able to get permits to operate in industrial and commercial areas.

Trucks will be allowed outside the Guelph Farmers’ Market in the back parking lot or on Gordon and Wilson Street as long as it does not interfere with traffic.

Prince asked council to consider allowing trucks on Freshfield Street, which is behind the farmers’ market, as an alternate to setting up on Gordon and Wilson.

Doug Godfrey, manager of bylaw compliance and security, said staff hadn’t explored Freshfield Street as a possible location for food trucks.

“Freshfield hasn’t been raised before,” Godfrey said, adding the location falls within the mixed use being considered for the downtown core. “We would ask for time to review the changes as well as parking and washroom considerations. Until then, food trucks can operate with a special event permit.”

Godfrey is expected to bring back a report to council next year.