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Vol. 14 No. 1 March/April 2021

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

The official publication of:

Gender equity in the rental housing industry

Women are underrepresented in corporate leadership positions - more needs to be done.

What do tenants want in a postpandemic world? Rental property owners must adapt to address tenants’ changing lifestyle preferences.

Social letting agencies This housing option for low-income and vulnerable tenants is part property manager and part affordable housing provider.

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EDITOR’S NOTES One year later We are now one year into the pandemic. Every part of our lives has changed. But you read and hear enough about COVID-19 from other media sources so you don’t need to read it here. I’d rather talk about some positive things that have happened. I read 36 books in 2020 and watched some fantastic TV shows (American Gods, The Queen’s Gambit) and movies (The Hunt, Justice League). I spent a lot more time with family and reconnected with some friends. I wrote a lot of words. I learned a few new recipes and cooked in an air fryer. I adopted a dog. The March/April issue of RHB Magazine features an article on gender equity in the rental housing industry. RHBTV produced a four-part series of inspirational interviews with women in leadership roles to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day. This article examines gender inequality in leadership roles throughout the rental housing industry, and shows how women in leadership roles benefit their organizations’ bottom line. It also examines the barriers that women have imposed upon themselves and how organizations can support women’s growth throughout the organization. The second article looks at the world post-pandemic and tenants’ changing needs with respect to where they want to live. While proximity to elementary schools, public transportation, and grocery stores are still important, renters are also looking for access to public and quasi-public space, as well as more room and amenities within their units and the buildings they plan to occupy. The third article examines the social letting agencies model, which can help rental property owners to fill empty units, create a passive revenue stream, and support affordable housing measures. Don’t forget to read CFAA’s newsletter, National Outlook, and the Regional Association Voice. Make sure to check out Suite Count and Final Take-Away for more great information. 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

Editorial

David Gargaro david@rentalhousingbusiness.ca

Contributing Editor

John Dickie, President CFAA jdickie@rentalhousingbusiness.ca

Creative Director / Designer Scott Clark

Office Manager Geeta Lokhram

Subscriptions

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

4 | March/April 2021

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CONTENTS Vol. 14 No. 1 March/April 2021

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

The official publication of:

VOL.14 NO.1 2021

Gender equity Gender equity in in the the rental rental housing housing iindustry ndustry

Women are underrepresented in corporate leadership positions - more needs to be done.

Social letting agencies

This housing option for lowincome and vulnerable tenants is part property manager and part affordable housing provider.

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

Gender equity in the rental housing industry Property Management What do tenants Social letting want in a postpandemic world?

Rental property owners must adapt to address tenants’ changing lifestyle preferences.

agencies

This housing option for low-income and vulnerable tenants is part property manager and part affordable housing provider.

Tech 101: Preparing for a future of innovation The right technology can help your business navigate COVID-19.

Hot Topics: LPMA reports on the revised terms and conditions as Ontario rolls out the updated standard lease, including outstanding rent arrears, service of notices by email, fees and charges bylaw, services and facilities provision, and more. pg. 45 WRAMA describes the updates to its website, a member event discussion on the CMHC market update, and recent changes to the standard Ontario lease document. pg. 49

Women are underrepresented in corporate leadership positions -

EOLO reports on Ottawa’s new Rental Housing Management By-law requirements, including capital maintenance plans and pest control. pg. 53

more needs to be done.

HDAA reports on the impacts of the pandemic, a review of the property standards by-law, the rental housing market, and the CMHC Rental Market Report. pg. 57

The Member Associations

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

What do tenants want in a postpandemic world? Rental property owners must adapt to address tenants’ changing lifestyle preferences.

6 | March/April 2021

Final Take Away Property Management Tech 101: Preparing for a future of innovation


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PRESIDENT’S CORNER CFAA invites you to register to watch Benjamin Tal’s latest economic update, when he leads off CFAA Virtual Rental Housing Conference 2021 on April 22. Or if you miss the live presentation, watch a replay, and watch CFAA’s other education sessions live. See pages 35 and 37 for a full description of CFAA Virtual Conference 2021, including the Virtual Awards, Networking and Tradeshow Event on May 4, 5 and 6 from 3 to 5 pm Eastern time, and education presentations on various dates in May and June. At some point in the next few months, CMHC plans to conduct a survey of rental housing providers to gauge what impact racial issues have on landlords’ operations. That survey will probably address current practices in managing tenant behaviour, and the steps that are taken which lead to evictions. Watch for more information in the next issue of National Outlook inside RHB Magazine, or in CFAA’s e-Newsletters. Ms. Romy Bowers has been appointed as President and CEO of CMHC. CFAA has extended congratulations to her, and communicated CFAA’s wish to continue to work with her and everyone at CMHC towards the shared objective of improving housing affordability, and housing availability, for everyone in Canada. To that end, CFAA has established an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to support rental housing providers in meeting today’s standards for embracing diversity and promoting inclusion and equity. See the article on page 38 for more details, and the article on page 40 for information about implicit bias.

8 | March/April 2021

CFAA is continuing its strategic partnership with The Home Depot, which sells maintenance, repair and renovation products and services across Canada. Join HOME DEPOT PRO at no cost, and make sure The Home Depot knows you are a member of CFAA, either as a direct landlord member, or by being a member of a CFAA-member association. HOME DEPOT PRO provides benefits for purchasers, and increases support for CFAA, thus helping us protect the rental housing industry at the federal level. For CFAA Virtual Rental Housing Conference 2021, 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 Conference sponsors and Tradeshow Exhibitors, as shown on page 37. Join your friends and colleagues at the CFAA Virtual Conference by registering at www. CFAAFCAPI. org.

John Dickie, CFAA President John Dickie, CFAA President


rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 9


In this issue of... NATIONAL OUTLOOK 35. At CFAA Virtual Rental Housing Conference 2021, what will Benjamin Tal talk about? What else will CFAA address at its Virtual Conference (taking place in segments over two months – from mid-April to mid-June)?

37. How will networking work at CFAA Virtual Rental Housing Conference 2021? Why are we sure it will be a success? What do rental providers and suppliers who have used the networking software say?

39. Who sits on CFAA’s new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee? What are the Committee’s goals? Why was the Committee established? What is CMHC planning to do?

40. W  hat is implicit bias? Why is it important? What can we do to limit the negative effects of implicit bias on our actions?

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.

10 | March/April 2021

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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rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 13


Gender equity in rental housing in

Did you know that March 8 was International Women’s Day? To celebrate the day and support women’s contributions to the rental housing industry, RHBTV News produced a four-part weekly series of inspirational interviews with women in leadership roles (the quotes in the article come from those interviews). Over the years, RHB Magazine has also interviewed and profiled other prominent women in Canada’s rental housing industry.


n the ndustry By David Gargaro Although women make up slightly more than 50 per cent of the population, they are underrepresented in corporate leadership roles. The rental housing industry is making progress on becoming equitable for women. However, more needs to be done – from an industry standpoint and on an individual basis.

The numbers tell a story According to McKinsey & Company’s report, “Women in the Workplace 2020,” women make up 48 per cent of all entry level positions. As women move up through the talent pipeline, this figure drops to: •  39 per cent of managers •  34 per cent of senior managers / directors •  30 per cent of vice presidents •  23 per cent of senior vice presidents •  23 per cent of CEOs Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) is a federal department that works to advance equality for women by focusing on increasing women’s economic security and prosperity, encouraging women’s leadership and democratic participation, and ending gender-based violence. According to WAGE, women make up over 50 per cent of university grads and 35 per cent of university grads with an MBA. These figures do not translate to women getting leadership roles, as WAGE found that women in Canada: • Earn 28 per cent less than men • Represent just 10 per cent of seats on board of directors • Hold only 5.2 per cent of the CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies • Hold only 8 per cent of top paid jobs in Canada

Only 23 per cent of CEOs are women. Founded in 1989, the CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Network enables women in commercial real estate to exchange information, form business contacts, and help each other succeed professionally. Its 2020 Benchmark Study Report on gender and diversity in commercial real estate determined that: • Women hold only 9 per cent of C-suite positions in commercial real estate • In Canada, almost 36 per cent of all professionals in commercial real estate are women, which is relatively unchanged over the last 15 years • In the commercial real estate sector, the fixed salary gap between genders is 18 per cent, while the commission and bonus gap is 69 per cent • In the multifamily sector, there is a gap of over 28 per cent in average compensation between genders COVID-19 has negatively affected employment in industries across Canada, but it has had a more significant impact on women in Ontario’s real estate sector. Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office found that, in 2020, women made up 57 per cent of layoffs across the entire labour force but more than 89 per cent of all job losses recorded in Ontario’s real estate, rental, and leasing sector.

Recognizing self-imposed barriers Women face many external obstacles to being promoted to executive positions throughout the rental housing industry. They have to overcome internal barriers that impede their growth in their organization and the industry. According to Amy

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 15


Women make up more than 89 per cent of all job losses recorded in Ontario’s real estate, rental, and leasing sector. Montoya, Managing Partner at Bella Investment Group (who spoke at a panel for the National Apartment Association), women face five key challenges in their careers: •

Lack of confidence

•  Aversion to risk and failure •  Imposter syndrome •  Discomfort with self-promotion •  Career aspiration gaps Lack of confidence in the workplace typically arises from not knowing how to perform a task or difficulty with understanding a topic. Educating oneself on a difficult topic is one way to address the issue. For example, lack of confidence could be tied to doing a presentation. To overcome this feeling, they can make a plan to get better, take courses on public speaking, research the subject matter, and practice their presentation until they are comfortable.

never make you shine. Focus on your strengths and really kill them, and you will get ahead and achieve success.” Women in general have an issue with risk aversion, which is evident in the real estate and financial industries. Statistics demonstrate that women are more risk averse than men, which ties directly to career advancement. According to research collected by the Harvard Business Review, men are more likely to take risks than women, and this likelihood increases under stress. People also perceive women to be more risk averse than men, which means women get less support for taking risks.

