My husband and I have been very fortunate in the property market here in Toronto. We managed to pull equity from our first home, a condo, and buy our house on Gerrard. We got some fantastic tenants for the condo who quite frankly took better care of it than we did. As a result, if the Zhang’s called to say something was wrong, I just called the appropriate tradesmen and had them go in and fix the issue. This is because I knew the Zhang’s would have tried to fix it themselves and they wouldn’t bother us with something minor. We wanted to keep them happy.
We also had Ian living in our basement at Gerrard. He had been there for many years before we bought the house and was an excellent tenant. Also capable of taking care of things himself, he never caused a fuss and if he asked for something, we just provided it.
After about 5 years we sold the condo and bought our house in Newmarket. This is when things on the rental front dipped. We converted Gerrard into a rooming house. The original idea was we would rent to Japanese exchange students and employees of Zuimei’s restaurants. Unfortunately that did not work very well. Short term tenants are very hard on property. They simply don’t give a shit. They don’t care if the heater is on while the windows are open in the middle of Winter. They don’t care if the bacon they cook every morning is splattering grease all over the cabinetry.
Since neither Zuimei or I were interested in policing the property, nor able to upkeep the property the way it should have been we sold it. With the penalty from Scotiabank for breaking the mortgage (and they royally fucked us over) we ended up about even on the payment front. We paid off 13K of the principle and then got hit with a 13K penalty.
One of the things I learned while being a landlord is how the entire system is slanted in favor of tenants. There is now a proposed landlord licensing system. Now I firmly believe that everyone should have a safe, comfortable place to live. But it’s a two way street. You need to protect landlords as well as tenants. I think the landlord licensing system might be a good idea, with a few provisos.
- The fact that the TCHC is not subject to the fee is ridiculous (just do a small search and see how many issues these guys have). If it is a good idea then the city should be subject to the same rules and fees as everyone else.
- Monies collected should be spent on helping landlords, not just tenants. Whether it is educational materials or checklists, or document templates if the money is not spent in improving the system then it is just a money grab by the city.
- Slumlords should be named and shamed.
One thing I have never understood is who there isn’t a Yelp for housing. People should be able to read the reviews on buildings and landlords. These are businesses, there should be no expectation of privacy.
The flip side is there should be a tenant registry. If someone is a serial rent dodger you should be able to warn other landlords. Take Nina Willis for example,
At the provincially funded Landlord and Tenant Board, Willis complains of maintenance issues — which can result in a rent abatement or buy time if an inspection or repairs are ordered — and she typically alleges harassment and discrimination.
When ordered out by the board, she appeals, putting the eviction on hold. She has lost her last seven appeals and has left a string of landlords thousands of dollars in debt.
If you question how totally slanted the rules are look at this:
My landlord said there are no pets allowed in my building, and that I will have to move out or get rid of my pet. Is that legal? No. Even if your lease states there are no pets allowed, it cannot be enforced under the Residential Tenancies Act. However, if your pet is considered dangerous, causes allergic reactions, or is overly noisy, the landlord can ask the Landlord and Tenant Board to issue an Order to remove the pet.
In other words, a tenant could lie, have a pet, move in and then the landlord would have no legal recourse to remove them. Or what about these guys who are serial renters who then sub-lease.
Without a doubt there are unscrupulous landlords and they need to be dealt with. But the system must also recognize there are unscrupulous tenants and provide landlords with the appropriate means to deal with them as well.