RHB Magazine April 2020

Page 1

Vol. 13 No. 1 April 2020

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

The official publication of:

Managing the coronavirus risk at your rental property

Protecting tenants and employees from the coronavirus

COVID-19 and commercial real estate

Marketing automation applications for real estate

The rental housing industry is doing its part to protect the public from the coronavirus.

How has it affected the rental housing industry?

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EDITOR’S NOTES Editor’s Note – Social distancing I’ve been working from home as a freelance writer and copy editor for most of my career. So, when the government said that we need to stay home – except for essential services – I understood that some of my friends would have issues being cooped up at home. There was no change in my routine. Some people have kids, and are going stir crazy trying to keep them occupied and get work done. I’ve had my daughter home with me since she was one year old, and we’ve developed a routine so that I can get work done and she gets the attention she needs. Ironically, the hardest thing is having my family around all the time – there is no social distancing. But it’s much better to be with family than not, especially during these challenging times. The April issue of RHB Magazine features an article that explains how building owners and property managers can manage the risk of coronavirus in their rental properties. This includes understanding your legal obligations, maintaining compliance with occupational health and safety legislation, creating an Infectious Disease Business Continuity Plan, creating a safe and healthy workplace, and protecting tenants from the virus. We also have an article that describes what different companies across the rental housing industry are doing to protect tenants, employees, and clients from the coronavirus. It’s important to show what our industry members are doing in the fight to flatten the curve. Another article, written by Peter Altobelli of Yardi Canada, discusses the applications of marketing automation in the property management industry. Some uses include keeping data accurate, improving customer tracking and communications, and recovering missed opportunities. Make sure to read CFAA’s newsletter, National Outlook, as well as the Regional Association Voice. CBRE Suite Count has moved but it’s still here, so check it out. And we have a new section called Final Take Away, which is brought to you by Yardi Breeze, that will provide more industry information. We enjoy hearing from our readers, and we support two-way communication, so if you have comments or questions, send them to david@rentalhousingbusiness.ca. I look forward to hearing from you. Most importantly – stay safe and healthy everyone!

Enjoy the issue! David Gargaro Senior Editor

4 | April 2020

Co-founder, Publisher

Marc Côté marc@rentalhousingbusiness.ca

Co-founder, Director

Juan Malvestitti juan@rentalhousingbuisness.ca


David Gargaro david@rentalhousingbusiness.ca

Contributing Editor

John Dickie, President CFAA jdickie@rentalhousingbusiness.ca

Creative Director / Designer Scott Clark

Associate Publisher Nishant Rai

Office Manager Geeta Lokhram


One year $49.99 Cdn Two years $79.99 Cdn Single copy sales $9.99 Cdn Opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the CFAA Board or management. CFAA and RHB Inc. accept no liability for information contained herein. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without the written permission from the publisher. P.O. Box 696, Maple, ON L6A 1S7 416-236-7473 Produced in Canada All contents copyright © RHB Inc. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 42652516

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VOL.13 NO.1 2020

Marketing automation applications for real estate

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

Managing the coronavirus risk at your rental property As a building owner or property manager, you have a legal obligation to maintain a safe and healthy environment for your tenants and employees.

Hot Topics: EOLO reports on various measures that the City of Ottawa and the Province of Ontario have implemented to ease pressures due to COVID-19, including water bill and property tax relief, the Ontario Works Emergency Assistance Program, and enforcement powers for COVID-19 violations. pg. 45 HDAA provides details about the Hamilton LRT cancellation, and what that means for Hamilton, as well as topics discussed at the March 12 HDAA dinner meeting, including the 2019 CMHC report and the state of multi-family real estate in Hamilton and Burlington. pg. 49 LPMA discusses the new Fees and Charges Bylaw amendment enacted by the City of Toronto, which requires landlords to pay the costs of tenant relocation when vital services are not available at a building, regardless of the cause. What consequences do landlords fear? pg. 53 WRAMA provides information about government support to mitigate rent defaults, as well as about the negative connotations around the term “landlord�, and what can be done about it. pg. 57

The Member Associations

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

Protecting employees and tenants from the coronavirus Businesses and people across the rental housing industry are doing their part to protect their members, tenants, and the public from the coronavirus.

6 | April 2020

Final Take Away Yardi is taking a number of measures to protect and support its clients, employees, and communities.

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PRESIDENT’S CORNER These are extraordinary times. Medical personnel are now front-line troops in the war to deal with COVID-19. Cashiers at grocery stores are now front-line troops in the war to contain COVID-19, while keeping their customers fed. Rental housing providers and our employees are now frontline troops in the war to contain COVID-19, while keeping our residents safe and secure in their homes. Meanwhile, advocates on the extreme left are pressing for a rent holiday or rent strikes in which the people who can pay their rent withhold it “to support those who can’t pay.” It is hard to imagine an action so misguided and so counter-productive. While rental providers struggle to keep buildings clean, and tenants and employees safe, our industry’s associations deal with related issues: engaging the media on a proactive and reactive basis; provincial bans or limitations on evictions; supporting landlords in their rent collection efforts (balancing compassion for those who can’t pay their rent this month with the need for revenue to keep the buildings operating); and seeking government help for the rental sector, so that we can keep buildings clean, and tenants and employees safe. Most of that work takes place at the provincial level. Since CFAA works at the federal level, our three top issues are: improving government messaging to emphasize that tenants who can pay their rent, should pay their rent; seeking government financial support to deliver rent support, paid directly to rental housing providers; and lobbying government to require the banks, and other lenders, to provide deferrals when rental providers need them due to COVID-19. For details and CFAA’s additional issues, see

8 | April 2020

National Outlook at page 35. This issue of National Outlook also describes the main federal financial support for individuals, namely the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which will be critical for giving many tenants the ability to pay their rents. We also touch on the new wage subsidy, which may support many other tenants in their jobs. CFAA’s strategic partnership with Home Depot continues to exceed expectations. If you buy maintenance and repair supplies from Home Depot, make sure they know you are a member of CFAA (directly or through one of more of our affiliated provincial or regional associations). Help your bottom line, and help CFAA! While the in-person version of CFAA– RHC 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19, CFAA is continuing with the CFAA Rental Housing Awards Program. See page 40 for details.

John Dickie, CFAA President John Dickie, CFAA President

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 9

In this issue of... NATIONAL OUTLOOK 35. With the COVID-19 situation evolving quickly, CFAA’s advocacy has had to be flexible. Read more about CFAA’s current priorities and how we are working with government and media to promote rent payment.

38. W hile many tenants can still pay their rent, others cannot. Learn more about what provinces are doing, and associations are seeking, so that tenants will stay housed and you will receive your rents.

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

40. T he federal government has launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, for those who had lost their income due to COVID-19. Read more about the details of the CERB, including the eligibility criteria.

Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia (IPOANS) www.ipoans.ns.ca P: 902-425-3572

41. W hile CFAA-RHC 2020 has been cancelled, the CFAA Rental Housing Awards will be continuing as usual, with a few changes, including a deadline extension and no Awards Dinner. Will you be applying this year?

London Property Management Association (LPMA) www.lpma.ca P: 519-672-6999

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 $480 billion rental housing industry. For more information about CFAA itself, see www.cfaa-fcapi.org or telephone 613-235-0101.

10 | April 2020

CFAA Member Associations

LandlordBC www.landlordbc.ca P: 1-604-733-9440 Vancouver Office P: 604-733-9440 Victoria Office P: 250-382-6324

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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The World Health Organization has declared that the novel coronavirus outbreak (which causes Coronavirus Disease 19 or COVID-19) is now a global pandemic. The virus continues to infect thousands of people daily around the world, and it has impacted all corners of society, from the financial markets to the sports world. Although Canada has not experienced (as of this writing) the level of community spread and outbreak as the United States, Italy, Spain, and other countries, the coronavirus has spread to every province and two territories, with Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia experiencing the most illnesses and deaths. As Canadian citizens, we should do what we can to help “flatten the curve� and prevent the spread of the virus to protect ourselves, our families, and those who are most vulnerable to the disease. 14 | April 2020


By David Gargaro

As a building owner or property manager, it is vital to protect your business, employees, tenants, and the community from the risks posed by the coronavirus. Your rental properties are enclosed communities that house many different people and families, some of whom are more vulnerable to respiratory infections. Operating a multi-unit residential property is an essential service, as you are providing a home for people. You are legally obligated to maintain a safe and healthy environment for your employees, as well as your tenants. It’s essential to take the necessary steps to protect them against the coronavirus.

Understanding your legal obligations Occupational health and safety legislation protects workers from health and safety hazards in the workplace, which includes a serious health concern such as the coronavirus. Each of the 10 provinces, three territories, and the federal government has its own legislation. Ontario’s legislation is called the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA). The legislation in the other provinces and territories is similar. (For the purpose of this article, we will refer to Ontario’s OHSA; if you operate in other provinces or territories, there may be slight differences.) Regulations prescribe requirements related to specific industry sectors, operations, substances, and basic training. OHSA sets out duties for all workplace parties, as well as rights for workers. It also establishes procedures for dealing with workplace hazards and provides for enforcement of the law where there is no voluntary compliance.