Women are more risk averse than men, which ties directly to career advancement.

“Read about the industry, ask questions, and most of all recognize that you are in an industry that is constantly changing,” said Margaret Herd, Senior Vice-President, Operations and Development, Park Property Management Inc.

Many people in different fields feel imposter syndrome. This can lead them to believe they are either not good enough to do the job or that others will view them as frauds, even when they are good at what they do. Women tend to experience imposter syndrome more often than men, even when they are high achieving and accomplished. These thoughts remove the good feelings of accomplishment they might have for the hard work they’ve put in, the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired, and the experience they’ve accumulated along the way.

Aversion to risk and failure is often tied to fear of the unknown. Fear comes from what might happen if they fail at a task. To avoid potential failure, they don’t attempt the task. The fear is based on something that may never happen or on an inflated image of the consequences of what may happen if they take a risk. To overcome fear of a situation, such as asking for a promotion, consider the worst-case scenario. In this case, your boss could say “No”, which is not the disaster that many people imagine it to be.

Women can overcome imposter syndrome by voicing their feelings to others, which can help them to grow a community of supporters who often feel the same way. Getting external validation can help with overcoming these thoughts and will demonstrate that they are not alone in feeling this way. Making a list of their accomplishments, and repeatedly reading them aloud and referring to the list, will create more confidence and help with overcoming imposter syndrome.

Failure is a learning opportunity. When we fail, we learn what did not work, and we can apply that knowledge the next time we face the situation. Then we can succeed based on what we learned from the failure. This makes failure a stepping stone to growth.

“Impostor syndrome is a common thing, and can lead to feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy,” said Trish MacPherson, Partner, Alignvest Student Housing REIT. “Self-doubt can be turned around. Make sure you know the facts and show that you are prepared, and when others see this, they will reinforce that you know what you’re doing. Set your goals and find cheerleaders who will support you in achieving your goals, and be cheerleaders for other people as well.”

“Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses,” said Paula Gasparro, Vice President, Real Estate Finance, CMLS Financial. “Realize your weaknesses, but know that your weaknesses will

16 | March/April 2021

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Quotes from women in the rental housing industry The following are quotes from RHBTV’s four-part series of interviews with prominent women in the rental housing industry. Please visit www.rhbtv.ca to watch the interviews. “Be a sponge and take in information from others, learn new things, look for opportunities, and talk to different people.” — Trish MacPherson, Partner, Alignvest Student Housing REIT “Don’t try to be perfect – allow yourself to make mistakes.” — Paula Gasparro, Vice President, Real Estate Finance, CMLS Financial “We all know our value but sometimes we second guess ourselves, and sometimes we need validation to justify what we think our values are.” — BJ Santavy, Vice President, Skyline Living “Always do what you love and do it from a place of compassion. Be mindful and do it for the benefit of others.” — Julie Rahier, Director, GH Capital “Accept the fact we cannot be perfect in everything we do. We should accept our vulnerabilities so can we prepare ourselves to take new challenges to advance our careers.” — Erica Lontoc, Strategy and Policy Specialist, Enbridge Gas “Consider every opportunity and think about what’s best for yourself and your career rather than comparing yourself to others.” — Kerri Jackson, Senior Vice President, Property Management, Concert Properties

18 | March/April 2021

“Learn as much as you can about the industry because knowledge is important and powerful.” — Sam Amin, Marketing Manager, Yardi Canada “If you don’t take the opportunity to learn something or look beyond the scope of your duties, you won’t find out what the company or industry is about.” — Margaret Herd, Senior Vice-President, Operations and Development, Park Property Management Inc. “I believe that being positive, empowering your team, and having an ownership mindset are key qualities to have success at work.” — Atiya Kahn, Marketing Manager, Hazelview Properties “Use your voice, take chances, push yourself, and ask questions.” — Brandi McIlvenny, Director of Residential, Sifton Properties Limited “Choosing a profession should not be governed by statistics or society, especially in Canada.” — Sofya Frey, Senior Project Manager, Wynspec Engineering “I encourage all youth to step out of their shells and try something different.” — Shani Plummer, Operations Analyst, Wyse Meter Solutions


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Discomfort with requesting a promotion is often tied to perfectionism. Women will talk themselves out of applying for a role or asking for a promotion because they don’t think they are good enough. According to LinkedIn research, women are 16 per cent less likely than men to apply for a job after viewing a job posting, and they apply to 20 per cent fewer jobs than men. Women were also less likely to apply for more senior positions. As a result, women avoid opportunities to apply for roles that they would be qualified to get. A discussion paper put out by the U.S. Institute of Labor Economics on a survey of lawyers in the United States determined that there is a large gender gap in men’s and women’s early aspirations to become law firm partners, even when they have similar early career investments and educational characteristics. Higher aspirations lead to putting in more effort, and are tied to expectations of success and the desire to become a partner. The research found that 60 per cent of male lawyers have high career aspirations, while only 32 per cent of female lawyers felt the same. Early work experiences, including harassment and demeaning comments, can deter these aspirations, which can then affect longterm promotion outcomes. These results may be paralleled in the rental housing industry.

Providing support through networking, mentorship, and sponsorship While women can help themselves by addressing their internal obstacles, leaders and management can support women’s growth and development throughout their organizations and the rental housing industry. Three supportive strategies are networking, mentorship, and sponsorship.

concerns,” said Sam Amin, Marketing Manager, Yardi Canada. “Highlight women leaders in your organization and in the industry. It empowers women leaders and sends the message out that this is a voice of leadership that is diverse.” Company leaders can support women’s growth through networking by creating opportunities to connect with industry professionals. These can include in-person and online conferences, seminars, webinars, lunch and learns, and other events. They can also encourage women to join LinkedIn, sign up for memberships and take leadership roles in industry associations, read industry newsletters, and engage in activities where they can meet others in casual settings. However, they should be mindful to make networking opportunities gender inclusive.

33 per cent of women (versus 27 per cent of men) have never had a meaningful conversation with senior leadership about their career. “Companies may be falling into an unconscious bias trap with the manner in which they encourage employees to network,” said Brandi McIlvenny, Director of Residential, Sifton Properties Limited. “Corporate hockey team? Pub nights? All are designed, unconsciously, to exclude women. Women are also held to a higher level of expectation and scrutiny than their male counterparts are, and their authority as a leader is challenged at a greater rate than men. We need to get over gender segregation and the beliefs that genders fit specific roles.”

Building a network of supportive people throughout the organization and the rental housing industry can help women in many ways. It can help them to overcome risk aversion and other inner obstacles, as it will provide a support network of people who have had the same experiences. Building a network provides more career opportunities, as it gives women access to people with experience in different roles, who can provide advice and direction, as well as leads and connections to new opportunities.

Mentoring is another way to help women in the rental housing industry to advance within their organizations. It allows more senior management to provide coaching and professional guidance to junior members. They also increase engagement and provide mentees with practical strategies for maximizing their potential. However, mentorship is severely lacking for women in many corporate settings. According to McKinsey & Company’s report “Women in the Workplace 2020,” 33 per cent of women (versus 27 per cent of men) have never had a meaningful conversation with senior leadership about their career.

“Create an environment that feels supportive for women so they feel comfortable voicing their

Companies can set up a mentorship program to provide coaching and increase workplace

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exposure, which can help develop women’s confidence and professional identity. Companies can also establish formal development programs, creating structured assignments between a senior leader and junior person, with the goal of increasing competencies and achieving set goals related to their positions. Another idea is to support informal mentoring that occurs organically between mentor and mentee based on shared goals, interests, and connections. Sponsorship is a more active way for company leaders to help women advance in their careers. Whereas mentors provide advice, sponsors take action and use their expertise and position to help their protégé advance. Sponsorship can include providing women with access to exclusive networks, advocating on their behalf for opportunities, and motivating them on their journey along their desired career path. “Mentoring and sponsorship can help to enhance a woman’s social capital by connecting them with influential business contacts from whom they may otherwise have been excluded,” said McIlvenny. “As a widely recognized development strategy, mentoring is a tool that can help close the gender gap and is as simple as a senior ranking member of an organization providing coaching and professional guidance to a more junior ranking protégé.”

The numbers tell another story Companies must earn profits to grow and prosper. The data suggests that hiring women and employing them in leadership positions is both equitable and profitable. A CREW Network white paper from 2017 found that companies with gender diverse upper management had better ROI and carried less debt than homogenous companies. A report from the International Labour Organization, which examined more than 13,000 firms in 70 countries, found that nearly 75 per cent of companies that tracked gender diversity in management positions reported increases in profits from 5 to 20 per cent, and most firms experienced 10 to 15 per cent growth. According to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Survey, diversity and inclusion are critical to business performance, as they increase creativity and innovation within teams. More specifically, organizations within the real estate industry that have inclusive cultures are “twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets and

22 | March/April 2021

three times as likely to be high-performing.” These companies are also “six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.” McKinsey & Company’s 2020 report on the importance of diversity and inclusion found that companies with executive teams in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25 per cent more likely to realize above-average profits than companies in the fourth quartile. It also determined that companies in which women represented more than 30 per cent of the executives were more likely to outperform companies with lower percentages of female executives. “Did you know that organizations with a mixture of female and male board members outperform all male leadership by a whopping 53 per cent?” said McIlvenny. “Companies with more women in top management found their return on investment and return to shareholders on average 35 per cent higher than companies with little to no females in management. Employing female leaders can increase the overall profitability of a company upwards of 69 per cent.”

Nearly 75 per cent of companies that tracked gender diversity in management positions reported increases in profits from 5 to 20 per cent. Conclusion Gender equity is a serious concern throughout the rental housing industry. Many companies prominently feature women as leaders and influencers, yet women continue to be grossly underrepresented at senior, executive, C-suite, and Board levels. One can argue that companies do not do enough to attract, retain, engage, and promote women. Others feel that women must also learn to overcome internal challenges and create their own opportunities. Any industry ambivalence to women in the workplace must be addressed, as failing to do so will be detrimental to employees and the businesses. The lack of parity in female advancement should be discussed openly because putting more women in leadership benefits the bottom line, gender equity, and the rental housing industry as a whole.


