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Landlord Beware – Investing in Condo Apartments is trickier than it seems

January 20, 2010

What do you think of when you think of the word Landlord? No, come on- play along for a minute … form a mental picture before you read on.

What did he or she look like? Was it a landlord you had or have? Is it a positive image or a negative one?

Being a Landlord is not an easy thing.  Trust me, I know. I’ve been ‘dealing’ with tenants for more than 12 years now and have some very interesting stories I could share with you.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re not all bad… I”ve had some amazing tenants over the years, and some I’d rather never see again…. ever.  Because of the potential frustrations and pitfalls of being a landlord, I have clients who entrust their rental and investment properties to me to deal with on their behalf.  We handle everything to do with their property management needs: from collecting rent, doing repairs to preparing tax returns for them.

I’ve learned one very valuable thing over the years – never underestimate a tenant or potential tenant. The time you spend interviewing and researching prospective tenants is the most valuable time spent as a landlord. Really. Write that down, or cut and past or screen capture it – whatever, because there are people out there who are ‘professional tenants’.  They understand the law and the processes behind dealing with a tenant eviction and know exactly where and how it can be used to their advantage.

You’ve heard the expression “time is money” right? Well imagine renting a condo in Mississauga or a townhouse in Oakville for $1600 a month. Nothing new there right? Well you place an ad or list the condo on MLS® and end up getting a tenant application for your condo. You meet with the person and they seem fine to you so you sign up their lease, take their first and last months rent and bada bing, you’re a landlord. No problem, piece of cake. Right? Maybe.

Let’s say 6 months goes by, the tenant’s been a dream. No calls complaining of a dripping faucet or a running toilet. They pay their rent on time.  They don’t elicit calls from complaining neighbours or the police, but all of a sudden they don’t pay their rent the following month. You call them, they apologize, make an excuse and promise to get the rent to you. Another week goes by, you call, another excuse. Another week and maybe they’re not answering their phone or returning your messages. Hmmmm, what happened?

So, do you give them the benefit of the doubt and more of your time? (=money $$) NO! You don’t! You can’t afford to – time is money remember?

There is a system in place to deal with landlord and tenant issues. In Ontario, the legislation falls under the watch of The Landlord and Tenant Board (formerly the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal). Like many systems, it’s far from perfect and there is a schedule you have to follow and guess what the clock starts ticking when you the landlord file your application, not when they stopped paying rent. So time really is money.

Below are excerpts from an interesting article from CBC News I came across last week. It’s exactly this scenario, an investor who owns a condo in Toronto and they’re being taken advantage of and not being paid rent by a ‘professional tenant’:

“Landlord can’t get rid of tenant who won’t pay rent”

A Toronto condo owner says her patience is wearing thin with the eviction process at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board.  Since October of last year Jane Randall has been trying to evict a tenant who, she says, has refused to pay rent and has caused damage to the apartment.

In early October, Randall applied for and got an eviction notice from the Landlord and Tenant Board — but that was cancelled when the tenant complained of missing the hearing because she was sent to the wrong room.

When the tenant failed to show up for the next review, another eviction notice was issued. But the tenant demanded a further hearing.  At that third hearing the tenant was ordered to pay $5,000 in back rent by the end of 2009.

Randall is still waiting for her cash and another hearing.

The process has cost her more than $13,000 in lost rent and legal bills and Randall is fed up with the lack of enforcement.  Despite three hearings, two eviction notices and the payment order, nothing has happened.

“She [the tenant] knows the system. She takes advantage of the system and the system allows [it],” said Randall.

The Landlord and Tenant Board says issues like this are usually dealt with within four-to-six weeks but admits if there is a review there is no telling how long the process could take.

Read the full article Landlord can’t get rid of tenant who won’t pay rentfrom CBC News

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2010 12:23 pm

    It is sad to see people taken advantage of in this manner.

    • January 25, 2010 4:12 pm

      Thanks for your comment David. I agree that it is sad when people go out with the intent to abuse the system.

      I’m all for having a system in place to protect and serve the tenant’s rights and needs, but it most definately has to be a two-way street.


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