We’re rolling out the red carpet for new clients at Highgate Property Investments this month with promotions for home buyers, sellers and landlords seeking property management services. While we can go on about how great we are in our marketing, the only way to really sell our services is to show you what we can do for your bottom line. (more…)
Toronto and surrounding areas, particularly North York, have a strong market for renting to students. Residences at universities and colleges are much more expensive than renting a room in a house with other students, particularly at institutions where students are required to purchase meal plans in residence. (more…)
According to the latest Toronto Police crime statistics, there were just over 5,800 break and enter crimes reported so far in 2016. While this is low considering the amount of dwellings in the city, it goes without saying that better security will keep your tenants – and your property – safe. As with any business decision, you have to weigh how much you want to spend on it against the risk.
Get solid locks with deadbolts
Locks with deadbolts are vastly superior to other forms of locks, and a deterrent to break ins. While they are expensive, they are worth the investment and prospective tenants who are concerned about security will notice them.
Don’t forget the lights
Whether or not you choose to install a security system, motion-activated lighting in potentially dangerous areas, such as a side entrance or a rear patio, can act as a deterrent both for potential threats to your tenants and threats to your property when it is vacant.
Should I invest in a security system?
The answer to this really depends on what type of rental property you have and how concerned you would be about false alarms. If you have a luxury property, the answer is an automatic yes. High-end tenants will require a security system, usually with video surveillance, and your interests are also best served by having one.
If you have a basement apartment, high-quality locks and good lighting may be enough. In any situation, your insurance company may offer a discount on premiums for having a security system installed – usually not enough to offset the cost, however.
The potential for false alarms is the greatest deterrent to installing a security system. If you install one, make sure your lease agreement clearly outlines that your tenant is responsible for the costs of any false alarms they may trigger and the security of access codes. Multiple false alarms can earn you fines for thousands of dollars, and your tenants won’t care if you are footing the bill. Education can help here too – make sure you run through the security system carefully with your tenant prior to move-in day, and revisit it once annually to ensure they know how to use it.
You may also want to check out this map of crimes in Toronto from 2004 to 2001. Click on the “Break and Enter” selection. If your rental property is in a high-incidence neighbourhood, you will want to factor this into your decision too.
What if my tenant wants to install a security system?
If your tenant wants to shell out for a security system, it does save the cost for you while they are leasing your property. However, your tenant still must provide you with access codes and notify you if they are changed. Additionally, a change should be made to the lease agreement holding the tenant accountable for any costs arising from false alarms, since you will be responsible for those costs no matter who is paying the bill for the system.
What about when my property is vacant?
Vacant properties are more prone to vandalism, especially if measures aren’t taken to make them look like they aren’t vacant. To find out what is required for security, contact your insurance company – this is important anyway as you may have to have certain systems in place in order to not take out vacancy insurance between tenants. Usually, they will recommend motion-activated lights and good locks, but it’s best to ask as they may have specific requirements.
Security for the holidays
While you are on holiday rounds to visit tenants, find out if they are planning to be away, and offer to bring in mail if it may accumulate out front if you have the time to do so and they don’t have plans for friends or family to perform this task for them. Ask them to let you know if they are going on vacations longer than a few days throughout the year so you can keep an extra eye on the property – technically, they don’t have to, but if they do both your property and their belongings will be a little safer.
December is here, and that means all of Toronto is getting prepped and ready for the holidays. If you’re looking for something to do with family or friends to get into the spirit, we’ve rounded up events that are inexpensive or free for you to enjoy throughout the month. If you have tenants who are new to the city, you may want to email them this guide to help them navigate through the many events on offer in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area this month.
Toronto Christmas Market
November 18th to December 22
This holiday tradition in the historic Distillery district has been ranked one of the top Christmas markets in the world.
Find out where to find a tree farm in Toronto or the GTA where you can get an Ontario farm-grown local tree to trim. Choose from harvesting your own on a small farm or visiting a larger farm with a petting zoo and interpretive walking trails.
Anyone who owns a luxury rental property in Toronto or has been thinking about buying one has probably been following the not-so-illustrious career of “professional tenant” James Regan. In case you haven’t been, here is the sordid tale. Regan has rented three high-end Toronto properties and in each case, has nefariously used legal loopholes to not pay rent and continue residing in them. He was finally charged with something – a physical assault on one of his former landlords – this past week.
While most of his landlords have managed to get judgements against him through the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, it’s unclear if any of those funds will be recoverable since Regan appears to be a con man without a cent to his name – even if his appearance belies something different. Fixing the regulations on what tenants are allowed to get away with will take years, if it is even ever addressed by the government. Unfortunately, it’s up to landlords to properly vet rental applicants to keep from getting into this situation in the first place. So how can you do this to make sure your luxury property is actually making you money instead of embroiling you in a legal battle?