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What do tenants want in a postpandemic world? By David Gargaro

The keys to running a successful rental property are to attract responsible tenants who pay their rents, and to retain existing tenants for the long term. This has proven to be difficult in many markets due to the pandemic, governmentenforced lockdowns, challenges associated with collecting rent from tenants who are either unable or unwilling to pay, the moratoriums on evictions, and delays in hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board and other tenancy tribunals across Canada. Rental property owners have also had to postpone capital projects and maintenance, change how they lease and operate their properties, and make numerous changes to help keep tenants and employees safe. Another pending obstacle to finding and retaining responsible tenants is the changing lifestyle preferences of tenants in a post-pandemic world. Canada’s rental housing industry has experienced shifts in demographics and tenant preferences due to the pandemic, which has increased the supply and decreased demand for rental properties in some markets. This has forced some rental property owners to decrease rents and provide incentives to keep and attract tenants. Going forward, rental property owners will have to consider how tenants’ wants and needs have changed to keep their buildings occupied by responsible tenants who pay their rents.

Tenants’ lifestyle preferences are changing Local Logic, which quantifies access to amenities and services across North America, studied how tenants’ priorities have shifted since the beginning of the pandemic. It compared the differences between interactions with its Location Scores in the first quarter of 2020 with the last quarter of 2020. Key findings include:

24 | March/April 2021

•  In the first quarter, the three most desired characteristics were elementary schools, public transportation accessibility, and grocery store proximity; in the fourth quarter, the list changed to elementary schools, grocery store proximity, and quiet neighbourhood. •  In the first quarter, approximately 14 per cent of all interactions involved public transportation; this dropped to about 10 per cent in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 24 per cent decrease. •  Proximity to grocery stores increased from 10 per cent in the first quarter to almost 13 per cent in the fourth quarter, leading to a 21 per cent increase in interactions.

•  There was increased interest in quiet surroundings and park access (about 9 per cent), as well as proximity to cafes, restaurants, and shopping areas (about 8.5 per cent). •  Interest in daycares and nightlife near rental properties decreased from the first to the fourth quarter (by 20 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively).


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Understanding the numbers The pandemic has spurred significant growth in online shopping. According to a CBC report, the percentage of Canadians buying groceries online has increased from between 12 and 15 per cent prior to the pandemic to about 30 per cent. However, as indicated in the previous section, tenants are more interested in having a local grocery store than ever before. They want the option to walk to the grocery store, either to purchase goods inside or take advantage of curbside pickup. It is expected that online grocery use will decline and balance with in-store and local grocery purchases when the pandemic subsides. How can rental property owners provide tenants with greater access to local grocery stores? Most rental property owners do not have the ability to build or influence the construction of local grocery stores, and don’t have the space to include this amenity in their building. However, they can support grocery stores in the neighbourhood and promote this fact to potential tenants. Providing tenants with a neighbourhood map and contact information for grocery stores and related amenities will help to show support for local businesses and provide people with a reason to become tenants in their buildings.

gather and interact outside of their work and home. Shifts in tenant preferences have shown increased interest in rental properties that are in close proximity to cafes, restaurants, shopping areas, and parks. Rental property owners should do well to highlight any public spaces, especially parks, when marketing available units to potential tenants. Real estate developers, municipalities, and key decision-makers should also consider changes in tenants’ preferences, as well as the preferences of the general public, with respect to planning a neighbourhood and multi-family property developments. Easy access to parks and other public spaces should be included in the design, as people tend to feel safer in open spaces. Parks were one of the most regularly searched location characteristics before the pandemic and that level of interest has increased since the pandemic has gone on.

The pandemic has led to a decrease in the use of public transportation. According to Transit App, ridership is 77 per cent lower than normal in Canada. The shift to remote work and the desire to avoid crowded spaces has combined to dramatically reduce the number of people taking public transit. Tenants looking for new rental housing are less interested in access to public transit than they have been in the past. However, access to public transit is still in the top three most valued location characteristics. When the lockdowns and restrictions end, and the public’s fear of using public transit subsides, access to public transit should rise in interest among tenants looking for a new place to live. Even though renters want to reduce contact with others as much as possible, access to public transit is still a deciding factor for many people looking for a place to live. Going forward, rental property owners should continue to promote access to public transit as a reason to live in their buildings. Generally speaking, people want to live near public and quasi-public spaces where they can

26 | March/April 2021

While in-person shopping has declined and online shopping has grown during the pandemic, it might seem counterintuitive to highlight cafes, restaurants, and shopping areas as enticements for tenants. The growth in demand for these types of local amenities could seem odd, as people have already been forced to spend a lot of time indoors, and they have also been encouraged to avoid being in close proximity to others. However, it makes good business and economic sense to support local businesses near rental properties, and having cafes, restaurants, and shopping areas in the vicinity could encourage tenants to choose one property over another.


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continued from page 26

Changing preferences in unit sizes According to Local Logic, smaller rental units made up 69 per cent of all rental market listings in Canada in 2020, which is an 18 per cent increase compared to 2019. This increase is likely influenced by the decrease in short-term rentals and fewer student-occupied units, which has added to the inventory of available rental units. In addition, smaller units were in less demand from people searching for a place to live in 2020. Threeto five-bedroom units saw an increase in views per listing, with four-bedroom units experiencing a 54 per cent rise in views per listing year-overyear.

separation and include shared printers, ergonomic desks and chairs, and other equipment. They can create built-in nooks for office space within rental units, or play spaces for children. Rental property owners can also offer free high-speed Internet for a trial period to attract new tenants. Rental property owners can offer partially furnished units to appeal to families. They can set up a gardening area or provide free plants to help tenants beautify their units. Making buildings pet-friendly will also appeal to a wide range of tenants, since pet adoptions have increased during the pandemic and pets will remain part of the family.

From March to May of 2020, demand for all rental units was down. While overall demand started rising in June, there was a greater increase in the demand for larger units. The level of online demand for four- and five-bedroom units increased by 13 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively, year over year. Demand for one- and two-bedroom units decreased between 26 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. The increase in demand for larger units is partially due to the increase in remote work and online learning. Families are looking for additional bedrooms that can be turned into an office or to isolate family members who are ill, as well as second bathrooms to accommodate more people being home during the day. Tenants are also looking for larger kitchens to make cooking at home more comfortable, more closet and pantry space to store more goods, in-unit washer/ dryer amenities, and dedicated personal outdoor space (e.g., balconies or patios). Therefore, rental properties with larger units and more space can best attract tenants seeking those amenities.

Providing tenants with amenities Rental property owners are limited in what they can do to attract tenants with respect to neighbourhood amenities and unit sizes. These are relatively fixed elements. However, they can take some actions to address changing tenants’ preferences in a pandemic world. More people are either working from home or have children learning from home. Rental property owners can repurpose rooms as coworking spaces with vertical screens to provide

28 | March/April 2021

To help improve health and safety within buildings, rental property owners can install contactless doors on front entrances, elevator entrances, and unit doors. Installing HEPA filters in individual units or the whole building will help to create a healthier environment. Property managers can set up a contactless shipping container or area within the building to receive packages. They can also provide free workout equipment (e.g., yoga mats, dumbbells) to tenants who request those items to work out in their units.

Conclusion The pandemic has not yet ended and the timeline for returning to normal is unknown. However, tenants’ preferences are clearly changing and rental property owners will have to adapt to attract and retain responsible tenants. Future rental developments must consider issues such as access to parks and quiet spaces, as well as neighbourhood grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants. Access to public transportation will always be essential to tenants, although the long-term case for remote work may decrease its importance somewhat. This will also affect what tenants will want in their units and their buildings, which rental property owners should consider when looking for ways to attract and retain tenants.


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Secondary and tertiary market trends in Ontario CBRE Capital Markets – National Apartment Group | James Craig, Associate Vice President

Secondary and tertiary markets throughout Ontario are experiencing tremendous demand for small to medium-sized apartment buildings, fueling significant price increases. COVID-19-related social distancing restrictions are driving an outflow of people from dense, high-cost urban metros like the GTA. Anecdotal evidence suggests that as people are forced to spend more time at home during the pandemic, many are deciding to trade up for more space at a lower cost. They are also reconsidering the benefits of urban versus suburban living. The biggest cohort of this urban outflow is affluent young adults who are well educated, childless, and can work remotely. Most moves are short-to-moderate distances, often to nearby towns and cities. This is proving to be a boon for nearby communities. Many landlords in major markets like the GTA are experiencing increasingly steep competition for tenants. Many new rental offerings including incentives for potential renters such as free rental periods in exchange for lease commitments. The opposite is true in secondary and tertiary markets like Barrie, Kitchener/Waterloo, Guelph, and other cities and towns surrounding the Golden Horseshoe. Renters migrating from the high-density, highcost GTA market are finding significantly lower monthly rental costs in surrounding communities. This has put increased pressure on these smaller markets where vacancy rates are holding steady and rental rates are climbing. Many buildings have not caught up to the steep upswing in rental rates experienced over the past 12 to 18 months. It is not uncommon to see buildings with average rents between $900-$1,000 per month; CMHC reported averages are pushing well into the mid-$1,200 per month range and market rents are even higher. The dynamic between in-place rents, average rents, and market rents is producing significant value creation opportunities for landlords and investors who can invest in renovations and improvements that drive rental increases. The opportunity for an additional $200-$350 of monthly income per unit – in many cases requiring limited or minimal renovation work – has been the key driver in recent purchases. Landlords and purchasers willing to make significant improvements (e.g., hard countertops, new

30 | March/April 2021

cabinets, flooring, lighting, upgraded bathrooms) can push rents into the $1,400-$1,900 per month range depending on the location. The only catch is that you must wait for natural churn to unlock this value increase. The result is a frenzy of interested buyers seeking opportunities to acquire multi-family assets in secondary and tertiary markets throughout Ontario. Recent listings in some markets are toured in advance of a bid-date by well over 50 prospective buyers, and garner 10 to 20 or more offers. Typically, the eventual winning bidder comes in with a firm offer well over asking price (by 5-15 per cent). With very little available product for buildings under 50 units in many markets across the province, price increases are driven by short supply and very heavy demand. Prospective investors coming in from larger communities including the GTA are used to higher prices per door and lower going-in cap rates. A common challenge in today’s market is the inability to finance purchases in a short period of time. With the competition for product so fierce, a long conditional period is often not an option. Buyers who are in a strong cash position are typically winning the day. With CMHC-insured mortgage interest rates so low, the attraction to go this route is strong; however, the approval timing can take over 12 weeks in some cases. This has caused many buyers to obtain a short-term conventional bridge loan until they can finalize the CMHC loan. With the market in this frenzied state, it is crucial to ensure you have a specific marketing plan to sell. Having a broker run that process is key to having a successful transaction. This process ensures proper exposure, a great marketing package, and the experience in running a competitive bid process.


