Bad Tenants and How to Deal with Them

A lot of times being a landlord is a great way of life. You invest in property, and rent it out for passive income for as long as you can keep up with it. However, at some point during your tenure you’re going to end up with bad tenants. Bad tenants are the nightmare of every landlord, and handling them the wrong way can cost you a fortune. With these methods, you can learn how to minimize your chances of getting a bad tenant, and how to deal with them when you do.

As a general strategy, you want to save evictions as an item of last resort for dealing with most kinds of bad tenants. The eviction process is long and hard, and will no-doubt cost you a lot of money in legal fees. Usually, it’s better to find an alternative solution that’s better for all parties, but keep the option on the table for an eviction.

Home Modifications and Property Damage

One of the more unfortunate kinds of tenants one can be forced to deal with is those who willingly damage the property, or take it upon themselves to make unapproved changes. Before renting a property, take pictures with date and time stamps, and do this again upon the tenant leaving. Collecting this information is important for court cases as proof of the damage caused.

Some tenants may try and do their own modifications to personalize or “improve” the property. It should be in your lease that the home needs to be left in the same condition it was in when it was moved into. Regardless, some will argue they didn’t hurt the home with their changes, you can still make them correct these changes on their own, or charge them for damages.

Non-Paying Renters

The most common kind of issue you will run into as a landlord is non-paying renters. While it can be frustrating, a landlord must carefully proceed in dealing with non-payers. Firmness is a must, as renters will take advantage of you if there’s no repercussions for late or missing payments. A renter might withhold a payment as a form of retaliation for neglect from the landlord. What you should do will depend greatly on the context of the situation, however.

In many cases, payments might come late or not come at all due to unemployment or impeded cash flow on the part of the renter. It’s possible to renegotiate a payment plan or offer to move a tenant into a smaller downgraded property in the case they’ve been an otherwise good, responsible customer.

If the renter is upset with the property for some reason, make sure you listen to their issues and work to communicate with them. Regardless, it’s important not to go easy on people and have them scam you out of payments

It can’t be exaggerated what the legal fees of an eviction can cost, so it’s best to proceed though issues such as this with a calm head. But when all else fails, an eviction may be your only option for removing individuals like this.

Tenants Conducting Crime on your Property

Sometimes even in cases where you’ve done background checks and have a thorough screening process, a tenant will conduct illegal activities while occupying your property. Drugs, violence, and public drunkenness are all common issues you might run into. The first thing you should do is report the crimes and have them arrested by the proper authorities.

An arrest won’t nullify their occupation of the property, but at this point it’s best to proceed with an eviction. Criminal activity while in the property should not be tolerated and is guaranteed to cost you, so in this situation consulting with a lawyer and proceeding with an eviction sooner is likely the better option.

Breaking the Terms of your Lease

Another possible trouble maker you’ll run into is someone breaking the rules of your lease. For example, if you forbade pets within the property, and you find evidence the renter has brought in a pet, send them a letter informing them of the violation, and the time they have to correct the disturbance or face eviction. You may still want to consider negotiating to amend the lease in return for higher rent to compensate for possible damages, but that will depend on the nuances of the situation.

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How to Sell your Condo in Any Market

Are you looking for tips on how to sell your home in any market? It’s a real nightmare for every home owner that makes a valiant attempt at selling their home only to have it stuck on the market for a prolonged amount of time. It’s made even scarier by the fact that your home’s selling potential can go down the longer it’s on the market, costing you not only time, but money too. If your home is in a particularly slow market, here’s a few great tips for what you can do to get it sold much faster.


Get a Real Estate Agent


It’s pretty straight forward, but a lot of people tend to think it’s easy enough to sell a home on their own while saving money on getting a real estate agent. Real estate agent’s can do work selling your home that most working individuals don’t even have the time to do. Agents can sometimes pay for themselves in what they do to improve the final price your home goes for. All of this is even more important in areas that are slow or competitive, where you’ll need every edge you can get to sell your home.


Get Renovations Done Ahead of Time


If the market in your area is slow, then one of the absolute worst decisions you could make is to list your home for sale before your condo projects are complete. This will delay you in showing the home to would-be buyers, and make your property stagnant on the market. Even if you really want to get the house off your hands, resist the temptation and get the home in working order.


Never Price Your Home too High


It’s a common mistake, but haggling for a home price is a thing of the past. In a slow market, it’s even more of a myth. Pricing your home too high will cause the property to go stale while buyers check out other homes in the area first. If you price high hoping buyers will talk you down, you might lose more in the long run having to lower the price under what you originally wanted.


Consider Professional Cleaning and Arrangement


One thing you certainly want to avoid is having a messy, cluttered home that turns off buyers and looks sloppy. Ideally, having the home presented in a condition that’s as neat and open as possible will help sell your home. Buyers like seeing homes that are a blank slate they can apply themselves too, but getting a living space you were using only a short while ago in said condition can be a challenge. Professional help for cleaning and arrangement will be a significant aid in getting your home to that state, something worth considering when your buyers have the liberty of a lot of homes in your area.