Make sure you get the security deposit before the tenant moves in
Most “professional tenants” will at least come up with the security deposit before they start stiffing you on rent. Not so with Regan. In each case, he came up with some reason that he was waiting on money and somehow managed to weasel the keys out of the landlord. This is a fairly simple thing to combat – no money, no keys. Anyone who checks out on a rental application for income should be able to come up with the money, especially for a high-end property. Many high-end tenants are in business themselves, and so will understand the rule.
Look out for the overly charismatic, well-dressed charmer
People with money don’t always dress up. A guy in his twenties wearing a hoodie and sporting a full beard could easily be Canada’s next tech mogul – and this will check out on his rental application. In some cases, the less-employed spouse will be doing the apartment hunting because the primary income earner is too busy during the day. If you have someone showing up dressed impeccably and wanting to be your best friend during a typical workday, this should set off alarm bells in the high-end rental market.
References, references, references
It goes without saying that a tenant looking to rent a high-end property should have a solid source of high income and either rental references or proof of owning their own property in the past. A thorough credit check and income verification with an employer should be enough to verify income and ability to pay the rent. Someone like Regan will try to explain away bad credit, provide false references for income verification, and offer excuses as to why they can’t provide information. You are allowed to refuse to rent to someone if they refuse to let you do a credit check. If they refuse to give you their Social Insurance Number, which can be a valid privacy concern, you can still run a credit check.
Hire a property management company
If you are renting a property out for thousands of dollars per month, you want a professional to handle your property. Chances are that you are a busy person yourself, and your rental property is an income-generating investment, not your full-time job. An experienced property management company like Highgate can sniff out tenants like Regan in the application process, preventing them from moving in at all. If anything, our fees pay for themselves as insurance against tenants like Regan. While having us manage your property isn’t a guarantee against non-payment of rent by your new tenant, we will only place highly qualified applicants in the property and reduce the chances significantly that this will happen.
If there are issues with a tenant, we act as a firewall between you and the tenant so they can’t prey on your sympathies or bully you into yet another month of not accepting rent. We have legal means at our disposal should tenants not pay rent, and will swiftly take matters into hand for non-paying tenants so that they can’t drag the process out longer than they are legally allowed to. We are also experts at marketing higher-end properties and successfully manage a number of them.
Jonathan Maloney, CEO & Acting President, Highgate Property Investments
We’re switching things up a bit by introducing you to various members of the Highgate team over the next few months. Each month, we’ll be doing an article about a member of our staff so you can get a sense of what the people behind Highgate’s success are like.
Real estate is in the Maloney blood
Our first profile is on our C.E.O., Jonathan Maloney. Highgate is very much a family business, with Jonathan’s brother and father also actively involved in day-to-day operations. His family got its start in real estate decades ago in St. John’s, Newfoundland where his grandmother ran a boarding house for the government with over twenty properties. She passed down her real estate genes to Jonathan’s dad, Brian, who moved to Toronto at the age of 18. When Jonathan was born in 1982, Brian decided to enter the real estate world. He would take young Jonathan along with him when he went to show a property and negotiate deals, so Jonathan got a real-world education in real estate from the time he was very young.
Brian was also a pioneer in the area of property management – he would have clients want to sell homes that were badly in need of cleaning and renovation, so he developed a network of contractors who could provide these services for him and his clients. From there, the property management side of the business grew substantially.
Jonathan wasn’t afraid of hard work as a young adult
As a young adult, Jonathan wasn’t afraid of dirty or hard work. Wanting to get some life experience under his belt before joining the family business, he held down various jobs. Being a gas station attendant, construction labourer and chimney sweep gave him a solid work ethic and real-world experience. In 2003, he left this behind to partner with his father in Highgate to manage the family business.
A typical day for Jonathan is getting the best value for clients
As the lead on day-to-day operations, Jonathan has his finger on the pulse of what is happening in the business. Most of his day is spent trying to make the company as efficient as possible so that less time is spent on things that don’t make Highgate clients money – and even ways they can spend less. Jonathan is always looking for a better way to market client properties and save money on everyday items like repairs. “One of the things that upsets clients is the high cost of things that they need for their property, so we’re always looking for ways to mitigate that for them,” says Jonathan.
Jonathan is also a straight shooter, and won’t sugar coat his opinions of what a client needs to do to a property in order to attract the right type of buyers or renters. Clients rely on his vast experience to market their properties and make good deals for them, so they don’t have a problem listening to his straightforward advice. His passion for what he does is immediately noticeable when you meet him, and partnering with Highgate means you have Jonathan’s expertise on your team for a long time to come.
At the end of the day, a devotion to client satisfaction and a keen awareness that clients are trusting Highgate with their business is what drives him to achieve excellent results. Put simply, the best service for the best value.