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Social letting agencies By David Gargaro

Prior to the pandemic, a shortage of affordable housing was a significant and growing problem, particularly in Canada’s largest cities. After the pandemic is over, that situation is likely to grow again. There are many different programs and agencies across Canada that are helping people to find safe, affordable housing. Every option has its advantages and disadvantages, as well as varying levels of success in helping to put people into affordable homes, as well as help them stay in their homes. One model that has had some success in other countries is the social letting agency. What is a social letting agency? A social letting agency is part affordable housing provider and part property manager. In the UK, social letting agencies usually set their rents at the 30th percentile of rent in each Broad Market Rental Area, which is similar to a Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in Canada. Funding for social letting agencies usually comes from municipalities, management fees, and charitable contributions. The concept of the social letting agency dates back to 2013 when Susan Acktemel, a social innovator, launched Homes for Good in Glasgow, Scotland, which includes some of the poorest people and areas in the UK. Social letting agencies spread across Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland, leading to the establishment of 99 such agencies by 2018.

How do social letting agencies work? From one point of view, social letting agencies function much like property managers. They help rental property owners to: • Find appropriate tenants for their available units • Check the tenants’ references • Create and execute the tenancy agreement • Receive the security deposit • Communicate with tenants to handle repairs and do compliance checks

32 | March/April 2021

• Conduct unit inspections • Manage check-outs and deposits Social letting agencies also have experience with tenancy support and maintaining affordable tenancies. They know how to get rent support for tenants and, if need be, maximize their income from social assistance or job-training programs. This enables them to help rental property owners support affordable housing initiatives, with little risk to themselves. The people who work in social letting agencies have a unique blend of experience in the for-profit rental housing sector and in working with people who need financial support to find and maintain housing. Social letting agencies provide rental property owners with a number of benefits. They will guarantee a large percentage of regular rent for rental property owners, even when the unit is vacant. Rental property owners can lease directly to the agency at a somewhat reduced rent (in what would be called a head lease or master lease), which makes the agency responsible for fulfilling the tenant’s obligations to repair damage they caused. The rental property becomes a source of passive income for the rental property owner, providing near-market rents in the medium term for relatively affordable rental units. Signing a long-term lease with the agency provides the rental property owner with the financial security of having a unit rented 12 months of the year.


Social letting agencies also allow the rental property owner to make a positive social impact on their neighbours and their community. The rental property owner can provide tenants with long-term, affordable housing so that they can put down roots and create a stable foundation for their lives.

Report on social letting agencies Founded in 1904, the Joseph Roundtree Foundation (JRF) is a charity that conducts and funds research aimed at solving poverty in the UK. JRF’s stated aim is to “inspire action and change that will create a prosperous UK without poverty.” In June 2018, JRF conducted a review of the social letting agencies concept. The review determined that social letting agencies offered a number of benefits to both rental property owners and tenants due to their ability to: • Draw on different funding sources to support agency activities • Help local governments and agencies to support people who needed affordable housing • Effectively manage vacancies for rental property owners • Acquire their own property portfolios • Cross-subsidize support for low-income or vulnerable tenants

The review identified a number of challenges to the effectiveness of social letting agencies: • The difference between local housing allowance rates and market rents makes it difficult to attract rental property owners • The private rental market makes it difficult to scale into neighbouring areas • Social letting agencies require a unique mix of skills to set up and manage

Conclusion Social letting agencies can help provide more housing options for low-income and vulnerable tenants, and can provide support for rental property owners who need help with renting empty units. While social letting agencies cannot solve the affordable housing problem on their own, they are a useful means of reducing homelessness and helping certain vulnerable people. Governments and government-funded agencies should consider this model as one option for addressing the need for affordable housing, while creating a win-win scenario for all parties involved. Note: For more information on social letting agencies, refer to the handbook entitled “Local lettings agencies: a good practice guide,” which can be found at https://www.crisis.org. uk/media/236936/local_lettings_agency_guide_ scotland.pdf.

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MARCH/APRIL 2021

Benjamin Tal speaks at CFAA Virtual Conference 2021 By John Dickie, CFAA President

CFAA Virtual Rental Housing Conference 2021 will lead off with Benjamin Tal’s Economic Update on April 22 at 3 pm EDT. If you miss the live presentation, you can register to watch a replay! Benjamin Tal is a well-known and entertaining housing economist, who gives insightful predictions about the future path of the economy and rental housing, such as: •  Where we are in the economic recovery •  The economic cost of vaccination delay •  What he expects for the second half for 2021 •  Whether taxes will go up

Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist, CIBC World Markets

•  How real is the risk of inflation •  What to expect in immigration •  What it all means for Canada’s rental housing markets

Networking will be available for 30 minutes before the presentation, and for an hour after it ends at 4 pm EDT. Talk to Benjamin in a small group setting between 4:00 and 4:30 pm on April 22.

More on CFAA Virtual Rental Housing Conference 2021 CFAA Virtual Rental Housing Conference 2021 is designed to provide an attendee experience to rival CFAA’s in-person conferences. The live human interaction cannot be completely replaced, but the Virtual Conference includes many improvements that should make up for the lack of handshakes. See the next page for details. On various dates in May and June, rental housing providers will be able to watch the CFAA Awards presentation, learn about the latest and greatest products and services from CFAA’s supplier members at CFAA’s Virtual Tradeshow, connect with colleagues, and attend informative education sessions, including panels on: •  Rental Operations moving into the economic recovery •  Technology to support Property Management: front-line and back office •  Utility metering and reporting for ESG •  Diversity, inclusion and equity for rental housing providers Conference pricing ranges from $30 to $160, plus HST. Visit www.CFAA-FCAPI.org for details and registration.

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 35


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NATIONAL OUTLOOK CFAA Awards, Networking and Tradeshow In partnership with Gryd, a virtual technology company, CFAA is putting on a virtual tradeshow this year, on May 4, 5 and 6, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm EDT. Each day, the Tradeshow will open with a different portion of the CFAA Awards presentation. At the virtual booths, you might see an exhibitor’s “elevator pitch”, demonstrations of new products and services, testimonials or other videos, text or images. (See a sample booth on CFAA’s website.) After viewing each booth, you can talk in real time with the supplier’s representatives, just like at an in-person tradeshow, except that the conversation will be in Remo. The Tradeshow is free for rental housing providers, but you have to register.

Networking using a proven approach To provide a top-quality virtual networking experience, CFAA will use the Remo platform which includes a “table set up” for attendees. As an attendee, you will be able to move freely between tables of two, four, or six people, to interact with exhibitors and CFAA members from across Canada, catch up with colleagues and friends, and meet new colleagues.

Remo Testimonials At the beginning of March, the Eastern Ontario Landlord Organization hosted its own virtual Networking and Education Events using Remo, and received the following feedback: Rana Khan, Assistant VP, Ottawa Operations, Homestead: “Like many others, I’m not good with new technology and sometimes find it intimidating. Thankfully, Remo was very user-friendly and easy to navigate. I enjoyed today’s two 30-minute networking sessions very much.” Colin Ross, VP of Building Restoration, Bassi Construction: “Remo is intuitive. It worked very well. Remo provided the best networking I’ve done since the pandemic began.” CFAA has prepared a 4-minute Remo instructional video and will schedule short practice sessions before Benjamin Tal’s talk, and before the Tradeshow. The CFAA support team will also provide other technical support before and during the CFAA events.

At CFAA Virtual Rental Housing Conference, you will enjoy your best ever virtual networking experience! And it will be almost as good as a face-to face networking event.

Register now! CFAA is looking forward to helping rental housing providers connect, learn, and explore new and better products and services in these difficult times. Register now at CFAA Virtual Conference 2021, at www.CFAA-FCAPI.org.

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MARCH/APRIL 2021

CFAA acts on equity and inclusion in the rental housing industry By John Dickie, CFAA President

In a time when racial injustice is under a spotlight, it is crucial for the rental housing industry to address the rental experience of all racialized and marginalized members of the community through the lens of equity. CFAA and all CFAA-member associations have long stood for compliance with the human rights laws by all rental housing providers, and for good income support for low-income members of our communities, so that they can afford to obtain the housing that they need. Those commitments are morally right and worthwhile, and they continue to support diversity in our society so that we can become more equitable and inclusive. But now, people across society are being called to do more than simply comply with the human rights laws. People and companies are being called on to contribute actively toward embracing diversity, and promoting equity and inclusion for everyone in Canada. CFAA has established an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to seek to achieve progress on those issues in Canada’s rental housing industry. Besides the moral rightness of that position, the Committee’s work and CFAA actions may help to forestall unjustified moves against the interests within the rental housing industry, and to support the advancement of justified changes. CFAA thanks the current members of the new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Asquith Allen, FRPO, Ontario

Avrom Charach, a Manitoba rental housing provider

Cameron Choquette, Saskatchewan Landlord Association

Krish Vadivale, CFAA, a national rental housing provider

Fay Yachetti, a national rental housing provider

There are three main areas which seem to drive the current push for equity, diversity and inclusion, namely unconscious bias, micro-aggressions and addressing historical wrongs.

