Vol. 13 No. 3 August 2020
Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s #1 most widely read publication for Apartment Owners, Managers and Association Executives
The official publication of:
Dispute resolution for non-payment of rent
Lifting the eviction moratoriums
Landlord and tenant advocates square off over the resumption of eviction enforcement.
Farewell to Juan, co-founder of RHB Magazine
We take a look back at Juanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time with RHB Inc. as he bids goodbye.
What or how has HR changed in a postCOVID world?
Employers must be prepared to manage their employees in a new environment when workplaces reopen.
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EDITOR’S NOTES Editor’s Note – The courage to be disliked One of my favourite books is The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. The book is based on the theories of psychologist Alfred Adler, and states that we have the power to “determine the direction of our own life, free from the shackles of past traumas and the expectations of others.” The book helped me to understand that I am responsible for my own happiness, and I don’t have to concern myself with the opinions of others. This includes criticism of my writing, which is beyond my control and does not affect how I feel about my work. The August issue of RHB Magazine features a RENTT panel with several rental housing association leaders across Canada on what comes next for the reopening of the dispute resolution process for non-payment of rent. The panel members discussed when provinces will start hearing dispute resolution cases, how rental housing providers should prepare, and what they should be doing during the reopening. They also discussed rental demand across different market sectors, and what can be done to deal with decline in rental demand. We also take a look at how human resources practices have changed in a post-COVID-19 world. The article discusses what employers need to know and do to be prepared for employees and tenants, how they should prepare if there is another outbreak, and how to find an HR expert if you don’t have an HR department. For long-time subscribers to RHB Magazine, please note our farewell article to Juan Malvestitti, director of RHB Inc. This is his last issue, as he prepares to pursue new challenges. I’ve known Juan for more than a decade – we met before there was a magazine – and I’m sure he will do great things. Along with everyone else who knows him, I wish him all the best on his journey. Check out CFAA’s newsletter, National Outlook, as well as the Regional Association Voice. And make sure to read CBRE Suite Count and Final Take Away, brought to you by Yardi Breeze. We support two-way communication, so send your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you. Stay safe and take care!
Marc Côté email@example.com
Juan Malvestitti firstname.lastname@example.org
David Gargaro email@example.com
John Dickie, President CFAA firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Enjoy the issue! David Gargaro Senior Editor
4 | August 2020
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VOL.13 NO.3 2020
Farewell to Juan, co-founder of RHB Magazine
RHB’s forum for rental housing associations to share news, events and industry information
RENTT: Dispute resolution for non-payment of rent
In this month’s issue, our esteemed RENTT (Rental Executives National Think Tank) panelists discuss what comes next for the reopening of the dispute resolution process for the non-payment of rent.
Hot Topics: LPMA suggests how rental providers can reduce the legal risks of reopening recreation facilities such as pools and fitness rooms. One solution is not reopening such facilities. Another is requiring tenants to sign a waiver of liability. A third is posting the new rules for facility use. What are the issues in taking or not taking each of those steps? pg. 45 WRAMA discusses the effect of the shutdown and reopening, its new website and membership data platform, and its Spring virtual events. WRAMA also provides the Ontario LTB reopening notice dated July 30. What is the LTB planning to do when? pg. 49 EOLO reports on the new City of Ottawa Rental Housing Property Management By-law to be effective on August 31, 2021. Included are information packages, new obligations for both landlords and tenants in pest control, and for some rental providers, a requirement for a capital maintenance plan. Who has to take new steps and what is required? pg. 53 HDAA updates readers on recent events such as the City’s support for the homeless, the Court case over clearing homeless encampments, mandatory mask rules, an up-coming review of Hamilton’s property standards, and a possible bid for the Commonwealth Games. How does such a bid relate to affordable housing? pg. 57
The Member Associations
Regional Association Voice Regional Association Voice features the latest industry news from four member associations.
What or how has HR changed in a post-COVID world? Employers must be prepared to manage their employees in a new environment when workplaces reopen.
6 | August 2020
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PRESIDENT’S CORNER By the time you read this, CMHC will likely have released its decisions on the use of funds from upward re-financings using mortgage insurance. CFAA promoted a broad ability to use those funds, so that rental housing providers can best manage their cash flow, their leverage and the funding for their capital repairs. To find out what the CMHC Board decided, check CFAA’s website at cfaa-fcapi.org. At our website, you can also read what CFAA is seeking in the Federal Budget for 2021. CFAA will appear before the Finance Committee to address the key federal tax and expenditure issues which impact on rental housing. CFAA wants to issue a special thank you to YARDI Systems and to HOME DEPOT. Those two rental industry suppliers are providing critical support to CFAA, as we deal with the revenue shortfall created by the need to cancel CFAA Rental Housing Conference 2020.
CFAA’s Award for New Product or Service of the Year 2020. For details about their products and services, and what they can do for you, see page 41. Don’t miss a “virtual debate” between me and two tenant advocates about the re-opening of the rent dispute resolution procedures across Canada. See page 35 for what was said on CBC Radio1, and what was said to CBC Radio1. Finally, see page 38 for information about a form of affordable housing which is frequently overlooked, namely manufactured home communities. Al Kemp now leads the Manufactured Home Park Owners Alliance of BC. He has long been a keen supporter of CFAA. Almost two decades ago, Al was the CFAA President, when that position was held on a rotating basis by volunteers.
HOME DEPOT offers rental providers repair products and services. If you buy building supplies or repair service at HOME DEPOT, make sure your representative knows you are a member of CFAA, either directly or by being a member of a CFAA-member association. Join HOME DEPOT PRO at no cost. That will provide you with extra benefits from HOME DEPOT, and will increase HOME DEPOT’s support for CFAA. YARDI Systems makes available the most integrated property management software for rental housing providers in Canada. Among other benefits, that software facilitates remote work and electronic payments, which are both of key importance under COVID-19 and the recovery. Also worthy of serious consideration for adoption by forward-thinking rental providers are the winner and two other finalists in
8 | August 2020
John Dickie, CFAA President John Dickie, CFAA President
rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 9
In this issue of... NATIONAL OUTLOOK 35. What do tenant advocates and landlord advocates say about the resumption of eviction enforcement? What does CBC want to know? What do you think? Find out more by reading this debate.
CFAA Member Associations Eastern Ontario Landlord Organization (EOLO) www.eolo.ca P: 613-235-9792 Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) www.frpo.org P: 416-385-1100, 1-877-688-1960
38. M anufactured home communities --- how do the costs compare with buying a traditional home? How does that community living compare with living in a rental apartment? Why are manufactured home communities not more widespread?
41. H ow do the finalists of CFAA’s Product or Service of the Year awards help rental housing providers succeed under COVID-19 and into the future? Which industry suppliers are being particularly helpful to CFAA itself?
To subscribe to CFAA’s e-Newsletter, please send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.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 | August 2020
Greater Toronto Apartment Association (GTAA) www.gtaaonline.com P: 416-385-3435 Hamilton & District Apartment Association (HDAA) www.hamiltonapartmentassociation.ca P: 905-632-4435 Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia (IPOANS) www.ipoans.ns.ca P: 902-425-3572 LandlordBC www.landlordbc.ca P: 1-604-733-9440 Vancouver Office P: 604-733-9440 Victoria Office P: 250-382-6324 London Property Management Association (LPMA) www.lpma.ca P: 519-672-6999 Manufactured Home Park Owners Alliance of British Columbia (MHPOA) www.mhpo.com P: 1-877-222-4560 Professional Property Managers’ Association (of Manitoba) (PPMA) www.ppmamanitoba.com P: 204-957-1224 Saskatchewan Landlord Association Inc. (SKLA) www.skla.ca P: 306-653-7149 Waterloo Regional Apartment Management Association (WRAMA) www.wrama.com P: 519-748-0703
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RENTT: Dispute resolution for non-payment of rent By David Gargaro
This issue we spoke to several rental housing association leaders for a RENTT (Rental Executives National Think Tank) panel about what comes next for the reopening of the dispute resolution process for non-payment of rent. We discussed when provinces will start hearing cases, how rental housing providers should prepare prior to reopening of resolution disputes, what they should be doing during the re-opening, and other topics.
