RHB Magazine June 2021

Page 1

Vol. 14 No. 1 May/June 2021

Canada’s #1 most widely read publication for Apartment Owners, Managers and Association Executives

The official publication of:

Are leasing agents a thing of the past?

Technology and COVID-19 have changed how rental property owners and managers market to potential tenants.

Three advantages of investment management software with investor portals Investor portals help drive transparency between owners and investors.

Silver linings during the pandemic The CFAA Operations Roundtable discussed rent collection, operations during COVID-19, gender equity, and rising insurance rates.

RENTT: Rental housing associations look ahead to the rest of 2021 Vacancy rates are expected to remain higher than normal for some time.

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EDITOR’S NOTES It’s getting hot out here Did you get snow in the middle of a heat wave? Did your cucumber plants die? Apparently, that’s a thing, as told to me by my mom and the nice lady at the garden centre. I actually planted cucumbers for the first time in a decade, and I think they’re dead, but they’re just as brown as my other plants, so they’ll blend in. For those of you who care, I built a pergola in my backyard and purchased a WiFi extender, so now I can work in comfort outside, for as long as my laptop battery lasts. The view is much better than my basement office. The feature article in the June issue of RHB Magazine discusses the future of leasing agents, as well as the future of the rental housing industry. Many rental property owners have turned to technology, such as 3D walkthroughs and virtual showings, to show their properties to potential tenants because open houses and in-person viewings are not allowed or severely limited. What will happen when the world reopens and in-person showings are allowed again? The second main article involves a discussion with several landlord association leaders on the short-term future of the rental housing industry. They answered questions on what they project for the remainder of the year with respect to vacancy rates and rents, the impact of government mandates and incentives on the industry, and what industry members need for their businesses moving forward. The third article summarizes the topics discussed at this year’s CFAA Operations Roundtable, including rent collection, working from home, positive outcomes, gender equity and diversity, and rising insurance rates. I attended this virtual session at the CFAA Conference, and it was an interesting experience sitting with other attendees at the virtual tables. Don’t forget to read CFAA’s newsletter, National Outlook, and the Regional Association Voice, as well as the great content in Suite Count and Final Take-Away. Of course, we always enjoy hearing from our readers, and we want to support two-way communication. If you have any comments or questions, send them to david@ rentalhousingbusiness.ca. I look forward to hearing from you.

Co-founder, Publisher

Marc Côté marc@rentalhousingbusiness.ca

Associate Publisher Nishant Rai


David Gargaro david@rentalhousingbusiness.ca

Contributing Editor

John Dickie, President CFAA jdickie@rentalhousingbusiness.ca

Creative Director / Designer Scott Clark

Office Manager Geeta Lokhram


One year $49.99 Cdn Two years $79.99 Cdn Single copy sales $9.99 Cdn Opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the CFAA Board or management. CFAA and RHB Inc. accept no liability for information contained herein. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without the written permission from the publisher. P.O. Box 696, Maple, ON L6A 1S7 416-236-7473 Produced in Canada

Enjoy the issue! David Gargaro Senior Editor

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All contents copyright © RHB Inc. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 42652516


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VOL.14 NO.2 2021

Silver linings during the pandemic The CFAA Operations Roundtable discusses rent collection, operations during COVID-19, gender equity, and rising insurance rates.

RHB’s forum for rental housing associations to share news, events and industry information

Are leasing agents a thing of the past?

Hot Topics: WRAMA reports on changes affecting its membership, such as updates to the platform, benefits, and events. pg. 45 EOLO reports on the City of Ottawa’s new requirements for landlords, namely information packages for tenants, recording and managing tenants’ service requests, and a tenant support registry. pg. 49

Technology and COVID-19 have changed how rental property owners and managers market to potential tenants.

HDAA reports on the COVID-19 updates for Hamilton, what’s happening with the LRT, and by-law updates. pg. 53 LPMA discusses financial resources for tenants and the legal issues around arranging for tenants to cut grass or clear snow for a discount on their rent. pg. 57

The Member Associations

Regional Association Voice Regional Association Voice features the latest industry news from four member associations.

RENTT: Rental housing associations look ahead to the rest of 2021 Vacancy rates are expected to remain higher than normal for some time.

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Final Take Away Three advantages of investment management software with investor portals


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PRESIDENT’S CORNER President’s Corner CFAA has successfully completed our work to present Virtual Rental Housing Conference 2021. However, the Conference is not over! CFAA invites you to register to watch a recording of any of the education presentations, namely Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Rental Housing; Utility Metering for ESG; Property Management Software – front line and back office; Operations Roundtable; and Benjamin Tal’s Economic Update. CFAA invites you to visit the virtual Tradeshow booths of the 14 Tradeshow exhibitors, at no charge and any time, 24/7. Find out what the exhibitors are offering to make your business more successful! Go to www.CFAA-FCAPI.org, and click on Events & Awards. CFAA does NOT provide your contact information to the exhibitors. After you have visited their booths, it is entirely up to you whether you reach out to each exhibitor or not. CFAA particularly invites you to visit The Home Depot booth. That booth was not ready on May 4 because of COVID-19. Registering your company with Home Depot Pro as a CFAA direct or affiliate member brings benefits to you, and to CFAA, thus helping us protect the rental housing industry at the federal level.

Compensation Survey. Visit CFAA’s website for more details. For a review of current federal political issues, see page 40. CFAA explains the move to limit the amount of interest on borrowings that businesses can deduct from income for tax purposes, addresses the likelihood of other tax increases, and provides an update on other issues in federal Budget 2021 which affect rental housing providers. In the Fall, CMHC plans to conduct a survey of rental housing providers to learn more about the points when racial issues can creep into our operations. Watch for more information. To replace Evan Siddall, Ms. Romy Bowers has been appointed CEO of CMHC. CFAA has met with Romy, and enjoyed a very positive introductory discussion. CFAA looks forward to working with Romy and CMHC to improve the environment for rental housing across Canada.

This year The Home Depot is the Principal Tradeshow Partner, while YARDI is the Principal Presentation Partner. CFAA thanks both companies for their support, along with the other Tradeshow Exhibitors and Presentation Sponsors, as shown on pages 38 and 44. For a full listing of the Awards Winner and Finalists in CFAA Rental Housing Awards 2021, see pages 35 to 40. As a rental housing provider, now is the time to participate in CFAA’s Employee

8 | May/June 2021

John Dickie, CFAA President John Dickie, CFAA President

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 9

In this issue of... NATIONAL OUTLOOK 35. Find out the winners and finalists in CFAA Rental Housing Awards 2021. They include Rental Housing Provider of the Year, New Developments, Renovations, Employees, Marketing campaigns and Suppliers.

38. W ho exhibited at the CFAA Awards Presentation and Virtual Tradeshow? On an on-going basis, 24/7, you can visit their virtual booths to see what the exhibitors offer to make your business more successful!

40. W hat does the federal government have in mind in tax changes that would affect rental housing providers? What else does Budget 2021 have in store for our industry?

Compensation Survey 2021 - 2022

41. P articipate in the CFAA Employee Compensation survey, to optimize employee pay, satisfaction, motivation and retention, all of which drive earnings. Provide your compensation data, confidentially, by July 31, for a substantial discount on the survey reports!

To subscribe to CFAA’s e-Newsletter, please send your email address to communication@cfaa-fcapi.org.

The Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations represents the owners and managers of close to one million residential rental suites in Canada, through 11 apartment associations and direct landlord memberships across Canada. CFAA is the sole national organization representing the interests of Canada’s $525 billion rental housing industry. For more information about CFAA itself, see www.cfaa-fcapi.org or telephone 613-235-0101.

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CFAA Member Associations Eastern Ontario Landlord Organization (EOLO) www.eolo.ca P: 613-235-9792 Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) www.frpo.org P: 416-385-1100, 1-877-688-1960 Greater Toronto Apartment Association (GTAA) www.gtaaonline.com P: 416-385-3435 Hamilton & District Apartment Association (HDAA) www.hamiltonapartmentassociation.ca P: 905-632-4435 Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia (IPOANS) www.ipoans.ns.ca P: 902-425-3572 LandlordBC www.landlordbc.ca P: 1-604-733-9440 Vancouver Office P: 604-733-9440 Victoria Office P: 250-382-6324 London Property Management Association (LPMA) www.lpma.ca P: 519-672-6999 Manufactured Home Park Owners Alliance of British Columbia (MHPOA) www.mhpo.com P: 1-877-222-4560 Professional Property Managers’ Association (of Manitoba) (PPMA) www.ppmamanitoba.com P: 204-957-1224 Saskatchewan Landlord Association Inc. (SKLA) www.skla.ca P: 306-653-7149 Waterloo Regional Apartment Management Association (WRAMA) www.wrama.com P: 519-748-0703

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Are leasing agents a thing of the past? While COVID-19 and government restrictions led to the shutdown of a significant amount of business activity, the real estate industry continued to move forward. After all, current and prospective homeowners wanted to keep buying and selling homes. Renters also had to continue looking for places to live. Rental property owners had to keep running their businesses, maintaining their buildings, collecting rent, and filling empty units. Rental property owners and property managers also had to find new ways to market available units when they were no longer allowed to show rental units or properties in the traditional way. Implementing new methods to show units and properties, while keeping all parties safe during showings, helped them to keep filling units with new tenants throughout the pandemic. So did employing technology to support virtual viewings. However, the rental housing industry may never be the same, nor will the roles within it. When the world in general goes back to normal, will the practices of showing rental properties also return to pre-pandemic ways? Are traditional leasing agents a thing of the past, or will the position evolve? All we know for certain is that things will never be the same.

By David Gargaro

Government restrictions on showings Since the beginning of the pandemic, provincial and territorial governments have imposed various levels of restrictions on showing and viewing rental properties. This makes sense, of course, as having too many people going in and out of rental properties and units creates higher likelihood of exposure to COVID-19. In some cases, open houses have been banned outright during lockdowns, while some governments have implemented restrictions on in-person viewings and what rental property owners can do to fill vacancies. Nova Scotia’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing recently imposed new restrictions on in-person showings of rental properties. The Direction was made effective on May 21, 2021 and was set to last until June 30, 2021. Under this Direction, a rental property owner cannot conduct in-person showings of occupied residential units to either potential tenants or purchasers unless the owner gets the residential tenant’s consent (including the date and time of entry) and the owner complies with restrictions laid out by the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Public Health Order under the Health Protection Act. According to the Direction, the rental property owner may enter the unit with another person to take photos, videos or other similar representations of the unit to provide virtual showings. They must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ advance notice of the date and time of entry (provided it is during daylight hours), and they must comply with the restrictions described in the Public Health Order.