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 15

Most provinces and territories require the formation of a workplace health and safety committee, although they have different names and requirements. For example, companies in Ontario with more than 20 employees (or that are ordered by the Minister) are required to create a joint health and safety committee (JHSC), whereas companies in Alberta are only required to create a joint work site health and safety committee if mandated by the Minister. In general, the role of this committee is to identify dangers and make recommendations. It has the right to be consulted on any matters of health and safety that could affect the workplace, and to receive test results, both of which would apply with respect to the coronavirus. In Ontario, the JHSC must also inspect the workplace once a month, which is essential if any tenants or employees have COVID-19, or there is a community outbreak. In Canada, any employee subject to Part II of the Canada Labour Code has the right to refuse dangerous work, as long as there is reasonable cause to believe that it presents a danger to themselves or another person. If someone in your building becomes ill with COVID-19, an employee could refuse to work because the conditions endanger his or her health. The individual could argue that, unless proper precautions are taken, they are in danger of being infected and possibly putting their family at risk from the coronavirus. The employee must report their refusal to you as their employer, and you must then investigate the matter with the employee along with a health and safety committee member who is also an employee. If you cannot resolve the matter and the employee refuses to return to work, you can notify a government inspector, who will issue a written decision. The building owner and management are legally required to take all reasonable care to prevent risk or harm. This includes considering who might be at risk, how they will be at risk, and the steps required to mitigate the risk of a coronavirus outbreak in your building. Your duty to take care extends to contractors and subcontractors as well. It is essential to demonstrate that you followed due diligence in protecting the health and safety of your employees, which involves taking all reasonable precautions against employees being exposed to the coronavirus. This includes identifying and responsibly addressing any foreseeable concerns that anyone you employ is protected from being exposed to the coronavirus.

Maintaining compliance With respect to the coronavirus, to maintain compliance with provincial or territorial health and safety regulations, you are required to identify, assess, and address the risks to your employees. Stay up to date on government updates on the coronavirus in your community. Follow the direction of provincial health authorities on what you should do to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. Unlike other businesses, you cannot close your doors, as people live where your employees work, but you might have to make certain difficult decisions on how your employees serve your tenants’ needs. Engage your health and safety committee to ensure that employees are following guidelines. Involve management and employees to develop or update written policies and procedures as they pertain to preventing a coronavirus outbreak in the building. Review and address work procedures, as well as employee, client, and visitor interactions. Eliminating or reducing unnecessary interactions with tenants, visitors, and outsiders will help to reduce the potential for exposure to the coronavirus. Prepare or update your company’s written policy on implemented response and requirements with respect to meetings, cleaning and sanitation of the work environment and individuals, travel for work or leisure, work-from-home options, IT requirements, supplies, and insurance. Inform and train employees on your workplace policy and any new procedures that directly relate to preventing or protecting against coronavirus exposure. Evaluate and measure the effectiveness of your current policies, and make changes as recommended by provincial health authorities or as your experience dictates. Supervise and monitor how employees are implementing the policies and procedures, and whether anyone becomes ill. Follow up with staff and management to see how the procedures are working, as well as how they are affecting tenants. Enforce the rules to maintain the health and safety of your employees and tenants, and address exemptions where required. It is important to maintain solid lines of

16 | April 2020







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communication with your building management and support staff so that you can respond to issues as they arise, and amend your procedures to keep everyone safe. The coronavirus situation is constantly evolving, and you will have to keep up to ensure your employees and tenants are safe. Provincial health authorities will be learning and adapting as well, so stay on top of their recommendations and implement best practices where they make sense. To make the process more effective, assign dedicated personnel to follow coronavirus updates and communicate what they have learned and maintain procedures. Be prepared to deal with people assigning blame or getting upset, and manage employee reactions accordingly.

Creating an Infectious Disease Business Continuity Plan The coronavirus could affect your ability to run your business. That’s why it is important – if you have not already done so – to create an Infectious Disease Business Continuity Plan. This will enable you to spell out how your business will continue to operate if a certain number of employees become ill or are unable to fulfill their duties. When developing the plan, engage input from stakeholders and employees in your organization. Identify and train replacements or back-ups for all essential business functions. Determine how you will provide services if external service providers will not be able to continue working for you. This could involve having employees provide these services on an as-needed basis, or hiring back-up service providers. Identify any contractual or legal implications of being unable to perform various functions, and determine how you will deal with these commitments – make sure to speak to a legal professional. Management roles might be compromised due to the coronavirus. Ensure that everyone knows the chain of command and who is responsible for management decisions should the person who usually makes those decisions become ill. The replacement management person should receive proper training. Prepare a media plan so that you can properly address the media if your company has a coronavirus outbreak. Be prepared to contact your insurance company, legal representative, and clients as necessary.

Creating a safe and healthy workplace Being proactive is the best defence against the spread of the coronavirus in your building. Instruct your employees on proper hygiene practices. This includes thoroughly and frequently washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (see sidebar for additional tips). Set up hand sanitizer stations in all work areas and common areas, and maintain and monitor all supplies. Instruct employees to avoid touching their face and shaking hands with other employees, tenants, contractors or visitors. Limit the number of in-person meetings, especially with large groups. Where possible, support employees who have the technical capacity and job structure to work from home. Business travel is not as common in the rental housing industry as it is in other types of business. However, some employees might choose to travel when on vacation. Ask employees to disclose personal travel details, especially if they involved countries heavily affected by the coronavirus or they went on a cruise. If employees do travel, consider having them work remotely for at least 14 days after return. Anyone returning to Canada from abroad is legally required to self-isolate for at least 14 days as well. If an employee is feeling ill or calls in sick, expedite their absence request. Limit or eliminate the requirement to produce a doctor’s note or medical certificate. If you or they suspect a respiratory illness, direct them to seek immediate medical treatment or to stay home, and to not return until they have been tested for the coronavirus, and are cleared. If your employee falls ill or is required to self-quarantine due to coronavirus exposure, consider extending their short-term disability benefits (after checking with your insurer and policy to verify

18 | April 2020

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tips on cleaning common areas • Clean dirty surfaces using a detergent or soap and water before using disinfectant. • Make sure that disinfectant is effective against COVID-19. Consider changing cleaning products if the label does not have a broad spectrum claim. The Centre for Disease Control (USA) lists common disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19, including Clorox, Lysol, and Purell products. • Follow manufacturers’ instructions for cleaning and disinfectant products (e.g., concentration, application method, contact time, use of personal protective equipment, such as gloves). • Keep common area and visitors’ bathrooms adequately supplied with soap, water, and drying materials. • Provide alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol. • Provide disposable wipes so residents can wipe down commonly used surfaces after use. • Display notices that describe proper handwashing methods in all areas of the building. • Regularly clean and disinfect the laundry room. Credit: Cohen Highley Lawyers

20 | April 2020


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coverage). You can also ask the employee if they want to use banked time or vacation time to cover their leave from work. Consider extending their pay unilaterally for 14 days, which is the typical period required for self-quarantine. You and the employee can both avail yourselves of government funding – check your provincial website and www.canada.ca to see what funds you qualify for. Even though this could leave your staff short-handed, some employees might have to stop working because family members fall ill due to the coronavirus. For example, under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA), employees can take family medical leave or family caregiver leave to provide care and support for family members with a serious medical condition. Other provinces have similar requirements. As an employer, you also have an obligation under the federal Human Rights Act to provide employees with accommodation, where they are providing care to a family member stricken with the coronavirus. While employees have the right to confidentiality, given the serious nature of the coronavirus, government authorities might require you to reveal the individual’s information where individual and group tracking of contact will be required.

Protecting your tenants Buildings are closed environments, which makes them efficient at spreading disease. Your tenants could be at risk if one person becomes infected with the coronavirus. Fortunately, things are not very dire, as the risk of exposure in public is relatively low. The virus is generally transmitted through respiratory droplets, which are expelled when someone coughs or sneezes. The coronavirus spreads most readily through prolonged contact. Therefore, common areas, such as lobbies and hallways, are low-risk areas for exposure, as tenants do not typically spend much time together in these spaces. They are more likely to infect someone who lives or works with them. However, you can take steps to limit the possibility of transmission, as well as make tenants feel safer. This includes regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-traffic surfaces, such as door handles, railings, and elevator buttons. Ensure that cleaning staff pay extra attention to areas where tenants would typically spend time together, such as laundry rooms. Most building owners have closed recreational amenities like party rooms, pools, and gyms to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Post signs recommending that tenants return to the laundry room at a later time if there are already too many people using the facilities. For elevators, there should be no more than one family group in an elevator unless there is enough space for people to stand two metres apart. Communication and prevention are key tools in fighting the spread of the coronavirus. Post signs in the lobby, in elevators, and around the building with useful tips for tenants, such as washing their hands frequently with soap and water, covering their mouths when coughing, and regularly disinfecting their homes. Include this information on your website, in newsletters, and through texts and emails. Install hand sanitizers (with at least 60 per cent alcohol) around the building as well for public use. As a building owner, you have a legal duty of care to tenants. If you are informed, or become aware, that a tenant becomes ill with the coronavirus, post a notice in the building for other tenants to be aware of the situation. Confidentiality is legally required, as per the Personal Information and Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), so do not mention the tenant’s name or address; however, you might have to inform government authorities for individual and group tracking of contact. Consider asking the tenant if you can support them in any way during this time, such as having groceries, mail or packages delivered directly to their door, or providing them with medical or cleaning supplies. Make sure to contact and follow the direction of your insurance company, as well as the medical advice of your provincial health authorities. Refer your tenants to their local health unit, as well as online information provided by Health Canada and the World Health Organization.

Conclusion The coronavirus situation will get worse before it gets better. As a building owner or property manager, you will likely have to address its impact on your employees and tenants. Follow the guidelines set out by your provincial health authority, protect your employees and tenants by creating a healthy and safe environment, and responsibly follow your legal and societal obligations.