14 | August 2020
Kimberly Coates, Director of Member Engagement, LandlordBC
Donna Monkhouse, Executive Director, Alberta Residential Landlord Association (ARLA)
Cameron Choquette, Executive Officer, Saskatchewan Landlord Association
Avrom Charach, Vice President, Kay Four Properties, and Director of External Relations, Professional Property Managers Association (PPMA)
Tony Irwin, President and CEO, Federation of Rentalhousing Providers of Ontario (FRPO)
Hans Brouillette, Director of Public Affairs, Quebec Property Owners Corporation (CORPIQ)
RHB: Welcome to RHB Magazineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s RENTT panel. We appreciate the time and effort involved in participating in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s discussion and sharing your experience. Our readers will benefit from your input and experience. With provinces announcing the reopening of their dispute resolution processes for nonpayment of rent, when will your province start hearing cases? What issues do you expect to arise that rental housing providers need to be aware of to make the reopening work well for them and the rental housing industry? Kimberly Coates: The Government of BC announced a process to address rent that went unpaid during our provincial state of emergency. This framework for repayment gives tenants until
July 10, 2021 to catch up on any shortfall of rent. It takes what many landlords have already done, which is communicate and establish payment deferral agreements, and standardizes the process through Residential Tenancy Regulations. Communicating with tenants and working to reach an agreement to repay rent is vital to a successful reopening. The BC Temporary Rent Subsidy helped a lot of tenants and landlords make ends meet, but there are tenants who have outstanding rent debt that needs to be repaid. No one wants to see tenancies ending due to unpaid rent as a result of a global pandemic, so it will be important that landlords talk to tenants about what options are available and provide a clear framework for how the rent repayment agreement will work.
rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 15
Donna Monkhouse: Alberta had a stay on
Hans Brouillette: Since it reopened on June
evictions until the end of April 2020 for nonpayment of rent. The RTDRS offices in Alberta were hearing cases for tenants that would not participate in a Rent Payment Plan or had issues outside of rent. The Rent Payment Plan order is in effect until August 14, 2020. Landlords must honour the payment plan past this date if it was pre-negotiated. Evictions for non-payment of rent due to no payment plan or missed payment plan are still proceeding. This information was relayed to all Albertans by the Minister and was passed to all our membership with templates and updates. Landlords were also not able to charge late fees or increase rents until June 14, 2020.
1, the Régie du logement is probably the most active tribunal in Quebec. Evictions have been possible since July 6 for decisions dated prior to March 1 and since July 20 for all others. With a dozen additional judges nominated this past year, the Régie has more resources to hold hearings and reduce delays. Bill 16 will come into effect on August 31, changing the name of the Régie to the “Tribunal administrative du logement.” Bill 16 includes measures aimed at improving the Tribunal’s efficiency. That is the biggest reform of the Rental Board in 40 years. However, for now, the government has no answer for landlords who were forced to provide housing for free during the four months of the no-eviction period.
Cameron Choquette: Saskatchewan will begin hearing cases on August 4. Rental-housing providers should work with tenants to negotiate payment plans so evictions remain low and housing remains stable for as many people as possible.
Avrom Charach: Manitoba has indicated no eviction hearings will be scheduled until after September 30, 2020. They have indicated they will prioritize rent matters at that time. Our association has requested an earlier opening for hearings. We expect a small flood of hearings but, more importantly, we expect many tenants who have taken advantage of the inability to pursue them for non-payment or disturbance to try to disappear. Once found, we expect some will attempt to use bankruptcy or other means to avoid payment. It could take years to clean up that mess.
Tony Irwin: Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board is hearing urgent cases and has been for some time. On August 4, it began scheduling regular cases. The LTB was to start with hearings for regular cases in mid-August. Hearings are to be in writing, by telephone or video conference. For rental arrears as a result of COVID-19, rental housing providers need to make an offer to accept payment over time. Under recent amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, enacted by Bill 184, the LTB is to consider whether such an offer has been made. As well, the LTB can impose a payment schedule, and defer eviction for nonpayment, as long as the tenant complies with the payment schedule.
16 | August 2020
RHB: What are the most important things that landlords should be doing during the reopening generally? Kimberly Coates: We have heard from landlords who have had trouble getting in touch with tenants and keeping the lines of communication open. It is important that landlords keep trying to work with tenants and keep records of all communication and attempts at communication. As the rental business owner and the professional, landlords must lead by example and adhere to the rules and guidelines that have been provided to help us through this unprecedented time. This includes maintaining safe spaces by continuing to adhere to COVID19 protocols, such as frequent cleaning and disinfecting of common areas and high touch surfaces, as well as limiting the number of people using common spaces like the laundry room or elevator at the same time to encourage social distancing. While this ongoing pandemic can be stressful, landlords want to show tenants that we have their health and safety in mind. By following these simple steps, tenants can feel more confident in their housing provider.
Donna Monkhouse: Landlords needed to work with their tenants on a payment plan to assist with rent. There were no financial aid programs in place specific to people in the residential industry in Alberta.
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Cameron Choquette: Landlords should remain vigilant in their cleaning practices so that new and current tenants are protected. Letting your communities know that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re open for business and have vacant units is crucial for recovery efforts for our industry and the economy as a whole.
Avrom Charach: Landlords should maintain a high level of cleanliness and sanitization to help keep tenants safe. Our association should continue to meet with the RTB and government on behalf of members to monitor how recovery to the new normal is proceeding and ensure that the unforeseen problems that have arisen due to the COVID-related shutdown of hearings are being handled as quickly and efficiently as possible. We have to ensure that we are prepared for the expected second wave in the coming months. There should be a well-devised method to ensure tenants who want to take advantage of the situations do not have the opportunity to do so, while helping landlords and tenants who are suffering from COVID-related solvency issues work together. Our industry is concerned that a repeat of the shutdown of hearings will harm good tenants, as bad tenants take advantage of our inability to enforce many rules, not just rent payment.
Tony Irwin: Rental housing providers need to continue to be reasonable, patient, and diligent in collecting rents. We all need to be realistic about the extent to which regular work and incomes return, and the impacts of the end of CERB and its replacement with an expanded EI system. Rental housing providers also need to maintain precautions against the spread of COVID-19. In Toronto, that includes enforcing the wearing of masks in building common areas. In Ottawa and other cities, public health authorities have strongly recommended the wearing of masks. At the same time, rental housing providers and other tenants need to be COVID-kind, and make allowances for those who cannot wear masks, such as people with breathing issues or other disabilities, which may not be visible.
Hans Brouillette: When a tenant fails to pay rent or misbehaves, it is important to act quickly. Since it remained possible to file a request online,
18 | August 2020
landlords who filed early, before the reopening of the tribunal, are expected to have their hearing sooner, according to the answer provided to CORPIQ by the government. It is also better for landlords to avoid a mix of recourses against a same tenant. As usual, disputes are being heard according to their priority level determined by the tribunal. All disputes will be treated at the same hearing, based on the longest delay of priority.
RHB: How is rental demand in your province or city? What areas or sectors of your markets have seen a decline in rental demand? What information should landlords know to find (and lease to) prospective tenants in the sectors or areas that have experienced a decline in rental demand? Kimberly Coates: For residential rental housing in BC, demand remains strong. There was a decline in people wanting to vacate due to the requirement that we shelter in place at the peak of the shutdown, but as those regulations are loosened, people are continuing to rent and vacant units are filling up. Landlords need to be flexible and innovative when showing units and meeting with prospective tenants. We want to be responsible and continue to practise safe social distancing and limiting contact with people, so LandlordBC suggests using video interviews and video showings as one of the first steps in the application process. That way, you are only meeting face to face with the final few applicants, and do not have multiple people walking through the vacant unit. As always, a robust and thorough application process sets the foundation for a healthy tenancy. It is very important that landlords not rush through this process out of fear that a unit may sit vacant. Continue to use a written
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Working with your current tenant or seeking a new tenant Highlight on Atlantic Canada
In Atlantic Canada, all four provinces have lifted their moratoriums on residential evictions and on tenancy hearings. In fact, most did so in June. In most cases, hearings are still being held remotely, but they are being held. In dealing with non-payment or partial payment by tenants, landlords will want to consider several factors about the tenant and about the rental market. Has the tenant often failed to pay on time in the past? What is the tenantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s financial situation likely to be going forward? What is the demand for my rental unit? If I end this tenancy, can I re-rent the unit? At what rent am I likely to re-rent the unit? Can I find a new tenant who will comply with their obligations better than the existing tenant? The issues about the existing tenant will depend largely on their source of income. Assuming they usually hold employment, is their usual employment in a job that is now opened up and thriving? Across Canada, for the month of June, Statistics Canada reported on employment in various sectors as compared with employment in February. Wholesale, real estate, finance, public administration, and utilities all saw employment at 97 per cent or more of the pre-COVID numbers. Health care and natural resources were at 95 per cent. Manufacturing, agriculture, construction, retail, and educational services were between 88 and 92 per cent. However, the accommodation and food sector was only at 67 per cent of February employment (up from 50 per cent in April).