Unconscious bias Recent academic research has identified that all or almost all of us have unconscious biases. See the article at page 40 for more on unconscious bias. Unconscious attitudes, beliefs and perspectives, about people who are different from us, are often so deeply rooted that we don’t even know they exist. That makes it difficult to recognize when they are affecting our decisions and leaking out into our interpersonal interactions.

Micro-aggressions Another issue driving a desire for more action is the issue of micro-aggressions. Even well-meaning people can inadvertently display micro-aggressions against members of equity seeking groups. Microaggressions - whether intentional or unintentional - tend to flow from things like bias (conscious or unconscious), a lack of knowledge, a lack of awareness and fear. Examples of micro-aggressions include • asking questions that imply that a hijab is merely a fashion accessory, to be worn or not worn as a person feels like it, the way many non-Muslim women wear a scarf; • telling a racialized member of the community that their English is perfect; or • not making eye contact with a woman, when speaking to a man and a woman together.

38 | March/April 2021


NATIONAL OUTLOOK Proactive steps need to be taken to educate everyone so that micro-aggressions are eliminated from our interactions with others. When microaggressions do occur, people need to notice them, address them and rectify them, so they do not persist. We all have a part to play in holding ourselves - and others - accountable for ensuring micro-aggressions do not show up during our interpersonal interactions.

Addressing historical wrongs The human rights rules seek to eliminate discrimination by stereotypes. The provincial Human Rights Codes identify grounds under which people experience discrimination, such as race and religion. As landlords selecting tenants, we have been taught to ignore race or religion, to seek to ensure we are not assuming negative factors about racialized or marginalized people. However, under human rights law, we are entitled to look at individual rental histories, and screen out individuals who have a history of defaulting on their rent or of disturbing neighbours through excess noise.

Women in rental housing Like many other business people, rental housing providers have not always been friendly to racialized and marginalized members of our communities who are seeking to advance in the industry. In many ways, that explicit or implicit discrimination has also been directed at women. CFAA’s new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee will recruit additional members, review that situation, consider steps to address that issue as well as the racial issues.

CMHC’S PLANNED SURVEY. At some point in the next few months, CMHC Plans to conduct a survey of rental housing providers to seek to gauge what impact racial issues have on landlords’ operations. CFAA working with CMHC to design the survey, which will probably address current practices to manage tenant behaviour, and the steps that are taken which lead to evictions.

Reformed laws could require landlords to accept Watch for more information in the next issue of racialized or marginalized applicants with poorer National Outlook in RHB Magazine, and for CFAA track records of defaulting on rent, or disturbing e-Newsletters about that survey. neighbours through excess noise, over non-racialized and non-marginalized applicants, even though that is not required by current human rights law. That would be a form of mandatory affirmative action. Some progressive housing advocates have raised a suggestion that landlords be required to accept applicants for tenancies on a first-come-first-served basis without screening for history of rent payment, and possibly without any screening at all.

Issues specific to rental housing The acronym BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. Specific issues are being raised about the treatment of members of the BIPOC communities in rental housing, particularly in large cities, where many landlords rent to BIPOC community members in large numbers. It seems clear that the over-representation of BIPOC communities in many rental properties often stems from systemic and institutional racism in society as a whole. That results in BIPOC community members having, on average, lower incomes (and less stable incomes) than non-racialized individuals (and thus needing rental housing more, because qualifying for a mortgage and buying a home can be more difficult for many of them than for non-racialized people).

WANT TO STAY UP TO DATE WITH NATIONAL OUTLOOK? Sign-up for CFAA’s National Outlook e-newsletter to receive up-to-date news on what is happening across Canada, as well as industry insights and insider information on CFAA happenings. Email communication@cfaa-fcapi.org to start receiving CFAA’s e-Newsletter today!

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 39

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | |39 39 rentalhousingbusiness.ca


MARCH/APRIL 2021 For decades, recent immigrants have tended to rent more than people who were born in Canada. That continues today, with a twist. Now, more recent immigrants to Canadian cities tend to be racialized and marginalized members of the community than was the case 20, 30 or 40 years ago.

Conclusion With the help of its new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, CFAA will review the issues, and consider education, action and advocacy to embrace diversity and promote equity and inclusion for all equity seeking groups, while at the same time, protecting rental housing providers and tenants from measures that would put at risk our ability to provide rental housing that meets people’s needs.

Unconscious bias: How does it happen? How do we stop it? By John Dickie, CFAA President

CFAA has established an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to seek progress on equity, diversity and inclusion in rental housing. Why is that step necessary? One reason is unconscious bias. Over my 30 years of representing, advising and meeting landlords, I have found that the vast majority of landlords are decent and honest people, who believe that all members of our communities should be judged by their actions, not the colour of their skin, their accent, their religion, their gender, or any other diversity dimension that people use to self-identify. But like everyone else, landlords are subject to unconscious bias. Growing up, we cannot help being influenced by who is around us. The people we grow up with, socialize with and work with, make up our in-group. We have an affinity bias for people in our in-group because they tend to look like us, talk like us, dress like us, think and behave like us - therefore we like them. We naturally approach and include them, and we trust them. Conversely, people who don’t look like us, talk like us, dress like us, think and behave like us, are often (consciously and unconsciously) put into our out-group. We tend to decide quickly that we don’t like them; and subsequently, we avoid or exclude them, we fear them and we don’t trust them. For some people, the negative pre-judgments may be conscious and purposefully malicious. However, for many people, the negative pre-judgments about people who are different are usually automatic and unconscious. In addressing both problems, the goal is to become aware of our conscious biases, and deeply rooted unconscious biases, so that we can be more intentional about what we think (and don’t think), what we say (and don’t say), and what we do (and don’t do), when interacting with people who are different from us. We all have a responsibility to judge people as individuals rather than applying stereotypes that are attached to the racialized or marginalized groups they belong to. This is critical when we consider the important role rental housing providers play in providing housing in our communities. CFAA knows that most rental housing providers want to provide good homes for tenants of all backgrounds. Most rental housing providers are not consciously prejudiced. However, the learning about unconscious bias says that unconscious biases need to be addressed for society to achieve the equity and inclusion that most people consciously want to see.

WE COULD ALL DO BETTER In Jay Smooth’s TED talk: “How I learned to stop worrying and love discussing race”, Smooth makes the point that to be good people, we are not expected to be perfect all the time. Because of unconscious bias, not being racist is more like brushing our teeth, than it is like having our tonsils taken out. (You can find Smooth’s talk by a search of “jay smooth TED talk race”.)

With all of this in mind, not all prejudgements are negative. Sometimes positive biases can exist in our interpersonal relationships - including landlordtenant interactions. Acceptance, trust, and leniency may be given more easily to certain individuals. Whether the way we are treating others is unconsciously positive or negative, we can easily get tripped up, resulting in discriminatory and inequitable treatment for people who are not like us, based on differences in diversity dimensions, such as the colour of their skin, their accent or their religion.

40 | March/April 2021


NATIONAL OUTLOOK Overcoming unconscious bias So, what do we have to do to avoid our unconscious biases from influencing us in ways our conscious brains know are wrong? Here is a partial list of general steps we can take: • Overcome denial. Acknowledge to yourself that even though you are a good, well-meaning person, you have unconscious biases. • Curb action on positive biases. Instead, try to help other people equitably. • Evaluate your biases. If you see an event that you might be interpreting based on a bias, ask yourself if you are over-generalizing, and whether an unconscious bias could be distorting your view of the facts. • When you see someone unlike you behaving in a way contrary to what a stereotype would suggest, make a mental note of it. Remember, the goal is to treat people as individuals, not as members of the group they belong to, and what stereotypes say about that group. • Slow down your decision making. Decisions can be most easily and significantly influenced by unconscious biases when you are responding quickly or emotionally. Remain open and stay curious. Ask questions to gather facts that will inform your decision. Make assessments by using objective criteria. • Focus on the similarities that exist with other people, rather than placing emphasis on the differences. For example, someone unlike you in some ways may support the same sports team you do, or their children might go to the same school your children do.

Conclusion CFAA’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee will work on developing and promoting education for rental housing providers to reduce the impacts of unconscious bias, and will seek other ways to make progress on equity, diversity and inclusion in rental housing.

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

Hot Topics: LPMA reports on the revised terms and conditions as Ontario rolls out the updated standard lease, including outstanding rent arrears, service of notices by email, fees and charges bylaw, services and facilities provision, and more. pg. 45 WRAMA describes the updates to its website, a member event discussion on the CMHC market update, and recent changes to the standard Ontario lease document. pg. 49 EOLO reports on Ottawa’s new Rental Housing Management By-law requirements, including capital maintenance plans and pest control. pg. 53 HDAA reports on the impacts of the pandemic, a review of the property standards by-law, the rental housing market, and the CMHC Rental Market Report. pg. 57

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE STRONGER TOGETHER IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, LPMA has experienced a year like no other. One of our most significant challenges has been rethinking how we serve our members — no easy task considering that much of what we do involves in-person interactions at our office and through our members’ meetings and seminars. Although necessity has forced us to take a different approach, we’ve done more than just survive; in adapting to these new circumstances, we’re thriving. We are continuing to inform our members through our virtual educational seminars and Zoom meetings (our next virtual meetings take place on April 13 and May 11). Members are also able to stay up to date with industry news through our website and closed Facebook group. We even held our annual Christmas party online. Along the way, we rolled out the newest amendments to the province’s standard lease and updated LPMA’s terms and conditions. I’m very proud of this organization and the members who comprise it. Let’s take advantage of this year to keep making LPMA stronger.