22 | April 2020

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Protecting employees and tenants from the coronavirus By David Gargaro

The novel coronavirus has affected Canadians in many ways, and it has changed how we do business and live our lives. Besides infecting thousands of people with COVID-19 and requiring thousands more to isolate and physically distance themselves from others, the spread of the coronavirus has forced the closure of businesses and put people out of work. It will take a concerted societal effort to protect people from the coronavirus and reduce the strain on our healthcare system. Businesses and people across the rental housing industry are doing their part to protect its members, tenants, and the public from the coronavirus. Here are just a few of those stories.

Kris Boyce, CEO, Greenwin Corp. As with other businesses, Greenwin has to create a safe and healthy work environment. The company also has to protect tenants in their homes, as well as employees and contractors who maintain those buildings. Greenwin has created a Rapid Response Team, which will provide support, resources, and action on all COVID-19 issues. Its team includes subject experts from across the organization, which will support decision making to ensure the health and safety of residents and employees. Greenwin has developed health and safety measures to protect employees and tenants across all properties. The company has enabled employees (where possible) to work from home, and has closed access to building management and leasing offices. It has installed hand sanitizing stations at building entrances and in high-traffic areas, and has implemented rigorous cleaning measures with hospital-grade disinfection products. It ensures residents are kept fully aware of government updates and its practices through building notices, the online resident portal, and a central COVID-19 email. For example, Greenwin has shared information put out by the World Health Organization on coping with stress during the coronavirus outbreak. “As a third-party manager to many of our buildings, Greenwin recognizes our responsibility to guide our clients through this difficult time. From the onset of this outbreak, Greenwin has strived to be proactive and flexible with our response. With circumstances changing on a day-to-day basis, we are committed to closely monitoring the situation and putting protocols in place that align to the best practices recommended by world and Canadian health authorities.”

24 | April 2020

Ruth Buckle, Senior Vice President, Property Management, Killam Apartment REIT Property managers recognize the importance of their role in managing and controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Killam has implemented a Pandemic Illness Plan to help lessen its spread and maintain the continued good health of its employees, residents, and the broader communities in which it operates. From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the company has provided access on its website to reference materials from the Canadian government, Public Health, and the World Health Organization. Killam has also made various operational changes at the property level to protect tenants from the coronavirus. This includes increasing cleaning protocols for high-touch / high-traffic areas, closing amenity spaces, closing site offices for inperson visits while maintaining email and phone support, transitioning to virtual lease showing appointments, and limiting building access to essential care workers and service providers. “We’ve implemented a rent deferral program for residents with income impacted by COVID-19. We have also discontinued collection of rental increases effective April 1 and suspended delivery of further rental increases during the pandemic. We are appreciative of our many residents who have shown patience and kindness toward our staff and each other. We recognize these are unsettling times and want our employees and residents to know that their safety and good health is our main priority.”

continued on page 26



OCTOBER 5, 2020




continued from page 24

Colin Letcher, Health and Safety Specialist, Hollyburn Properties Limited Maintaining the health and safety of tenants and employees within multi-unit family buildings is essential for flattening the curve in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. As part of its Business Continuity Plan, Hollyburn has implemented enhanced high-traffic touchpoint cleaning protocols that use Health Canada approved disinfectants and has restricted access to building amenities, except for laundry facilities. To practice social distancing, the company has enabled remote working where possible, closed on-site offices, introduced new move in/out protocols, and encouraged virtual apartment tours and digital leasing processes. It has supplied on-site teams with personal protective equipment and has instructed them to follow strict personal hygiene. Hollyburn is also providing tenants and staff with weekly email updates, has published valuable resources on its blog – including a financial help guide for government assistance – and has established a National Response Committee to manage inquiries. “Above all, these circumstances have emphasized the importance of community and the need to work together as an industry to establish best practices and processes. As we all navigate this unfamiliar territory, Hollyburn is dedicated to working with rental housing industry associations, such as CFAA, and all levels of government to ensure we can move forward from this and become better, together.”

Ed Porasz, P.Eng., President, M&E Engineering Ltd. Many businesses have seen a reduction in income because they have less work. Some have slowed down to protect their employees from exposure to the coronavirus. M&E Engineering Ltd. will not allow its employees to enter occupied suites and apartments in the course of their duties. However, they are still working within buildings where work pertains to boiler and electrical rooms, garages, and exterior areas. M&E Engineering has also introduced protocols in keeping with social distancing. This includes ensuring that there are no more than two people in an elevator at a time, keeping site visits to a minimum by doing some inspections through videos or pictures, and limiting the number of people involved in walkthroughs that include contractors and superintendents. It is also holding all meetings through video conference calls.

26 | April 2020

“We are doing everything in our power to support our clients in this industry as there are continuous breakdowns of components that are essential to certain standards of living. In these trying times, buildings must still keep the power on and the water running and hot. But more importantly, fire safety systems, like fire alarms, smoke control systems, and emergency generators, should be looked after and possibly designed for retrofit or replacement to keep the buildings safe.”

Greg Devine, Business Development and Marketing, McIntosh Perry Regardless of what is happening, building issues that can affect tenants’ safety need to be addressed. Work has to be done in a manner that protects both employees and the public. The head of McIntosh Perry’s Hazardous Materials / Environmental Health & Safety group was involved in the development of the Environmental Abatement Council of Ontario (EACO) Best Practices for Environmental Professional Services, which is designed to establish procedures for the cleaning of a property that is potentially contaminated. McIntosh Perry has also developed strict guidelines for its staff to follow, based on directives from the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as local, provincial, and federal health authorities. These guidelines include the enforcement of social distancing where possible and rigorous handwashing. The company is using technology so staff can work remotely and keep the lines of communication open, as well as communicate with rental building owners and property managers to ensure COVID-19 concerns are met. “Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve kept in close contact with our clients, and in particular those in the rental building space. We are still available to handle any engineering or building science need, and projects we had before the pandemic still continue, and we’ve had new requests come in the past few weeks.”

Maxwell Payne, SVP Marketing, Parity Inc. Parity uses data and AI to help multi-family buildings optimize their energy performance and reduce carbon emissions. The company has committed to maintaining the energysaving measures it has helped building owners to achieve in their rental properties, as well as ensuring tenants’ comfort and financial savings. Fortunately, most of its work is done remotely, but continued on page 28

Yes, we can! Since MetCap Living established itself as a leader in property management, we have routinely been asked one, simple question; “Can you help us run our property more effectively?” And, for well over thirty years, the answer has remained — Yes, we can! Our managers are seasoned professionals, experienced in every detail of the day to day operations and maintenance of multi-unit rental properties. From marketing, leasing, fnance and accounting, to actual physical, on-site management, we oversee everything. We concentrate on revenue growth, controlling expenses, and strategic capital investment in your property to maximize your profitability over the long term — when you’re ready to discuss a better option; we’ll be there. You can count on it. Kazi Shahnewaz Director, Business Development Office. 416.340.1600 x504 Cell. 647.887.5676 k.m.shahnewaz@metcap.com


rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 27

continued from page 26

it takes preventive measures to protect tenants when employees have to visit buildings. This includes making advance appointments before visiting so building owners can prepare or take safety measures before arrival. Its contractors and staff limit their visits to mechanical rooms and avoid common areas where possible. “The Parity Inc. team continues to follow COVID-19 closely and actively monitor CDC and WHO recommendations. We value the health and safety of all our employees and customers above all else and have asked that all our employees and contractors adhere to the preventive measures at all times.”

Marketing Team, Coinamatic Tenants have to keep washing their clothes while staying at home, and many have to use the building’s laundry room. Most municipalities have included laundries on their essential activities list, so it’s important to keep washing machines and dryers functioning. Coinamatic has changed its operating policies to limit nonessential activities, focusing on servicing its clients’ machines and keeping laundry rooms operational for residents. The company has reduced its call centre capacity and is encouraging customers to submit service requests online. Coinamatic has developed a series of safe laundry practices to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, which is available on its website. The company encourages site managers to maintain the cleanliness, safety, and security of common area laundry rooms, and to increase the frequency with which they clean and sanitize the laundry rooms to protect tenants, as well as the technicians who service the machines. “If there are changes in laundry room or office operating hours, or new social distancing protocols, please find creative ways to allow access to your laundry rooms. This might include limiting the number of residents in the laundry room at one time. You also may offer specially timed access to the add value stations that are located inside the currently closed offices.”

George Crothers, Waste & Recycling Equipment Specialist – Residential, Metro Compactor Garbage and recycling are essential services, especially when health and hygiene are a serious concern. The Ontario Waste Management Association, the National Waste and Recycling Association, and other waste associations have

28 | April 2020

directed the industry to treat waste as usual, and to continue providing services to building owners and tenants. With more people staying home from work, going out less, and getting more take-out, this has led to additional waste volume and more wear and tear on waste equipment. Metro Compactor recommends that building owners inspect equipment sooner rather than later to deal with the higher volume of repairs that are inevitable. The company will continue to provide emergency services so that it can get equipment back to normal operations as soon as possible. It also recommends building owners do preventive maintenance on bins and compactors. “We have implemented all recommended guidelines by Health Canada, including personal protective equipment such as gloves and proper hygiene procedures for all employees. We enforce social distancing guidelines – no handshakes, 6 feet of distance with on-site contacts, and hands washed before and after a visit, with alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We have provided alcohol wipes to employees to sanitize on-site equipment as well as signing forms electronically without the need for contact.”

Anna Garnett, Business Development, CTI Services Tenants still need to live in their homes, and also find new places to live if they are not required to isolate. Building owners also need to ensure that their buildings and tenants are safe, particularly during these difficult times when so many people are at home throughout the day. That’s why CTI Services will continue providing building owners with certain key services to maintain their business operations. The company will represent landlords in arbitrations, as the BC courts are still open, since these proceedings are held via telephone conference call. “We continue to work with clients to provide fire alarm inspections, which are essential for maintaining building safety and security. Fire alarm inspections are essential for maintaining the equipment in the building, especially with so many people staying home throughout the day.”