20 | August 2020
As a result, if your tenant used to work at a hotel, restaurant or bar, they may have trouble obtaining full-time hours. Then your next question may be whether you think the new expanded EI system will provide them enough income to afford the rent they have agreed to pay you. The issues about rental demand vary a great deal with the area. A major factor is the plan the universities have to re-open with physical distancing requirements, or to provide most courses online instead. Based on information available from the universities on August 16, here is a summary. Saint Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s
Memorial University Halifax Dalhousie Sydney Cape Breton University Antigonish St Francis Xavier Wolfville Acadia Moncton University of Moncton Fredericton & University of Saint John New Brunswick
online mostly online online will open mixed model varies by program will open
By considering the potential rental demand in each location, and the likely status of each existing tenant in arrears, rental providers can decide whether they are better off working with their existing tenant, or moving to terminate an unsuccessful tenancy and seeking a tenant more able to pay their rent. By John Dickie, President, CFAA
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application, conduct tenant interviews, and, if need be, run a credit check.
Donna Monkhouse: Rental demand remains steady. There is tenant movement, in part because many tenants are seeking more affordable housing. The areas closer to universities and colleges are seeing higher vacancy rates and are changing how they market to different demographics. Some rental rates in these areas have been reduced. Universities or colleges are struggling and looking for different marketing strategies and target markets to fill buildings. To save money, some tenants are moving to small towns. With a lot of work shifting to peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s homes, location is not much of an issue. Adding boosted WiFi or free services in buildings that tenants can use for business are also worth exploring.
Cameron Choquette: Rental demand remains strong in Saskatchewan, but we may experience a decline in younger renters as post-secondary institutions have closed their doors to students for the fall term. Continuing to market your business and diversifying your amenities to suit different prospective tenants will help fill units as we approach the end of Q3.
Avrom Charach: Rental demand diminished at the start of the shutdown but has steadily picked up as Manitoba has re-opened. Our province had some of the lowest infection rates in the world and as we moved into stage two, three, and now a modified stage four, more people have become comfortable with the idea of moving. As for what has helped some landlords, we have seen the adoption of more remote electronic means to secure and contract rentals. Virtual tours have become more prevalent, as have electronic application forms and electronic leasing documentation.
Tony Irwin: Rental housing providers need to evaluate rental demand for their units, and bear the demand in mind when deciding whether to make an agreement with an existing tenant or seek to replace that tenant. Especially in some student areas, rental demand has fallen a great deal from what it was before COVID-19. Non-permanent residents (NPRs) and immigrants are major drivers of rental demand in Toronto and major centres in Ontario. COVID-19 travel restrictions and the reduced desire to live abroad will limit demand from NPRs. The demand from NPRs tends to fall
22 | August 2020
even in ordinary recessions. In past recessions, immigration has still remained high. Whether that is the case in the months to come will be a key driver for rental demand, and thus a key question for rental housing providers. Another factor is the extent to which new rental supply is reduced or slowed down because of COVID-19. There are conflicting factors; rental and other housing construction was allowed to continue even when other businesses shut down, but some supply chains were interrupted, and some work was delayed due to labour safety concerns by the government, workers, and construction firms.
Hans Brouillette: The vacancy rate in QuĂŠbec dropped to a 15-year low at 1.5 per cent as of October 2019, according to CMHC. However, CORPIQ did a poll this spring to see how the pandemic and economic crisis affected the market. In Montreal, the vacancy rate reached 1.1 per cent in May, at its lowest point, but doubled since then and is now above 2 per cent. With all apartments rented on Airbnb returning to the residential market, upscale apartments have become more difficult to rent. The strong demand prior to COVID-19 is now falling off. Also, apartments near universities are less popular since students can usually take classes online. We also see companies that decided not to renew the leases they had for employees who were transferred on assignments. Over the next months, the availability of jobs for young people, and resumed immigration, will be key factors that will determine rental demand.
RHB: Thank you for your input and participation.
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What or how has HR changed in a post-COVID world?
By Jenny Affe, Chief Human Resources Officer
COVID-19 thrust Human Resources into uncharted territory. From managing a large-scale transition to remote work, to minimizing employees’ health and safety concerns, the challenges brought forth by COVID-19 came quickly and with little warning. For the property management industry, being classified as an essential service provided an additional layer of intricacies. It was, and continues to be, a time of upheaval. Management styles had to adapt, communication has become more important than ever, and the way we check in on our employees had to change to suit the circumstances. The good news is that, for companies that already had a solid foundation of strong leadership, transparency, communication and respect, this transition was much easier. For Human Resources professionals, I could see a shift into more emphasis being placed on culture in a post-pandemic world. After all, through this experience, we’ve seen firsthand the importance of having employees trust their organization and leadership. Frankly, without employee buy-in, nothing will get done. I also see more cross-collaboration between leaders and the Human Resources Department.
24 | August 2020
Human Resources acts as the information hub of organizations. We know information employees may not feel comfortable disclosing elsewhere and are tasked with balancing employee concerns while protecting the company’s interests. Often difficult situations are more nuanced than they seem, and Human Resources can help leaders deal with the grey area. This also ensures the company as a whole can respond in a unified and consistent manner across departments and teams. A strong culture of respect and empathy is critical to any organization because the health, safety, and confidence of your employees stems from their perception of your trust and competence. How you treat every single employee before, during, and after this pandemic will determine future engagement and output. With governments announcing and businesses getting ready to reopen their offices, what do employers need to know and do to be prepared for both employees and tenants (if applicable)? Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. As the Ontario Government allows more restrictions to be lifted, there is continued on page 26
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“A strong culture of respect and empathy is critical to any organization because the health, safety, and confidence of your employees stems from their perception of your trust and competence.“ definitely an added degree of pressure to “keep up with the Joneses,” especially if industry peers are opening their doors. Getting things back to normal is a tempting prospect, but it’s important for businesses to stop and realize that the postpandemic world will not look like the one before COVID-19. Transparency and trust are essential in making sure employees feel comfortable coming back to the workplace – whenever that may be. It goes without saying that employers should be prepared to take additional precautions in the face of this new normal. Physical distancing, deep cleaning of office spaces, wearing masks in the workplace, and frequent hand washing are all a given. Employers also need to make sure they have a plan in place that would allow them to act immediately should there be a concern about health and safety issues.
Although seeing what others have done can provide a good framework for what works and what doesn’t, when it comes down to it, you know your business and your people best. How should employers prepare if an outbreak occurs or if the government shuts down again? There’s no telling what the future has in store, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we should hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
There are countless variables an employer will have to consider in the event of a second wave and subsequent economic shutdown, but one thing should be standard – the fact that the employer should already have a plan in place well before it is needed. Jenny Affe, CHRE | Chief Human During the first wave, there Resources Officer, Greenwin was no time to prepare; now there is no excuse not to be prepared. At this point, we’ve seen what COVID-19 can do, we’ve seen how our employees will react, and we’ve seen Beyond that, I would encourage employers to go how our business models have to adapt. Ideally, a step further and take a more holistic look at their employers will have gained significant insight organization to gauge what next steps should be into what works and what doesn’t at this point. taken. With so much focus being on getting back Communications protocols should be in place to to normal, it’s easy to miss what’s working, or ensure effective dissemination of information, IT even thriving, in the new landscape. For example, should be on standby if a large-scale transition if certain teams are meeting and exceeding to remote work is needed, and leaders should productivity benchmarks in the new remote make a habit of team-building, collaborating, and landscape, you may want to consider whether a leveraging emotional intelligence to reinforce trust degree of remote work could be a viable option for and a sense of security. your business going forward. There are a million different opinions on the issue of reopening – the one that matters is yours.
26 | August 2020
That being said, with a situation as fluid as a global pandemic, expect the need for your policies continued on page 28
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“Transparency and trust are essential in making sure employees feel comfortable coming back to the workplace – whenever that may be.“ to be just as flexible. Perfect is the enemy of good; it’s important to recognize when something just isn’t working and be willing and able to adapt. Employees with children may face additional challenges with school closures, those with underlying health issues may be dealing with anxiety over their safety, and those who are public facing and considered essential workers may be more prone to absenteeism given the situation. Having a comprehensive Pandemic Response Plan can address these issues, in addition to providing clear, decisive direction from leadership. The last thing you want is for an employee to ask a question you don’t have the answer to. A foundation of good leadership is good for employees and your business. If a company does not have an HR person or department, what advice would you give when seeking an HR expert or consultant?