- Shirley Criger, LPMA President L P M A R E V I S E S T E R M S A N D C O N D I T I O N S A S O N TA R I O R O L L S O U T U P DAT E D S TA N DA R D L E A S E The provincial government recently updated the standard lease to take into account changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) that were introduced last July by Bill 184. Those changes resulted in incorrect information in the standard lease, said London lawyer Joe Hoffer. The Province decided to update the standard lease to deal with those inaccuracies. The main amendment to the RTA removed a requirement for a landlord to provide a tenant with information about electricity consumption for a unit. That information was required only where the unit was sub-metered or the tenant was paying for the cost of electricity. “In order to ensure the form was accurate, the Province had to re-issue the prescribed form for the standard lease and they decided at the same time to make a few other changes, mainly to the narrative that goes with the standard lease,” Hoffer said. “It was really just a tidying up.” For example, in Part D, the narrative has added additional grounds for ending a tenancy, including for a landlord’s own use. A section at the end of the narrative, titled Guide to the Standard Lease, provides a website address in multiple languages to make the document more accessible for tenants whose first language isn’t English. While the Province was amending the standard lease, Hoffer recommended to LPMA’s board of directors that the additional terms and conditions also be updated. An LPMA committee created

them in 2017 by comparing the standard lease to the association’s own lease, which Hoffer drafted in the early 1990s. Valuable information that was in LPMA’s lease, but not in the standard lease, was then used to form the terms and conditions. They also provide instructions, using specific clauses, to the parties on how the landlord-tenant relationship will be addressed. For example, the standard lease states that landlords are responsible for maintenance without explaining that tenants must notify the landlord in writing if they need to schedule a maintenance call. LPMA addressed the omission in the terms and conditions. “There were issues that had been popping up regularly and so we decided to deal with those issues in the context of the additional terms and conditions,” Hoffer said. Listed below are the main updates to the terms and conditions.

Outstanding rent arrears In one new provision, the money that tenants pay must go toward their oldest outstanding arrears, and any other charges that they owe to their landlords, before that money can be applied to the current rent owing. Tenants are also prohibited from designating how the arrears are to be applied, which is a change from earlier decisions at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Previously, tenants were able to designate to the landlord a payment for the current month’s rent despite having accumulated several months of arrears.

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 45


Service of notices by email Landlords may now provide tenants with their email address, which allows them to serve notices of termination and all Board documents, by email. Hoffer said this change was a direct result of the pandemic and the need to avoid personal contact. Previously, notices of termination and Board applications could not be served by email and a clause had to be included allowing tenants to revoke consent to receive documents by email at any time. Landlords also had to give the name of an individual that tenants could contact; that is no longer the case. “Most of us are working remotely and you want to avoid personal contact with people,” Hoffer said. “Email is recommended as it is a fast and effective way for landlords and tenants to serve and exchange documents.”

Fees and charges bylaw Changes were made to deal with forthcoming amendments to the municipal fees and charges bylaws, which industry professionals believe will spread to municipalities beyond the GTA. In Toronto, if a tenant pulls a false alarm, the landlord is charged by the fire service to come to the building and reset the alarm. LPMA added clauses to ensure the landlord could recover any penalties or monetary fines from the tenant if there is evidence evidence that reveals the identity of the perpetrator. Landlords are also protected from having to cover charges that aren’t their responsibility. One situation concerns tenants’ refusal to pay rent while their units are being renovated after a fire, even if they started the fire. The law is clear that the lease continues to run and the tenants are still liable to pay rent even though they can’t live in the unit. In Toronto, the costs of sending fire inspectors, social workers, and police to a building after a fire used to come out of an emergency budget until the responsibility shifted for payment to landlords through the municipality’s fees and charges bylaw. Through amendments to LPMA’s additional terms and conditions, a tenant who causes a shutdown is liable to indemnify the landlord for penalties or fines that the landlord is charged to cover the emergency services provided by the municipality or another agency. “That, married with the tenant’s insurance, really helps protect the landlord from having to foot the bill when the landlord isn’t the one who’s responsible for the rental unit being rendered unfit,” Hoffer said.

Services and facilities provisions Many tenants request rent reductions because the landlord has terminated an obsolete facility and introduced a new one. However, a change isn’t necessarily a cutback. In one situation, a landlord replaced a live lobby attendant and security with multiple cameras and a virtual concierge that took the form of a touchscreen through which tenants could request different services. A few tenants complained that it was a withdrawal of a service or facility. The Board disagreed and stated that tenants were continuing to receive attendant services and the security services had been enhanced by video access to a central monitoring station. The Court of Appeal specifically acknowledged that there could be changes to services or facilities. “If you accepted that you can never have a change of services or facilities, we’d still have elevator attendants,” Hoffer said. “We just don’t have them anymore. It doesn’t mean that it’s a reduction in services or facilities. It just means there’s a change.”

Air-conditioning units Changes were made to cover the installation and operation of air-conditioning units. Due to increasing electricity costs, landlords have begun charging tenants for the cost of using their units even though they may not have done so in the past.

46 | March/April 2021


“We made it clear in the appliance provisions that the tenant was required to comply with the conditions and the landlord could impose a separate charge,” Hoffer said. “We used more plain language in the waiver clause so that if the landlord were to point to it, the tenant would understand.”

Bad-faith evictions Through Bill 184, the Province introduced tenantfriendly provisions such as increasing fines if a landlord is in violation of its obligations in an eviction situation. For example, some investor landlords buy a rental unit, evict the tenant to renovate it, then re-rent the unit for a much higher rent to a new tenant. In other situations, investors would give the tenant an eviction notice indicating that the unit was going to be for the landlord’s own use. After the tenant left, the landlord would rent the unit to a new tenant at a much higher rent.

The standard lease package The standard lease and the terms and conditions are part of a package that LPMA has copyrighted and licenses to other regional landlord associations for members’ use. Those associations include the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario, the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, the Waterloo Regional Apartment Management Association, and Hamilton and District Apartment Association. Hoffer said the original LPMA lease on which the terms and conditions are based is well

recognized throughout the province by prominent landlords and Board members. “Each time it has been updated, it’s been updated through a committee for seasoned property management and landlord professionals who listen to recommendations and provide instructions. That’s how we come up with the changes. It’s really intended to be up do date each time we do update it.” The standard lease package is available at: https://lpma.ca/forms/. It includes the compatible standard lease agreement and terms and conditions; rental application; assignment agreement; guarantee; and sublet agreement. LPMA retained Cohen Highley’s IT department to make the standard lease and the terms and conditions available as a PDF or electronically. They are also compatible, which means that if landlords enter their name and the tenant’s name at the start of the lease, the program adds it at the bottom and in the terms and conditions. Tenants can sign the lease from their smartphones or tablets. And if landlords add the rent for a partial term and the charges for parking and storage, the standard lease calculates the amount of the pro-rated rent automatically. Landlords who haven’t started using the new form as of March 1 should do so. They won’t face penalties, but failure to use the proper form of the Province’s standard lease could allow tenants to break their fixed-term lease early, Hoffer said.

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Happy spring 2021! As the days become longer and the weather gets better, so too does the optimism (in some areas) that things are slowly getting back to normal. Although a potential third wave and another lockdown loom, vaccinations continue to bring hope of how we will deal with COVID-19 moving forward. Many of you are aware that eviction orders are now being enforced in areas that are not in lockdown. This is welcome news to the many landlords who have received a judgment that could not have been enforced previously. The next step is to continue providing feedback and suggestions to the LTB on how to improve their system to help reduce the backlog and time delay in getting a judgment. WRAMA has recently been working with Affordable Housing Providers of Ontario (AHPO), as one of their main goals is to help “fix” the system so the LTB can provide timely judgments. As a result, they have been involved James Craig in regular stakeholder meetings with the LTB to provide comments and suggestions to help make the system better. WRAMA will reach out to you (if we have not already) to see what ideas you have that could help improve the system, which we will share at the next stakeholder meeting. As of the second week of March, the LTB has held two virtual sessions on how they will use the Zoom platform going forward to make mediations and hearings better. The hope is that holding virtual sessions along with in-person meetings (when they get back to normal) will help reduce wait times. It is important for landlords to continue providing solutions and new ideas of how we can improve the system. It’s not news that the current system is broken; however, with new ideas and changing technologies available, it is possible to continue helping make change happen. Enjoy the warmer weather and optimism usually associated with spring and I will see you at the next virtual session!

- James Craig, President, WRAMA

Website updates Past meeting recordings are now live We are excited to announce that members are now able to view past meeting recordings from July of 2020. Please note that not all meetings were recorded and/or we were not given permission by the presenter to share the meetings with members. We will continue to add these recorded meetings to our website going forward in case you have not been able to attend a meeting.

Website updates

To access past meetings, you will need to log into our website. Should you need assistance accessing your account, please don’t hesitate to contact us at membership@wrama.com. We will be able to provide step-by-step instructions on how to access this content and other memberonly information.

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 49


New content to be added As a further enhancement to the website, we will be including important links to landlord and tenant resources. We are hoping to include the most used and important links to ensure you know where to go in every situation. Please reach out if you have a link you feel should be included. Also included will be links to other rental housing associations that operate throughout Ontario, as well as FRPO and CFAA. Our goal is to be a one-stop resource for all relevant links that are important to today’s landlord. We will also be adding a news section where we will keep links to recent articles pertaining to the rental housing industry. Continue to check back with our website as we add more content. We are always open to suggestions for new ideas so please feel free to reach out to us.

February’s member event Our February members meeting was the annual CMHC market update for the Kitchener-WaterlooCambridge and Guelph CMAs. This was very timely as many in the industry were interested in how our local market fared with the impacts of COVID-19. Many reports out of the GTA suggested increasing vacancies, falling rental rates, and, in some cases, incentives being provided in those markets.