It should be noted that the Direction does not prevent rental property owners from entering residential units for other reasons (e.g., repairs, annual inspections). However, the owner is still required to provide notice to the tenant when showing their unit for rent (and for other reasons), as stated under the Residential Tenancies Act, and they must follow public health directives. Other provinces have taken similar measures. In British Columbia, a rental property owner is allowed to enter an occupied rental unit to show it to prospective tenants. They must provide the current tenant with proper notice in advance. Everyone entering the unit must wear protective masks, and the showing is limited to a maximum of six people, where space allows. The Ontario government also requires rental property owners to provide sufficient notice to tenants before showing the unit to potential tenants. Owners or property managers are allowed to do in-person showings, but the government recommends they limit in-person showings and prioritize alternatives where possible. Of course, the government also requires rental property owners to take all necessary precautions to make in-person showings as safe as possible. “COVID-19, in general, has affected the rental business and it has been a much slower pace with lockdown restrictions,” said Kim Hamelin, VP Operations, SWO & GTA West and Property Standards, Hazelview Properties. “We took on the challenge by adapting and taking a different approach, which has not hindered our ability to rent.”

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 15

Using technology to adapt Rental property owners have to continue running their businesses, which meant they had to find ways to market and show available units to prospective tenants. Prior to the pandemic, the real estate industry had been using photos and videos to show off properties for sale or rent. The restrictions on in-person showings helped to accelerate the adoption of existing strategies and tools, as well as promote new ideas and technologies. Just like other businesses, companies that work within the rental housing industry are using different technologies to support communications between parties in different places. They are using video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Meetings, and Google Hangouts to support meetings between leasing agents and prospective tenants, property managers and current tenants, employees and management, and between owners and service providers. Rental property owners are moving increasingly toward digital rent payment, as well as implementing other technology to support touchless interaction with tenants. Some rental property owners and property managers have initiated or expanded the use of digital technologies, such as 360-degree virtual tours, video walkthroughs, and online engagement platforms. They’ve also taken measures to increase safety for all parties involved, such as increasing the use of PPE and enforcing safe distancing between employees and potential tenants. Some companies have also set up systems to allow self-showing of units and model suites, with potential tenants making appointments to view units on their own.

Rental property owners are moving increasingly toward digital rent payment, as well as implementing other technology to support touchless interaction with tenants. “Because of our team’s ability to adapt, we have been able to continue our leasing activities,” said Vesna Anastasov, Director of Operations, MetCap Living Management. “Embracing new technologies, along with social media and increased digital ads, have greatly contributed

16 | May/June 2021

to our lead capture efforts. A combination of a creative marketing approach with the leasing staff following new procedures, even when they were drastically changed in a short period of time, have been key components to converting leads into customers.”

These technologies have benefited both rental property owners and people looking for homes, as it has allowed all parties to engage in the rental process in the safest manner possible. Some people are uncomfortable or unable to view rental properties in person. Virtual viewings and 3D walkthroughs gives them the ability to get the full experience from wherever they are. Reducing the amount of people traffic in occupied units has helped to protect property managers, tenants, and service providers from unnecessary exposure to other people. “Stagers have been unable to come on-site to stage rental units,” said Josh Glow, Managing Director, Gryd. “Our photo and 3D tour virtual staging has been a critical tool for leasing agents who need to lease a property in a short period of time with physical staging constraints. One positive thing that came out of the pandemic is that we have shown how simple the transition from physical to digital can be, and how much more efficient industry professionals can become by adopting property technology.”

Changing the business model Rental property owners and property managers are doing more than implementing new tools and technologies to show off available units. They’re changing how they do business across all parts of their operations. The pandemic-related challenges have resulted in innovations and adaptations that these businesses expect to make them stronger in the long run. “The pandemic has been challenging; however, it has given us the opportunity to innovate and continued on page 20

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What is a virtual leasing platform? Virtual video tours and 3D walkthroughs are one part of the virtual leasing experience. However, they are not the whole picture. To support your virtual leasing efforts, you can integrate these technologies within a virtual leasing platform. This will enable you to better manage your leasing efforts to create an end-to-end experience for potential tenants, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your overall leasing activities. A virtual leasing platform makes it possible to complete the lead to lease lifecycle entirely online, from marketing your properties to signing a lease. A complete solution means there’s just one source of data and one single sign on. Property managers don’t have to jump between different programs, spreadsheets, and files to find and save the information they need. “Adding leasing options, self-service applications, and virtual tours to your property websites makes it possible for prospects to start the leasing process from their devices right away,” said Peter Altobelli, VP of Sales, Yardi Canada. “They don’t have to wait for the next business day, giving your team the opportunity to market and lease your properties 24/7.” A virtual leasing platform enables you to execute more leases in less time, with complete online leasing and electronic signatures. Potential tenants have access to real-time unit availability and pricing, and you can include optional promo codes and mobile leasing options. The technology enables you to showcase your company with branded corporate and property websites managed from a single solution. Potential tenants can search for available units across all

18 | May/June 2021

properties and apply online. You can provide more detailed communications on multiple channels including email, text messaging, chatbots or voice messaging. “Potential tenants prefer to use virtual leasing platforms because it’s more convenient for their schedule to book tours outside of office hours,” said Altobelli. “They can tour at their own pace, and discuss the viewing freely with their partner or roommate.” Video showing and virtual tours provide property managers with the opportunity to deliver an enhanced customer experience with increased options to view units. More tours translate to a higher pool of prospective residents without increasing overhead. Property owners and managers can offer options such as a guided, selfguided or live video tour to bring prospects to the unit level and make properties readily available both during and after office hours. How you choose to implement self-guided tours might differ depending on your market and the technology available to you. In some cases, you may feel safe having a lockbox on a show unit and limiting tours to office hours. In others, you may want to create a “smart” show unit that allows you to verify a guest’s identity, adjust temperature and lighting, and issue a security code that’s valid for a set time range for the visitors to enter the unit. “The self-service approach creates great organic closing opportunities for prospects to return or follow-up with the leasing office during or after office hours,” said Altobelli. “And if done right, self-guided tours can be a boon to property leasing efforts.”

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adapt,” said Anastasov. “We have expanded our showing options, as well as digital lease signing and completion, which expedite the process with local prospects and are invaluable with international applicants.” For example, rental property owners are spending more time on collecting information on prospective and current tenants, inputting this data into their customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This has enabled them to record and track demographic data, as well as preferences, such as how prospective tenants want to interact with leasing agents, the types of properties that interest them, and what properties they’ve viewed. Rental property owners can use CRM data to improve their marketing efforts when trying to keep existing tenants in units, as well as to attract new tenants. The use of social media marketing has become more prevalent among rental property owners, as more people are online and more digitally connected than ever before. Some strategies that are becoming more prevalent include hosting rental unit showings on Facebook Live or Instagram TV. Instagram stories is a popular method for showing off different parts and features of rental properties. Many tenants like to be kept up to date via social media on what’s happening in their cities with respect to the coronavirus and other issues. Rental property owners can leverage these different platforms to get more traction and viewings with social media advertising.

The use of social media marketing has become more prevalent among rental property owners, as more people are online and more digitally connected than ever before. Methods for screening potential tenants have also changed. Given the desire to reduce the number of people visiting units, some rental property owners are requiring potential tenants to complete pre-screening before allowing them to tour the units. With so many people facing economic and financial challenges due to the pandemic, rental property owners and property managers are taking extra steps to ensure that potential tenants are financially capable of paying the rent.

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“Tenant screening is typically a lengthy process, and applicants generally want to see the unit before committing,” said Chad Guziewicz, CEO, Rentify. “Bank Check provides a report within a few minutes of an applicant connecting with their banking institution. Now landlords have a quick and easy way to screen tenants and make decisions about those applicants. Our report allows property owners to not only see the financial changes for these potential tenants but specifically look for and provide information on government income, payday loan activity, and previous rent payments.”

The post-pandemic rental housing landscape At some time in the future, the world will return to some type of normal. Rental property owners will be allowed to have open houses and in-person showings without as many health and safety restrictions. Tenants will be able to walk into units rather than view them through a computer or smartphone screen. However, will they want to do so?

Rental property owners and property managers are unlikely to return to the traditional ways of showing rental units. Rental property owners and property managers are unlikely to return to the traditional ways of showing rental units. The technological genie is out of the bottle. Many companies plan to continue or expand upon these offerings, providing digital viewing opportunities for potential tenants who want this option. Virtual tours and 3D walkthroughs have been successful, as has the implementation of a digital application process. “The future of the leasing market will go through a digital transformation aided by futuristic technology,” said Hamelin. “We will have to implement virtual touring on a larger and grander scale, especially on our online platforms. This will only enhance how we lease units in addition to our in-person platforms. We will accelerate our online application process platform, since we feel that people are more comfortable with digital interaction due to the pandemic. It may soon become the new norm as our prospects prefer that method more now.”

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The rental housing industry has had to overcome a lot of challenges to its business. Restrictions on showing units for rent, rent freezes, moratoriums on evictions, and other obstacles have created numerous economic challenges for rental property owners. Technology has enabled businesses to survive and thrive by creating efficiencies and offering solutions where they did not previously exist. When the world reopens, the technologies and practices are more likely to stay than not. “This industry is adaptable and innovative,” said Guziewicz. “We’ve embraced new ways of doing things, and the technological solutions needed to be remote and global were already developing. The changes were simply expedited because of COVID-19. Property owners have taken a lot of risks and losses during this unprecedented time and will move forward with caution. I believe pre-screening, virtual tours and other preliminary steps for renters will be refined and standard in the near future.”