28 | August 2020
In an unprecedented situation like this, the decision of whether or not to seek out a Human Resources expert or consultant would be similar to the decision of whether or not to call a plumber for a leaky pipe. Sure, you could tackle the leak yourself, but you may walk into your kitchen the next day and find a flood. An expert sees the problems you may miss, recognizing when a visible issue is simply a symptom of something deeper and finding the root cause before it becomes a crisis. In the case of Human Resources, that includes asking the right questions, talking to the right people, and developing the right plan for your business. A good Human Resources professional would be able to recognize the unique needs of your business and utilize a multi-faceted approach to meet those needs, from satisfying training requirements to developing policies and seeking legal advice.
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During Q1 2020, there were 15 multi-family sales in Greater Vancouver totalling $626 million, an increase of approximately 87.5 per cent from the eight sales that completed in Q1 2019 (reported by Business in Vancouver). The first quarter of 2020 concluded just a few short weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, triggering uncertainty of how the market would fare through the remainder of the year. During Q2, along with the rest of the country, the Vancouver investment market was brought to a halt. Specifically pertaining to multi-family, both national and local apartment investors quickly channeled their full focus to the day-to-day operations of their properties rather than acquisitions activity. Our brokerage team had to quickly adapt by staying close to our clients, offering help where possible, and implementing updated digital marketing initiatives such as virtual property tours, comprehensive property marketing videos, more frequent updates to our market resources. However, despite some of the inevitable challenges presented by COVID-19, we remain extremely optimistic about the Metro Vancouver multi-family market for the remainder of 2020. With residential rent collection rates in BC during COVID-19 far exceeding both expectations and collection rates of other asset classes, the multi-family asset class has proven to be resilient and provides investors with consistent and stable returns even in times of turbulence. Further, given the region has seen consistent immigration in recent years, in addition to the future influx of high-profile tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, the demand for well-maintained and high-quality apartment rentals will only continue to grow. Overall, combining the effects of population and employment growth, the record low interest rate environment, and sociopolitical issues in other parts of the world, we anticipate further investor capital to be dedicated toward multi-family assets in our market moving forward. As the government began to slowly re-open the economy in Q3, we started seeing renewed investor appetite and increasing interest from apartment owners to put their buildings on the market. Our Apartment Sales team has recently launched a number of exciting initiatives to the market, one of which weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve highlighted below. Vancouver Island Apartment Portfolio Nanaimo | Duncan | Parksville | Campbell River A premier multi-family rental apartment portfolio comprised of five brand new purposebuilt rental apartment buildings strategically located in four prominent coastal communities. Three of the properties were recently completed and are 100% occupied. Two of the buildings are still under construction and are scheduled for occupancy in November 2020. Each building has been completed to condoquality standards and represents a premier rental product in rapidly growing regions. The offering is being presented as a portfolio; however, vendors will consider offers on individual properties. For more information on this exciting offering or to discuss how our team can assist you with your next acquisition or apartment building sale, visit our website at nationalapartmentgroupbc.ca or contact Lance Coulson at 604 662 5141.
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Farewell to Juan, co-founder of RHB Magazine
By David Gargaro
Juan Malvestitti, director of RHB Magazine, will soon be moving on to other ventures. This issue of the magazine will be his last. As co-founder of RHB Inc., Juan has helped to grow the company and its brand, making it the leader in serving in Canada’s rental housing industry. “I’d like to thank our team, industry colleagues, and loyal clients for being an integral part of our success and for making the last 10 years an exhilarating ride,” said Juan. “I’m happy that we have been able to achieve our collective vision of becoming the national voice of Canada’s rental housing industry.”
Looking back Juan emigrated to Canada from Argentina when he was a child. Throughout his early 20s, he worked in various roles across different industries, gaining valuable experience along the way thanks to his desire to succeed. During his time working with an industry publisher, he first encountered Marc Cote, who was also involved in the magazine publishing industry. They got to know each other and discussed their mutual interest in different facets of the industry. Several years later, their paths would cross again. Marc was building his magazine publishing company, while Juan had started his own publication. Marc invited Juan to join forces, and both later saw an opportunity to create a publication that would cater to
32 | August 2020
Canada’s rental housing industry. And so, in 2011, RHB Inc. was born. Over time, RHB Magazine became the trusted voice in Canada’s rental housing industry, widely read by building owners, property managers, industry association members, and professionals who provide services to the rental housing industry. The magazine covered a wide range of topics, from building maintenance and new technologies to legislation and COVID-19’s impact on the industry. It also covered the latest news and events, published numerous market reports, and highlighted key members of the rental housing industry. RHB Magazine also formed partnerships with several industry associations, making it truly representative of the people who work in rental housing. “Juan was relentless in marketing and growing the magazine, and was instrumental in making it what it has become today,” said Marc. “His efforts contributed to RHB Magazine earning the hearts and trust of the rental housing industry, and his tenacity helped the company to grow beyond the magazine.”
Growing beyond the magazine With the success of RHB Magazine, both Marc and Juan believed that there was an appetite to do more for the rental housing industry. They wanted to create a one-stop media platform for all things related to rental housing. So, they set out to do just that.
RHB Inc. publishes a line-up of titles other than RHB Magazine, including the national edition of theAnnual and four regional editions of theAnnual, which are yearly periodicals that provide owners and managers with vital information to analyze and respond to market needs, size, and competition. RHB Inc. runs MINGO Rally, a national oneday information building demonstration, review, and trade show involving Canada’s apartment associations. RHB Inc. also created RHB Newsreel, a digital newswire of topics relevant to the rental housing industry, covering topics such as affordable housing, bylaws and regulations, finance, health and safety, industry trends, and more. Perpetual Media Group, which is part of RHB Inc., provides marketing and branding for the real estate industry. Both Marc and Juan are proud of their achievements, especially the launching of RHBTV, the first online news broadcast for the multi-residential industry. Each episode covers a range of topics, such as market insights and trends, legal, finance, development and acquisitions, CMHC data and reports, energy efficiency, capital expenditures, and more. It was a bold move that helped RHB Inc. solidify its position as the voice of the industry.
“RHBTV has helped us to continue our leadership in the rental housing space, providing tailored regional news to a vast national audience,” said Juan. “Hard work and dedication have enabled us to accomplish this goal, as well as our mission to provide value to our loyal readers and association partners.”
Moving forward After more than a decade with RHB Inc., helping to grow it from one magazine to a one-stop media platform for the rental housing industry, Juan has decided to pursue new challenges and interests. Given that their paths have crossed several times over their mutual careers, it’s pretty certain that RHB Inc. has not seen the last of Juan. “It was a true pleasure to be part of making RHB Inc. what it has become today,” said Juan. “I worked with a fantastic and dedicated team, and got to meet some amazing industry colleagues and loyal clients, who I’m thankful to for being a part of our success.” For more information on RHB Inc., please visit www.rentalhousingbusiness.ca.
rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 33
e n o s a m o T a c i s s e J RHBtv.ca
Lifting the eviction moratoriums A tenant - landlord debate By John Dickie, CFAA President
As reported in the article starting at page 14 , most of the provinces have lifted their eviction moratoriums, and BC is about to. In Ontario particularly, tenant advocates have argued that the eviction moratorium should not be lifted yet. This article sets out the positions put forward by two tenant advocates, and what rental housing providers have to say on that issue. The source of the comments of the tenant advocates is a broadcast of CBC Radio1’s public affairs show, “The House,” on August 8. For rental housing providers, most of the comments come from the interview John Dickie gave for that show. In both cases, the quotations have been cleaned up, but the material retains the flavour of an oral debate.
CBC: Ontario just restarted processes that could lead to evictions. How big a problem could this be? Dania Majid, staff lawyer, from the Advocacy Centre for Tenants – Ontario (ACTO): It could be a very big problem. Even before the pandemic started, Ontario has been grappling with a serious affordable housing crisis and a very long backlog at the Landlord and Tenant Board. As the eviction machine ramps up again, we are looking at a lot of tenants who are now at risk of losing their homes, while the pandemic is still with us.
CBC: How many? Do you have an idea of the numbers in Ontario? Dania: There isn’t a proper collection of data by the Board that they have
shared with us so we have [only the] big picture. We have heard one number that was about 700 pending eviction orders. We’ve heard another number that said it was 2400 pending eviction orders. Either way, we’re definitely talking about hundreds, if not thousands, of tenant households.
John Dickie, President, CFAA: Recently, a lawyer acting for the Ontario
Attorney General stated in Court that there were 700 residential eviction orders subject to the Court’s moratorium on eviction enforcement. This eviction backlog is not going to be a flood; it’s going to be a trickle. The evictions that have been sitting out there unenforced for 4 ½ months, number 700 out of 1.4 million rental units. That’s one rental unit for every 2,000 units.
