After what turned out to be quite a turbulent year, the holidays are finally here to relieve some of the stress we’ve all built up over these last 12 months. With the holidays well and truly here, it’s time for Ontario landlords to prepare for this busy season by setting up tenants for a successful winter and laying the groundwork for a healthy ongoing landlord-tenant relationship. This is much easier than it sounds, and takes only the most minimal amount of effort. The pay off will see your tenants appreciate you, and offer you peace of mind that your property is being properly looked after.
Send or give cards to your tenants
The smallest gestures are often the most meaningful, and even something as simple as a Christmas card can go a long way in establishing or maintaining a healthy relationship with your tenants. Sending out cards to tenants shows them that you care about them and that you appreciate their business. The more personalized these cards are, the more your tenants will enjoy and appreciate them. Personalizing them only takes a few minutes of your time, but will go so much further than a boilerplate “happy holidays from your landlord” message.
Including a small gift (gift cards, holiday baking, chocolates, etc.) with your holiday cards can also go a long way in adding an extra something to your gesture. If you choose to drop off your cards in person, remember not to enter the property unless invited, and not to overstay your welcome unless asked to. Making this an annual holiday tradition can help to establish long term relationships with your tenants, giving both parties an excellent opportunity to catch up and get to know each other.
Make sure the property was properly winterized
No matter where you are in Ontario, there’s a very good chance that your property is susceptible to the harsh winter season. Winterizing your property before the winter hits is always recommended, but the holiday season offers another great chance to get on this. Doing things like sealing drafts, trimming trees, and detaching hoses and putting away outdoor furniture is an important part of the winterizing process and are all things which can be done quite easily by yourself or your go-to maintenance person.
When sending out holiday cards or stopping by to drop them off, be sure to ask your tenants if they’ve been noticing any drafts and if they’re comfortable. This will give you a good idea whether further winterizing is required, and allow you to address the problem before it can cause your heating bills to soar. While you’re at it, it’s always a good idea to line up snow removal services for the season, and make sure that you have maintenance and repair people lined up in the event that the water pipes in the property freeze or burst, the furnace fails, or any other emergency situation arises.
Be courteous about rent increases
Rent increases are a reality of the rental market, but that doesn’t mean landlords have to turn into Scrooge every year. When planning for a rent increase, it’s important for landlords to follow guidelines set by the Landlord and Tenant Board – this means only raising rent by the allowed amount (1.2% in 2022), giving written notice at least 90 days in advance of the rent increase and filing the proper paperwork before doing so.
It’s also a very good idea to avoid hitting tenants with the news of a rent increase during the holidays, especially after such a trying two years. With the rent increase freeze coming to an end, the majority of tenants are already expecting an increase or have already received a letter announcing an increase. If you’re planning on raising the rent for your tenants, doing so before (or after) the holidays can give them time to plan accordingly for the coming financial year and help them avoid some unnecessary stress during this important time of the year.
The holidays are the most special time of the year, even for landlords and their tenants. Set your landlord-tenant relationships off on the right note by getting with the holiday spirit. Small gestures like cards and gifts, routine winter maintenance, check-ins with tenants, and not dropping news of a rent increase during the holidays can create fruitful partnerships for years to come.
HighGate Properties is a premier provider of Toronto property management services, specializing in both commercial and residential property management. Our talented team has what it takes to take care of the time consuming responsibilities of being a landlord so you don’t have to. Whether it’s tenant screening, repairs, maintenance or inspections, you can rely on HighGate to free you up to take care of the more important things in your life. To find out more about our property management services, get in touch with us today.