The future of leasing agents The rental housing industry lost a lot of jobs during the pandemic, with women affected the most. There are many factors at play, such as the lockdowns, fewer people renting properties in urban centres, and companies cutting back on employees due to economic challenges. Technology has also played a role, as it has helped to increase efficiencies and make it easier to do more with fewer people. In some cases, technology removes the need for people entirely (e.g., self-serve kiosks), and those positions will never return. The rental housing industry – and real estate in general – is based on people serving people. It cannot be entirely automated and streamlined through technology. However, leasing agents and others in similar public-facing positions have had their positions reduced or changed during the pandemic. Many functions have been supplanted by technology. Are leasing agents a thing of the past? With the increase in online applications, virtual showings, and 3D walkthroughs, leasing agents will have less to do in these traditional parts of their duties. However, their involvement will often rely on what tenants want, as well as the services that rental property owners and property managers provide. Some people prefer speaking to other human beings when looking for a place to live.

22 | May/June 2021

The rental housing industry – and real estate in general – is based on people serving people. It cannot be entirely automated and streamlined through technology. “We will definitely retain our leasing agents,” said Hamelin. “We still feel that human interaction is key to providing best-in-class customer service and live showings will still be quite relevant. A lot of people like to see the unit they are renting instead of seeing pictures or videos online. The key is to create a fine balance between physical and digital conversations with your audience. Both are equally important to achieve your targets in the leasing and rental industry.” While leasing agents’ roles have changed, they can also evolve. When potential tenants go through virtual walkthroughs or watch videos on available units, they often have questions that only an informed professional can answer. Leasing agents can provide the human touch, answering potential tenants’ questions about the property manager, the neighbourhood, amenities, move-in dates, and other issues that might not be provided in a video. “Though we are now using virtual showings and online applications, our leasing agents are essential in completing the leasing process,” said Anastasov. “We believe that human interaction, even when it is at distance, is important to a prospect who is not just leasing an apartment but finding their new home.”

Conclusion Government lockdowns and restrictions on open houses and in-person viewings for rental properties created numerous operational and economic challenges for rental housing owners and property managers. Fortunately, they were able to implement existing and new technologies and procedures to continue showing rental units to potential tenants. When the world reopens to some semblance of normality, many traditional practices will remain in the past, although a hybrid model of showing rental properties will likely be the new normal.

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Rental housing associations look ahead to the rest of 2021 By David Gargaro

According to CMHC’s Housing Market Outlook for Spring 2021, rental demand is expected to recover when immigration returns to normal levels, and the labour market improves. However, vacancy rates are expected to remain higher than normal for some time, particularly in markets with high numbers of purpose-built rental developments coming onto the market. Bob Dugan, CMHC Chief Economist, believes that economic conditions “are expected to return to prepandemic levels by the end of 2023…” In this month’s issue, we asked those of our esteemed RENTT (Rental Executives National Think Tank) panellists who are leaders of rental housing associations across Canada to assess the industry amid the pandemic at the midpoint of 2021. They discussed what they project for the remainder of the year with respect to vacancy rates and rents, the impact of government mandates and incentives on the industry, and what industry members need for their businesses moving forward.

RENTT experts: • David Hutniak, CEO, LandlordBC • Donna Monkhouse, Executive Director, Alberta Residential Landlord Association (ARLA) • Cameron Choquette, CEO, Saskatchewan Landlord Association • Tina Novak, President, Hamilton & District Apartment Association (HDAA) • Shane Haskell, President, London Property Management Association (LPMA) • Kevin Russell, Executive Director, Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia (IPOANS) • John Dickie, President, Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations (CFAA) (We’d like to congratulation Tina Novak and Shane Haskell for their recent elections as presidents of their respective associations.)

RHB: Welcome to RHB Magazine’s RENTT panel. We appreciate the time and effort involved in participating in today’s discussion and sharing your experience. Our readers will benefit from your input. Today we’d like to take a look at what has happened over the past six months, as well as what to expect moving forward. What do you project for the rest of the year with respect to vacancy rates and rents? David Hutniak: With BC’s “restart” initiative

announced May 26, assuming the vaccine rollout continues as robustly as it is, and we do not experience any setbacks to the progress made in

24 | May/June 2021

terms of new case counts, we expect to move to something resembling a pre-pandemic market, which means vacancies in the 1 per cent and higher range by the end of the year.

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interest rates are low and they’ve saved money due to lockdowns and restrictions for down payments. This has created a lot of vacancies in a high vacancy rate market. We’ve seen vacancy rates as high as 15 per cent to 50 per cent in some parts of the province. Rents are being offset by increased incentives to attract tenants. We’re hopeful that in September, vacancies will make their way downward and there will be relief for landlords.

in-person classes, increased immigration, and a return to normal business, elevated vacancy rates should fall. In turn, that should strengthen rents in those areas.

Cameron Choquette: We are optimistic that

challenged because of the BC government’s extension of the rent increase freeze through to the end of 2021. However, we do not expect an extension of that measure into 2022, as the government is aware of the challenges our sector is experiencing with expenses increasing.

vacancy rates will stabilize at a more normal rate and rents will move upward, as we see the demand for rental units increase in major cities. Saskatchewan’s real estate market is hot, which has motivated sellers to cash in and turn to rentals for housing over the next year, while they wait for the market to cool down. These new renters have been keeping vacancy low in our province’s newer and more expensive rental units.

Tina Novak: Hamilton continues to struggle with affordable supply of rental units. There are not enough units in the city to keep up with demand. Prices will increase with a demand on limited stock. Just the other day, a local news broadcast reported that, on turnover, average rents in Hamilton have increased at the rate of 25 per cent. I see this trend continuing well into the end of this year and next.

Shane Haskell: In London, we anticipate

RHB: How have federal or provincial government mandates and incentives affected the rental housing industry in your region? David Hutniak: Unfortunately, revenues are

Donna Monkhouse: The Rent Assistance

Benefit just opened April 1, so it’s too new to tell how effective it will be. The program replaced the Direct to Tenant Rent Supplement, a longtime benefit that subsidized Albertans with low incomes. This new benefit will open affordable housing for people who have been waiting for it for a long time. A new Temporary Rent Assistance Benefit opened for applications. It will help other eligible tenants stabilize their situations and pay their rent. That benefit will help people get back on their feet and help the economy.

Cameron Choquette: The Government of

vacancy rates to continue to be at a historic low as the cost of purchasing a home is so high. The real estate market has seen a dramatic increase in the average home price over the past few years, driving many people out of homeownership. Market rents will stabilize as the price of purchasing stabilizes.

Saskatchewan recently passed amendments to our Residential Tenancies Act, which will reduce claim periods for applications and provide clarity for landlords and tenants. The Saskatchewan Housing Benefit has been expanded to increase engagement with low-income renters in our province, a change that is supported by our members.

Kevin Russell: In Halifax, we started seeing

Tina Novak: The federal government’s financial

softness in the market last September, and vacancy rates have risen since, going from 1.9 per cent to around 2.5 to 2.6 per cent. However, rental providers are well positioned for growth when normality returns. We expect to see inward migration increase and students returning to in-person classes. We should see vacancy rates return to pre-pandemic levels.

John Dickie: Vacancy rates vary between cities, and within some cities. The common factors are the impact of COVID-19 on rental demand, including an area’s economy, and reduced demand in the centres of large cities, and in areas serving universities and colleges that went to remote learning. With students going back to

26 | May/June 2021

support of development of housing has resulted in many cranes in the sky in Hamilton, and in plans for new developments. Many landlords have decided to place their residential rental stock up for sale due to the increased value of the housing for owner occupation. When a landlord removes a home from the rental inventory, that has a devastating trickle-down effect, including the displacement of lower rental rates and choices for tenants. Many small landlords are frustrated with government rules preventing them from increasing rents of currently occupied units, the moratorium on evictions, and the backlog of applications at the Landlord Tenant Board.

To experience all the interviews with the great women of our industry go to


continued from page 26

Shane Haskell: CERB has helped residents to

keep on top of their rent payments, and there are lower turnover costs as there are fewer moveouts. However, we’re seeing lower net rental income, as a zero per cent annual rent increase is in place for 2021. We have higher utility costs as more tenants stay at home. More tenants do not want to move out due to higher market rents, so it’s cheaper to stay put. LTB hearings are significantly delayed, and no eviction enforcements were allowed during the lockdowns.

Kevin Russell: There’s a 2 per cent rent cap in

place for tenants who renew, and the government might extend the cap. The cap does not cover expenses. We’re seeing dramatic increases in construction materials, maintenance expenses, and so on, and landlords are losing money or treading water. With rising property values and higher demand, smaller landlords are taking the opportunity to sell their properties. Purchasers are converting some to single-use dwellings, which is reducing the availability of rental properties.

John Dickie: Federal government relief

payments for COVID-19 supported rental housing demand and tenants’ ability to pay their rents, even though the relief was not targeted at rent payments. The negative government impact on rental housing providers has come from the rent freezes and eviction moratoria imposed in different provinces for different periods of time. In Ontario, the Landlord and Tenant Board was seriously backed up when COVID-19 struck, but the Board is now reducing its backlog, and processing applications less slowly than it was.

RHB: What do your members need to move forward and return to normal? David Hutniak: We’d like increased certainty in

terms of revenue so that we can make investment decisions in terms of capex expenditures for existing rental and the construction of new purpose-built rental (PBR). This means no more rent increase freezes. Also of assistance would be the introduction of the promised Additional Rent Increase process this summer, which was originally promised in early 2019.

Donna Monkhouse: We need people to start

renting again. Our costs of running buildings did not stop and there was no relief for the rental industry from any levels of government. Any reductions in costs would be welcome. We still need staff to clean and maintain the buildings and

28 | May/June 2021

we still have to pay utilities. We need the economy to recover so we can get more tenants and reduce the vacancy rates. Getting students back to school and people back to work will help boost the economy and get more tenants in buildings.

Cameron Choquette: Our members need the

new income assistance program in Saskatchewan to be amended to allow for direct payment to landlords. We’re proud to provide housing to low-income families, but we need the support of our government to provide stable housing with consistent rent payments.

Tina Novak: We operate for-profit businesses.

While housing is an essential need, so is food, but governments do not dictate to grocery stores how much they can charge for the food they sell, and yet they tell us how much we can increase our rent and when we can increase it. No sensible rental housing provider is going to do put their investment at risk by outpricing their building in the market, or operating a dirty or unsafe building that no one wants to live in. Empty buildings do not make money. Sound businesses decisions make this all happen, not continued bureaucracy that makes being a housing provider very frustrating.