CBC: In Alberta, the ban on evictions for failure to pay rent expired at the end of April. Do you have a sense of how many people have subsequently lost their homes and have had to rely on emergency services? Gail Boehm, COO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation: We don’t have that data. What I can say is that I believe that CERB has helped significantly. We’ve seen actually less first-time shelter users than in prior years.
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NATIONAL OUTLOOK CBC: Who are subject to evictions? When you look at who might be most impacted by eviction notices, especially for failure to pay rent, are there particular communities that are more vulnerable or at risk to this? John: The most common reason tenancies are terminated before the end of their term is non-payment of
rent. Under the eviction moratorium, tenants have been enabled to remain in the rental units they occupy while they pay no rent. Yet the landlord’s costs go on regardless. The landlords who are hurt the most are the mom and pop landlords who operate just one or two rental units. If you just have one rental unit, and your tenant does not pay, you have lost all your rent. You may have lost all the income coming in, which is necessary to pay the mortgage, to pay the property tax bill, to pay the utilities, and to pay for repairs and insurance. Now, people might say, “Well, the landlords could go to the bank and defer the mortgage”, and that’s true. They could defer it for six months. There was a little hassle at the beginning in that some lending institutions thought the deferral was only for homeowners, not landlords, but CFAA asked the federal government to sort that out, and they did sort it out. But remember that relief is a deferral. It is not a forgiveness, so the landlord will still have to pay that money. So even though they haven’t received the rent yet, they need the rent to pay those mortgage payments when they come due over the upcoming time period.
Gail: I think newcomers to Canada are more vulnerable to eviction, primarily because if they have
language challenges, they may not know where to access the various supports. I think anyone who has lost their job will be at tremendous risk when the CERB ends.
John: Many tenants’ incomes were not affected by the pandemic. For example, people working for
government or government agencies, or people on pensions or social assistance, or people who were able to work from home, or people already working from home. There were a great many people who kept their incomes under COVID-19, which was very helpful. Some people lost much or all of their income because of the shutdowns. But then CERB was rolled out. It was extremely helpful in giving most people who lost their incomes enough income to buy their groceries and pay their rent. Now the federal government is ending the CERB program, but replacing it with an expanded Employment Insurance system, which is supposed to help people who were not eligible for the standard EI. Rental providers hope that rollout goes well, and leaves few or no cracks in the income support system.
CBC: Dania, you have referred to COVID not running its course yet; the economy is still recovering. What are your biggest concerns as you look ahead to the Fall? Dania: The biggest concern is that we have a second wave, and that then we have a much higher increase in our homeless population. This is going to cause massive disruption in people’s lives. We’re concerned for people who will transition from CERB to EI. If there are any glitches in that process, that could contribute to further people falling into arrears
People are going to be incurring larger and larger debt loads to try to keep their housing in place. In many cities in Ontario, CERB does not cover the average rent, so people cannot pay their food and their rent.
John: In many cases, tenants were living in jurisdictions where market rents were low or middling, and
CERB was perfectly adequate to pay their rent and their grocery bill, and give them money for other needs. For example, in Edmundston, New Brunswick, the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $450. $450 out of a CERB payment of $2000, leaves you a lot of money left over for the other necessities of life. On the other hand, in a high-rent location like Toronto or Vancouver, $2,000 doesn’t go nearly as far. CFAA agrees with the tenant advocates that the various governments should design their aid programs to reflect the differences in rents across Canada and within each province. For decades, CFAA has advocated for a broad-based housing benefit system which would do just that. BC, Manitoba and Quebec have provided housing benefits for 40 years. Other provinces have newer programs. Just this April, the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit began. It is the first long-term commitment of federal money for housing benefits. I think all three of us could agree that that program should be expanded a lot and as soon as possible. continued on page 40
rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 37
The Invisible Affordable Housing Alternative
By Al Kemp, Executive Director, The Manufactured Home Park Owners Alliance of BC Does “2 x 4 or 2 x 6 construction, full insulation, 25 years guaranteed roof, gyproc walls, all appliances” sound like the description of your home? Likely. The description of a manufactured home? Of course not; that’s a trailer! Sadly, most politicians, the media, and the general public would have that response. That may have been true 25 years ago, but today that response couldn’t be further from the truth! While there are still a few stereotypical “trailer parks” among the 900 manufactured housing communities in BC, they are a rapidly vanishing breed. Vic and Sally Johanssen are millennials who, along with their young daughter and newborn son, rent an apartment in Urban Villa, which is an 80-unit apartment building in Abbotsford BC (a city of about 150,000; 70 kilometres east of Vancouver). They both work in the Hi-Tech industry. Their homes have been rental apartments since they married eight years ago. While buying a house was their goal, financially they had accepted that their goal would not be achieved for many years, if ever. At least that’s what they thought until Sally came home from a business meeting where she met Margaret Kowalski, also a young mother with two children. Margaret was excited about moving to their brand-new home that cost $213,000, including all new appliances. Sally thought she misunderstood the cost of the Margaret’s home - or that Margaret was delusional! Margaret explained that they lived in a manufactured home community; a community where everyone owned their homes and rented their home sites. This piqued Sally’s interest to the point where she invited Margaret and her husband, Slav, for coffee to learn more. While Vic was skeptical, he said he would listen with an open mind. The next week, after they got to know each other in Sally and Vic’s apartment, while carefully social distancing, Margaret and Slav explained that initially they were also uninterested in a “mobile home park”. However, they met with a manufactured home builder and dealer who explained all the homes are built in indoor factories to a national building code standard called Z240, that requires a manufactured home to be constructed to essentially the same standard as a fixed building, but without a foundation. When the dealer explained that they could design their own home, and have it built and installed within a few months, they decided they really could afford to buy their first home! Quiet so far, Vic asked, “What is the breakdown of your costs? Can you get a mortgage on a manufactured home?” Slav replied, “We did a careful analysis of the difference between a 2-bedroom single family home and our home. It came out like this:”
Purchase price – 2-bedroom
Monthly mortgage payment (5 yrs. closed) Site rent
Property taxes monthly (0.5% of purchase price/ assessed value (assumed))
Five appliances – 24 monthly payments; 5% simple interest on $4000
Included in purchase price
Insurance monthly (assumed)
$125 (includes land)
$60 (excludes land)
Water/garbage – municipal (assumed)
Total Monthly expenses 38 | August 2020
NATIONAL OUTLOOK Slav concluded, “We couldn’t even consider buying a single-family home. Even if we met the mortgage stress test and had a down payment of $100,000 (which we didn’t), our monthly mortgage payment would have been $2,500!” Sally asked, “You are still living in a ‘multi-unit’ environment. Is it really better than an apartment?” Their new two-bedroom home (with no wheels or trailer hitch) was transported and installed by a crane on their rented site in Tranquility Village, which is an 80-site manufactured home community, just outside Abbotsford. They had previously met the manager of Tranquility Village and signed a tenancy agreement covering their rental of the site. Unlike their regular apartment tenancies, the tenancy agreement has no end date. Slav smiled as Margaret enthusiastically replied, “We share no walls. We have real neighbours. We were welcomed by everyone around us. We’ve been to two families’ homes for dinner and had another family over for dinner. We know if we go on vacation, our neighbours will watch our home. Even though there are no security gates, most people have lived there for a long time; they stop strangers and ask questions.” Ever the skeptic, Vic asked, “What is the downside?” Slav replied, “The downside is I wished we had known about manufactured homes and manufactured home communities five years ago!” While the Johanssens and Kowalskis are fictitious couples, the facts in this story are true. So why do so few people know about today’s manufactured homes? Why are new manufactured home communities not being developed? Why do all levels of government either ignore this vital sector, or worse, view it with disdain? The answers come from a combination of factors, among which the arcane, stereotypical view of manufactured homes and communities is perhaps the most paramount. We see the devastation caused by tornados in American communities. The popular show Trailer Park Boys wrongly perpetuates this outdated misperception. Even if this misperception is overcome, there are other issues. A manufactured home community requires a relatively large area of land; typically, one acre for 5 to 8 homes. Developers and local governments generally want a higher density. Manufactured home communities provide an affordable housing alternative, in most areas of Canada. Owning a manufactured home fills the gap between paying a relatively high rent and purchasing the smallest condo or land-based home. A new manufactured home community needs three entitles to join together with the objective of filling that gap: politicians, investors, and developers. Who should provide the leadership to bring them together? It has to start with our local politicians, supported by their provincial counterparts. Canada has an affordable housing crisis. Manufactured home communities provide a solution to part of that crisis: a unique combination of home ownership and land rental. It’s time to make the invisible market visible and viable. With over 22 years’ experience working with rental housing providers, 16 as CEO of the Rental Owners and Managers Society of BC, CFAA Past President Al Kemp now heads the only association in Canada dedicated to serving, educating, and representing manufactured home community owners and managers.
