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Home Safety

Security and Your Toronto Property

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.

 

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Tenants From Hell (and How to Avoid Them)

Landlord Tip: Do NOT rent to this guy.

They make up a small percentage of renters and as much as we’d like to think they don’t exist, tenants from hell are out there and you need to know how to avoid them

 

 

You’ve heard about them and may have had one, or two yourself – late rent payments, excessive partying and noise that disrupts the entire neighbourhood, and let’s not forget the ones who through plain negligence destroy your property, resulting in hundreds to thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, not to mention the headaches and legal fees that come with evicting them. The Tenants from Hell – a landlord’s worst nightmare.

Recently, a Toronto couple’s story made headlines when they discovered that their four-bedroom Victorian home in the Dundas and Ossington area was turned into an illegal boarding house while they were working abroad. Journalists Wilf Dinnick and Sonia Verna rented their home to a man who said all the right things – he was a successful business development executive at a Toronto tech company, drove a Range Rover, had over $44,000 in his chequing account and even offered to pay $4,000 per month in rent — $400 above asking to secure the lease when other potential tenants showed interest.

The tenant, Jesse Gubb, created a number of partitions in the house and illegally sublet the rooms, housing up to 16 people at a time, charging each person up to $560 per month in rent. Upon inspection, nine violations were logged resulting in over $50,000 in fines that the landlords were responsible for. Luckily, the fines were dropped due to their cooperation in the investigation leading up to Gubb’s fraud conviction. They also later discovered he was no stranger to the law, having been convicted on previous fraud and drug possession charges.

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We’d like to believe that up to 99% of tenants are good people, however, there is that lingering one percent that you’d need to watch out for. Although the boarding house incident was an extreme case, it still serves as a resounding wake-up call to landlords and property investors. Properties don’t run on autopilot and damages don’t pay for themselves. One must be knowledgeable about the legal intricacies involved in renting out a property as well as the work involved. Hiring a reputable property manager to deal with everything from background, reference and credit checks, to repairs, routine maintenance, inspection and rent collection gives investors security and peace of mind, knowing that their property is being cared for and has not secretly turned into a circus venue.

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21 Tips for a Relaxing and Stress-Free Long Weekend at the Cottage

Thinking of heading up to the cottage for Victoria Day Long Weekend 2015?
21 useful tips that will help keep your May 2-4 weekend stress-free.

victoria-day-2015-cottage

 

Before you leave

We’re all guilty of jumping into the car and after about a half hour, realizing that we’ve left something important at home. This checklist will help you organize yourself so you can spend more time relaxing, and less time driving back and forth. Unfortunately, we have no control over the highway traffic!

• Fill your cooler with your favourite beverages. There’s nothing worse than running out of your favourite drink!

• A couple large 4-litre jugs of water, in case it takes awhile for your plumbing to start working

• Make a trip to the grocery store and get all your favourite foods for the grill. Don’t forget snacks for the kids!

• Reusable plates and cutlery. Melamine is great since it won’t break!

• Emergency items like a first aid kit and tools in case you need to make a speedy repair. Ductape of course. You can’t forget that.

• Call the utility companies if you were not there all winter to ensure you will have electricity upon your arrival.

• Check that all insurance documents are up to date on the cottage and any boats, ATV, etc.

• A box with cleaning supplies, batteries, filters.

• Fresh linens.

• Do you have your keys?

• Chargers for your electronics, iPads and smartphones. This weekend is your chance get away from the city … Try to leave the electronic devices off and spend more time with your loved ones.

• Check the weather forecast for cottage country.

Once you arrive

• After a rough winter like ours, make sure the road leading up to your cottage is clear. Check for damage to cables or wires before entering your cottage.

• Clean the eaves troughs.

• Check for signs of pest damage (mice droppings) or water damage

• Dust, vacuum floors and rugs, and disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

• Change your linens

IMPORTANT!

• Replace batteries in smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and flashlights

• Make sure your fire extinguishers are charged.

• Replace any filters that may need to be changed.

• Inspect all pipelines for signs of damage before turning on the water.

Get on your favourite Muskoka chair, kick back and cheers to the long weekend. From all of us at HighGate Properties, have a happy and safe May 24 weekend.

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Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Your Responsibilities as a Landlord or Tenant in Ontario

Did you remember to check your carbon monoxide detectors over the weekend?  We often use Daylight Savings Time as a reminder to change the batteries in our smoke alarms, however, when we turn our clocks an hour forward, we should also remember to check our CO detectors, and replace batteries as required.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that is produced when fuels such as propane, oil, gasoline, wood, or coal are burned.  Known as the ‘silent killer,’ CO is a leading cause of accidental deaths across Canada, and due to the nature of the gas, often goes undetected until it is too late.  Initial symptoms of mild CO poisoning include dizziness, fatigue and nausea.  Young children, the elderly and pregnant women have an increased risk of being poisoned.  CO can build up to lethal levels when space heaters, or appliances intended for outdoor use are brought into areas without adequate ventilation or when vehicles are left running in an attached garage.  The number of deaths from CO poisoning increases in the winter when people attempt to heat their homes using outdoor appliances during weather related power outages.

In October of 2014, Provincial legislation passed a law stating that every home in Ontario equipped with fuel burning appliances (i.e. furnaces, kitchen stoves, hot water heaters, gas/wood burning fireplaces) and attached garages require a carbon monoxide detector.  Multi-dwelling units with six, or fewer residential suites are expected to comply with this law by April, 2015, and residential buildings with more than six suites are required to comply no later than October 2015.  If you are a landlord, it is important to make yourself familiar with this law, as you are responsible for the installation and maintenance of these devices.  As a landlord, you are also responsible for providing instructions on operating and testing CO detectors.  Landlords must test detectors regularly and when there is a change in tenancy.  It is the tenants’ responsibility, however, to notify the landlord should any of these devices malfunction.  By law, a tenant is not allowed to disable or tamper with a CO detector.  Failure to comply with Ontario CO regulations is punishable by law.

It is important to take into consideration the placement of a CO detector;  CO detectors must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area (i.e a hallway leading to bedrooms).  If there are bedrooms on multiple levels, detectors must be placed on each of these levels.  Although the majority of these devices are plugged into a wall and operate on the house’s electrical supply, having a battery backup optimizes its performance.

For more information on CO detectors and compliance, please visit

http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.a/english/FireMarshall/CarbonMonoxideAlarms/QuestionsandAnswers/OFM_COAlarms_QandA.html

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