Ontario’s rent increase guideline for 2016

Ontario’s rent increase guideline for 2016 has been set at 2.0 per cent.

The guideline represents the maximum amount a landlord can increase a tenant’s rent without first seeking approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board, and applies to rent increases from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016.

While each year’s guideline follows the Ontario Consumer Price Index, a recent amendment to the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act prevents any subsequent guidelines from exceeding 2.5 per cent.

The 2016 figure is an increase over this year’s guideline set at 1.6 per cent. The last 2.5 per cent increase was in 2013, following a 3.1 per cent increase in 2012. In contrast, the guideline for 1992 was 6.0 per cent.

The rent increase guideline applies to most private and residential rentals.

Exceptions include vacant residential units, residential units first occupied on or after November 1, 1991, social housing units, nursing homes and commercial property.

Generally, rent can be increased after 12 months have passed since a tenant either first moved in or since the last rent increase. Tenants must be given proper, written notice of a rent increase at least 90 days before the increase is to take effect.

For questions regarding rent increases in Ontario, contact the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Landlord to Pay $10,000 to Wrongfully Rejected Tenant

A young person in Ontario who was denied housing based on her age has recovered an award of $10,000 from a prospective landlord.

In addition, the landlord was ordered to develop a human rights policy and train staff.

tenant screeningThe Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that the young tenant, a 17-year-old girl, was particularly vulnerable, and that she relied on adults to act within the law when leasing rental property.

In this case, the tenant had been a Crown ward since she was 13 years old, was homeless, and was attempting to finish high school. Her rent would have been paid through a guaranteed government source.

The tenant claimed that she called the apartment building manager and asked to see a vacant unit. She said she chose the building because she knew someone who lived there. The prospective tenant was provided a tour, and then told the manager that she wanted the unit. The manager gave the prospective tenant a blank application, and then asked her age. When the applicant revealed that she was 17, she says the manager rejected her. The leasing agent allegedly explained that a previous 17-year-old tenant had trashed a unit, and that the landlord would not be able to claim damages, so as a policy, the landlord would no longer rent to a 17-year-old.

The Tribunal points to the applicable sections of the Ontario Human Rights Code, which provide:

“Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of accommodation, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status, disability or the receipt of public assistance.”

“Every sixteen or seventeen year old person who has withdrawn from parental control has a right to equal treatment with respect to occupancy of and contracting for accommodation without discrimination because the person is less than eighteen years old.”

“A contract for accommodation entered into by a sixteen or seventeen year old person who has withdrawn from parental control is enforceable against that person as if the person were eighteen years old.”

The Tribunal went on to explain that intent to discriminate is not a governing factor in construing human rights legislation.

A social worker assisting the tenant referred her to The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation to evaluate her case. A CERA representative contacted the landlord’s employee and explained that the decision to reject the tenant on the basis of age was illegal. Despite that information, and a warning of possible legal action, the manager and landlord continued to deny the tenant’s application to rent.

It took this tenant a significant amount of time to find replacement housing. During that time she was forced to stay with an abusive boyfriend and was on occasion homeless. The Tribunal criticized the landlord for discriminating against a vulnerable member of society, and found that the tenant suffered loss of dignity and other injury before awarding the tenant $10,000.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening,Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only). 

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

Informal Tenancy Becomes Landlord’s Nightmare

by CHRIS on OCTOBER 13, 2014

A landlord recently shared a story, explaining that after inheriting a home, the family allowed “friends” to move into the property. There was no written lease agreement. There was no rent paid.

Now, the family is in court trying to boot the “tenants” after discovering extensive damage — every window is broken, doors are kicked in, and some possessions left at the property are missing.

As it turns out, these tenants have a long history of evictions that spans decades.

So how did this go so wrong?

Trust has it’s place, but not when in comes to screening tenants. Professional tenants — habitual liars who live free while scamming the landlord — know how to play the system. If landlords want to win the fraud game, they have to be savvy to the rules:

Part of the tenant screening process is simply asking for identification. It’s imperative to confirm the person’s identity so that bad tenants can be investigated and weeded out.

The next critical step is demanding a completed rental application. Applicants should be aware that they will be asked to sign a declaration at the end verifying the information under penalty of perjury or subsequent eviction. That alone can scare away some bad prospects.

An incomplete rental application can flag a tenant who has something to hide.

For some professional tenants, the declaration in the rental application is not enough. A completed application may look legitimate, but it may contain information that cannot be verified. Passing the burden onto the tenant to explain these gaps can expose a scam artist.

