There was a very interesting story in the EB today as follows:
Interesting to me because I have been a landlord in Collingwood for close to 10 years. I am in the process of getting out of that particular line of business.
It’s funny I had never heard of Gail Michalenko then all of a sudden in two days she is the lead story in as many days in the local paper. Gail is all in a froth about the local vacancy rate for rentals at an all-time low 0.7%. The back bone of supply of cheap rental accommodation is usually met by small operators like myself. I have been a landlord in various forms at different times for close to 25 years. From a landlords perspective it is very difficult in Ontario. The difficulties started back in the early 1990’s when the then NDP government as part of its socialist agenda decided to outlaw the practice of a landlord being able to take a security deposit from tenants. I will explain how that affects a landlord, with my own personal experiences.
Without a security deposit posted a tenant will usually give notice on or around the 5th of the month and inform me that the final months rent was paid when they first moved in.
Different versions of the following is usually what happens next:
1. I place an ad in the local paper, by the time that add is posted it’s usually half way through the month.
2. I arrange with the existing tenant to show the space. Usually on a weekend.
3. I weed through the perspective tenants. There are usually 20 to 30 people who enquire.
4. After weeding out the half dozen or so that are suitable. Suitable meaning they actually have a job. A previous reference from a landlord. Or they are not trying to squeeze 5 people into a space that is meant for 2 people. Or they don’t own a Great Dane that is quiet and house trained.
5. I arrive at the property at the prearranged time the first perspective tenant is already there. I knock on the door of the unit. No answer. Knock again, no answer. Never mind I have a key. Doesn’t work the locks have been changed. Try tenant on cell phone no answer.
6. So I wait at the property and apologize to all the folks that wanted to see the place and make the executive decision to leave any hopes of renting the place until a month later after this person has vacated the property.
7. The first day of the following month arrives. I attend the property with locksmith on hand. As I walk up to the door a neighbor approaches me and says “Very noisy party on the weekend. We called the cops”.
8. I enter the place. The first thing I notice is a strong smell of booze and stale cigarette smoke. Then the butted out cigarettes on that nice laminate floor I had laid 18 months previously. The place has beer and booze bottles spread from one end to the other. One of the draws from the nice fitted kitchen is broken and in pieces on the kitchen floor. In the second bedroom a cat litter box is filled to capacity with animal feces. All the persons worthless crap furniture is left for me to dispose of along with around 2 months of garbage that is stacked next to the over flowing cat litter box, because it’s too hard for some people to take a garbage bag from a house to the side of the road. The brand new fridge still has all the persons rotting food in it. The stove has never been cleaned since the last time I cleaned it prior to the person moving in.
9. 6 dump trips. 2 days of heavy duty cleaning. 1 day of making repairs. 100 more grey hairs later we are ready to start the process all over again.
From a landlords point of view the laws need to change. I need to be able to charge 1 month’s rent as a security deposit. So that when a tenant gives me notice, which should be 60 days. I can attend the property see what kind of shape it is in and act accordingly. Acting accordingly means that I am able to take pictures, attend a tribunal and start removal procedures if the tenant has given me notice and stopped paying rent. Rental properties especially low income rental properties should be exempt from capital gains to incentivize people like me to own and run rental units.
Tenants skipping out on rent should not be a civil matter it should be a criminal matter. Because it is stealing, it is exactly the same as someone going into a store asking to look at a $1,000 watch, pocketing it and walking out the store, or filling a car up with gas and driving away without paying, or doing a dine and dash to a restaurant.
I am a good landlord. I try and provide people with good clean accommodation at an affordable price. The socialist laws that folks like Gail put in place to try and protect renters, actually drive people like me away from wanting to be a landlord. I personally know of 3 other people that which in turn make things more difficult for the renters that Gail is being an advocate for.
It’s called the law of unintended consequences.