Shane Haskell: The future will never be what

we considered normal previously. It will be a combination of what we once knew, what we’ve learned, and what we will continue to learn, as we adapt to the new way of operating. Members should have plans in place for potential future pandemics, lockdowns, recovery, and revitalization.

Kevin Russell: Getting rid of the temporary 2

per cent rent cap will return some enthusiasm for the rental market. Ending the shutdown will also help to reopen the economy and help to remove uncertainty from the market.

John Dickie: Rental housing providers need

several provincial governments to allow their rent freezes to expire when each government has said they will end. New limits on rent increases need to be removed, and not re-imposed. A return to in-person shopping, personal services, and dining out would also restore the incomes of many service workers, who are struggling financially. Those changes would take us all as close to normal as we will be able to get.

RHB: Thank you for your input.

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The Path to Urban Multifamily Recovery David Montressor, Executive Vice President

One of CBRE’s principal research themes for 2021 is the path to urban multifamily’s recovery. As Canada’s vaccine rollout progresses, many in the rental housing industry are looking for indications of a recovery in downtown rents and occupancy. While Canada catches up to other major countries in terms of restrictions on businesses and travel, we expect rental markets to resume their previous upward trajectories in line with what we are seeing in other markets internationally. With this in mind, one can look to the U.S. as a proxy for the impact of the economy reopening on the rental market. Market fundamentals of urban submarkets, especially high-end core submarkets in dense cities, were impacted the most severely from COVID-19 and the 2020 recession. Rental rates fell significantly in 2020 and remained subdued in early 2021. This year has already brought improvement in the U.S.’s urban core performance and offers the promise of much more significant gains in the coming months. CBRE firmly believes that investment in urban core assets represents one of the best investment strategies for 2021. For investment, questions revolve around the timing and pace of market recovery for each market, submarket, and asset. Rent trends have turned positive in nearly all markets as documented by this report. So, from here the questions are: How quickly will the recovery progress? How quickly will property revenues grow?

Market Status % of Surveyed Submarkets

The most powerful finding of our analysis is that effective rents are trending up in nearly all (89%) of the submarkets analyzed. Only four submarkets (11%) were more or less stable and none (0%) continued to show downward movement. Highlights from the report show that select U.S. metros have fully recovered to pre-COVID-19 rents since reopening and several are on pace to follow suit. Downtown Austin and Miami’s Downtown/South Beach submarkets were the first submarkets to exceed pre-COVID-19 rents. Houston’s West University/Medical Center/Third Ward and Miami’s Coral Gables/South Miami submarkets will likely surpass pre-COVID-19 rents by the end of June. Concessions have proven more difficult to unwind. The percentage of units offering concessions dropped (improved) in 44% of U.S. submarkets. However, concessions were more prevalent (deteriorating) in 28%, likely due to increased marketing efforts for the start of the spring leasing season. On average, in the 36 submarkets analyzed, concessions were still being offered on 34.9% of units. For access to the report and current market data, please reach out to CBRE Research or a member of CBRE’s National Apartment Group.




Effective Rents




% Properties Offering Concessions




Source: CBRE Research, RealPage, May 2021. Trends reflect past two months. Summary of 36 urban submarkets in 15 metros: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Seattle, Washington, D.C.

30 | May/June 2021

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Silver linings during the pandemic A view of the rental housing industry from the CFAA Operations Roundtable

By David Gargaro CFAA held its Virtual Rental Housing Conference from April 22 to June 17, including education sessions, networking events, awards presentations, and a tradeshow with virtual booths. On May 13, CFAA hosted the Operations Roundtable, a panel discussion among four members of the rental housing industry, moderated by John Dickie, President of CFAA. The panelists discussed rent collection, operations during the third wave of COVID-19, what has worked well or improved during the pandemic, gender equity in the industry, and rising insurance rates.

Rent collection Even though the panelists manage properties in different parts of Canada, they all found rent levels and rent collections were in good shape and comparable to pre-pandemic levels. Of course, there were variations in vacancy rates and challenges due to eviction freezes, but their respective situations were relatively solid moving forward. Moving to electronic rent collection helped to ensure timely payment from tenants. Trish MacPherson, Partner at Alignvest Student Housing REIT, offered a different perspective as she focused on student housing. Although colleges and universities had moved to online learning and there were fewer international students, she said the student housing market was still strong. Since students sign leases months in advance of needing the units, many had signed before the pandemic struck and occupancy rates remained high. The widespread use of guarantors supported rent collection. In 2021, leasing is being pushed later into the year than usual, as there is uncertainty about when students will return to inperson learning.

Managing under COVID-19, including working from home All the panelists found managing the changing rules during the pandemic to be challenging, particularly for rental providers operating in multiple provinces and municipalities. Ruth Buckle, Senior Vice President of Property Management at Killam Apartment REIT, said they had implemented stricter rules as the restrictions increased early on. However, they saw a need to reopen when it becomes possible so they can provide the services that tenants expect.

32 | May/June 2021

The panelists acknowledged that management and employees were dealing with COVID-19 fatigue. They also recognized the effectiveness of enabling employees to work from home. They recommended developing best practices to support remote work and providing opportunities for managers to have in-person time with employees, albeit with physical distancing. Brandi McIlvenny, Director of Residential Rentals at Sifton Properties, suggested creating clarity and ensuring transparency around remote work and working from home. Her company allowed employees to design work schedules based on their lifestyle, allowing more inclusivity for parents. McIlvenny also acknowledged the need to recognize and support mental health while working from home during a pandemic. For example, Sifton provides wellness supports, opportunities for one-on-one counselling sessions, and Zoom sessions to help support employee resiliency and break down the negative connotations around mental health.

Silver linings The panelists identified a number of positive outcomes from being forced to change how they do business during the pandemic. While realizing the benefits associated with employees working remotely, they identified ways to reduce expenses and increase engagement with employees and tenants. McIlvenny mentioned that newsletters were seeing higher open rates, as more tenants were working from home, and there was higher participation in contests and on Sifton’s YouTube channel. Dean Holmes, Senior Vice President of Residential Operations with Quadreal, stated that the company has increased its usage of electronic rent collection, which has resulted in a higher percentage of tenants paying their rent on time. Their system also sends push notifications to tenants about what is going on in their building. On the management side, Quadreal is scanning cheques for deposit rather than taking them to the bank. Also, just before the pandemic struck, Quadreal had ordered electronic parcel lockers that enable tenants to manage their own deliveries without needing staff involvement.

Gender equity and diversity All the panelists were pleased that CFAA raised the issue of gender equity and diversity, and that it was receiving more regular attention. They stated that women are generally well represented within their organizations and across the rental housing industry. McIlvenny suggested that there is room to improve, particularly in elevating women to senior levels, ensuring equal work for equal pay, and providing transparency in pay structure. Buckle added that more work needs to be done to get women involved in the trades. She stated that Killam is working with the YWCA, with support from federal grants, to help create courses to train women in various trades and to educate male supervisors in issues that can arise. McIlvenny suggested getting feedback from employees to help refine business practices. She noted that the pandemic has disrupted workplaces and people’s lives. In the economy as a whole, the pandemic has eroded gender equality, as women have lost a higher percentage of jobs than men. However, McIlvenny believes there is an opportunity to reimagine the workplace and strengthen gender diversity and equity.

Rising insurance rates The roundtable wrapped up with a discussion of sharply increasing insurance rates. The panelists noted they’ve been seeing doubledigit percentage increases in new and renewing insurance rates. In some cases, insurance

companies were not willing to provide coverage for new properties being brought into rental providers’ portfolios. Buckle described a number of strategies for mitigating increases in insurance rates. She suggested creating a risk management and prevention program to reduce insurance risks in rental properties. This includes following up on events to prevent future occurrences, such as putting guards around building sprinklers to prevent them from being struck when items are carried through hallways or garbage rooms. Building owners should work with insurance providers to determine where savings can be found, such as increasing deductibles where it makes sense. Buckle also recommended being proactive in conversations with insurance providers to explain why you are a good risk. She noted that Killam’s buildings have high participation rates for tenant insurance, which means the tenants’ insurer (rather than the building owner’s insurer) pays for suite fires and other tenant-caused incidents, which are the bulk of claims. Killam inspects all units every six months, so they can identify and address plumbing issues, fire hazards, and other insurance risks. CFAA will be posting Killam’s detailed list of insurance tips. Access to the recordings of the roundtable, and CFAA’s other recent education panels, is available at www.CFAA-FCAPI.org.

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CFAA Rental Housing Awards 2021 – Winners and Finalists The Annual CFAA Rental Housing Awards recognize excellence among rental housing providers, employees and suppliers across Canada. Congratulations to all the finalists and winners of the CFAA Rental Housing Awards 2021! All the winners and finalists are great rental housing providers, employees and suppliers. CFAA thanks the judges, everyone who entered the Awards Program, and the Awards Presentation sponsors. This program could not take place without your interest and support.

Rental Housing Provider of the Year This award recognizes a rental housing provider which has demonstrated exceptional leadership in the rental housing industry through an action, exceptional practice or a dedicated initiative. Each finalist is a great rental housing provider! Rental Housing Provider of the Year – Over 15,000 Units


Hazelview Properties Hazelview Properties is leading by example with a holistic approach to community support and engagement. They have created a program to support rent payment, food provisions and mental health for their residents. Hazelview’s commitment to care truly shone through!


Greenwin Corp. Skyline Living

Rental Housing Provider of the Year – Under 15,000 Units


Drewlo Holdings Drewlo’s unique rent-to-own program is a creative solution to the challenges renters face when seeking to transition to home ownership, and it rewards tenants for their loyalty. It is a Win-Win for Drewlo and Drewlo’s residents amid the current housing market!


Greenrock Real Estate Advisors Greenrock thoughtfully created a tenant support program that overturns many of the “standards” in property management, by retracting some AGI’s and using LMR towards current rent payment. All to support their residents in the midst of the pandemic. A very creative solution!