With the new mortgage rules which effectively knock down the price of entry to the real estate market for first home buyers or home buyers on a limited budget, it isn’t surprising that condominiums saw the highest growth rates of any property type in October.
The Toronto Real Estate Board’s October Market Watch was full of more of the same, with 11.5% growth in year-over-year number of transactions across Toronto and the GTA. The only difference was that this growth was mostly fueled by condo sales.
Condo sales in GTA are exploding
The number of condominium sales in the Greater Toronto Area increased by 28.3% year over year, while Toronto condos clocked in at a 19.8% increase. This can be explained in a very simple way – if you are priced out of the detached or semi-detached home market, you are likely going to purchase a condominium in Toronto if you can afford it, and in the GTA if you can’t. The average price for a Toronto condo is $100,000 more than the average price of a condo in the GTA – a significant and palpable difference to a first-time or tight budget buyer. At an average price of around $359,000, a GTA condo is the last bastion of affordability in the area market for a buyer with a single income.
Rates of price growth skyrocketing due to lack of supply
Despite the explosion of condo sales, if we go by the rate of price growth, detached homes are still the most desirable commodity in the local real estate market. Condos only went up by 12.5% in October, while detached homes went up by 25.8%.
Jason Mercer, Director of Market Analysis for TREB, explained the phenomenon. “Until we experience sustained relief in the supply of listings, the potential for strong annual rates of price growth will persist, especially in the low-rise market segments.”
Detached homes are bound to face a continued lack of supply because it is more profitable for a builder to build a condominium building than a detached or semi-detached home in the current hot market, especially where land is at a premium in Toronto.
Is the foreign buyer tax in Vancouver driving sales in Toronto?
Although the TREB had promised a review of this to come later in 2016, we haven’t seen it yet. It will be up to the TREB to determine if correlation is the same as causation in the matter of Vancouver home prices plunging while Toronto home prices increased in October, although it’s hard to imagine that the Vancouver foreign buyer tax is having no impact at all given the sharp contrasts between the increases and decreases – Vancouver’s overall home sales slid by 38.8% in October. This could also be a result of the new mortgage rules making new properties in Vancouver officially unaffordable to those with an average middle-class income, especially since prices in Vancouver are higher across all property types.
How the new mortgage rules factor in
Realistically, the new mortgage rules only affect first time homebuyers or buyers on a limited budget, as stated above. While they were touted as a means to cool the hot housing market – which they may have done in Vancouver – in Toronto they seem to be driving these buyers into condominiums. Those at the upper end of the market who can afford a detached or semi-detached home in the area will be largely unaffected by these mortgage rules, and this could be why home prices continue to appreciate in the detached and semi-detached categories at a high rate.
Regular homeowners insurance does not cover rented property. To have proper insurance on your rental property, you need to purchase a product tailored to your specific needs. There are additional concerns for liability, property damage and other risks when renting a property. While your insurance broker can help you find the right product for your specific situation, we have a couple of recommendations here to show you the scope of what is available.
Humberview Insurance – Insurance for various property types
Humberview Insurance Brokers in Toronto offer insurance for various different types of property, including apartment buildings, rental residential property, student rental property, and others. You also receive a discount with Humberview if you are a member of the Ontario Landlords Association.
New Insurance from Aviva for Landlords Listing on Casalova
In October 2016, Aviva introduced insurance specifically for landlords listing on Casalova.com, although they also offer standard insurance for landlords that own up to three properties as well. This new product, Casalova Landlord Protect, offers up to $50,000 in coverage for unpaid rent, and up to $50,000 for damage to the property. This could be good to add to your insurance portfolio even if you already have standard landlord insurance – just check with your company to ensure that you don’t already have similar coverage before purchasing it. It also requires use of the casalova.com platform for the covered listings, which may not be preferable for some.
Encourage your tenants to get renters insurance
While you would think that it’s common knowledge that your tenant’s belongings aren’t covered in the event of a fire or other damage to the property, it actually isn’t. Many people actually think that the landlord’s insurance will cover their contents in the event of damage to the property, and they’re in for a nasty shock if something happens. When signing your rental contract with the tenant, be sure to let them know that they should consider getting tenant insurance to cover their belongings. It is usually far less expensive than homeowners insurance and is well worth the investment.
Check with Highgate – your property manager
While we are a property management company and not insurance brokers, we can recommend insurance companies and brokers that our clients have had good experiences with in the past. Due to the nature of renting, you almost definitely will have to make a claim of some description over the course of your ownership of a rental property. What distinguishes one insurer from another is not the premium you pay – although that is important – but rather how they handle the process if you make a claim against your insurance. Often, a broker is a better choice than purchasing directly from an insurer because they act as your advocate in the event of a claim – and if something happens with your property you’ll have enough to worry about.
Contact us today for more information on how we can help you manage your Toronto or Greater Toronto Area property.