Beat the Competition


If there’s a lot of homes on the market in your area, yours will not be very likely to sell with just a little sprucing and fixing-up. Understanding the local market and offering more than the homes comparable to yours will be a key factor in making the sell. If your home is a one-story building in a cul-de-sac, and the local market has a glut of homes just like it, yours will be just one of many a buyer will have to chose from.

As such, you have to find or make a unique appeal your home could offer that the others don’t. Many upgrades that could suffice won’t cost very much in relative terms. It could be something as simple as adding a fence or an outdoor pool, or even a minor upgrade to the furnishings.

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How Much is Land Transfer Tax in Toronto

Originally posted on REM Online

Until April 1974, Ontario didn’t have a land transfer tax. Then our (Conservative) government of the day gently introduced LTT to property buyers.

April 10, 1974:
  • 0.3 per cent up to $35,000 and 0.6 per cent on the balance
  • Average house price was $52,806
  • Average LTT was $211.84

Five years later, it got worse.

April 11, 1979:
  • 0.4 per cent up to $45,000, 0.8 per cent on the balance
  • Average house price was $70,830
  • Average LTT was $386.64

Seven years later, it got worse.

Jan. 1, 1986:
  • 0.5 per cent up to $55,000, one per cent on the next $195,000 and 1.5 per cent on the balance
  • Average house price was $138,925
  • Average LTT was $1,114.25

Three and one-half years later, it got worse.

June 1, 1989:
  • 0.5 per cent on the first $55,000, one per cent on the next $195,000, 1.5 per cent on the next $150,000 and two per cent on the balance
  • Average house price was $273,698
  • Average LTT was $2,580.47

Nineteen years later, it got far worse for Torontonians.

Spring 2008:
  • In addition to the provincial LTT, Toronto home buyers were saddled with the Municipal LTT: 0.5 per cent on the first $55,000, one per cent on the next $345,000 and two per cent on the balance
  • Average house price was $379,347
  • Average LTT was $7,683.68

Nine years later, it got worse for some Torontonians.

March 2017:
  • 2.5 per cent on the portion of purchase price over $2 million

Today, Toronto has by far the highest land transfer tax rates in Canada. Ball-parking the average home price today of $700,000, the average LTT is $20,200!

So, while average prices have gone up 1,325 per cent since 1974, LTT has gone up 9,528 per cent! That is seven times faster than house prices.

Keep in mind that home buyers get absolutely no benefit from paying the tax. It is simply a cash grab at a time when buyers typically are under the financial pressure that accompanies a move.

Remember too that buyers are paying the tax in after-income-tax dollars, as is the case with HST, and gas and liquor taxes.

Generally speaking, property taxes should be levied equally on the beneficiaries of municipal and provincial services. Land transfer tax is a windfall for the city and the provincial government with absolutely no benefit to the buyer who pays it.

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Is Now a Good Time to Sell?

Have you been thinking about selling your condo?  Before you call a realtor and list your condo there are some things that you need to take into consideration.  Is now a good time to sell or should you hang on a little longer.  Let’s look at what selling your condo will mean and whether now is the right time.  Rising house prices in Toronto mean you can probably get a good return but you also have to consider whether it will be enough to put down on another home.

Rising Prices

If you have had your condo for four or five years or longer then it may be a good time to sell.  Prices have risen significantly in the past few years and according to condos.ca the average price of an 800 square foot condo has gone up by almost $80,000 over the past two years and if you bought back in 2012 you could be looking at $130,000 return on your investment.  But is now the right time to sell or should you hold out another year to get a better return?

To Sell or To Wait

Yes, it is a good time to sell.  Taking the equity out of your condo and investing that in a new property gives you the opportunity to continue to grow the equity even further.  There are plenty of condo owners who are sitting on the fence because they expect the prices to climb even higher.  You also need to remember that housing prices across the board are climbing and you could actually be losing an opportunity.

Price Corrections

Price corrections happen in every market including Toronto’s and yes there is a certain degree of concern that rising prices are leading to a bubble or a correction.  Drastic market changes can be unpredictable to say the least.  When there is high growth it can help make the price corrections a little easier to bear.  It is likely that a price correction won’t wipe out your return.  Even in the middle of a correction you will still get back more than you paid initially.

Don’t feel pressured to sell your condo.  While it might be a good time to get a great price it doesn’t mean it is the right time for you.  If  this is something that has been on your mind or you want to retire out of the city then you should definitely get on the phone to your realtor and list today.

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Be Aware of the Fees

There is a lot to be said for condo living, it is simple and convenient.  You never have to worry about shoveling snow in winter or mowing the lawn in the summer.  Your building has a fitness center so no more expensive gym memberships, there is a pool and sauna you can use whenever you like and the Toronto nightlife is right on your doorstop.  There is a cost to all of this luxury and convenience and you need to be aware of the fees.

What are Condo Fees?