Hollyburn Properties Limited X Living

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 35

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NATIONAL OUTLOOK Rental Housing Supplier Awards Suppliers Council Member of the Year


Wyse Meter Solutions Wyse’s full cycle approach, ensuring the benefits of their actions are experienced by all stakeholders including not only the Wyse corporation, but also residents, rental housing providers, their employees, and the environment. The triple bottom line focus demonstrates how WYSE leads, with People, Planet, and Profit at the core of their strategy, while taking into account all stakeholders. Wyse’s industryspecific focus sets Wyse apart from the competition, demonstrating what leaders in our industry can achieve for the benefit of many parties.


ZipSure Insurance Brokers Ltd.

New Product or Service of the Year


Wyse Renovation Water Submetering Solution by Wyse Meter Solutions The sophistication of the Wyse Renovation Water Submetering Solution demonstrates WYSE’s ability to take ground-breaking technology and apply it to innovative uses in the utility/expense reduction space.


Customer-facing digital user interface and expanded insurance product offerings by ZipSure Insurance Brokers Ltd.

New App of the Year


SuiteSpot TRIMM™ Enhanced Property Operations Package by SuiteSpot Technology SuiteSpot’s TRIMM™ Enhanced Property Operations Package is a bold new addition to the mix of disruptive apps entering the apartment management space. Its easyto-use interface and multilingual platform are a welcome nod to the increasingly diverse demographics served by Canada’s rental housing industry.


Coinamatic CP Mobile App by Coinamatic Canada Grydpark by Gryd

Best Product or Service (2018-2020)


Wyse Renovation Water Submetering Solution by Wyse Meter Solutions With sustainability in mind, utility use and analysis is top of mind now more than ever. Wyse Meter Solution offers flexible contracts across Canada that include financial reporting and assessment data that is easy for landlords to use.


Inspector App by Property Vista

Association Award Association Achievement of the Year


COVID-19 Response by LandlordBC The LandlordBC campaign looked at education and public interest over revenues for LandlordBC. Allowing free access to education programs, for all BC rental housing providers, will serve to improve the quality of property management in the short term and the long term. In addition, LandlordBC’s work with legal professionals to help landlords and tenants is not only a business solution, but also a positive public relations move. CFAA congratulates LandlordBC for creating this wide-ranging and far-reaching program.


Influencing Government Policymaking by the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia Campaign to end eviction suspension in Saskatchewan by the Saskatchewan Landlord Association

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 37


Check out CFAA’s Sponsor Tradeshow Booths and see what the sponsors have to offer you and your company.

View the tradeshow booths at www.cfaa-fcapi.org. CFAA only shares your contact information with your explicit consent. To share your information with the sponsors, fill out the contact form in the top right corner of the booth.


38 | May/June 2021

NATIONAL OUTLOOK Marketing Awards Marketing Program Excellence of the Year – Community Engagement


#GreenwinIsStillHome by Greenwin Corp.


Virtually Anything by Deveraux Group of Companies Rent.Save.Own by Drewlo Holdings

Marketing Program Excellence of the Year – Lease-Up


250 Oakland Avenue by BlueStone Properties Inc.


Black Friday Event by CAPREIT


Hollyburn Gardens by Hollyburn Properties Limited Carrington View Apartments by Skyline Living

Rental Development Awards Renovation of the Year – Building or Exterior


Arts Residences by Hazelview Properties


71 Thorncliffe Park Drive by Starlight Investments Seaside Plaza by Hollyburn Properties Limited

Renovation of the Year – Common Area


The Westminster by Southwest Properties


35 Greenbrae Circuit by Starlight Investments The Torontonian by Shiplake Properties

Renovation of the Year – Unit


Seacrest Apartments by Starlight Investments


2010 St. Johns Street by CAPREIT 21 Parkland Drive by Killam Apartment REIT

Rental Development of the Year – Low-Rise


Gateway Towns by North Prairie Developments Ltd.


Luna at Aurora by Deveraux Group of Companies Hollyburn Gardens by Hollyburn Properties Limited

Rental Development of the Year – Mid/High-Rise


The Lonsdale by Hollyburn Properties Limited Lillian Park by Shiplake Properties


Viridian West Fourteenth by BentallGreenOak (Canada) GP Ltd. Helio by Sifton Properties

The Lonsdale

Lillian Park

To see what the judges said about the winners on this page and the next page, check out www.cfaafcapi.org. To find out more about CFAA’s Awards Program, how to enter for 2022, or to volunteer as an awards judge, please email awards@cfaa-fcapi.org.

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 39

MAY/JUNE 2021 Employee Awards Resident Manager of the Year


Alex Falcon, Superintendent at Greenrock


Maria Moreira of Hazelview Properties Rose Sekaric of Greenwin Corp. and Hanard Investments Ltd.

Alex Falcon – Greenrock

On-Site Employee of the Year


Alex Bjork, Leasing and Customer Service Supervisor at Deveraux Group of Companies


Grace Evans of CAPREIT Susan Pribicevic of Greenwin Corp. Robin Taylor of Killam Apartment REIT

Alex Bjork – Deveraux Group of Companies

Property Manager of the Year


Karolina Bagienski, Property Manager at Skyline Living


Marc Blanchard of CAPREIT Marlene Wilson of Killam Apartment REIT

Karolina Bagienski – Skyline Living

Off-Site Employee of the Year


Kevin McIntosh, Revenue Management Supervisor at Skyline Living


Donna Leblond of Sifton Properties Heather Yamasaki of BentallGreenOak (Canada) GP Ltd.

Kevin McIntosh – Skyline Living

Rental/Operations Manager of the Year


Shelly Poulin, Senior Director of National Operations at Hazelview Properties


Anuradha Bandara of CAPREIT Laurissa Janssen of Deveraux Group of Companies

Federal political issues, including Budget 2021

Shelly Poulin – Hazelview Properties

Federal Budget 2021 did not contain many surprizes for rental housing providers. There were no big moves on housing policy, and no broad increases in taxes. At a recent CFAA event, CIBC World Markets Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal reported that governments do not pay off their debts; instead, they roll the debt over until economic growth and inflation render the debt minimal. Therefore, he is not worried that there will be any broad increases in taxes. He did say that there might be an increase in taxes on shortterm holdings of shares. One issue which has returned is the issue of an interest deductibility limitation (IDL). That issue was initiated in response to a recommendation from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (the “OECD”) to prevent tax rate shopping through tax base erosion (i.e. moving income to low-tax jurisdictions, like the Bahamas). As announced in Budget 2021, the new rule would limit the amount of net interest expense that a corporation may deduct in computing its taxable income to no more than 30% of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), and to 40% for a transition year. Interest denied under the rule could be carried forward for up to twenty years or back for up to three years. The transition year would be the taxation year beginning on or after January 1, 2023, but before January 1, 2024. The 30% rule would apply for taxation years beginning on or after January 1, 2024. The new rule would apply to trusts and partnerships as well as to corporations, but would not apply to Canadian-controlled private corporations which, together with any associated corporations, have taxable

40 | May/June 2021

NATIONAL OUTLOOK capital employed in Canada of less than $15 million. In Budget 2021, a key government statement was “Relief will be provided for small businesses and for other situations that do not represent significant tax base erosion risks.” Rental housing providers do not pay a lot of interest to shift taxes between jurisdictions; instead, we pay a lot of interest because of the high capital cost to construct or buy buildings, and the fact that the use of the property is a major part of what a tenant rents, while the cost to operate a building and service the tenants is relatively modest. CFAA is reaching out to ensure that the situation of rental housing is well known, so that appropriate provisions are made, such as an exemption for rental housing, or a special higher limit on interest deductibility. The U.S. has a special rule for real estate to limit the effect of its IDL rules.

Other issues Budget 2021 also promised loans would be available to homeowners and landlords who undertake energy saving retrofits. CFAA is reaching out to the government to seek program designs that work for for-profit rental housing providers of all sizes. Budget 2021 included numerous measures to promote non-profit and other community housing. There is also to be an additional $315.4 million over seven years to increase direct financial assistance for low-income women and children fleeing violence to help with their rent payments, through the Canada Housing Benefit. The Canada Housing Benefit came into being due to CFAA’s work several years ago. It relies on provincial participation in both funding and design, and is now being rolled out in each province. CMHC CEO Evan Siddall has stepped down. He has been replaced as CEO by Romy Bowers. CFAA met with her on May 17 to discuss CMHC’s direction. We look forward to closer contact with CMHC going forward. In the last issue, we reported that CMHC was going to be doing a survey of rental providers actions with reference to race in June. That survey is being re-designed, and will likely come out in the Fall. CFAA is part of the Research Advisory Committee working on the survey.

CFAA Rental Housing Compensation Survey 2021-2022 Canada’s only compensation and benefits survey specific to rental housing. Provide your data by July 31 for a substantial discount on the survey report(s) you need (nation-wide, region or city). Find out about changes the rental housing industry is making in working from home policies, and the plans for removing COVID-19 incentives.


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RHB’s forum for rental housing associations to share news, events and industry information

Hot Topics: WRAMA reports on changes affecting its membership, such as updates to the platform, benefits, and events. pg. 45 EOLO reports on the City of Ottawa’s new requirements for landlords, namely information packages for tenants, recording and managing tenants’ service requests, and a tenant support registry. pg. 49 HDAA reports on the COVID-19 updates for Hamilton, what’s happening with the LRT, and by-law updates. pg. 53 LPMA discusses financial resources for tenants and the legal issues around arranging for tenants to cut grass or clear snow for a discount on their rent. pg. 57

The Member Associations

From April 22-June 17, CFAA hosted 5 education presentations, as part of CFAA-VRHC 2021: Benjamin Tal ♦ Operations Roundtable ♦ Property Management Software (front line and back office) ♦ Utility Metering for ESG ♦ Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Rental Housing CFAA thanks all the speakers who made the presentations possible. Samyukta (Sam) Amin Yardi

Dean Holmes Quadreal

Asquith Allen FRPO

Joanna Jackson Minto Properties

Ryan Bekar Yardi Energy

Kerri Jackson Concert Properties

Ruth Buckle Killam Apartment REIT

David Janowski Payquad

Anthony Fallone Quadreal

Trish MacPherson Alignvest Student Housing Colleen McCarville Killam Apartment REIT Brandi McIlvenny Sifton Properties Peter Mills Wyse Meter Solutions

Richard Robins Property Vista Benjamin Tal CIBC World Markets Wayne Tuck Yardi Krish Vadivale Skyline Group of Companies



PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE As we move into the summer months, we continue to see brighter signs that we are closer to coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will no doubt raise more questions than answers as we get back to enforcing evictions and dealing with the backlog at the Landlord and Tenant Board. There will be many areas to watch and this is likely one that will be a part of many conversations in the coming months. Thank you to all who were able to make our virtual April and May Members meetings. We continue to try bringing relevant topics that are current in the market to help inform you, the landlord / property manager. I’ve highlighted the meetings later in this article and the videos are available to view on the website. As many of you are aware, the real estate market is on fire. We have all seen the stories in the media, or heard through our circles, about the shortage of supply causing some transactions in the residential market to go for far above the asking price.