Running tenant screening reports, including a credit report, is the best way to expose professional tenants. Their words and their actions may conflict — that’s how you will know they are not telling the whole truth.

Before renting, always follow up with the previous landlord. In this case, there are now around 30 landlords who would talk you out of renting to this applicant!

Don’t underestimate the importance of a written lease agreement. Going to court on verbal agreements can have devastating consequences.

The more informal your property management process, the more likely a tenant will try to take advantage of the situation. Creating structure ensures that the tenant understands the rules that are required. The best way to avoid professional bad tenants is professional property management.

This post was written by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only)

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

Closing Day Nightmares

I just wanted to touch base on something today, that every person who is buying or selling a home should be aware of  “Possible closing day nightmares:

  1. Closing your Existing Home and New Home on the same day
    • Moving from one house to another house on the same day can cause MANY issues and this is one of the greatest avoidable closing day headaches.  You should talk to your Mortgage Specialist or Broker about the possibility of Bridge Financing.
  • Bridge Financing takes the difference of your purchase price less your new mortgage. They calculate the daily interest on that amount.  For example: If the Bridge Amount was $150,000 at 5% for 3 weeks, the payment would be approximately $20.55/day or in total around $287.70
  • Your lawyer and lender may charge an additional fee to handle this as well, calculations are approximate and should be verified with your lawyer and lender. If there are fees charged the cost be around $1000 for three weeks, but there would be NO headaches, and less stress involved. 
  1. Expecting to move in on closing day
    1. As per the standard Agreement of Purchase and Sale Form, a buyer shall be provided vacant possession no later than 6:00 pm on closing date.   Keep in mind though that funds may close transfer earlier in the day, and once the funds have transferred the lawyer will give the keys to the buyer. But the seller legally doesn’t have to be out until 6.  See where this gets confusing! There is nothing worse than a seller who isn’t moved out completely and a buyer who is waiting in the driveway with their movers.
      • As a seller – I recommend that you move out at least ONE  day before closing, and you can do last minute clean and tidy ups on the morning of closing,
      • As a buyer – after you pick up your key on your closing day plan to go to the house that evening, to see if anything needs cleaning, or do any painting or other small jobs that are easier to have completed before you move in. Plan to move the following day.
  1. DO NOT CLOSE ON A FRIDAY! 
    • Things do happen, and things do go wrong. Sometimes properties do not close on the completion date. There can be various number of reasons for this, mostly the buyers mortgage was delayed and funds were not transferred. This is also the busiest day of the week for Real Estate Lawyers. There could be various other issues as well that can hold up the sale.
      • Keep in mind – The land registry system closes at 5 pm and it will not reopen until the next business day (If you Closed on a Friday this would typically be Monday, sometimes Tuesday in the case of a long weekend.) This means the home is NOT legally yours at this point. The sellers may grant you access to occupy the home (basically rent it back to you until it closes.) However the Sellers do not have to do this, and many lawyers will advise a seller that there are risks involved if they allow you to take possession before the funds have transferred.  If this happens,  you could end up being homeless over the weekend.  This is an added stress that no home buyer or seller needs.
  • Set up your Utilities
    • Don’t forget to set up your utilities before you move in! I have heard of cases where the buyer closed on a Friday, but neglected to set up their utilities. The sellers account terminated on Friday, so the buyers ended up without heat or hydro for the whole weekend! Not as bad in the summer, but in the winter months or on a long weekend this could be very uncomfortable.
  • Test your appliances
    • Most (but not all) Agreement of Purchase and Sale contracts include a provision warrantying the appliances, and HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical systems for the house will be in good working order on completion. If you don’t test the systems until the following week, that is too late.  It has to be the condition on the date of completion.  Of course if you agreed to purchase the home and appliances “as is” this does not apply.
  • Remain Civil
    • You never know –  you may need to reach out to the previous owner of the home at some point to ask questions about how something works. Many home owners know of certain quirks that are pretty simple that make living in the home easier.  The move may seem stressful, but try to look at the situation from all angles and points of view. Your situation may not be the only situation that is stressful.

Above all else, enjoy the move, relax and have fun! Setting things up and learning all about your new home can be a fun and exciting time, as long as you plan to avoid the worst, and know the possible outcomes and are prepared for what is thrown at you.

If you have any questions about buying or selling a property please do not hesitate to contact me, I’d love to help!

Real Estate Commission – How does it work?