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 email@example.com to start receiving CFAA’s e-Newsletter today!
rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 39
rentalhousingbusiness.ca | |39 39 rentalhousingbusiness.ca
continued from page 37
AUGUST 2020 CBC: Should the government have waited longer to reopen the possibility of tenancy termination and eviction?
John: Evictions do not happen instantaneously. In Ontario, they do not even happen quickly. Before
March, the Landlord and Tenant Board was quite backlogged, so evictions were already delayed six months or so before the pandemic. Now, because of the eviction shut down under the pandemic, they have been delayed another 4 1/2 months. In other provinces except Quebec, evictions do not take as long as they do in Ontario, but they still take some time and they have still been postponed for the full length of the moratorium, whether that was two months, three months, four months or 4 1/2 months as in Ontario, or 5 1/2 months as in BC. We need to re-open and it makes sense to do it now when the state of emergency has ended. CBC: When I talk to people who are worried about eviction, or worried about the people who have lost their jobs, a lot of it comes back to the lack of affordable housing in many areas across Canada. As someone who represents landlords, how do you think about that issue, and how do you solve that systemic problem?
John: Rental housing may well be about to get significantly more affordable. I was just on a call with a
landlord who said he used to get $2100 a month for his units. They’re good units, well located in central Toronto, often rented by students, and now he’s having to rent them for $1600. I sincerely hope that that is not the case across the whole of Toronto, or we’re going to have quite a shock to the whole rental housing system. As to the longer term, we have serious supply problems. Municipal planning approvals are too slow and uncertain. Many areas of major cities are zoned to exclude dense developments. Development charges are far too high. The GST/HST adds a 5% to 15% cost at the end of a rental development, before a penny of rent has been received to pay it. Addressing those problems is the way to make housing more affordable. Having said that, I would note that by world’s standards, Canada’s housing is not that unaffordable. Housing is expensive primarily when it is well located in Toronto, Vancouver or Victoria. But even in those centres, if you go to more suburban locations, you go to locations not on a subway line, rents are lower than the peak rents that hit the headlines.
Other points rental providers would make: LTB delays and payment plans Ontario John: I could also talk about the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board. It, and each other province’s
board, has a process. The landlord doesn’t just waltz in, and walk out with an eviction order enforceable tomorrow. The landlord has to give a notice of termination, and wait. And then he or she has to make an application, and wait. And in many cases in Ontario now, it’s wait four or six months. And then once they’ve done that, then there will be a hearing. At the hearing, the tenant can explain what happened to their income, can explain that they’re back on their feet again, and say they just need time to make up the arrears and the Board will let them make up the arrears. Apartment associations are telling landlords to be patient and to make agreements with tenants to make up the arrears of rent over time. In Ontario, Bill 184 provides additional protection for tenants in that situation. Before granting an eviction, the Board shall consider whether the landlord attempted to negotiate a payment plan for the arrears. Most landlords were doing it anyway, but the Board can impose payment plans. If the tenant has their job back (or a new job), they can pay their rent going forward and they now owe you $5000 on a rent of $2,000 a month. Did you offer to take that $5000 over 5 or 10 or 15 months. For $5000 of rent arrears, the time could easily be 10 months, which would be $500 per month. Or the repayment plan could be over 20 months, in which case the payment would be $250 a month. Apartment associations are making sure landlords know that they need to make those arrangements, because if they don’t make those arrangements, the Board will impose those arrangements on them. Our view is that the tenant advocates would be much better pressing the government to help people to pay their rents. We applaud CERB, but CERB does not adjust for rents that are hugely different across cities, across provinces and across the country. Remember my example of a $2100 rent in Toronto and a $450 rent in Edmundston? What is needed is for the Federal government, the government of Ontario, and for the City of Toronto to step up, along with other provinces and cities. The Ontario provincial government has allocated substantial amounts of money to Ontario municipalities. The municipalities can certainly choose to put some of that into housing supports. The City of Ottawa is doing that. The City of Ottawa has distributed a notice which landlords can give to tenants who are in
40 | August 2020
NATIONAL OUTLOOK trouble saying, essentially, “If you have fallen through the cracks in the government support programs, phone this number and the city can probably help you.” Everyone should be decently housed, and if they can’t afford that, the government should provide the financial and other supports for tenants to pay their rents to make it happen.
Products and services to deal with COVID-19
CFAA wants to repeat its special thank you to YARDI Systems and to HOME DEPOT. Those two rental industry suppliers are providing critical support to CFAA, as we deal with the revenue shortfall created by the need to cancel CFAA Rental Housing Conference 2020. Also worthy of serious consideration for adoption by forward-thinking rental providers are the winner and two other finalists in CFAA’s Award for new Product of Service of the Year 2020. The winner was the Suite Turnover & Property Operations COVID-19 Prevention Package by SuiteSpot Technology. The software is designed for property managers who are constantly on the move, allowing them to access all the needed information at any time from any device. The COVID-19 Prevention package aids users in observing social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions. ChatManaging, by National Efficiency Systems, is a Chatbot which uses artificial intelligence to engage in conversations with prospective tenants online, allowing for a 24/7 experience. The Chatbot gives prospective tenants instant answers at no cost in staff time, and then sends prequalified leads directly to a property’s inbox, simplifying the leasing process. Contactless Parcel Lockers by Snaile automate the process of receiving packages in multi-residential buildings. The parcel lockers accept deliveries via a QR code scan, which generates a pickup notification that is sent to the resident either through text message or email. No human concierge is needed. Each of these products or services should keep your team safe from COVID-19, and help your company thrive during the recovery and after it.
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RHBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s forum for rental housing associations to share news, events and industry information
Hot Topics: LPMA suggests how rental providers can reduce the legal risks of reopening recreation facilities such as pools and fitness rooms. One solution is not reopening such facilities. Another is requiring tenants to sign a waiver of liability. A third is posting the new rules for facility use. What are the issues in taking or not taking each of those steps? pg. 45 WRAMA discusses the effect of the shutdown and reopening, its new website and membership data platform, and its spring virtual events. WRAMA also provides the Ontario LTB reopening notice dated July 30. What is the LTB planning to do then? pg. 49 EOLO reports on the new City of Ottawa Rental Housing Property Management By-law to be effective on August 31, 2021. Included are information packages, new obligations for both landlords and tenants in pest control, and, for some rental providers, a requirement for a capital maintenance plan. Who has to take new steps and what is required? pg. 53 HDAA updates readers on recent events such as the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s support for the homeless, the court case over clearing homeless encampments, mandatory mask rules, an upcoming review of Hamiltonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s property standards, and a possible bid for the Commonwealth Games. How does such a bid relate to affordable housing? pg. 57
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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE It’s important to stay connected during the pandemic The past months have meant hard times for businesses, landlords, and tenants. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of staying up to date on pressing industry issues and the impact of the pandemic on municipal services. Here in London, the first wave of the infection has been largely contained but challenges still lie ahead. Associations such as LPMA have continued to support members through phone and email communications, as well as Zoom meetings and webinars. Two recent webinars generated a great deal of interest among members. One outlined Bill 184, which amends a number of housing statutes in Ontario, while the other focused on COVID-19 best practices for landlords. LPMA also helps members to stay on top of local and industry news by sharing links to relevant articles on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Please stay healthy and safe through these challenging times.
- Shirley Criger, LPMA President REOPENING COMMON AMENITIES POSES SERIOUS RISKS TO LANDLORDS With the reopening of the province, multiresidential landlords are walking a fine line as they contemplate opening their swimming pools, gyms, and party rooms. Reopening amenities could adversely affect the health of tenants, while keeping those areas closed to protect residents could increase landlords’ own risk of liability. London lawyer Joe Hoffer said if landlords keep their amenities closed, tenants could apply for rent reductions due to the unreasonable withdrawal of a facility. The extent of that risk varies, depending on how the Landlord and Tenant Board assesses the Joe Hoffer situation. For example, landlords could be perceived as being unreasonable if they refuse to open their pool in 33-degree heat or keep their gym closed when tenants rely on it for exercise. “The amount of rent reduction can be significant because it would be based on the value of that facility to the tenant and the replacement value of what it would cost the tenant to get a membership where they could use the pool or gym,” Hoffer said. “That creates a fairly high number that would amount to the rent reduction payable to the tenant.”