James Craig

Since the new year, the multi-family market has started to act in a similar fashion. During that time, several properties have come to market that have attracted well over 50 showings ahead of a bid deadline. There have been multiple offers in many of these sales, with some properties garnering over 25 bids. This shows the strong demand from buyers in a market where there are not many buildings for sale. Price per unit and capitalization rates have adjusted accordingly, as values are pushing to new heights. A recent analysis of buildings from 5-25 units shows that net capitalization rates have averaged about 3.5 per cent since the beginning of the new year. The lowest cap rate year-to-date was just under 3 per cent. Price per units averaged just under $210,000, with the highest paid just over $270,000 per unit (for a 6-plex). With the market changing so fast, ensure you have engaged with an agent with the experience to sell multi-family properties, should you have an interest in selling. A reputable broker will have a marketing plan to show your property in its best light and to achieve the highest price in the market. Now is not the time to do an off-market deal, as you may be leaving money on the table.

- James Craig, WRAMA President president@wrama.com

Renewal update As you all know, we switched our membership platform last year to Membee in an effort to gain better control of many aspects of operating an association. As with any switch, there are always growing pains. This has certainly been the case for some members more recently. A number of members who paid by cheque had their membership either suspended or removed as WRAMA had not yet processed the cheque. If you sent us a cheque for your renewal, please reach out and let us know to watch for it. We will then know to keep your account active. By way of background information, when you renew your membership online, your membership profile is immediately updated to reflect that you

paid your e-billing invoice. This is the preferred method to renew your membership, as paying with a cheque is a manual process that could take weeks to finalize. Moving forward, I encourage you to renew through the website using our e-billing invoices system and refrain from using personal cheques to pay for your membership, if at all possible. Our goal is to streamline this process so it doesn’t cause issues in the future or disrupt your membership. Your assistance through this process is greatly appreciated. Should you need assistance with your account, please contact us at membership@wrama.com.

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Associate membership As a benefit of our overall membership, we have included an online directory of associate members. The idea is for members to have somewhere to look should they need a last-minute plumbing repair or have an unexpected roof leak. This can be accessed in the Members Only area of the WRAMA website. As an associate member, you have the ability to add more information to your profile to ensure it shows you in the best light to other members. It’s also a good idea to routinely check your listing to ensure contact information, picture, and other information you wish to include are relevant and up to date. You also have the ability to offer special discounts to WRAMA members through the directory. Please login to your WRAMA account and view your profile to ensure it is correct and displayed properly. If you do not see it, please let us know so we can correct it. Should you need assistance setting up your profile, please reach out to membership@wrama.com.

April’s Members event

Our April Members meeting featured Stephanie Farenhorst from Landlord Credit Bureau (LCB). She provided an overview of the services provided by LCB, which was followed by a good fireside chat about questions that new landlords have relating to their program. LCB provides a service in which the landlord reports good (and bad) rental payment history to LCB, which accepts signups from tenants. While there are many benefits to this service, the primary benefit is the tenant’s ability to establish a healthy rent payment history score. It is not always possible for renters to separate their rent payment from timely payment of other bills. In turn, it provides a greater likelihood that the tenant will pay their rent on time. LCB is focused on increasing revenues for landlords, rewarding responsible tenants, and reducing risk for both parties. LCB has operated since 2012, and serves landlords (and tenants) in Canada and the United States. The company serves large and small landlords with a plan that fits all types of budgets. Its web-based platform is easy to navigate and to use to monitor your portfolio regardless of its size. If you have not heard of this service, I encourage you to review the video from the meeting for more information. You can reach Stephanie for more information by email at sfarenhorst@landlordcreditbureau.com.

May’s Members event On May 12, WRAMA hosted David DeVries from Antec Appraisers, who provided an overview of the appraisal process, who would need an appraisal, and how the market has changed in a short period of time. It was a great conversation about many of the pitfalls of the process, and involved great questions from the members.

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David walked us through the process of having an appraisal completed. The process includes a site tour of the property, as well as detailed financials for the past three years, any capital work that has been completed in the past 10 years, and any other recent reports completed (e.g., environmental, building condition). The financial information was by far the most important for an apartment appraisal, as most are completed using the income approach to value. Having accurate and up-to-date financials will help show the property’s value in a better light.

and superintendent costs, and repairs and maintenance. These line items need to be included in your appraisal regardless of whether you are paying these expenses. David indicated that this is done to have all appraisals on the same baseline as other properties. If you are having the appraisal done to get financing, your lender’s underwriter will also include these items as part of the review. The conversation also touched on the current market for a few different asset classes. Industrial and multi-family are two classes that are currently at all-time highs. Values are still being pushed in the current market. Values have increased significantly over the past six months and are likely to continue for some time yet. If you missed the meeting and have questions for David, you can reach him at ddevries@ antecappraisals.com. You can also check out our website for the meeting video at www.wrama.com in the Members Only section.

The discussion also included who would need an appraisal. For most, it is for the purposes of financing (either a purchase or refinancing). However, an appraisal can also be required for matrimonial reasons, for an expropriation or for value reporting purposes (some REITs value their properties on an annual basis). The common pitfalls or areas most disputed through the process of an appraisal include vacancy/bad debt, management

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Summer break As we move into the summer months, the Board has decided to hold our last meeting in June before a summer break. Historically, WRAMA has taken a summer break from our in-person meetings after the May meeting; this year we have decided to extend the meetings into June. We wish all WRAMA members a great summer break and look forward to welcoming you back to our expert panel in September.

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Chair’s message Two years ago, ACORN and some “progressive” City Councilors pushed hard for landlord licensing. Other Ontario cities have landlord licensing (or registration), which requires City inspections, an application to get a license, a lot of paperwork and records, and an annual fee for each rental unit. EOLO prevented licensing from being adopted, so we do not need to pay the City any fees to rent homes to tenants. However, the City still felt some new requirements were needed, and enacted the Rental Housing Property Management By-law. The by-law will come into force on August 31, 2021, three months from now. The new rules seek to avoid and solve the problems caused by miscommunication between tenants and landlords. Most landlords give much of the required information to tenants now, and most landlords keep most of the required records now. However, the by-law will add to all residential landlords’ administrative obligations. - John Dickie, EOLO Chair

The City of Ottawa’s new requirements for residential landlords This article describes the City of Ottawa’s new requirements for residential landlords that apply in addition to those described in the last issue.

Information package for tenants The by-law requires all residential landlords to provide an information package to their tenants. For many landlords, the information contained in the package is already being provided. For the most part, the new requirement is about providing the information in a single package. Contact information The information package must include the landlord’s, or property manager’s, contact information. That includes a name, a mailing address, a telephone number, and at least one method of sending text electronically (e.g., by email, text messaging, through a Portal). There must also be instructions on how a tenant may follow up previously submitted tenant service requests, and on how tenants may report unresolved issues to the City of Ottawa. If the contact information changes, an update must be provided to the tenants in advance, or within 24 hours following the change.

When a property manager is listed as the point of contact, the property manager is required to maintain current contact information for the property owner. On the request of a by-law officer, the property manager must provide the owner’s contact information. Safety, cleaning, and maintenance The information package must include information about fire safety, including the location of any fire safety equipment in the dwelling unit; and a specific statement about fire safety, available in the by-law or on the City’s website. The information package must include a schedule for cleaning and maintenance tasks to be undertaken by the landlord, such as cleaning of interior and exterior common areas, snow clearing, or lawn care. Landlords may wish to use the phrase “as needed”, as in “the landlord will cut the grass weekly, or as needed.” Note that this is NOT meant to include the building systems maintenance work (e.g. water pumps, boilers).With regard to waste and recycling, the information package must state who is responsible for placing items out for curbside collection, including the removal of empty collection containers;

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the location and use of onsite waste storage areas; and any site-specific instructions concerning disposal of household waste, recycling, compostable waste, yard waste, large items, and hazardous or prohibited materials. If the tenant is responsible for curbside collection, the information must include the collection schedule, and how to acquire replacement blue, black, or green bins for the rental unit (e.g., calling 311, online at Service Ottawa). Parking Where applicable, the information package must include the assignment of designated parking space(s) for the rental unit; instructions for on-site guest parking; contact information for any private parking enforcement agency; and where either tenant OR guest parking is NOT provided on site, instructions to review on-street parking information available on the City of Ottawa website. Landlords can tell tenants to go to https://ottawa.ca/en/parking-roads-andtravel/parking/regulations-and-restrictions. Signatures The package must contain a signature block for the tenant to acknowledge receipt of the package, including the tenant’s printed name, the tenant’s signature, and the date of the signature. For new tenants, landlords are required to include the package in the lease package, and to obtain the tenant’s acknowledgement signature when they sign the lease (and get the keys). For existing tenants, landlords have until November 30, 2021 to deliver the information package (one per door). For the duration of the pandemic, the package can be delivered by hand (seeking a signature), by email, by courier or by registered mail. If delivering the package after the pandemic is over, a landlord is to seek a tenant’s signature through delivery by hand; if the tenant refuses, then the landlord can use another means to deliver the package.