Most people go to work and get paid an hourly wage for the work they complete. Real Estate agents are paid a commission which is a fee for their service.  The fee is calculated as a percentage of the sales price, and is negotiating at the time the seller lists their home.

Full service agents will charge more than fee-based , or flat fee agents.  Figure out what you expect your Agent to do for you,  and then discuss the commission. Agents with an in-depth knowledge of the market, a team of associates and assistants, a full marketing plan and a syndicated listing schedule will always charge more than an agent who merely adds your house to the MLS and wishes you luck with your sale.

Real Estate agents are ONLY paid when a property deal firms up and closes. I have had clients in the past who thought I got paid by my brokerage every time I met them, and for every house I showed them, I have to admit that would be nice, but it is only after a client firms up on a property and it closes.

In traditional home sales, sellers pay the commission. The buyer’s agent is paid by the seller, because the listing agent is sharing a percentage of the commission. Sharing the commission is called cooperating, or a co-op commission. There are exceptions to this, such as; Auctions usually charge buyers a 5% “premium”, or commission, for instance. For Sale By Owners or FSBO Listings, the buyer agent commissions are usually paid by the Seller, but occasionally the buyer will have to pay the realtors fee.

The buyer should have signed a Buyer Representation Agreement outing what the minimum amount the Agent will represent the buyer on a purchase will be, if the amount offered on a listing is less, or if they purchase a FSBO the buyers agent will have to discuss this with the buyer before putting in an offer.  Then the  buyer and their agent, can negotiate the purchase price and terms of the sale.

commission_blog_size

The diagram above shows a listing sold for $300,000 with a commission of 6%. The 6% is divided between the buyer and selling brokerages, and then is divided again between the brokerages and the agents.  The split between brokerages and agents will vary by office, and typically by how big of a producer the agent is.

Out of the agents portion there are many expenses including but not limited to: Licensing, Insurance, Board, Brokerage, MLS and Franchise Fees PLUS the business costs of Advertising, Education, Office Rent, Computer, Cell Phone, Fax, Printer, Vehicle, Gas, Website Management,  Staff etc.

Talk to your accountant, because the real estate commission—along with most costs associated with buying and selling a home—can be tax deductible.

Why Pre-Approvals are Important

Before you start the process of looking for a home, you should go to the bank or a mortgage broker and obtain a FULL Pre-Approval. The online approvals that you can do on a bank, or mortgage brokers website do NOT count as a pre-approval.

A FULL Pre-approval involves pulling your credit history, reviewing your income letter and recent pay stubs, and possibly your past two or three Notice of Assessments. The FULL Pre-approval will hopefully bring to light any potential hick-ups that might arise before your find your perfect home, and will give you time to sort them out or adjust your search criteria.

There is nothing worse than having to scramble to gather information AFTER you have an accepted offer on a property. With only five business days to sort out any issues, you may not be able to sort it out in that short of time and you risk losing the house completely.

With a FULL Pre-approval in hand you would be able to search for your new home with confidence, and avoid future unnecessary stress.

Once you have the FULL Pre-approval in hand, talk to your bank, or mortgage broker about your payments, make sure the mortgage payment approval fits into your budget. If the payment is to high determine what payment you are comfortable with. They should be able to tell you based on your payment what your maximum purchase price/ mortgage amount should be.

If you are thinking about buying or selling you home call me! If you need a trustworthy Mortgage Specialist I would be happy to refer you to someone who I trust.

The Real Estate Lawyer

As a Real Estate agent I am embarrassed to think about how many trees I have consumed with the amount of paper work I have generated throughout my business.

Your Real Estate Lawyer, will have so much MORE paperwork for you, over and above what you have signed with me.  The Lawyer will translate all the legal talk and ensure your interests are protected after the deal is firm.  There are certain aspects of every transaction that the Lawyer has to ensure are completed or the deal will not close. You cannot buy or sell Real Estate in Canada without a lawyer.

How do you pick a lawyer?

There are lots of experienced real estate lawyers out there. I would be happy to give you the names of several lawyers experienced in real estate, but you should also ask Friends and Co-workers. Be sure you ask your lawyer how they structure their fees, and get an estimate of the other legal costs you can expect. Again don’t go with the cheapest Lawyer, I would focus (delete more ) on the following: Do they get back to you when you call? What methods of communication do they use? Would you be comfortable dealing with them if an issue arose with your purchase or sale?

So how exactly does a Lawyer help?