Jennifer Tsao

Jennifer Tsao, a senior analyst for our market, provided a great presentation that highlighted many strengths occurring in our market. Some of the key findings from the report included a stable vacancy rate of 2.1 per cent (the same as in 2019) and rental rates increased by 4 per cent year over year. This is quite amazing since the KWC market added just over 2,500 new rental units. In Guelph, there was a similar story. The vacancy rate edged slightly higher to 2.2 per cent (up from 2 per cent in 2019). However, their average rental rate increased by almost 5 per cent year over year. Jennifer also highlighted that the population increase in KWC was down slightly from its high of just over 14,000 in 2018-2019, which was likely impacted by the Canada-U.S. border being shut down. It is widely assumed that many renters came from the GTA as rents are significantly less expensive in KWC than in the GTA. Jennifer’s presentation is in the members only area of our website if you missed it.

March’s member event On March 10, WRAMA hosted Joe Hoffer from Cohen Highley LLP, who provided an overview of the recent changes to the standard Ontario lease document, as well as the addendum that many WRAMA members are using since the standard lease was introduced in Ontario. Likely a huge relief is the ability to now communicate with tenants through email as long as the noted email account is regularly monitored. Further, many notices can now be delivered through email as well as rules pertaining to certain forms are followed.

Joe Hoffer

The majority of the changes that were made to the lease package involved the terms that were added to the Provincial Standard Lease. Some highlights of the changes include application of payments to the oldest arrears (not the newest, future rent or declaring a new tenancy), tenant liability for fines levied against the landlord due to tenant conduct, and greater flexibilty relative to condition and charges for applicances.

50 | March/April 2021


Joe also provided further details on Bill 184 including sections that have not yet been proclaimed. Although there is no specific timing for when this could occur, many of these changes should be on your radar moving forward. Joe’s presentation, and the question and answer portion, are included in the members only section of our website.

New lease update In late March, we notified members that the updated additional terms were now available for purchase. This is the same material as presented by Joe Hoffer. The full lease package is available to all current members of WRAMA and includes instructions on how to use the documents, the Rental Application, Standard Lease and Additional Terms (print and electronic versions), Sublet Agreement, Guarantee Agreement, and Assignment Agreement. Please see our website for cost details. This is a great one-stop package for landlords as it protects your interests better than the provincial standard lease. The additional agreements are helpful as they provide off-the-shelf documents you can use should a situation require it. Best of all, you’ll have the comfort to know that the

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Moving into summer As we move into the summer months, the WRAMA Board has considered continuing with virtual general meetings. Typically, WRAMA takes a summer break from in-person meetings. However, with meetings now being virtual, you can literally attend from your dock at the cottage. Currently we are having discussions with a few presenters and hope to firm up some dates in the near future. Watch for future member meetings!

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Chair’s message Two years ago, ACORN and some “progressive” City Councillors made a big push to bring in landlord licensing in the City of Ottawa. Other Ontario cities have landlord licensing (or registration), which requires an annual fee for each rental unit, City inspections, an application to get a license, and a lot of paperwork and records. EOLO opposed landlord licensing and prevented it from being adopted for Ottawa. Therefore, Ottawa landlords do not need to pay the City any fees to operate rental property. However, the City decided to require landlords to take some new actions and do some new paperwork, and enacted the Rental Housing Property Management By-law (the “RHPM By-law”). Key new requirements are explained below. - John Dickie, EOLO Chair

Ottawa’s new Rental Housing Property Management By-law requirements The RHPM By-law will come into force in the City of Ottawa on August 31, 2021, just over four months from now. The new rules seek to avoid and solve the problems caused by miscommunications between tenants and landlords. However, the by-law will add to the administrative obligations that all residential landlords have. To find the by-law, search “Ottawa” and “Rental Housing Property Management”. The by-law addresses five areas: • Pest control • Keeping a “capital maintenance plan” (for most buildings) • Procedures for managing and recording tenant service requests • Recording tenant requests for assistance • Providing an information package to tenants This article will focus on pest control and keeping a capital maintenance plan. An article in the next issue will address the other three areas of new regulations.

Capital maintenance plans The new requirement to keep a capital maintenance plan will apply to: • A residential rental building with 10 or more rental units other than a townhouse or rowhouse • A building that contains two or more residential rental units, which is three or more storeys in height

Under section 3 of the RHPM By-law, owners of those buildings must create and maintain a capital maintenance plan (CMP) listing and addressing these capital elements which exist at the building: • Accessibility features and equipment, for common entrances and areas • Building-wide electrical distribution systems • Plumbing for the building, such as risers and stacks • Fire escapes • Elevators • Mechanical systems (furnace, boiler, and AC units provided by the landlord) • Roofs • Exterior cladding • Balconies and balcony railings • Parking structures The CMP must be kept in an electronic format. That could be Excel, any other spreadsheet, Word, any other word processing software, or specialized computer software. For each of the capital elements, the capital maintenance plan shall: • Identify the capital element • Record the date of last inspection • Describe the condition, including any deficiencies, witnessed during the last inspection • Describe any required remedial action, such as refurbishment or planned replacement, and the anticipated time period during which this action will occur

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If a system is in good condition, that is all you have to state. You do not need to say when you plan to re-inspect or refurbish or replace a building element that is in adequate condition when you inspect it. Table 1 shows an example of some building elements for a hypothetical building. Table 1: Sample capital maintenance plan Building Element

Last inspection

Condition

Roof

Oct 10, 2020

Good

Exterior cladding Furnace

Oct 10, 2020

Balconies

April, 2018

Bricks need Repoint bricks repointing Performing well Good

Automatic door opener

June 5, 2019

Good

Oct 15, 2020

Planned refurbishment/ replacement

Planned date for the work

June 2021

The by-law does not prescribe how often you have to inspect the building or each capital element. The general law of occupier’s liability says that you have to take reasonable steps to keep your property safe. That includes inspections at “reasonable intervals”. The length of a reasonable interval depends on the item, the item’s known or estimated age, and the item’s condition when you inspect it each time. Engineers may suggest when the next inspection should take place. Furnaces are generally “inspected” when they are serviced, usually each Fall. Unless there is another requirement to inspect more often, it seems likely that for most buildings, an annual visual inspection would be ample or more than ample. The City’s goal is to focus landlords’ minds on the desirability of periodic inspections. If there is a problem, then the record of inspection will help you if you inspect at reasonable intervals, but it will hurt you if you don’t.

Action to take now Landlords who are required to keep a capital maintenance plan should create one now. After choosing the software you want to use, and listing the capital elements, you can choose from one of two possible approaches: • You may have records, notes or a recollection of when you last inspected certain building elements. You can use those records or recollections to fill in the date of last inspection and condition. Assuming the condition was good or adequate, the plan does not need to include anything more. • If you do not have any records or recollection of your last inspection of certain building elements, then you will need to inspect the building elements and note the appropriate information in the plan. Alternatively, you can have the capital elements inspected by a professional, such as an engineer, or by an appropriate tradesperson, such as a roofer for the roof. Either way, you will be well advised to note when you plan to inspect the various building elements next. However, those notes do not need to be part of the plan.

Pest control – applicable to all rentals The City of Ottawa RHPM By-law requires that every residential landlord “establish and maintain an integrated pest management plan” for every rental property (s.29). Under section 30, the integrated pest management plan must include: • A schedule of preventative inspection reasonable for the property

54 | March/April 2021


• Educational information to be made available for tenants • Reporting processes • Standing pest treatment plans For the most part, the plan, the educational material, and the standing pest treatment plans can be templates provided by the City, EOLO or a pest control company. The inspection could be once a year, or even less frequently for a small property with no history of pest problems, or for units with no history of pest problems. In addition, every landlord shall: • Provide a tenant a pest treatment plan before treating their unit (s.31) • Reinspect areas treated for pests between 15 and 30 days after treatment (s.33) • Post a notice in a lobby of an apartment building when a treatment is done in a common area accessible to tenants (s.32) • Retain the plan or the notice in case a by-law officer requires it (s.39) Pest experts say that the re-inspection for bed bugs should be done 15 days after the treatment, and the re-inspection for cockroaches should be 25 to 30 days after a treatment. You may want to task your pest control contractor with posting the notice in the lobby, when required. As the owner or property manager, you are responsible for making sure that it is done and for keeping a copy of the notice. Under the by-law, tenants will also have new obligations. Tenants will be required to: • Report pest infestations (s.34) • Avoid knowingly causing conditions that may attract or harbour pests (s.35) • Treat an infestation of fleas, lice or ticks on an animal (e.g., pet) under their care (s.36) • Abide by a pest treatment plan provided by the landlord (s.37) Since a failure by tenants to prepare for and to cooperate during pest treatments is the usual reason

treatments fail, these new tenant obligations should help make pest treatments more effective.

More action to take now As noted above, as of August 31 this year, all residential landlords in Ottawa are required to establish and maintain an integrated pest management plan for every rental property. Unless you have such a plan already, you are best to check the EOLO website every few weeks to see if EOLO or the City have provided a template plan. When the plan(s) is or are ready, EOLO will post the information on our website and notify members through one or more e-Newsletters. Once you have an integrated pest management plan document, you will need to decide on a preventive inspection schedule. That schedule needs to be reasonable having regard to the extent of the pest problem (if any) at your property. You also need to obtain and adopt standing pest treatment plans. EOLO members will be able to obtain those plans from EOLO. Pest control contractors are also likely to make them available. You will be well advised to get your pest control preparations done as soon as possible, to clear the way for the other requirements of the new by-law.

Steps from here The steps landlords need to take very soon are listed above. Those actions will get you ready to meet the requirements concerning pest control and capital maintenance plans (if the requirement for a plan applies to you). The by-law also requires action concerning: • Procedures for managing and recording tenant service requests • Recording tenant requests for assistance • Providing an information package to tenants The next issue of Regional Association Voice will address those three areas of the new by-law that will apply in the City of Ottawa as of August 31.

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.