That number would remain high as long as the gym or indoor pool was closed since both are normally available to tenants 12 months of the year. However, an outdoor pool is open to residents only three months during the summer; the cost of purchasing a membership to use a pool elsewhere could amount to just $50 a month or $150 for three months, instead of $600 for allyear use. That translates into an approximately $15-a-month rent reduction due to the loss of the facility. The optics are another consideration for landlords. Children, confined to their apartments for months, would be unable to use the pool during the hottest time of the year despite the reopening of the province. “That can look pretty bad for a landlord who decides not to reopen the pool. That’s been a factor for a lot of landlords,” Hoffer said. However, one disadvantage centres on landlords’ lack of control over how tenants and guests use the pool or gym despite the imposition of safety protocols. Hoffer said that some landlords have posted a sign that states “Use at own risk” along with a list of safety protocols. Hoffer believes that approach poses a high level of risk to the landlord because most tenants would disregard the sign and assume it’s safe to enter the pool or gym. “We’ve already seen that, particularly among young people, there isn’t a lot of attention paid to COVID-19 protocols,” he said. In British Columbia, where the government is enacting post-COVID-19 legislation, one of the
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provisions prohibits tenants from suing landlords — alleging that they caught the virus in one of the common areas of the apartment complex — unless the landlord is liable for gross negligence. “What that tells you is that landlords are exposed to liability simply because they own an apartment building and tenants are moving within it,” Hoffer said. “It makes them vulnerable to lawsuits, which the government has recognized and is basically going to prohibit those lawsuits unless there’s gross negligence by the landlord. In Ontario, there is no such legislation. But what that B.C. legislation tells you is that there’s a real perceived risk to landlords when they reopen their common amenities.” Many landlords are so concerned that they are requiring that tenants complete a waiver and indemnity form; part of the form is a schedule that sets out the protocols for an individual landlord’s facility. The form makes tenants aware of the health and safety risks they’re assuming when they go into a common area or facility, and they agree to assume those risks and follow the protocols. The use of a waiver also protects the landlord from liability, Hoffer said. “The typical waiver that we’ve prepared says the tenant will not hold the landlord liable if the tenant or a member of the household alleges that they’ve caught COVID-19 through the use of that facility and they’ll indemnify the landlord in the event that someone with the tenant sues the landlord, alleging negligence,” Hoffer noted. The waiver also has a provision in which tenants provide proof that they have liability insurance so they’re insured if they catch, or are deemed to have spread, the infection to other residents. “That piece is really mitigating the landlord’s exposure to liability,” Hoffer said. Landlords can also post a notice outside the amenity stating that residents and guests can’t use it unless they’ve signed the waiver and have scheduled pool and gym time. It’s a useful tool for contact tracing in the event there is an infection attributed to the facility; there is a record of who signed the waiver, as well as when that individual was in the gym or pool and the names of those with whom the individual came into contact. As a further precaution, most landlords limit the number of people who can be in a facility and the length of time they can use it, Hoffer said. Furniture is also removed, there are directional arrows to follow, and physical distancing is required. After one group leaves, a crew cleans the pool or gym. “It’s a very rigid, coordinated process, especially when it comes to gyms,” Hoffer said. If a tenant reports a breach of the rules, the landlord must act. But the landlord isn’t required to have an employee check that the identities of the tenants and guests correspond to the waivers, and then observe the activities to ensure the participants are following the protocols. “That exceeds the standard of care and duty of care required by landlords. The tenants have some responsibility to monitor and comply with the rules and for their own behaviour,” Hoffer said. With party rooms, most landlords require the host of the event to be responsible for guests. If guests allege that they contracted COVID-19, the landlord can tell the hosts that they are responsible because they completed the waiver and must indemnify the landlord against being sued by the individuals alleging they were infected. In case of legal action, it’s important for landlords to document each step to show the level of care they exercised. If landlords met the standard of care expected of a professional landlord, they are less likely to be sued, Hoffer said.
46 | August 2020
Theresa Lapensée, operations manager of London residential rentals for Sifton Properties, said the company is taking a cautious approach to reopening its amenities. It reopened its fitness, party, and community rooms in Theresa Lapensée its apartment buildings in mid-August, and only to residents, at a significantly reduced capacity. However, the fitness facility and room rentals remain closed at the Berkshire Club. On July 2, Sifton reopened the outdoor pool at the club and at its buildings in other communities. The pools are available only to residents for a maximum of two hours and Sifton restricts the number of people allowed in the pool area. Lapensée said employees at the club sanitize hightouch areas, such as the pool railing, once an hour. Hand sanitizer is available to residents and Sifton recently reopened the outdoor washrooms. Staff members scrub the washrooms multiple times a day and close them for an hour once daily to clean them thoroughly. Employees who work in the pool area wear reusable masks and a clean uniform daily. All outdoor furniture has been removed. When Sifton announced the reopening of its
outdoor pool at the club, it sent a waiver to residents notifying them of the rules. The company didn’t ask them to sign the document because the rules of use are posted at the pool entrance and are placed throughout the pool area, Lapensée said. Lifeguards are also available to answer questions and spot infractions. “It’s really a reminder of what’s on the waiver,” Lapensée said, adding that follow-up email blasts are sent periodically to residents and provide additional detail. Despite the late opening of the indoor fitness, community, and party rooms, very few tenants have complained. “I think it’s the thoughtful communication that we’re giving them,” Lapensée said. “We’re being really clear and honest about why it may be taking a little longer to open indoor amenities. Overall, we’ve been very pleased at how understanding our residents are.”
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rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 47
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone across the country, of every age and from every walk of life. Rental housing providers with interests in the Region of Waterloo are no different. RAV sat down with WRAMA president Andrew Macallum to talk about the impact of COVID-19 on WRAMA members. - Andrew Macallum, President
How has the pandemic affected rental housing providers in the Region of Waterloo? I remember addressing the audience at our in-person WRAMA event back on March 11, 2020 and making reference to hand-washing, using hand sanitizer, and greeting each other without shaking hands. No one would have predicted the massive shutdown that occurred in the months that followed. In fact, it was that evening that the NBA announced its season cancellation, and March Break extended the following day by two weeks. When the province announced the lockdown, WRAMA began a series of communications to our membership that included information about the disease, cleaning protocols in multi-unit buildings, tenant communication, rent collection, and so on. The Region is unique in that it is home to three world-class post-secondary institutions – Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University, and University of Waterloo. Over the past months, conversations at student properties have included questions about breaking current leases, breaking future leases for school starting in September, and requests to go into arrears for non-payment of rent. Feedback from students seems to indicate that some are considering staying at home for the first term start in September 2020, with plans to return to student housing in January 2021.
Did the moratorium on evictions have any impact? Yes. WRAMA has continually advocated for communication between property managers and owners and tenants to ensure that expectations are clear and to minimize surprises. It is important to consider that if a property owner owns a single family home that is rented, and that tenant stops making rental payments, 100% of the income from that property has vanished. As you can imagine, it is a hardship that is not sustainable. The Landlord and Tenant Board, which is one arm of the quasi-judicial Tribunals Ontario – at the best of times – was a frustrating experience for anyone who experienced it. Lengthy delays from an application being made at the LTB to the time a decision was issued would take months. The time from an LTB decision to enforcement added more time. The eviction ban has simply exacerbated a painfully slow mechanism, with property owners absorbing great financial losses. Since the lifting of the ban, the media has highlighted tenant groups and sensationalized “mass evictions.” Given the painfully slow process described above, compounded with a backlog of applications that the LTB will undoubtedly be faced with, this just isn’t true.
How about Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020 – any feedback? I’ll lean on Joe Hoffer, a partner at Cohen Highley LLP, who described it this way: “For the most part, the changes negatively affect ‘small’ landlords who are targeted in Bill 184 with stiffer rules and penalties where they attempt to ‘game the system’ to terminate tenancies and secure new tenants at market rents.” WRAMA has always supported best practices in rental housing provision. As such, our members would have really valued something in the bill to acknowledge the massive backlog that the LTB will experience, as I described earlier. If a tenant has been unable to meet their financial obligations due to COVID-19, despite support provided by the government – particularly the CERB – and they continue to default on rental payments, it leaves the property owner in a very vulnerable position.