Conclusion We can all do our part to protect ourselves, as well as our employees, tenants, and the public, from the coronavirus. For more information, visit the Government of Canada website (www.canada.ca), your province’s website, Infection Prevention and Control Canada (ipac-canada.org), and the World Health Organization website (www.who.int).

Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations Canada’s voice for the rental housing industry at the federal level

Join Canada’s leading rental housing providers, suppliers and industry associations.

Become a direct member of CFAA today!

Your support will help ensure our industry can achieve better tax and regulatory environment, increase in professionalism, and continue to grow for years to come.

Find out more about the benefits and costs of a CFAA membership. www.CFAA-FCAPI.org | admin@cfaa-fcapi.org

Brought to you by:

SUITE COUNT RHB SIDEBAR Capital markets & national investment snapshot

National Apartment Group

COVID-19 and commercial real estate The market is monitoring how the impact of an economic slowdown will alter the Multifamily investment landscape in the near and long term. Widespread government restrictions, health risks, rising unemployment, and fluctuations in bond yields have introduced significant challenges into operations and capital markets globally. The rental housing industry is not immune to these headwinds and owners across Canada are currently exercising caution as they assess the severity of the impact of COVID-19. However, regardless of the current challenges, the Multifamily sector appears well positioned. From a historical perspective, the apartment sector has been able to weather downturns better than other asset classes and ultimately outperform its sector counterparts. Based on initial data from Sector Returns: Downturn vs. Recovery the first quarter of 2020, Multifamily REITs have experienced a softer landing than other property 30% sectors, mirroring the experience of this sector over the Following widespread13.3% economic 16.8% 15.9% 20% last cycle. 11.5% 11.3% headwinds in Q1 2020, public market Multifamily REIT10% returns contracted by -13.5%. This compared favourably relative to the broader REIT markets and better than the results posted by office, retail and 0% hospitality sectors, which produced returns ranging from -18.8% to -67.0%. -10% -20%

COVID-19 stands out as a rare adverse economic event unique consequences that distinguish -30%with -24.9% this period from previous economic contractions, making it difficult to ascertain the timing and length -40% -41.1% of any rebound for commercial real estate. Amidst the uncertainty confronting all asset classes, -50% -48.4% investors seeking stability and secure cashflow may view Multifamily as a core aspect of their -60% -59.7% -70% portfolio strategy going forward. -67.5% -80%

Source: (CBRE Research, Thomson Reuters, NAREIT)


Office 2008

Sector Returns: Downturn vs. Recovery 16.8%








-70% Office 2008



2009-2019 (CAGR)

Sector Returns: February 2020 0%






-80.0% -67.5%

30 | April 2020


-70.0% -59.7%



-60.0% -48.4%



-50.0% -41.1%











2009-2019 (CAGR)

0.0% -10.0%







Sector Returns: April 2020 YTD

30% 20%



Residential Industrial REITs REITs

Office REITs

Retail REITs

Diversified Hotel & REITs Resort REITs

Local Knowledge. National Reach. National Apartment Group





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Marketing automation applications for real estate Peter Altobelli, vice president and general manager, Yardi Canada Ltd.

By now, you’ve probably heard of marketing automation, that magical, time-saving tool credited with converting leads and driving profits across multiple industries. But what exactly is it? And how do real estate businesses leverage this technology? Marketing automation is technology that automatically manages marketing processes and campaigns across multiple channels. It streamlines repetitive marketing tasks, follows user behaviour, and delivers targeted content to get customers into your leasing pipeline. It also helps you keep them as loyal residents once they’ve moved in. Marketing automation software drives efficiency for marketers and leasing managers and, believe it or not, creates a more personalized and desirable experience for customers. Let’s take a closer look at the applications of marketing automation in property management. Keep reading to learn how you can benefit.

Keeping data accurate At its most basic level, automation eliminates human error and keeps data clean. When unit, prospect or resident data changes, updates are automatically applied across your database. Take, for example, listing syndication. One of the best-known forms of real estate marketing automation, syndication is a huge time saver. Using up-to-date information from your property management software, automation updates your listings across multiple online rental sites daily. It makes sure pricing and vacancies are accurate so you don’t get frustrating inquiries from people with incorrect information. Best of all, it runs by itself once you set it up, so your team doesn’t have to waste hours on repeat data entry.

Improving customer tracking & communications The 2019 Canadian Multi-Res Tenant Rental Survey showed that an increasing number of renters prefer to communicate via text. Is your property management company equipped to keep up? With automation solutions like intelligent text response, you can adhere to CASL requirements and provide customized, automated responses to questions from prospects. This frees up your leasing agents

32 | April 2020

to process ready-to-go leases and renewals. Picture this: someone searching for an apartment online sees your ad with a number they can text for more information. They send a text asking about your pet policy and receive an automated response letting them know your property accepts pets. The reply also includes a link to available units. Now they’re on your website, ready to choose a floor plan, and your team didn’t even have to lift a finger.

Recovering missed opportunities Never lose a lease because someone forgot to follow up or, worse, didn’t pick up the phone. Marketing automation provides a high level of customer service at all hours of the day. Automated email follow-ups send emails that are triggered by specific events. You can create a series of emails just once and then have them sent automatically after a tour, before move-in or as a lease expiration date approaches. You pick the event, timing, and content, then let automation do the rest. Automated call centre solutions help you capture every lead, even when your office is closed or dealing with an emergency. Choosing a system that integrates with your property management software allows agents to deliver property-specific assistance. They can also seamlessly transfer guest card and work order information into your database. Some options include chat support and flexible budget controls that allow you to turn on and off live agent support as needed.

Making customers happy Prospects and residents don’t want to be limited by office hours. They expect self-service tools that allow them to do what they need to do, when they need to do it. While you likely already offer online payments and maintenance requests, new automation tools let prospects schedule their own appointments and tours online. Here’s how it works: • You decide which appointment days, times,

and lengths work for your offices. You can even choose how many consecutive appointments can be scheduled. • Prospects select from available appointments

using a form on your site. After they fill out and

submit the guest card, they will receive an email to confirm their appointment. • Leasing office staff get notified of confirmed

appointments, which then appear on their calendars.

Increasing staff efficiency As we’ve seen, today’s prospects and residents expect to be able to interact with your company everywhere, all the time. But does that mean you’re suddenly able to hire more staff for roundthe-clock support? Of course not. Marketing automation is your secret weapon in an increasingly busy digital marketplace. Automating marketing processes saves time, giving back the hours you would otherwise spend scheduling appointments, responding to text messages, and posting vacancies every week. The savings add up quickly. With less time spent doing heads-down desk work, your staff members have more availability to focus on what matters most: your prospects and residents.

Multiple platforms, one solution? Syndicating listings, automating customer relationship management, and adding self-service functionality to your website sounds like a lot. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all at

once. The key is to be smart about the process, so it’s easy to add on to your automation stack as you grow. It’s possible to link multiple solutions from different providers together in a way that works, but you will always have multiple logins and support relationships to manage. Finding a technology partner who will be able to provide everything you need in one platform — even if you start by using only one or two features — may save you considerable time and frustration in the end.

One final consideration Property marketers must constantly innovate to keep pace with consumer trends and demands. Marketing automation is one way that marketing teams, even smaller ones, can do that and have a big impact, especially when it comes to keeping residents happy and bolstering your online reputation. With automation tools, you can check in with residents, conduct surveys, provide off-hour support, and offer timed renewal savings. When residents feel well served, they are more like to post positive reviews online, influencing prospects and ultimately improving your bottom line … almost automatically.

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CFAA’s advocacy for rental housing around COVID-19 By John Dickie, CFAA President

CFAA’s core function is to represent Canada’s rental housing providers at the national level. Primarily that means advocating federal programs, policies and action that support rental housing providers. The COVID-19 situation is fast changing, and so advocacy also has to be flexible to address the current pain points, as well as to position advocacy and government action for the best interests of the rental housing industry in the long run.

As this goes to press, CFAA’s priorities are: 1. Improving government messaging to emphasize that tenants who can pay their rent, should pay their rent. 2. Encouraging the federal government to provide financial support for provincial programs which deliver rent support, and especially rent support paid directly to rental housing providers. (A 50-50 cost share would be the norm.) 3. Encouraging CMHC, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the government to require the banks and other lenders to provide deferrals as needed when rental providers cannot make their mortgage or loan payments in full due to COVID-19. 4. As a back up, if steps 1, 2 and 3 do not address all the critical payment issues, creating a fund from which landlords can obtain low interest loans to support building operations and financing payments in the face of income losses due to COVID-19. 5. Supporting the availability of construction financing, so that rental housing development projects which are currently underway can continue so that rental demand is met, especially in the areas where rental supply fell short of rental demand. 6. Urging the government to ensure that its financial support programs are open to the self-employed and contract workers, while encouraging them to continue to work as much as they can safely. CFAA is also working with our provincial affiliates and other rental housing allies to support lobbying at the provincial level. All of us are concerned with the politics of landlord and tenant behaviour. In some areas, some extreme tenant advocates are promoting rent strikes, as part of their never-ending attempts to stir up class warfare. They and other tenant advocates have already pressed the provinces to ban evictions during the COVID-19 crisis, and some provinces have responded with bans of various degrees of application. (See page 37 for more details.) CFAA is addressing media inquiries, and promoting responsible behaviour by rental housing providers and tenants. That includes using flexibility and common sense in rent collection efforts, in order to avoid bad press about demands on tenants who cannot pay their rent, while encouraging tenants who can pay their rent to do so.