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 55


PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE This month marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic in Canada, the time when we saw our first lockdowns. I believe that many people thought, or at least hoped, that the pandemic would have been over long before now. It seems this will indeed be our reality for the near future, with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. As this is written, Ontario is reaching approximately 30,000 doses of vaccine per day and, if this trajectory continues, we may see some relief by the end of the year with regard to the pandemic. With the warmer weather approaching as well, we hope this will provide some reprieve from the pandemic, and certainly it will at least allow us to get some much-needed fresh air. Numbers have not been anywhere near those previously estimated, with some models projecting 20,000 cases per day around this time; fortunately, we are hovering around 1,000 cases per day across the province. We hope this trajectory of lower numbers continues and we do not see a third wave in light of the variants that have started to make their way through Ontario. Hamilton continues to do what it can to support its residents suffering from the financial hardships many are facing. The City is again ramping up with meetings and we will likely see some updates on landlord licensing soon, as well as a reviewed and updated property standards by-law. We expect to have updates on these items in upcoming issues. - Tina Novak, President, HDAA

Impacts of the pandemic continue The City of Hamilton is continuing to deal with the financial impacts of the pandemic. Many renters are struggling to pay their rent, as the lockdowns have resulted in significant job losses, particularly in the hospitality industry. The City of Hamilton’s social housing provider is seeing these effects quite significantly, with rental arrears reaching levels double the numbers normally observed. Arrears in CityHousing Hamilton have gone up from an average of 14 to 15 per cent to approximately 34 per cent, due to the financial burdens experienced by renters during the pandemic. With the LTB giving tenants in arrears as long as two years to pay them off, this will mean CityHousing will take on a large financial burden, and will likely need more funding from other levels of government to meet the costs of the rent arrears. The rent freeze that has been imposed for this year has put an additional financial strain on CityHousing, with an estimated decrease in revenues of $1.1 million from the rents that would have been received absent the rent freeze.

units. Without proper support from the various levels of government, the financial burdens they are facing can only get worse, especially in light of a pandemic that seems to be months from improving. These financial burdens will and are being passed on to housing providers as well. To minimize that problem, it is now more important than ever to have a good relationship with your tenants and to create an environment of collaboration and support. We are all struggling financially but by working together we can perhaps provide some reprieve that will benefit all parties.

It is safe to say that the pandemic has hit our most vulnerable tenants most significantly, whether they live in CityHousing or in private

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 57


Property standards by-law The City of Hamilton has been working on a review of the property standards by-law and how it relates to the rental housing industry. The proposed changes should be discussed at an upcoming Planning Committee meeting scheduled for March 23. HDAA will be submitting our suggestions and concerns with regard to proposed changes. The pandemic has raised concerns about cleaning protocols and access to hand sanitizing stations. Although this is of great benefit during a pandemic, it will likely be an undue burden, and certainly not necessary, once the pandemic is over. We will be arguing that this should not be included in a by-law that has applies over the long-term.

Housing and the rental market The housing market in Hamilton continues to be very competitive with demand not tapering off and supply continuing to remain low. This high demand/low supply environment continues to result in increases in home prices in Hamilton. The exodus from Toronto seems to be continuing, with individuals looking for more land and more space versus small condo living. With the typically busy spring market quickly approaching, it will be interesting to see how the market continues throughout the next few months. The rental housing market is seeing effects similar to the market for single family homes, with rents continuing to remain strong and demand continuing as many tenants are remaining in their units, creating less turnover in rental units. Some of the higher end buildings appear to be struggling as people who would have downsized wait out the pandemic, but otherwise Hamilton has weathered the storm of the pandemic.

Past events February 16 – New Standard Lease and CMHC Report The HDAA welcomed back Mark Melchers from Cohen Highley to discuss the new standard lease that needs to be used as of March 1, 2021. Our new president, Tina Novak, then made a presentation on the CMHC Rental Market report for October 2020. New standard lease Mark discussed some of the changes to the standard lease that housing providers should be aware of, as well as tips and suggestions. One suggestion discussed is that housing providers can now agree to give documents and notices to their tenants by email, as this is now permitted in some cases by the LTB. Under the new lease, it is no longer a requirement to provide the electricity consumption form to tenants; the payment of arrears will only apply to the oldest rent arrears; and, with respect to a landlord’s right of entry, a reasonable reason includes showing the unit to a perspective purchaser. The insurance clause has been strengthened and now deems failure of a tenant to secure and maintain tenant insurance as a substantial breach. It is also no longer a requirement to give new tenants the Information for Tenants form. Mark also spoke about some changes arising from Bill 184 which have not yet been proclaimed. These include being able to file applications for rent arrears against former tenants, recovery of utility arrears at the LTB, and the ability for the LTB to take on these matters instead of Small Claims Court. CMHC Rental Market Report Tina discussed the various insights from the CMHC Rental Market Report for October 2020 with respect to Hamilton. She touched on the overall vacancy rate, which has remained relatively unchanged from 2019 at 3.5 per cent. She discussed the reasons for this vacancy level, which

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included less movement from tenants due to higher homeownership costs, financial hardships due to the pandemic, weaker employment conditions, lower immigration, and fewer students looking to rent. More generally, there is likely an overall fear of movement from tenants due to the pandemic, which has resulted in low turnover rates compared to the previous year. Tina also discussed the average market rents throughout Hamilton, which have seen an increase from October 2019. Average rents have increased more than the provincial guideline for last year; however, the average rent increase would likely have been higher if there had been more unit turnover. In terms of rental arrears, Hamilton is sitting at 6 per cent, which is quite good in comparison to other cities in Ontario and other provinces, although it is certainly much higher than pre-pandemic levels Tina made a good point that the CMHC Rental Market Report is a great tool for comparing your property against other properties, and as a benchmark to see how you are doing compared to city, provincial, and federal averages. Of course, the numbers only show units and properties that are reported and may not encompass smaller properties. You also have to account for the differences of your property from the average property in your location. If your property’s units are smaller, in worse than average condition or your property is badly located on its street, you may not achieve

the CMHC average. On the other hand, if your property’s units are larger, in better than average condition or your property is well located in its area, you should achieve higher rents than the CMHC average. Another critical factor is that in its general reports, CMHC is reporting rents for some units that have turned over, and rents for many units that have not turned over for years. In Ontario’s hot rental market, rents may increase by substantial amounts on turnover. Units often receive upgrades on turnover, and that also makes the CMHC average less relevant for landlords setting their rents. CMHC’s reporting shows general trends, but smart landlords look carefully at the differences between their properties and the average property and pay attention to the changes that apply on turnover.

Hamilton & District Apartment Association Since 1960, the Hamilton & District Apartment Association has grown significantly. Our members manage over 30,000 units throughout Hamilton, Burlington, Brantford, Guelph, Mississauga, Oakville, St. Catharines and into the Niagara Peninsula. The association is a highly respected organization, sought out regularly by government, industry, media and the public.

Interested? Call us or join online! Ph: 905-616-2058 Web: www.hamiltonapartmentassociation.ca

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Final Take Away

Brought to you by Yardi Canada Ltd

Property Management Tech 101: Preparing for a future of innovation Heather Brady, National Sales Director, Yardi Canada Ltd.

When the world opens up again and we establish an evolved way of doing business, how can you prime your company and your team for the future? Companies have reduced in-person contact with vendors and tenants and adapted to virtual engagements. Businesses have gone paperless with varying degrees of automation, embracing the data and insights that come with technology. How can your company excel with technology that matters today and will continue to matter well into the future? I’m glad you’ve read this far because I have good news. The right technology can help your business navigate COVID-19 and set you up for success post-pandemic. I’ll explain...

Leverage tools that give you the flexibility to work from anywhere COVID-19 has taught us that traditional ways of working have changed; the ability to work remotely is key. Software and technology allow you to do that. The right property management solution safely stores all your property data in the cloud, allowing employees to securely access everything they need from their desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. The right solution will also give you the ability to manage every aspect of your business on a single, integrated system. Investing in multiple point solutions that may or may not fully integrate with each other is a gamble you can move away from for good. Select a solution provider that is on the forefront of digital innovation so your software can deliver everything your team needs to run your business and adapt to the changing needs of the market.

Take advantage of paperless transactions Some organizations still prefer traditional forms of doing business, such as processing applications, lease agreements, invoice processing, cheque printing, and rent collection. Fortunately, we have seen a lot of recent success across Canada with organizations converting manually processed paper transactions to completely digital ones. We’ve also seen increased interest in outsourcing utility billing and utility invoice processing to help businesses save time and money. That’s another area where property management software can make a big difference.

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Cater to the customer experience More and more renters are searching online for their next rental home. According to the 2020 Multi-Res Tenant Survey, conducted by Informa Canada, 74 per cent of respondents say websites matter when searching for a new rental. Help prospects find the right unit, apply, get screened, and execute their lease agreement — all online. The right property management solution can also help your property managers set up corporate websites and help your leasing agents hold both live and pre-recorded virtual tours. The Multi-Res Tenant Survey also shows that 71 per cent of residents prefer to communicate with their landlord electronically. Luckily, property management software makes it easier for landlords to keep in touch with prospects and residents. When important news needs to be communicated, such as a maintenance or construction update, you’ll be able to inform your community immediately. Here’s another important takeaway from the study: 73 per cent of residents prefer to pay their rent electronically. Portals allow tenants to pay rent via PAD, debit or credit card, enter work requests, and renew their leases. And again, this is all done online. ​

Get started sooner rather than later I’m going to end with some bad news and good news. The bad news is that if you’re working on a subpar software system or are still using basic spreadsheets, you’re probably leaving money on the table. That money comes from all over the place, in the form of overall efficiency, better data, time-saving applications, cost management, etc. The good news is that getting set up on today’s modern property management software only takes days or weeks. All property managers, investors, and owners should take 15 minutes today to explore your options. By investing your time and resources in adopting an integrated solution, you will be able to leverage the true benefit of real estate software and boldly drive toward the next steps of growth and realize the vision for your business.


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