Recording and managing tenant service requests General tenant service requests The by-law requires landlords to have a procedure for managing tenant service requests, which includes a means of receiving written, verbal, AND electronic text requests for service from tenants. There must also be a procedure and criteria to assess incoming service requests and identify urgent issues, as well as a procedure to check if the tenant has registered a need for assistance in the tenant support registry. The landlord must keep a record of all tenant service requests. That record must include: a) The date and time the tenant service request was made b) T he address to which the tenant service request relates, including the unit number c) The contact information provided by the tenant d) A description of the issue, as reported by the tenant e) A n evaluation of the urgency of the tenant service request f) A record of actions taken to address the tenant service request g) A record of the outcome of the tenant service request h) T he date and method by which the tenant was notified of the resolution of their tenant service request

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Tenants are to make service requests to the landlord or property manager as set out in the information package for tenants. If requested by the tenant when the tenant requests service, the landlord shall provide a written record of the tenant’s request (and the information in points a) to h) above) to the tenant within 30 days. On request, the landlord is to provide a record of a tenant’s service request to a by-law officer. The City website is to provide a template tenant service request form which landlords can use. Urgent and non-urgent tenant service requests Landlords are required to respond to urgent requests within 24 hours, while for nonurgent requests the time limit is seven days. “Responding” means beginning to address the problem; it does not mean the problem must be solved. Many landlords treat issues more quickly than the by-law requires. Urgent tenant requests include a loss or interruption of vital services (hot or cold water, electricity, or fuel for heat unless the tenant is responsible for that); security concerns; problems with accessibility features and equipment; and any issues that can reasonably be expected to make a unit uninhabitable. The by-law considers all other service requests to be non-urgent. Many landlords treat more issues as urgent than the by-law requires.

Tenant support registry Finally, landlords are required to maintain a tenant support registry. The registry needs to be separate from the repair request records (e.g., in a different Excel file). The registry is meant to keep a record of requests under the Human Rights Code and the Fire Code. It is NOT meant to change the existing substantive law about “accommodation” under the Human Rights Code and the Fire Code.

The information package must provide information regarding the existence and purpose of the tenant support registry; the manner in which a tenant may request to be added to, or removed from, the registry; and a specific statement available on the City’s website. Entries in the registry must include the tenant’s name and unit number, a description of the assistance the tenant requested, and a description of the assistance the landlord has agreed to provide. Tenants may voluntarily self-identify to the landlord as needing assistance for issues concerning evacuation from an apartment building, periods when a vital service is disrupted; pest control preparation, assistance understanding documents due to cognitive or developmental disability, or language or communication barriers, or any other concern that may require landlord accommodation under the Ontario Human Rights Code, or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Landlords must remove information about a tenant from the registry when requested by the tenant, and upon termination of occupancy by the tenant. Landlords would be well advised to keep removed information in a separate file for at least two years. Landlords are also required to present their tenant support registry for inspection by a by-law officer upon request.

Moving forward Hopefully, all Ottawa residential landlords will prepare the paperwork so that everyone complies with the new by-law on August 31. In three years, the City is to review the new by-law. EOLO will seek to minimize any additions to the requirements, and may seek to have requirements removed.

BECOME AN EOLO MEMBER NOW! EOLO invites Ottawa area landlords to join the organization. Have your interests and concerns heard, and benefit from EOLO’s support. As an EOLO member, you will be able to: • Receive

prompt emails of relevant City rule changes

• Attend

two networking receptions a year

• Attend

two free education events a year

Receive all 6 annual issues of RHB Magazine with current developments, City and provincial funding programs, and landlord-tenant laws.

To apply for membership, go to www.eolo.ca, download the membership application form and send it to us at the contact info on that website.

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE At the time of writing our last article, we were so hopeful that we had finally made some headway with the pandemic. At that time, cases were around 1000 per day and we hoped we would not see a third wave. Things have changed quite a bit since then. As we feared, a third wave did indeed hit the province and we are currently still in a provincial lockdown that has been extended until June 2. It seems the new variants of the virus account for about half of all new cases, which in itself is quite concerning. We do not know how many times the virus will keep mutating or if our current vaccines will work against all of the different variants. Luckily, we are finally seeing numbers come down after reaching all-time highs in the 4000s and vaccines have now ramped up considerably, with approximately 150,000 vaccines being administered per day. Ontario has also opened up vaccines to anyone who is 18 years or older, which is very great news. We are finally making some great headway with more and more of the population getting vaccinated and numbers on a downward trend. As we hoped with the first and second wave, hopefully this third wave is finally our last wave and we can start looking forward to a more normal summer. The government has just released their new three-stage approach, getting rid of the colour-coded system, and we hope we will reach stage 3 by the end of July. - Tina Novak, President, HDAA

Hamilton COVID-19 update The City of Hamilton and Hamiltonians continue to fight the pandemic and, as with many other cities, the repercussions have been severe. After over a year of struggle, there will be many businesses that will not be opening their doors again and many individuals are struggling now more than ever. As with most of the province, Hamilton had also seen a peak in case numbers during this third wave with over 200 cases per day at one time. The average is now just over 100 cases per day, which is still fairly high for the City. With the new re-opening framework, however, it looks like the entire province will be opening at the same time based on provincial metrics so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. The City has fortunately vaccinated approximately 50 per cent of the adult population at the time of writing so we are hopeful that the combined trend downward in daily COVID-19 cases and increasing vaccinations will see us in good shape before long either way.

concerns over safety and cleaning policies in place and the general safety for tenants and residents in apartment buildings. Of course, there will inevitably be more risks when living in places that are more populated and where there are more opportunities for encountering others but the majority of apartment building operators have been doing their best to follow health and safety guidelines and provide support to their residents. It is, of course, a twoway street, however, and residents have their own responsibilities in adhering to policies in place, such as making sure to wear masks in all common areas, washing their hands frequently, and not leaving their units to use common areas when they should be self-isolating.

More related to the apartment industry, the City has unfortunately seen outbreaks in a few apartment buildings, which has raised a lot of

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The LRT is back It seems at every turn we receive new information about the on-again, off-again Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Hamilton. After the provincial government cancelled funding early last year, many thought that it would be the end of the LRT; however, shortly thereafter came an announcement that the government would provide funding for transportation and transit infrastructure after all and a task force was created to decide how this funding should be used. The task force provided their recommendations and we have been waiting to hear back from the provincial government as to their thoughts. Hamilton finally got some big news this month that the federal and provincial governments would each be contributing $1.7 billion to build the LRT line in Hamilton. It seems this controversial project is back on the table now that Hamilton has the funding it needs and we are interested to see how it all unfolds.

City of Hamilton By-law updates On March 23, the City of Hamilton’s Planning Committee met to discuss the Property Standards By-law Review. HDAA had submitted written submissions with our views and suggestions. Despite HDAA’s concerns about increasing the cost of providing rental housing, the Planning Committee voted unanimously to add more requirements to the Property Standards By-law, including provisions about common area cleanliness, appliances, and floors and walls having similar finishes after repairs, which is a cosmetic issue. The timeline for the enactment of the revisions is uncertain at this time, as City staff are to come back with the details. We will see what the staff recommend adding. The City of Hamilton has also been full steam ahead on revamping their policies on secondary dwellings to coincide with provincial guidelines. As part of their multi-phase Residential Zoning Project, the City began discussions on allowing secondary dwellings in principal dwellings and the regulations surrounding them. After public meetings and engagement, to which the HDAA took part in, the City announced this month that the amendments to the previous by-laws have been approved to permit Secondary Dwelling Units. This is very positive news for the City of Hamilton, which has been struggling with rental supply and affordability. The adoption of landlord licensing was to be discussed at the Planning Committee meeting on May 18, but has now been added to the Committee agenda for July 6. HDAA has been preparing our submissions and delegations on licensing, and will continue our fight against landlord licensing. Landlords in Hamilton should tell their City Councillors that they oppose landlord licensing because it will raise the costs of providing rental housing, and thus raise rents. HDAA has reached out to FRPO, GTAA, and EOLO for assistance in opposing landlord licensing in Hamilton. Our sister apartment associations are happy to help. Plan to attend and speak in opposition at the Planning Committee meeting of July 6, which is to start at 9:30 am, and may last all day. Reach out to HDAA and we can notify you if licensing will be considered at the July 6 meeting or not. While numerous landlords in Hamilton take steps to improve the quality of rental housing through renovations, tenant advocates criticize those improvements as “renovictions”. For many years, the Residential Tenancies Act has given tenants significant rights when landlords want to renovate the properties they own. Most tenants are entitled to three months’ rent as compensation for having to move out during the renovations. If they give a simple notice before they move out, then after the renovations are finished, tenants have the right to move back into the renovated unit at the rent they paid before

54 | May/June 2021

Ryan provided great information on the requirements for residential units and dwellings under the Fire Code, required maintenance in apartment buildings, necessary fire plans, as well as general tips and suggestions for keeping rental properties fire safe.

May 19 – COVID-19 Education Session

the improvements. Under both the Wynne government and the Ford government, tenants’ rights have been further enhanced. The last thing the rental market in Hamilton needs is more regulations imposing higher costs on landlords when they invest in their properties, thereby discouraging the improvement of aging rental buildings.

Past events April 20 – Fire Safety & Standards Webinar The HDAA was very excited to welcome Ryan Smy, a Fire Inspector with the Hamilton Fire Department, to discuss fire standards and safety for small, medium, and large landlords, as well as scheduled maintenance and responsibilities.

The HDAA and Hamilton Public Health Services hosted a COVID-19 education session for our members and affiliates, which was a great success. The session spoke on COVID19 infection control, landlord and tenant responsibilities, outbreak management, and supports available for operators to help protect staff and tenants. Great information was provided on COVID-19 and its spread, the state of COVID-19 in the City, outbreaks currently occurring in apartment buildings, and the outbreak protocol, as well as general information on COVID-19 and vaccination information. Also discussed is what landlords and property managers can do to keep their residents safe, which included limiting close contact, proper cleaning, screening visitors and contractors, hand hygiene and wearing of masks, and, most importantly, communication with residents and keeping them informed on policies.



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My second two-year term comes to an end in the next few weeks. It’s been a bittersweet time, both challenging and rewarding. The pandemic continues to adversely affect the rental housing industry and our landlord and associate members. Even so, LPMA is engaging our members through Zoom meetings with knowledgeable speakers. We also hold discussions with representatives from the City of London’s homeless services, realtors, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and our legal representative, Cohen Highley LLP. Lawyer Joe Hoffer of Cohen Highley has updated the additional terms and conditions that accompany the standard lease. He has also communicated to LPMA recent changes to the property standards and rental licensing bylaws, as well as developments in Bill 184 and COVID-19. I would like to thank LPMA for four great years as president and also welcome incoming president Shane Haskell. As a realtor and founder/president of Lionheart Property Management, Shane became an LPMA member in 2007 before joining the Board in 2014.