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 35

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Among other aspects of dealing with COVID-19, a number of issues have arisen around rent payments. In many provinces, starting to terminate tenancies is the normal way in which landlords enforce the payment of rent, and most eviction applications do not result in an actual eviction. As well, hardly any other businesses are forced to keep providing their product if they aren’t being paid. Despite those facts, some provinces have banned eviction proceedings to protect tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE EVICTION BANS As of March 30, • Ontario has banned all evictions. • New Brunswick has banned evictions for non-payment of rent until May 30. • Nova Scotia has banned evictions based on non-payment for tenants whose income has been affected by COVID-19. • Quebec has banned evictions, except those based on notices of termination tenants gave before mid-March. • Manitoba has banned evictions, except where they involve the health and safety of tenants, including unlawful activities. • BC has banned evictions, except in exceptional circumstances. CMHC has a website which reports on the eviction moratoriums. Visit https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/ rental-housing/covid-19-eviction-bans-and-suspensions-to-support-renters, or goggle “eviction ban” and CMHC.

Why most tenants should be able to pay their rent Particularly in provinces with eviction bans, some landlords are concerned that many tenants will not pay their rent even if they can. Landlords understand that until the federal government’s COVID-19 relief money starts to be received, some tenants will not be able to pay their rent, and landlords will make allowances for that. However, many tenants are in one of these circumstances: • Tenants working for a government (Canada, the province, the municipality) • Tenants working for government-funded agencies, like hospitals, nursing homes public schools, colleges

or universities • Tenants who are still being paid at or close to their regular hours for work done at home • Tenants working in essential businesses, like grocery stores or trucking firms • Tenants who are living off their savings • Tenants who are on social assistance or Employment Insurance • Tenants who are retired and still receiving their pensions (either private pensions or the Old Age

Security - Guaranteed Income Supplement). In short, many tenants are still being paid their incomes. And most tenants should still pay their rents. CFAA believes that most tenants will still pay their rents, despite all the noise about not doing so. We will know much more after April 1, and after May 1.

Provincial support to ensure rents are paid Apartment associations are lobbying for their provincial governments to support landlords by making payments for rent directly to them. CFAA is supporting those requests by seeking federal funding for 50 per cent of the cost of those programs (which is the usual federal share of housing programs).

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 37

JANUARY -APRIL 2020 BC’s Rental Support BC is providing a new temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month per unit, paid directly to landlords.

A solution unique to New Brunswick If a tenant does not pay the rent in New Brunswick, the landlord can apply to the Office of the Rentalsman. Until at least May 31, instead of processing the application normally, the Rentalsman will have a mediator contact the tenant, ask them their financial situation, inform them of the financial assistance which is available, and try to get the rent paid. If the tenant cannot pay, the Rentalsman may pay the tenant’s damage deposit to the landlord, instead of keeping it to compensate the landlord for damage to the unit at the end of the tenancy (or to return it to the tenant if the landlord does not make a claim for it.)

Proposed Ontario Rental Assistance Program (ORAP) The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) is CFAA’s affiliate in Ontario. FRPO is seeking a simplified Rent Supplement program from the government of Ontario. FRPO has suggested that the proposed Ontario Rental Assistance Program (ORAP) include these features: • landlords (of any size) will take one page, electronic or paper certifications from tenants that they cannot

pay their rent (or what part of it they can pay), including the tenant’s agreement to repay the loan/ forgivable loan which will be provided • landlords will send the certifications to the province (in one bundle for each building and each month) • the Province will pay those portions of rent which the tenants say they cannot pay, direct to landlords • either as the program goes along, or after the COVID-19 crisis is over, the Province will determine what portion of amount paid that the province will forgive. • the Province will seek to recover the part of the loan which is not forgiven from the tenant, perhaps through claw backs of provincial or federal payments to the tenant through the income tax system. Depending on the take up, and the proportion of tenants who certify that they can make a partial rent payment, the program cost would be between $60M to $300M per month. That is a moderate cost in these times, particularly when the higher end of the cost estimates should only apply for two months, until tenants receive their Canadian Emergency Response Benefit payments from the federal government. (See below.)

Financial support for people who have lost income due to COVID-19 - the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The federal government announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on March 25, 2020. The CERB is to be managed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and will pay $500 per week to workers who have lost their income because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit will be taxable, but no tax will be deducted at source. When the government refers to workers, they mean to include the self-employed, including consultants, Uber drivers, and those who work in the “gig economy”. Whether they would qualify for EI is irrelevant. People whose work ended before Sunday, March 15 will receive their EI entitlement. People whose work ended after March 15 will receive $500 per week , whether their EI entitlement was zero or lower or higher than $500. Under the current plan, the worker may receive the CERB for up to 16 weeks. Payments can be effective as far back as March 15, 2020, or can continue until the program end date, October 3, 2020. The CERB replaces two measures announced previously, namely the Emergency Care Benefit (for people who are self-isolating or caring for family members due to COVID-19) and the Emergency Support Benefit

38 | April 2020

NATIONAL OUTLOOK (for workers suffering income losses who are not eligible for EI, such as those who are self-employed and contract workers). The CERB is meant to streamline and speed up the anticipated 4 million applications for financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligibility By design, the eligibility for CERB is broad. The main requirements are: • to be a Canadian resident, at least 15 years old • to have earned at least $5,000 of income from work in the 52 weeks before their application, or in the previous calendar year • not to have access to paid leave or other income support • to have lost their income due to COVID-19 other than by quitting • to have had no income for at least 14 consecutive days of the four-week period that they are applying for. The information stated here is believed to be accurate as of April 15, 2020. The program details may change at any time.

The benefit is open to: • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19. • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or need additional

care because of school and daycare closures. • workers who are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has

asked them not to come to work. • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be

eligible for Employment Insurance.

Applications & Timelines The federal government opened the web portal and automated phone application system for CERB applications on April 6, as scheduled. The CRA says that applicants will receive their CERB payments within 5 days through direct deposit or within 10 days by mail. CRA encourages all those applying who want to receive direct deposits to ensure that their banking information is up-to-date in their CRA account.

CERB versus EI People already receiving EI will continue to do so as long as they are eligible. They should not apply for the CERB. Apparently, people who have applied for EI due to COVID-19 will be transferred automatically into the CERB program. People receiving EI because of work stoppages payments that stop before October 3, 2020, may be eligible to apply for CERB if they are unable to find work due to ongoing issues with COVID-19.

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 National Outlook today!

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 39


New wage subsidy program announced

On March 27, the federal government announced that it is rolling out an emergency plan to pay a 75% wage subsidy to many businesses. The subsidy would apply on the first $58,700 of salary which translates to about $847 per week. The program will be back-dated to March 15. The roll-out date is as yet unknown. Presumably people will not be allowed to benefit from both that and the CERB. Some small landlords may be able to access that funding to pay their employees. As of April 15, the plan for the wage subsidy is that a business needs to have lost 15% of its revenue between March 15 and April 11, or 30% of its revenue from April 12 to May 9, or from May 10 to June 6 to receive the funding. Businesses can compare the revenue with the same period in 2019 or an average of January and February, using either the cash or the accrual basis. Businesses may make the pay up to more than the subsidy, but are not required to do so. For more details, see https://www.canada.ca/en/ department-finance/economic-response-plan/wage-subsidy.html. Complaints are being made about the lack of coverage for costs other than wages, and that there should be a phase-out for businesses whose revenue is down, but not by as much as 30%. All of the programs are currently changing from week to week. To stay informed, sign up for the CFAA e-Newsletter at admin@cfaa-fcapi.org.

CFAA Rental Housing Conference 2020

Due to concerns over the COVID-19 situation, and in the best interest of our staff and attendees, CFAA has canceled CFAA-RHC 2020, which was to take place in Halifax from June 8 to 10, 2020. CFAA is looking into alternate options, such as on-line content and webinars, that would still allow us to bring you the valuable information from our education sessions, speakers and sponsors. Stay tuned for further updates! • For those who have registered and paid, CFAA will be in touch to make arrangements to refund or credit the fee to attend the Conference. • For those who have registered but have not paid yet, disregard any invoice you have received. CFAA will

cancel your registration and void your invoice. • For speakers who had already arranged to speak, CFAA will be in touch soon. We value the information

you were expected to present and we still want to get your information to our attendees. We will discuss alternate arrangements. • For sponsors who have already signed up, CFAA will be in touch soon to discuss your options, including

alternate sponsorship arrangements for 2020 or 2021. We expect that CFAA-RHC 2021 will take place in person and will follow the usual format. More details to come!

CFAA Rental Housing Awards -TO PROCEED ON-LINE As the CFAA Awards Program is conducted completely online, it will continue for 2020, despite COVID-19 concerns. However, we understand that many people are working from home, and may not have access to all the files they need to complete their applications. As a result, we are extending the deadline for applications to Monday, May 4. In addition, as a precautionary measure due to COVID-19, this year’s Rental Housing Awards WILL NOT

40 | April 2020

NATIONAL OUTLOOK include an Awards Dinner. Winners will still be acknowledged on CFAA’s communications, website and Twitter, and will still receive a trophy. We are looking into ways to do a live announcement of the finalists and winners, so that contestants can still experience some of the anticipation and excitement of a live event. A final decision on that will be made soon, and communicated to you. For anyone who wishes to apply this year, but does not expect to be able to have their application ready by May 4 due to COVID-19 related issues (low staffing, no access to materials due to the office being closed, etc), please let us know ASAP. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will adjust as needed. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at awards@cfaa-fcapi.org. For more information on the Awards Program, please visit www.cfaa-fcapi.org.