The Agreement of Purchase and Sale is only the one of the steps required to purchase a home. In fact there are many, many legal steps to transferring ownership of land from one person to another. Even if pitfalls like fraud, government legislation, zoning issues or unpaid taxes don’t come up, your lawyer will more than earn their pay by making the legal transfer of the home a smooth one.

Don’t be afraid of your Lawyer!

He or she is there to help you. Ask questions if you don’t understand anything. Explaining legal jargon in plain language is a big part of their job.

Why use a Realtor if you have to hire a Lawyer?

A Realtor understands Market Conditions, and has access to Comparable Sales, and has likely been through the Comparable Properties to help determine what a good asking price/sale price should be.  They are also more familiar with issues to be concerned about with different ages of homes, neighbourhoods, school information, and much more. It takes a team, Realtor, Home Inspector, Lawyer, Mortgage Rep, and Insurance Agent to make the process as smooth as possible!

If you any have questions about Real Estate Lawyers, or Real Estates in general do not hesitate to contact me on my direct line (519)771 0886 or email me at homes@andreaclendening.com.

Make it a great day!

Andrea Clendening, Real Estate Sales Person

Remax Twin City Realty Inc, Brokerage
(519)771 0886 – Direct
(519)442 0005 – Office

(866)462 6315 – Direct Fax
homes@andreaclendening.com
www.andreaclendening.com

The Home Inspector

A home inspection is an objective third party visual examination of the physical structure and systems of your house from the foundation all the way to the roof. Typically the buyer pays for the inspection, and it can last from 2-5 hours, depending on the size of the home.

It is highly recommended that you are present for the inspection. You can ask questions and learn a lot about maintenance items regarding your new home. Your agent should always be there in case any issues are found that need to be addressed.

WHAT WILL BE COVERED DURING A HOME INSPECTION?

  • Exterior: grading, drainage, siding, brick, trim, fascia, windows, gutters, driveway and walkways, patios and decks
  • Structural elements:  roof, foundation, walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Roof & Attic: framing, ventilation, insulation, age and type of roof, flashing, evidence of leaks
  • Plumbing: toilets, sinks, faucets, pipe material, showers, tubs, evidence of leaks or malfunctions, water pressure
  • Electrical: main panel, circuit breakers, type of wiring, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures
  • Systems & Components: Hot water heater (age and condition), furnace, ductwork, chimney and fireplace, central air
  • Appliances: range and oven, dishwasher, garbage disposal, built-in microwave
  • Garage: walls, slab floor, garage doors, electric door openers

A lot of home inspectors will do computer reports that they can email you within a day or two of the inspection. Some will still write the report on site.  Prices will vary between home inspectors as well. I have seen them as low as $250, and as high as $1200 for an inspection. Don’t automatically go for the cheapest or most expensive. Your agent should have a list of home inspectors that he/she trusts, or ask your friends about their experiences with their home inspectors. Once you have narrowed your search you should call and interview the recommended inspectors to determine your comfort level with them.

To find out more about home inspectors in Canada, visit the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors website: http://www.cahpi.ca/

What is a Bridge Loan?

When it comes to purchasing a home, it doesn’t usually make sense to close on your existing and new home on the same day. It will cause many frustrations, for you, the buyers of your existing home and the sellers of your new home.  The way to get around this situation is by applying for a Bridge Loan.

A bridge loan is a short term, temporary loan, to cover a borrower’s down payment for a short duration when closing dates between two real estate transactions have not been synchronized. The bridge loan will be paid upon the closing of the last real estate transaction. A bridge loan is also referred to as interim financing.

When the sale of buyers current home is set to close AFTER the possession date of their new home, a bridge loan will be required to temporarily supply the proceeds of the sale that would have made up the buyers down payment. The lender providing the buyer with the new mortgage typically provides the bridge loan but on occasion, the financing is provided by a second lender if the primary lender does not offer bridge financing.

When is a Bridge Loan Used?

Mr. Smith is purchasing a home for $350 ,000 from Mrs Jones, of which $300,000 is financed through a first mortgage. The down payment of $50,000 will be from the proceeds of the sale of Mr. Smiths’s original home. A closing date for Mr. Smith’s purchase is March 31, but the sale of Mr. Smith’s original home cannot be closed until April 30. Mrs Jones cannot wait until April 30 to close the transaction.

Mr. Smith’s lender agrees to provide a 30 day bridge loan of $50,000, the proceeds of which will be paid to Mrs Jones on March 31, along with the proceeds of the $300,000 mortgage, to permit Mrs Jones to be paid in full at closing. When the sale of Mr. Smiths’s original home is closed on April 30,  the proceeds are used to pay off the $50,000 bridge loan, plus any interest accruing in the 30 day period.