- Shirley Criger, LPMA President

FINANCIAL RESOURCES HELP LANDLORDS TO KEEP TENANTS HOUSED The finances of landlords and tenants are inextricably entwined. In a year where many tenants are struggling due to illness and job losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, landlords are also being negatively affected.

rent, which complicates the problem, Jeffrey says.

Fortunately, many programs exist in London and beyond to help those tenants, as well as the landlords who house them.

Rental Assistance

The Salvation Army Housing Stability Bank offers financial assistance to low-income Londoners to secure and retain their housing, and to those at risk of homelessness to remain housed. The bank helps 1,500 to 2,000 households annually, says Melissa Jeffrey, program manager. “That’s one of the main focuses of the Housing Stability Bank: to work with low-income vulnerable populations to prevent them from losing stable housing or to assist in their transition from homelessness to stable housing. Those who qualify are typically low-income, vulnerable, and experiencing some sort of housing crisis,” she notes. Low vacancy rates and high rents in London are posing considerable challenges. The shelter portion of a social assistance cheque covers just part of the

“That can definitely make it difficult for folks.” The Housing Stability Bank offers several programs. Tenants who are behind in their rent and have received an eviction notice or need to move to a new home in London may be eligible for an interest-free loan once every 12 months. Based on the rent paid by the tenant, the program—through municipal funding—provides up to two months’ rent for rent arrears and covers last month’s rent. Rental Assistance also covers the first month’s rent for Ontario Disability Support Program recipients only.

Emergency Utility Assistance If utilities, including gas, water or electricity, are going to be disconnected or have already been disconnected, a household may qualify for an interest-free loan once every 12 months. The program provides a maximum of $500 per utility or $600 for electrically heated homes. Visit www.centreofhope.ca for eligibility requirements.

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Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) Provided by the Ontario Energy Board, individuals may qualify for emergency financial help if they are behind in paying their electricity or natural gas bill and face having their service disconnected. A household’s income must fall below a specific limit and depends on the number of people living in the applicant’s house and their combined household income. The Housing Stability Bank administers LEAP grant funds for City of London residents whose utilities may be disconnected due to arrears. These funds are replenished annually in January. On top of the LEAP grants, the City of London’s Water Department provides additional grant funding to assist with the water arrears for those households that are responsible for paying both electricity and water charges for their home.

Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) The program reduces the cost of electricity for low-income households by providing a monthly credit to eligible customers based on household income and size; the credits are applied directly to customers’ bills. Consumers can apply online at OntarioElectricitySupport.ca or they can complete applications at Housing Stability Bank locations.

Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) A monthly portable housing benefit assists eligible households with their housing costs through a subsidy that is paid directly to households or landlords. COHB pays the difference between 30 per cent of a household’s income and the average market rent in the area. For recipients of social assistance, the benefit will pay the difference between the shelter allowance and a household’s rent and utilities costs. The Housing Stability Bank can provide benefit recipients with support with first and last month’s rent deposits, and can also assist with arrears. In the City of London and Middlesex County, COHB is intended to support survivors of domestic violence or human trafficking, the homeless or those at risk of entering unsheltered homelessness, and Indigenous persons. Visit www.london.ca for more information.

Pay Direct Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recipients generally manage their income support payments and expenses independently. However, recipients can request a pay direct arrangement when they need assistance managing their payments. Requests are considered by the caseworker in consultation with the recipient before a pay direct arrangement is put in place. Under pay direct, either the municipality (for OW recipients) or the provincial Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (for ODSP recipients) pays a portion of the recipient’s income support directly to the landlord. Landlords should be aware that OW and ODSP recipients can request termination of a pay direct arrangement through their case worker. The recipient and the landlord are responsible for resolving any arrears. Visit www.mcss.gov.on.ca for more information.

Credit Counselling Society The society is a non-profit consumer credit and debt counselling service that provides debt solutions and other aid. Professionally accredited counsellors help clients create a spending plan to manage their living expenses, consolidate their debts with one monthly payment, save money in interest, and stop collection calls from creditors. Visit www.nomoredebts.org/canada/ontario/london/credit-counselling. html for more information. Low-income tenants in London can find additional help from food banks, community food programs, and thrift stores. For a list of resources, visit www.southwesthealthline.ca.

58 | May/June 2021

DISCOUNTING RENT FOR TENANTS WHO CUT THE GRASS CALLS F O R A S E PA R AT E AG R E E M E N T Now that warm weather is here, tenants will be negotiating with prospective landlords to cut the grass in exchange for reduced rent. It can be a beneficial arrangement for small landlords who have full-time jobs and limited time in which to maintain their rental properties. However, one legal expert says it’s critical to spell out not only the terms of the agreement but also the consequences for breaking it. London lawyer Joe Hoffer says tenants often agree to take over maintenance duties, including grass cutting, in townhouse complexes, duplexes, and single-family homes. Because tenants comply with the obligation, the parties don’t often go to court. But creating a separate contract from the tenancy agreement protects landlords from risk, particularly in situations where landlords are concerned tenants will withdraw or neglect their services. The requirement for a separate contract resulted from a Divisional Court decision. It held that because landlords cannot contract out of their maintenance obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act, they are also responsible for maintaining the land around their rental units and work cannot be delegated to tenants in the tenancy agreement. The court also stated that if the landlord contracts separately with the tenant to do that work, the contract will be valid and can be enforced. Hoffer says the challenge lies in making the contract simple. “The way we’ve done that is to simply set the lawful rent higher by the amount of the value of the services that the tenant is going to provide under the terms of the contract,” he notes. If the monthly rent for a townhouse is $1,500, the landlord determines the value of the tenant’s services to be $80 a month, for example. The landlord then sets the amount for those services at $100 a month in the contract and the lawful rent at

$1,600. Crediting the tenant for $100 in the contract is an incentive to the tenant to keep performing the service. If the tenant stops, the landlord’s costs to hire a contractor to do the work will be covered. “It’s a real disincentive to the tenant to terminate Joe Hoffer the contract because that means the tenant has to start paying an extra $100 a month,” Hoffer says. The contract needs to clarify that the tenant is an independent contractor who is responsible for insurance, including liability insurance. If someone slips and falls on the sidewalk, the landlord will be sued, but will look for indemnity from the tenant’s insurance company under the contract to pay the claim. Hoffer says if the tenant doesn’t want to do the work anymore, both parties agree to terminate the contract and the tenant pays the full rent. Without a separate contract, it would be the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property if the tenant withdrew their services. Landlords cannot tell tenants they will increase the rent under rent control provisions. Landlords and tenants can only make their agreement enforceable if they use the separate agreement. Hoffer advises landlords to make the contract clear. Tenants also need to sign the contract separately to acknowledge that they are providing their services as an independent contractor. “You can have a termination provision, but it has to be clear that if the tenant terminates there will be no compensation for that agreement and the tenant will pay the full lawful monthly rent,” Hoffer adds.

London Property Management Association (LPMA) is a non-profit organization, located in London, Ontario, Canada, that provides information and education to landlords. LPMA represents the interests of both large and small property owners. The association has more than 400 landlord members representing approximately 35,000 rental units. Membership is open to landlords and property management professionals who own or manage one or more residential rental units.

Sign up online or call Rebecca David. Ph: 519-672-6999 Web: www.LPMA.ca

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Final Take Away

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Three advantages of investment management software with investor portals Heather Brady, National Sales Director, Yardi Canada Ltd.

One of the major challenges for any investor-funded business is providing transparency to investors. Gone are the days when quarterly packets of printed spreadsheet reports and mailed distribution cheques were enough to satisfy private real estate investors. Now they expect ondemand service from their partners, including self-service access to key metrics, capital transactions, important documents, and reports. Communicating with investors and allowing them to access reports and data is critical when it has become evident that in-person meetings will become less and less common. In other words, investment management now requires instant access to information, at work or from anywhere. This article explores how investor portals help drive transparency between owners and investors, increase investor confidence, reduce risk, and build a healthier relationship for all parties involved.

1. Communicate effectively online In the age of email, texting, and video chat, investor communication is the least of your worries, right? Not quite. The relationship between investment partners can be unusually tricky to navigate. For instance, investors justifiably had more concern about their portfolio over the past year and required more involvement and real-time information about their standing. To complicate things further, some partners might want different data than you’re used to reporting. Sometimes you’ll have to produce custom reports for each investor. The good news is that there are software tools to help you manage all of this. All investing partners benefit from a single connected tool that helps: • Centralize communication with existing and prospective investors • Send out correspondence, track activities, and distribute information quickly • Improve internal and external collaboration • Build value and gain investors without adding staff or paying for multiple solutions

spreadsheet could unknowingly enter a number wrong into a formula, propagating bad data and making interpreting that data correctly a strenuous task. Numbers have to be auditable. There must be integrity to the data as it rolls up the ownership structure. Investors want answers to their questions, and they want to easily find the data they’re looking for when they want it. Online investor portals keep all operational and financial data securely in one place. With everything integrated, there is no need to keep separate systems up to date manually. This allows you to provide self-service access and accurate information to your investors, giving them the ability to easily publish reports, tax documents, and subscription agreements and access to investment and property-level metrics anytime, anywhere.

3. Manage portfolios on the go Portals provide access to investor and investment information on any device. There is no need to dig through spreadsheets when the information is right at your fingertips! Owning the data from the investor all the way down to the lease provides data governance and efficiencies. It also allows for more informed discussions with your team and your investors on: • Portfolio and investor data • Risk monitoring • Compliance • Fundraising stats • Capital deployment • Investor communications • Budgets vs. actual expenditures

Get involved and get ahead

2. Increase data accuracy and transparency

Investors are raising their expectations for the software they use and the customer support they’re provided. They’re asking detailed questions about their investments, they want detailed answers, and they want them quickly. The right technology can bring investing partners together and move your business away from manual processes, snail mail, and spreadsheets. This is the best way to increase investor confidence, provide transparency, and gain efficiencies across the board.

Your business faces unnecessary challenges when data is entered manually. For example, an employee working in a

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60 | May/June 2021

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