Practice good physical distancing and become an Awards judge Each award category is assigned a panel of volunteer experts, who will judge the submissions. These judges will be cleared of any conflicts of interest in the category they judge. All awards submissions will be sent to judges online, and judges will meet through CFAA’s conference line. This role will not require any face-to-face contact. If you are interested in becoming a judge for the 2020 Awards, please email awards@cfaa-fcapi.org.

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

Hot Topics: EOLO reports on various measures that the City of Ottawa and the Province of Ontario have implemented to ease pressures due to COVID-19, including water bill and property tax relief, the Ontario Works Emergency Assistance Program, and enforcement powers for COVID-19 violations. pg. 45 HDAA provides details about the Hamilton LRT cancellation, and what that means for Hamilton, as well as topics discussed at the March 12 HDAA dinner meeting, including the 2019 CMHC report and the state of multi-family real estate in Hamilton and Burlington. pg. 49 LPMA discusses the new Fees and Charges Bylaw amendment enacted by the City of Toronto, which requires landlords to pay the costs of tenant relocation when vital services are not available at a building, regardless of the cause. What consequences do landlords fear? pg. 53 WRAMA provides information about government support to mitigate rent defaults, as well as about the negative connotations around the term “landlord”, and what can be done about it. pg. 57

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

The official publication of:

Managing the coronavirus risk at your rental property

Rent collection tips for COVID-19 relief By John Dickie, Chair, Eastern Ontario Landlord Organization

ALL THE INFORMATION IN THIS ARTICLE IS ACCURATE AS OF APRIL 14, 2020, TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE. HOWEVER, IT IS ALL SUBJECT TO CHANGE BY THE VARIOUS GOVERNMENTS. By the time this reaches you, most readers will know the status of rent collections for April. We will also likely know whether the federal government was able to put its Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) into the hands of the people who need it by mid-April as was promised. (See page 38 for a description of the CERB and the eligibility rules.) Due to the timing and suddenness of the COVID-19 shutdown, there was great anxiety about the April rent among both tenants and landlords. For both compassionate and public relations reasons, EOLO called on landlords to be flexible in collecting rents. The need for that may well continue into May or June. However, for low-income tenants, May should be a bumper month. The CERB should have been received with funds for the period back to March 15. In addition, the May payments of the GST tax credit and the Canada Child Benefit should be higher than they usually are. The annual tax credit has been doubled for 2020, and the extra amount is to be paid all in May, rather than being spread into four equal quarterly payments as usual. Rental housing providers who have not received the rent in full may want to follow up with tenants in mid to late May when those one-time payments are due.

Water bill and property tax relief from the City of Ottawa As part of its COVID-19 response, Ottawa City Council recently approved an extension of time to pay water bills and some property taxes.

Water bills The City is providing an interest-free 30-day due date extension for the payment of water bills on all water bills issued through the end of October. That means you will now have 47 days to pay the water bill, instead of the usual 17 days. Those on preauthorized payment plans with water bills issued between April 1 and October 30 should have their due dates extended, and we understand no action is required to obtain that deferral. The City has not cancelled or deferred the 5 per cent water rate increase that took place on April 1. Property taxes City Council also approved a grace period for payment of the interim property tax bill. The interim tax bill is for 50 per cent of last year’s total bill, so that it is for close to 50 per cent of this year’s total tax bill. The initial deadline to pay the interim property tax bill was February 28. That was first extended to March 19. On March 25, it was extended to April 15. City Council also expanded the 2020 Property Tax Hardship Deferral program. However, we do not expect much take-up of that program by rental housing providers. On March 18, the City had announced a program to allow residents and small businesses facing financial hardship to apply to defer paying their property taxes, which would usually be due June 18, until October 30. At first, the program was limited to properties with assessed values of no more than $2.5 million. After some criticism of the limit, City Council decided to allow properties in multi-residential, and various commercial classes, with assessed values of up to $7.5 million to apply. To be approved for the deferral, the property owner must prove that they have experienced financial hardship directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic through one or more of the following categories: excessive business revenue loss or temporary business closure, temporary suspension of pay, loss of employment, or another

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 45

category of financial hardship as determined in the sole discretion of the Chief Financial Officer. Excessive business revenue loss has not yet been defined. Furthermore, property owners with tenants who do not pass on the deferral are deemed ineligible and all taxes, penalties, and interest are payable immediately. Such a condition makes sense for many commercial tenancies, but since residential landlords would need the tax deferral to accommodate a portion of tenants who pay little or nothing, that approach would be counter-productive. EOLO is engaging with the City Finance staff about that issue. We will continue to update our members of any refinements to this program, or other City assistance programs, as they arise.

Ontario Works Emergency Assistance Program Ontario is expanding access to the existing Emergency Assistance under the current rules for Ontario Works. This is available to people with limited income and limited assets who are in a crisis or an emergency situation. Ontario is providing additional resources and expanding access to Emergency Assistance for those facing a COVID-19 related financial emergency by: • Suspending the rule that limits the receipt of emergency assistance to once in six months, for individuals and families affected by COVID-19 • Allowing people to receive emergency assistance for up to 48 days without submitting a full Ontario Works application People who are already receiving Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), tourists, and visitors are not eligible for the OW Emergency Assistance Program. Individuals can apply for this assistance online at Ontario.ca/community or through local Ontario Works offices.

City of Ottawa multi-residential property tax ratio Despite COVID-19, some regular business is being conducted. The City of Ottawa is setting its property tax ratios for 2020. As this goes to press, City staff have recommended a reduction in the multi-residential tax ratio from 1.40051 to 1.38599. The effect is that property taxes, which would have shifted to the rental sector (because of an increase in relative values), will not shift to the rental sector. EOLO supports that recommendation. In fact, EOLO’s communications with the City over the years are what has led to that recommendation, which follows the approach taken in 2018 and 2019, again with EOLO’s urging and support. However, tenants and landlords still pay a higher municipal tax rate than single family homeowners. At the ratio of 1.38599, for the same assessed value, the rental sector will pay $1,386 for every $1,000 that a single family homeowner pays. EOLO is working with the City to reduce that inequity on a gradual basis. Most properties should see a similar tax increase or decrease to what they saw in 2019. As in 2019, unusual tax increases can form the basis for an application to raise rents above the guideline, and tax decreases of more than 2.5 per cent will likely trigger a mandatory rent reduction at December 31, 2020.

46 | April 2020

Enforcing COVID-19 rules − Province-wide Until very recently, there was little a landlord or anyone else could do about conduct which violated the guidance given by the Public Health authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, under the Province’s Emergency regulations, all municipalities’ by-law enforcement officers have been given the power to investigate and lay charges under those regulations. That means if a tenant has a party, or a gathering of more than five people, the City’s By-Law and Regulatory Services will respond, and seek to break up the party, or ticket the violator. Likewise, the police are responsible for enforcing the federal Quarantine Act. That includes the requirement for travellers to self-isolate, and quarantine orders which may be issued against people with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Ontario freezes assessment at 2019 levels Before COVID-19 struck, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) was re-assessing properties to issue updated assessments in 2020 for 2021 taxation. However, the Provincial government has postponed the assessment updates until the 2021 assessment for 2022 taxation.

That will mean that there will be very few assessment-driven property tax changes in 2021. An assessment-driven property tax change will only occur if the property has physically changed, or the assessment was seriously wrong in 2020 due to a variance between the property’s attributes and MPAC’s record of its attributes. An example would be if MPAC thought the property had 20 two-bedroom apartments, but it really has 24.

City rental regulation status Due to COVID-19, the timeline for the City of Ottawa’s adoption of its new rental regulations has been pushed back. The City expected the new property management by-law to go to committee in April, but now it may only go to committee in July or even September. Likewise, the City had wanted to bring the new requirements into force on August 31, 2020, but now they will not come into force until December 31, 2020, or later. EOLO is working with City staff to make the new regulations as manageable as possible for rental housing providers, while still having a positive effect on the quality of the few poorly run or poorly maintained rental buildings.



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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Our world has changed Times are quite uncertain in Hamilton and around the world as COVID-19 has forced us all to hit the pause button on our normal day-to-day activities. The HDAA will be postponing our events and meetings going forward to do our part in limiting the spread of the virus. Our trade show that was scheduled for April 15 has been postponed. We are hoping to reschedule in the fall, and we will keep our membership informed of postponements and any rescheduling of regular meetings as well as our golf tournament. The Spring Hope Food Drive scheduled for April 21 will also not be proceeding. The HDAA will continue to send out our monthly HDAA Happenings emails and will strive to keep our membership informed of updates and resources available to landlords during these uncertain times. - Arun Pathak, President

LRT project Although the prevailing issue is the coronavirus, with all the news in the media and information already circulating, we thought we would focus on issues that were on the forefront before our lives were so quickly halted. Hamilton had a very anticipated project suddenly cancelled by the provincial government that has left many people wondering how this will ultimately affect the City of Hamilton. The much debated Light Rail Transit (LRT) project would have run through the downtown core of Hamilton in its own segregated lane from McMaster to Eastgate. With the cancellation came an announcement that the provincial government would be providing $1 billion for transportation and transit infrastructure. A task force had been

created to decide where this funding will be used; options range from highway expansion projects to express bus projects or a lowercost LRT. The task force, made up of five individuals, was to provide a preliminary list of transportation projects that can qualify for the funding by the end of February. After 13 meetings and an extension to March 16, the list has been submitted to the province and is now under review. Provincial Transportation Minister

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Caroline Mulroney is expected to talk to members of the Hamilton Transit Task Force before publicly releasing any details so we will hopefully have some updates in our next HDAA update. The LRT cancellation has brought up many concerns regarding proposed and anticipated developments and what will happen to the economic investment that was coming in. The LRT, many supporters argue, was not just a transit initiative but an economic growth strategy. There were approximately 36 developments along the King Street corridor that were to be built in anticipation of the LRT that are now up in the air; thousands of jobs may be lost and any anticipated investment may now be lost as well. Most significantly, many residential units were to be developed along the route that would have helped elevate the housing concerns throughout the City. It has been estimated that there would have been a 500 per cent increase in new residential units downtown. Also concerning is the many buildings that have already been bought along the corridor; there is uncertainty about what will happen to them now. Adding to the transit concerns, the City announced that it is set to cut 19,000 hours of “underperforming” bus service to trim the City’s budget; other changes are on the way from a major study that is meant to overhaul HSR routes. These results should be coming to council in June. The cuts were made in attempts to whittle down the 2020 budget, pointing to the City’s financial concerns. The $1 billion in funding from the province should be very beneficial to the City; hopefully the recommendations from the task force will provide an alternative transit plan to the LRT that will still encourage the anticipated economic development and investment.