Essentially condo fees cover the costs of managing the complex along with the maintenance costs.  Your condo fees will pay for things like landscaping, snow removal and cleaning.  They will also cover any repairs that need to be done to the building.  In many cases repairs needed to the inside of the condo are your responsibility, clogged toilets are your problem but needing a new roof is not.

How Much Are Condo Fees?

Condos fees can vary a great deal.  Generally the close you are to downtown the higher they will be, there are exceptions to this rule.  Also the more amenities that are in the building the more you can expect to pay.  If you have fitness facilities, pools, business area and onsite restaurants or spas then you can expect to pay far more.  Don’t expect to pay less than $300 per month in fees and finding a place that low won’t be easy.  Luxury buildings will charge per square foot, for example One Bloor charges $.50 per square foot each and every month.  That means for a 1,500 square foot condo you are looking at $750 a month plus you will pay for parking on top of that.

What Happens if You Don’t Pay?

Not paying your condo fees is not an option. The management company can and will take legal action against you in the event that your condo fees end up in arrears.  They can put a lien on your property and you may find yourself in court.  You won’t be able to sell your property until the fees are paid.  Never fall behind in your condo fees it will cost you in the long run.

Before you buy into a condo you should also make sure the management company has the finances in order.  If the reserves are too low and something happens you can get stuck with a bill you didn’t expect.  Condo fees are a trade-off for hassle free living.

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Condo Living in Downtown Toronto

Toronto condos have always been in high demand and there are some incredibly luxurious buildings in the downtown core.  The condo buildings in the downtown area are built with young professionals in mind, most are sold to executives or real estate investors and those that live there embrace a certain lifestyle.  Condo living downtown means having the hustle and bustle that is Toronto right on your doorstep.

Pricing

This is prime Toronto real estate and that will be reflected in the price.  Many of the condos are sold before they are even built and the price can run up to $1,000 per square foot.  That’s right a luxury condo that is 1,000 square feet can run you well over $1 million.  If you are looking at one of the more prestigious address like Bloor and Yonge or the Four Seasons residences then expect to pay.  You can get a better deal for a used condo that are somewhere between $700 – $800 per square foot.  Just so you get an idea of how luxurious these condos can be here is an insider’s view of One Bloor West.

Investing

Toronto real estate has always been a great investment attracting buyers from all over the world.  The interest rates are favorable in Canada, the unemployment rate is one of the lowest in Canada and it has seen strong economic growth.  However foreign investment has proven a problem for local buyers.  In 2017 when the market was hot it was increasingly difficult for locals to afford and purchase property in the GTA.  The situation got so bad that the Wynne government add a tax for foreign investors leaving their properties empty.

Rentals

Renting in the downtown core has also become more difficult with an incredibly low vacancy rate.  However, if you own property in the area that you are looking to rent out then you are in luck.  Not only can you charge premium prices for your condo but you will have your pick of tenants.

If you are on the other end of the deal and are looking to rent a condo downtown then you can expect to pay.  First you should know exactly where you want to live, be it near the water or further north.  The competition will be fierce so be ready to jump on a deal as soon as possible.  You are also going to have a good credit score and a secure job.  People who have been in their jobs for a while will likely get preferential treatment.  Most importantly don’t get attached to a place until the rental agent hands you the keys.

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Buying a Condo or Townhouse in Toronto

Toronto is Canada’s largest and most vibrant city, there are plenty of things to see and do in Toronto.  If you are looking to move to Toronto and set down roots then finding a place to call home is your first step.  If you are already living in Toronto then you know the housing market here can be a little different than the rest of Canada or even the rest of Ontario.  You have a pretty big selection of condos on the market and many of the single family homes go back to the Victorian era.

Pricing Differences

There is a huge range of prices in the Toronto market with condos being on the lower end and standalone home taking the higher end and townhouses coming somewhere in between.  Single family homes in Toronto are few and far between and you can expect to pay well over $1,000, 000 for one depending on the area.  Even the less expensive parts of the city are out of range for the average family.

Condos

Condos are the easiest path to home-ownership in Toronto, the prices are significantly lower than a single family home and when it comes to Toronto there are far more condos for sale.  Condos can range a great deal in size from the smaller 500 square foot one bedroom bachelor pad to the much larger two and three bedroom units.  There are condo buildings all over the city so you can choose between downtown living or further out into the suburbs.  High rise buildings down on Queen’s Quay aren’t going to come cheap.

Townhouses

Townhomes offer the happy medium between condo living and a single family home.  They are more affordable and often the first choice for first time home buyers.  If you head out to the suburbs you will see tons of areas being developed and many of them are building townhomes.  Townhomes are all over the GTA so you have your choice of neighborhoods to choose from.  If you want to go further out along the GO line there are a plethora of choices and price points.  Townhouses offer enough space for families but are still well within the affordable range.

The real estate market in Toronto has definitely gone through its ups and downs in the last couple of years.  While prices hit an all-time high back in 2017 the market has since stabilized.  Work with a realtor who understands Toronto real estate to help you make the most out of your budget.  Neighborhoods in Toronto can be vastly different and you have lots to choose from in this vibrant city.

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