The bridge loan amount is calculated as:

PURCHASE PRICE – [DEPOSIT ON PURCHASE + MORTGAGE AMOUNT] = BRIDGE LOAN

or

DEPOSIT ON PURCHASE + BRIDGE LOAN = DOWN PAYMENT

How much does a bridge loan cost?

Bridge loans are usually priced at about the same rate as an open mortgage or close to the cost of a personal line of credit. The interest rate will certainly be higher than your mortgage’s interest rate but considering the short time horizon, the interest rate is almost inconsequential.Currently the going rate is Prime +2.00% (or 5.00% effective rate). Typically, lenders will also charge a flat administration fee to set up a bridge loan between $200 and $500.

What is required to arrange a bridge loan?

In order to set up a bridge loan your lender will ask you for a copy of your firm purchase agreement and firm sale agreement.

What happens if I don’t sell my home?

The lender will not provide you with a bridge loan if you don’t have a firm sale agreement for your home. The loan can’t be open-ended for institutional lenders and typically bridge loans are restricted to 90 days. If you don’t have a firm selling date you may need to consider a private lender for the bridge loan.

Do all lenders provide bridge loans?

If you think you might need a bridge loan, notify your mortgage broker because not every mortgage lender is set up to provide bridge loans.

Security in your NEW Home

So you have bought a new home, and are all moved in! The process of buying a home, and getting settled is an exciting venture, but there can often be security risks attached to the purchase. I’m referring to those risks that are inherited – either from the builder or the previous homeowner.

House Keys are a perfect example of inherited risk. How do you know the keys you received from the lawyer are the ONLY keys to the house, many people give a key to a neighbour, contractor, babysitter, relatives, cleaning companies and they may THINK they got a all the keys back on closing but there is always the chance that there are more keys out there.

This is why you need to rekey all the locks in your new home.

Rekeying should not be confused with replacing a lock. You don’t need to replace the locks in your new home to lock out the previous key. A locksmith simply disassembles the lock cylinder – the area that accepts the key – discards the old pins, and replaces them with ones that fit your new key. This is not an expensive procedure, and it usually only takes a few minutes to change several locks.

Today’s home insurance companies often frown on folks who don’t rekey their new home once they move in. Often when a claim is made, these companies will want to see signs of forcible entry to ensure homeowner neglect was not the underlying cause.

So how do you go about changing the keys to your new abode? There are three ways for the homeowner to tackle this job. If you’re a handyman, you may want to remove the locks and take them to your local locksmith. There, your security expert can alter them quickly and easily.

Another option is to check with the previous owner or builder to see if they installed locks that allow the homeowner to rekey them without having to call a locksmith. Unless these locks were installed within the last few years, this may or may not be an option because of today’s new technology.

The third option is to call a locksmith who will charge you a service call and labour to remove, rekey and reinstall your locks. For the homeowner who’s not so handy, this is the way to go. An advantage to calling in a professional locksmith is that he or she will point out any lock deficiencies you may have. Often they will find what I call “handyman specials” where the locks are malfunctioning or installed wrong because of an inexperienced builder or homeowner’s handiwork.
Another area people forget about is that Remote garage door openers can also be an inherited security risk to new homeowners. Changing the frequency code on your remote door openers is as important as changing the keys to your home. Remotes are often loaned to tradesmen, gardeners and other family members can have them programmed to their cars. Unfortunately, when you purchase your new home, there’s no way of telling how many remotes operate your overhead garage door.

The only sure way of making this area secure is to change the frequency codes. This is a simple procedure for most garage door openers. Often the instructions on how to do the change are listed on the opener itself (located near your garage ceiling). If you can’t find the instructions, you should be able to Google the manufacturer’s name and download the operating manual.

And don’t forget to check and see if your new home has an overhead garage door digital keypad, which is used to open and close the door from the outside. These units are usually on the outside of the door, change this code as well.

These convenient push button units allow the homeowner access to the garage by entering an access code. Their main purpose is to allow access into the garage without having to carry a remote or having to enter the garage through the house.

The frequency codes in these units must be changed to prevent previous code holders from entering their code and accessing your garage. In most cases, changing the code on these push button door controllers is no more difficult than changing a remote control unit. Often the instructions on how to change the entry code are printed on the inside of the keypad lid.

If you have any questions about buying or selling a home, please do not hesitate to contact me!