Past events March 12 Dinner Meeting Our last dinner meeting, which took place in March, focused on the 2019 CMHC report, presented by President Arun Pathak, and the Real Estate Market Update & Outlook for 2020, presented by Lucie Brusse, Commercial Real Estate Advisor, Royal LePage Burloak Real Estate Services. Arun spoke about some interesting findings from the 2019 CMHC report. The report showed that Hamilton’s vacancy rate for 2019 was 3.9 per cent, which is an increase from the previous year’s vacancy rate of 3.1 per cent. This comes as somewhat of a surprise as the opposite trend would have been expected due to the lack of supply we seem to be having in the City of Hamilton. The other point to note is the low turnover rate reported; in 2019, the turnover rate was estimated at 14 per cent, whereas in

50 | April 2020

2018 it was 15.9 per cent, meaning tenants were involved in less movement in 2019. Arun discussed the importance of this fact and how it relates to the costs of managing and maintaining rental properties, which have been increasing at a much higher rate than the rent increase guideline each year. Over the last few years, property managers have been able to survive these changes by increasing the rental amounts on units that turn over year to year. However, now that we are seeing a decrease in the number of units that turn over as compared to previous years, many of which are either at or close to market rent already, the added revenue that is helping to sustain some rental properties may be reduced. We look forward to the findings for 2020 to see how they compare and whether the trends seen in 2019 will continue into this year. Lucie Brusse spoke to our membership about the state of multi-family real estate in Hamilton in 2019 and what to expect in 2020. One interesting point to note is that Hamilton has approximately five times the number of rental properties that contain at least five units as compared to our neighbours in Burlington. She also touched on some trends to keep in mind for the coming years, such as shared working spaces and vehicles, shorter-term tenancies, a desire for a

more urban lifestyle, and changes in how we shop (e.g., online shopping and the need for different delivery options). Lucie also discussed 2019 average cap rates in Hamilton (4.8 per cent) and Burlington (4.6 per cent) and the overall trend of average cap rates, as they seem to be on a decline overall, with per unit prices on the rise. In regards to prices per unit, Lucie noted that although Burlington and Hamilton were similar with regard to the high end limit of price per unit ($338,182 and $339,568, respectively), on the low end, Burlington’s price per unit was significantly higher than Hamilton’s ($120,046 and $46,211, respectively).

Upcoming events Trade Show – April 15 – Postponed Spring Hope Food Drive – April 21 – Postponed Dinner Meeting – May 14 – TBD Educational Seminar – June 17 – TBD Golf Tournament – June 24 – TBD

Hamilton and District Landlords Since 1960, the Hamilton and District Apartment Association has grown significantly. Our members manage over of 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: 289-208-5445 Web: www.hamiltonapartmentassociation.ca

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 51


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President’s message: Don’t forget to say “Thank you” As our front-line workers struggle to keep buildings clean, the pressure now to maintain an entirely new standard has been draining. Residents are using stairwells to exercise, putting pressure on staff to clean and disinfect an area that in the past did not require hourly attention. There has also been a marked increase in laundry room use and foot traffic, supplies are becoming increasingly difficult to find, and garbage is being left in places where it wouldn’t normally be seen. We are beginning to read more about the virus lasting on hard surfaces for hours and even days, and this is creating more stress for our site managers, cleaners, maintenance workers, and trades. Please remember to thank all of your front-line teams, send them lunch, or give them a bonus. Do whatever you have to do to help them out and then say thank you again.

- Shirley Criger, LPMA President LANDLORDS FEAR ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES FROM FEES A N D C H A R G E S BY L AW A new Fees and Charges Bylaw amendment is causing alarm among landlords, not only in Toronto where it was introduced, but also in municipalities across the province. The bylaw amendment, which came into effect last November, requires landlords to pay the cost of relocating tenants if a “substantial portion” of an apartment building is declared uninhabitable due to a loss of vital services, such as heat, electricity or water, regardless of the cause. For example, if a tenant causes a fire that spreads to other units or if a prolonged municipal vital service disruption occurs, the landlord will have to pay in the event the City has to step in to relocate residents. The bylaw has tremendous adverse consequences for landlords, says London lawyer Joe Hoffer. “It’s like saying this person who doesn’t have any money has caused us damages, but we’re not going to require them to pay the damages because they don’t have any money. But you have money so we’re going to require you to pay their damages,” says Hoffer. In Toronto, landlords will have to pay for fire, police, and inspectors from the municipality to ensure the building is safe even if the landlord isn’t at fault for the building shutdown. Landlords may also be assessed the costs of having first responders provide security and social workers supervise evacuation of the building. It is unlikely

that most building insurance policies will cover such liabilities. Hoffer says those expenses used to be paid out of an emergency human services expense account, a line item that is common in municipal budgets and that is funded by taxpayers’ dollars. Now, instead of taking that money from the general tax base, the City of Toronto is able to levy those costs directly on landlords.

Imposing liability A similar situation arose in London last year when the municipality tried to use proposed changes to its public nuisance bylaw to impose liability on landlords when their tenants engaged in unsanctioned street parties as part of Fake Homecoming, an event that takes place each fall at Western University. LPMA was successful in defeating the changes, which could have resulted in landlords being fined up to $10,000 if their tenants had held unsanctioned street parties. Nevertheless, municipalities see the Fees and Charges Bylaw as a revenue tool, Hoffer observes. “It’s a great source of added revenue, although they (the municipality) aren’t going to reduce everybody else’s property tax because now they’re taking what would otherwise have been part of the property taxes and they’re billing landlords directly.

Joe Hoffer

rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 53

Property taxes never go down so it’s a really cynical move on the part of municipalities,” says Hoffer. Hoffer believes the instigating factor for the bylaw was a massive electrical fire that broke out on August 21, 2018 at 650 Parliament Street in Toronto. The building’s 1,500 residents had to be evacuated on an emergency basis and many of them had nowhere to go. The City enlisted the Red Cross and incurred related municipal costs, the total of which exceeded $3.7 million. The City didn’t have enough money to cover the cost and had to draw it from other areas of its budget. As a solution, it proposed billing the building’s landlord directly instead of paying the cost out of the City’s emergency human services account.

Bylaw conditions The Toronto bylaw encompasses three conditions: a “substantial portion” of the building must be declared uninhabitable by the appropriate regulatory authorities because of vital service disruptions; the building must be three or more storeys in height or have 10 or more units; and the landlord does not provide alternate accommodations for tenants. Hoffer recommends to landlords that they have an emergency management plan in place in municipalities where the Fees and Charges Bylaw exists to ensure they move as quickly as possible to re-house tenants, even if the accommodations are in a hotel or in a colleague’s apartment building. “If the landlord does that, then the Fees and Charges Bylaw can’t kick in because that condition hasn’t been met,” Hoffer says. The landlord can provide tenants with hotel rooms and tell them that they need to cover the cost. Those who have tenant insurance most likely have relocation coverage included. Those who don’t have tenant insurance should have it, Hoffer says. “The LPMA lease has clear requirements that the tenant have adequate tenant insurance in place,” Hoffer says. Hoffer advises landlords to ensure through their administrative process that they require tenants to carry adequate liability and tenant insurance. The public announcement of the new bylaw could provide landlords with a reason to communicate to tenants the need to maintain insurance coverage. He also suggests that landlords make it easy for tenants to obtain insurance; for

54 | April 2020

example, ZipSure allows tenants to apply online. Tenants can apply in a rental agent’s office and receive confirmation that they’re eligible. Landlords should also stipulate that the policy include relocation coverage that will pay for a hotel room. Although landlords can’t “require” that a tenant use a particular insurance company without being in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act, they can offer a few options of companies they could explore. If landlords don’t choose that route, they should obtain confirmation that tenants have tenant insurance for the rental unit they’ve applied for before they hand over the keys to their unit.

“We’ve done that on a number of occasions. I can’t think of a single case where the Board has ruled on it because, before the Board made a ruling, the tenants have always put the insurance in place and we had the case law to support the requirement that they do it,” says Hoffer.

Ways of mitigating loss Hoffer has heard from several Toronto landlords who are concerned about the bylaw and he says the best direction he can give them concerns how to mitigate loss. Step one consists of landlords putting residents on notice that they are going to enforce, if they don’t already, the requirement that tenants have insurance coverage. Landlords can do that by pointing to the term in the lease that states they are required to have it and to show proof of insurance to the landlord. Some tenants may balk because they’ve never had insurance and the landlord hasn’t enforced the requirement. “The LPMA lease has a no-waiver clause that says even if we (landlords) haven’t enforced a provision of this lease in the past, we’re not precluded from enforcing it at any time, and we’re enforcing it now,” says Hoffer. If tenants refuse, there is a good judicial precedent to support a landlord issuing an eviction notice on the basis that the tenants have breached the insurance requirement of their lease. The landlord can serve an N5 notice of termination if the tenant fails to comply and purchase proper insurance.

