TOP TIPS FOR LANDLORDS

 

The Off-Campus Resource Centre of McMaster University is interested in encouraging a healthy, happy relationship between tenants and landlords.  In an effort to foster such a relationship, we offer you the following tips and insights into the Rental Relationship.


1.         KNOW YOUR RIGHTS....AND YOUR TENANT’S RIGHTS   

Part of our office’s job is to educate students on their rights under the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) - and, they are becoming more knowledgeable.  You need to know the same information to avoid problems and conflicts with your tenants.  Visit the website for the Landlords and Tenant Board for the full RTA and have many of your questions answered.  or call 1-888-332-3234.

2.         IF YOU SHARE THE KITCHEN AND/OR BATHROOM WITH YOUR TENANT.....

Neither party (the tenant nor the owner) is covered by the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) in this situation.  This is significant, should any conflicts arise during the rental period.  Before the tenant moves in to your home, you should draft a rental agreement, outlining expectations of the tenant, including details such as what to do if one party wishes to end the tenancy agreement early.  Both parties should sign the agreement, and each keep a copy for their records.  It is very important to note that this situation also applies if the owner’s immediate family member(s) lives with the tenants.  In other words, if a parent purchases a home for their son/daughter to live in while attending McMaster, any other students/tenants who share this dwelling with the son/daughter will not be covered by the RTA.

3.         TAKE CARE OF YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY         

Remember that you have an obligation under the RTA to maintain the property “in a good state of repair and fit for habitation”, and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. Recent changes
to local by-laws now include that if a property standards or yard
maintenance violation occurs, and an inspector has to come to the
property a second time, the home owner will be charged $180. Any
subsequent visits will result in a fee of $250 (these are not fines,
simply inspection fees), which will be added on to the property tax
account of the home owner.

4.         UNDERSTAND LOCAL FIRE REGULATIONS...AND IMPLEMENT THEM

If the Ontario Fire Marshall were to inspect your rental property, they would be looking for specific criteria to be met, depending on the size of the house, the number of occupants living in the dwelling, and how the tenants co-habitate together.

            Specifically:

IF

 

3 or fewer students are living as a single housekeeping unit (share some meals; know the comings-and-goings of each other; share housekeeping duties)

 

 

 

 

4 or more (but less than 10) students are living as a single housekeeping unit (share some meals; know the comings-and-goings of each other; share housekeeping duties; no locks on bedroom doors)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 or more students living privately (do not share meals, do not know each other, etc.; security lock on bedroom doors)

THEN

 

Labeled as a Single Family Dwelling

 

Must have (minimum) an operable, battery powered smoke alarm outside each bedroom

 

 

Labeled as a Shared Accommodation

 

Must have minimum: A/C interconnected smoke alarm system, one per floor + battery or electric smoke alarm unit in each bedroom, + minimum one 2A 10BC rated fire extinguisher in each kitchen

 

 

Labeled a Lodging House

 

Must obtain license from City of Hamilton.

 

Must have minimum: A/C interconnected smoke alarm system, one per floor + battery or electric smoke alarm unit in each bedroom, + minimum one 2A 10BC rated fire extinguisher in each kitchen

 

 

5.         THE BEST TIMES OF YEAR TO LIST YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS

The school year begins in September and ends in April (total of 8 months).

If you own a student house or apartment, and it will be vacant in May, list it in January.  Students generally expect to sign a 12 month lease at this time, and will likely try to sublet their room over the summer months, with the landlord’s permission (which, by law, cannot be unreasonably withheld).

If the house or apartment will not be vacant until September, it’s best to begin advertising in July, and you may consider asking for an 8 month lease. Most landlords have greatest success asking for a 12 month lease running May‑April.

            If you are renting rooms in your home, the best time to list these

accommodations is in mid‑July/August, for September occupancy.  Rooms may be required throughout the year by individuals, but there is no clear cycle to predict the demand. Your accommodation is likely to be more attractive if it is furnished, since many international students will look for this type of accommodation, and they will not be able to bring such items with them, and will not want to purchase furnishings if they’re here only for a short time. There tends to be a slight influx of need in January, since some students will transfer in at the beginning of the new semester, or may be moving to Hamilton for a 4‑month co-op placement (January ‑ April). If you are willing to consider a tenant for 4 months, then list your ad in early December.

If your primary target audience is graduate students or visiting faculty, there is no distinct cycle for listing these accommodations. People come and go at all times of the year, although summer tends to be busiest.  Consider listing your place a month or two before it will actually be vacant; most people do not search for a place to live too many months before their arrival.

 

6.         GET PROPER INSURANCE

Yes, it’s true - it is difficult to get insurance on a student rental, but it is possible.  Most insurance companies don’t want to get involved; as soon as they find out what the property is being used for, you’re automatically considered a high risk.  Proper insurance is considerably more expensive, but worthwhile for yourself and your tenants.  All you need is one house fire and a fatality (as happened several years ago in Waterloo).........

7.         MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE

Being a landlord takes time and commitment on your part.  Make yourself available to your tenants.  Check in on them once in a while, if you haven’t heard from them.  Return their phone calls/pages.  COMMUNICATE with them.

8.         NOT ALL STUDENTS ARE SINGLE UNDERGRADUATES

There are close to 2000 full-time graduate students, many of whom are married, often with children.   They, too, require temporary accommodations, usually for a two-year period.  Consider offering some affordable housing to this group of tenants. 

9.         WE ALSO HAVE LISTINGS FOR VISITING FACULTY/NEW EMPLOYEES

Often, new employees or faculty members will choose to rent a property for a few months before they decide which part of the city they like, and then decide to buy a house.   So keep this in mind when considering which group of renters to market your house or apartment to. 

10.        WE’RE HERE FOR YOU!

Our friendly staff are here to answer your questions and assist you with your advertising needs.  The office is open 8:30-4:00 Monday to Friday, so feel free to give us a call or stop in to see all of the resources we have available for students and landlords.