Domino effect Ultimately, if the bylaw is upheld despite one legal challenge currently underway, Hoffer can foresee it having a domino effect throughout the province. Some municipalities may implement it regardless. “We would recommend that landlords oppose it on the basis that the liability flows to the landlord regardless of whether the landlord is the one who caused the need for tenants to leave,” Hoffer says. “It’s fundamentally unjust to do that when the landlord isn’t the cause. That would probably be LPMA’s position.” Landlords are bothered most by the inequality of the bylaw. “There’s a fundamental unfairness to it,” Hoffer says. “It causes me to say, ‘That can’t possibly be legal.’ But you never know. That remains to be seen.”

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

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

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE The world has changed incredibly quickly over the last three weeks. On March 11, we held our Signature Event, which was very well attended by our membership. The next day, we learned that Ontario schools would be extending the March break – which was to follow the next week – by at least another two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. And we’ve all been witness to how the world has changed day by day since then. With all levels of government putting out advisories on a daily basis, it’s important to understand where rental housing providers can find credible resources on what is going on, and what direction to take. We will continue to update our membership with information as it becomes available through email updates. Of course, all events that were planned for the immediate future have been postponed. We are moving our annual trade show to the fall, tentatively of course. The entire country is going through difficult times due to COVID-19. All of us are experiencing a range of emotions and anxieties as we socially distance from our friends and family to keep everyone safe. Let’s all make sure to stay safe, and do our part to help others stay safe as well. - Andrew Macallum, President

Rental defaults and government support All levels of government are announcing various initiatives to help Canadians during these difficult times, as many people are being laid off and businesses are being required to close. This will present challenges as homeowners try to pay their mortgages, and tenants try to pay their rent on time. Rental payment defaults are expected to affect landlords of all sizes, from people renting out a basement apartment to REITs, and everyone in between. The possibility of rental payment defaults impacting employees, mortgage payments, utility bills, and property taxes is real and intimidating. In Ontario, the Landlord and Tenant Board and courts have essentially closed, which will affect current and future cases

involving rental disputes for the foreseeable future. Some tenant associations and activists have also suggested rent strikes, which is not helping the situation. We believe that most Canadians want to take care of their financial obligations. Rental housing providers want to pay their taxes and utilities as well. Fortunately, the federal, provincial, and municipal governments have stepped forward with various initiatives to help deal with this difficult financial situation.

Joe Hoffer from Cohen Highley LLP speaks to WRAMA members about changes in the legal landscape for residential rental housing.

The federal government announced the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) with the hopes of getting money into the hands of Canadians with an application process that is to begin on or around April 6, 2020. The CERB is to provide close to $2,000 per month for up to four months to individuals impacted by COVID-19. The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance. This is a somewhat fluid situation. However, the flow of government money is not expected to occur until 10 days after applications are received.

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In that case, payments to individuals, above and beyond EI, will be made in mid to late April. This means that many tenants will not receive financial support until after April 1, which is when rental payments are due. Typically, if a rental payment is not received on the first day of the month, a Notice to End a Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent is issued to the tenant on the third of the month. The Jennifer Tsao (CMHC); Joe Hoffer (Cohen Highley LLP); Andrew Macallum (WRAMA) issuing of this form initiates a 14-day window where a payment can be made. But these are not typical times. The provincial government has also announced its Action Plan in response to COVID-19. In addition to the measures being taken to support the health care system, the plan includes financial measures to help people who have lost their jobs, as well as companies that have been forced to close. Some of these measures include proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months; reducing electricity rates to off-peak prices; cutting taxes for employers through a temporary increase in the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption; and providing five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payments for most provincially administered taxes. The City of Waterloo has also announced an Economic Relief Plan that aligns with the plans announced by the federal and provincial governments. Some of these measures include waiving late payment charges on property taxes, water and wastewater utility bills, and all other residential and non-residential accounts receivable for April and May, including payments to the City for permits, licenses, rents, and any other amounts due in April and May; waiving Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) fees charged on customer accounts for April and May; and suspending all collection efforts on accounts in arrears during April and May.

What’s in a name? Several months ago, I received an email from Wayne P. Brabazon, a Water Efficiency Technologist with the Region of Waterloo; he is also a member of WRAMA and co-owner of two rental properties. He voiced his concern and discomfort with the use of the term “landlord” to describe his role. In his email, Mr. Brabazon stated, “The term landlord is archaic and has very negative connotations for the property manager/tenant relationship and I do not think it is a useful/helpful term in this day and age.” To follow is a summary of our conversation on the topic. WRAMA: Tell us about your experience with the term “landlord.” Wayne Brabazon: My wife and I together manage two rental properties and I am more responsible for maintaining the properties on-site, which means I have more face to face contact. I maintain the properties as I would be considered handy and it allows me to check all is well at the properties. We maintain the properties to a standard at which we ourselves could live in. However, some, not all, tenants consider any contact with the landlord as a negative.

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They see no positive, such as a well-maintained property, with landlord visits. Landlord visits have to be a bad thing, after all we are the “lords” with so much resented control over their lives. The term landlord “establishes a tone of fear and resentment among tenants,” a quote from the president of WRAMA. We use the arms’ length services of a property management company but the tenants usually figure out that we are the landlords and cannot be nice people. WRAMA: What impact does the term “landlord” have when it is used liberally through provincial legislation, media, and local bylaws? Wayne Brabazon: The term landlord is firmly entrenched in Ontario as per the LTB (Landlord and Tenant Board). The Region of Waterloo’s Water Efficiency Group is moving away from the term landlord in our multi-residential water efficiency program communications, preferring the term property managers. RHB Magazine ran an article (July-August 2019) considering the impact landlords have on tenants’ lives. Landlord suggests you control someone’s life via lordship title; property manager simply implies management of an investment property. Landlord is a confrontational term.

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WRAMA: Who does it have an impact on? Wayne Brabazon: The term landlord sets up a confrontational approach regardless of how helpful, diligent, considerate, and timely the property owners may be in managing their investment properties. I see analogies with the term ‘boss’; no matter how fair, helpful, and considerate a manager may be, to some people they must be bad by virtue of the fact they are the boss and they manage people. WRAMA: What is the solution? Wayne Brabazon: Move away from the term landlord to more apt names, such as property manager or property owner.

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Final Take Away, We’re here to help Yardi is closely monitoring recommendations from national and international organizations, including the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization. We are taking the following measures to protect and support our clients, employees, and communities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Client support Property managers’ obligations to tenants, residents, employees, and communities continue even in this period of extreme disruption. The Yardi team is actively working on tools and training to help clients ensure business continuity, safety, and productivity during this new near-term reality of increased remote work and social distancing. We are offering free online training courses on Yardi.com/coronavirus to help our clients continue to work as productively, efficiently, and securely as possible. These courses are part of Yardi’s “We’re here to help” program.

Social distancing series The focus of Yardi’s “We’re here to help” program is to teach our clients best practices within our software that facilitate social distancing. We want to ensure that our clients can provide essential services to their prospects, residents, and vendors via portals, text, and email.

Resident communication Clients are learning how to use their RENTCafé resident portal to help keep their tenants safe and informed. With this tool, they’re able to share property updates and encourage online payment and online maintenance requests. This is a subtle way to discourage unnecessary visits to the office staff while highlighting conveniences that you’ve made available for residents.

Flexible payment options Providing online payment options offers your renters and staff greater security and fewer risks than cash or cheques. With RENTCafé, you have several options to extend to your renters. They can pay with traditional methods such as preauthorized debit, debit, and credit cards.

Virtual leasing For external communications, we are showing our clients how they can update their RENTCafé marketing website to reduce exposure to COVID-19.

60 | April 2020

Brought to you by Yardi Breeze By Peter Altobelli, vice president and general manager, Yardi Canada Ltd.

Adding “Open for business online or by phone only” or “Schedule a virtual tour” to your homepage immediately addresses any concerns your prospect may have. To showcase the property, our clients can easily upload videos and photos of their vacant units. They can also edit their amenities pages to virtually show what is available. Those features give prospects an overview of what the property has to offer. Remote tours via social media or teleconferencing tools, however, connect prospects with leasing agents in a more personable and detailed way. Adopting these new marketing strategies will drive leads and leases while maintaining minimal-to-no physical interaction with your leasing team.

Employee support Most of the Yardi team has transitioned to a remote work environment. Healthcare and nursing resources are available to all employees, as are counselling and therapy resources. We have heightened office hygiene and cleaning protocols for those who remain onsite to deliver essential services.

Community support In addition to the time, energy, and financial support that Yardi traditionally donates to philanthropic organizations, we have committed $2 million to food banks and other non-profits on the front lines of their communities’ fight against COVID-19. Yardi is navigating the COVID-19 crisis with the same philosophy that has guided us for more than three decades: take care of our clients, our employees, and our communities. Our team is confident that we will all unite to subdue COVID-19, and we’ll emerge from this challenge stronger than ever. ** Everyone should conduct their own planning based on their specific location and circumstances. While we are dedicated to providing general information to our clients, it is not intended to be healthcare or legal advice. Please consult appropriate government agencies and authorities, as well as healthcare and legal professionals.

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YardiBreeze.ca | 888.569.2734

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