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CBC interview with WRAMA President WRAMA President Andrew Macallum had the opportunity to be interviewed on CBC Radio’s Morning Edition K-W with Craig Norris on August 11. The topic of discussion included the impact of COVID-19 on local rental housing providers and the lifting of the “eviction ban” in Ontario. The interview is posted at www.wrama.com. Membership and website update WRAMA has recently launched our new website (still found at www.wrama. com) and our new membership management platform. Members were sent an email update that included instructions about how to login, set up usernames & passwords, and create a personalized profile. The message was sent out on June 30, 2020 with the subject line reading “New Online Access to the Waterloo Regional Apartment Management Association” and was from Waterloo Regional Apartment Management Association.
If you haven’t seen this message – no problem! Here it is. The Waterloo Regional Apartment Management Association board of directors is very excited to announce the launch of our new membership data management platform and website! The new secure platform will provide existing members and associate members with a positive experience from start to finish. New members and associate members can complete user friendly applications and payments through the new website as well. Please utilize the members only portal that provides access to resources and events that best support your business. Easy membership renewal; user friendly profile updates; event listings; resource access and purchases are just a handful of items that we hope will enrich our member experience! Check out WRAMA’s new website. If you have not already done so, contact the WRAMA office, at firstname.lastname@example.org, to gain access to the WRAMA membership portal and update your profile. We know our member resources will be of great benefit to you and we thank you for your support. Be sure to visit https://www.wrama.com and stay tuned for information about our Annual Expert Panel event taking place in September 2020! WRAMA events – Save the date! We are very excited about our Annual Expert Panel Event taking place on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. With changes in rental housing related to COVID-19 protocols, the introduction of Bill 184, and navigating an overwhelmed LTB, you will not want to miss this! Make sure you register for the event at www.wrama.com! The 2020 event will prove to be very well attended, albeit virtually. Sincere thanks to our featured guests who helped WRAMA transition to web-based Zoom events over the summer. Highlights of the events are described below.
50 | August 2020
May 13, 2020: Tony Irwin, President & CEO, Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario – COVID-19 IMPACT ON RESIDENTIAL RENTALS Tony provided insight on the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on residential rental housing, rental payments, essential work, and more. July 29, 2020: Lisa Nadon, Paralegal, Small Matters Paralegal – COVID PROTOCOLS, LTB AND PRIVATE AGREEMENTS (available in the “Members Only” section at www.wrama.com) Like many other businesses, the residential accommodation industry is being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Attendees learned about suggested COVID protocols, possible ramifications of private agreements and what applications are currently being heard at the LTB. LTB and Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020 Landlord & Tenant Board Important Notice – posted to the LTB website July 31, 2020 The Notice to Terminate at End of the Term for Landlord’s or Purchaser’s Own Use (N12) and Notice to Terminate at End of the Term for Conversion, Demolition, or Repairs (N13) have been revised in accordance with amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 made by the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020. Previous versions are no longer valid. Related revisions have also been made to the instructions for the N12 and N13 and the L2 – Application to End a Tenancy and Evict a Tenant.
LTB | July 30, 2020 Landlord and Tenant Board expanding services while keeping Ontarians safe during COVID-19 recovery Today, the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) announced it is gradually expanding services in August. However, all in-person service counters remain closed until further notice. Effective August 1, 2020, the LTB will: • Begin to issue eviction orders that are pending • Start to issue consent eviction orders that are
September 2019 WRAMA Expert Panel Event at the Tannery.
based on landlord and tenants settling their dispute through an agreement • Continue to hear urgent eviction matters related to health and safety that are scheduled • Start to schedule hearings for non-urgent evictions • Conduct non-urgent eviction hearings starting in mid-August and into the fall As services gradually resume, the LTB is strengthening its ability to deliver fair, effective, and timely services during the COVID-19 outbreak by: • Holding hearings by videoconference, phone or in writing • Encouraging landlords and tenants to discuss a settlement prior to an eviction application hearing with an adjudicator • Expanding the use of Case Management Hearings to include most eviction applications filed by landlords that do not include rent arrears • Recruiting and training adjudicators to resume full service “Today, we are announcing the expansion of services at the Landlord and Tenant Board to address the effects of COVID-19 and the needs of tenants and landlords,” said Sean Weir, Executive Chair, Tribunals Ontario. “The impact of COVID-19 is resulting in a variety of challenges for Ontario’s families. While we do our part to provide efficient and effective dispute resolution services, we are asking landlords and tenants to work together to try to reach an agreement to settle their disputes.”
Discover the benefits of being a member of our association The mission of the Waterloo Regional Apartment Association is to actively and positively develop and sustain the integrity of its members’ business – the provision of private residential rental accommodation – in Waterloo , Kitchener, Cambridge, Guelph and surrounding areas. To view the full range of valuable property managment resources we offer to our members, or to apply online go to http://wrama.com/, or contact WRAMA at 519-748-0703.
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Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s #1 most widely read publication for Apartment Owners, Managers and Association Executives
Vol. 13 No. 3 August 2020
The official publication of:
Dispute resolution for non-payment of rent
CHAIR’S MESSAGE In the Fall of 2019, EOLO succeeded in preventing the City of Ottawa from adopting a landlord licensing program, largely because the evidence showed that most rental building are well maintained and managed properly, and adding a licensing program would create unnecessary costs that would be passed on to tenants. Instead, City Council directed City staff to return with enhanced rental regulations to seek to avoid and solve the problems that exist in some buildings, while avoiding undue burden on rental providers who manage their properties properly. Here is a report on what the City staff are recommending.
- John Dickie, EOLO Chair
New City of Ottawa Rental Housing Property Management By-law On August 11, the City of Ottawa released its proposed new Rental Housing Property Management By-law. For all residential landlords, the main requirements of the new rules are: • New information package for new and existing tenants • Tenant service request procedures • New pest control rules For larger buildings (3+ floors or 10+ units), a summary capital maintenance plan is also required. The proposed by-law is to come to the Community and Protective Services Committee on August 20, and to City Council on August 26. The new by-law is intended to come into force on August 31, 2021. The City intends to provide templates for the required information package, and integrated pest management procedures. EOLO will provide advice or alternate templates to help rental providers to comply with the new rules.
Better than it could have been Other cities in Ontario have instituted much more expensive and onerous rental management requirements than what the City of Ottawa is proposing. In all or parts of four Ontario cities, small landlords have to pay annual licensing fees of $200 to $600 per unit. In Toronto, landlords with 10 or more units must pay an annual fee close to $12 per unit and file a significant amount of paperwork, which is available to tenants.
The City of Ottawa is not: • Charging any fees • Requiring a license • Requiring the filing of any documents, unless specifically requested • Disclosing landlords’ capital plans to tenants Ottawa had initially considered a landlord licensing program with licensing fees, but after significant consultation, and considerable lobbying work by EOLO, the City is proposing requirements that are far more limited and less expensive to satisfy.
Requirements for all landlords Tenant service requests All landlords will be required to have a procedure for managing and recording tenant service requests. This includes a way to receive written, verbal, and electronic text requests for service from tenants. Landlords must maintain a record of tenant service requests, which includes the following details: • Date and time of the request • Address and unit number for the request • Tenant’s contact information • Description of the issue, as reported • Evaluation of the urgency of the request • Actions taken to address the request • The outcome of the request • The date and how the tenant was notified that the request was resolved
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The list looks onerous, but most of the information is likely recorded in due course now. Many landlords will not need to change their existing processes much or at all. Landlords will need to respond to urgent service requests within 24 hours of receiving the request, and respond within 7 days of receipt to non-urgent service requests. A response can be a telephone call, an email, or the dispatch of a service person. The response and actions need to be recorded. Information package Landlords will be required to give tenants an information package that sets out: • C ontact information for the landlord • I nstructions for submitting a tenant service request (e.g., send it to my contact info) • T he location of fire safety devices in the dwelling unit • A statement about fire safety (see below) • A schedule of cleaning and maintenance to be undertaken by the landlord • I nformation about on-site waste management • I nformation about parking (on-site or a link to the City for street parking) • H ow to register for special assistance • A closing statement and signature block Most landlords of any size provide most of this information now, but not necessarily all in one package. Most small landlords provide most of the information now, but often not in writing. A statement about the fire safety devices could be: “Your unit is equipped with two smoke detectors (hallway, master bedroom) and one carbon monoxide detector (hallway).” The fire safety statement must read: “Hundreds of Ottawa families are affected by preventable fires each year. Tenants are encouraged to review fire safety information at ottawa.ca. Please contact us to report any fire safety concerns immediately. Tenants may also report nonemergency fire safety issues to Ottawa Fire Service at 613- 580-2424 ext. 15371 or FirePrevention@ottawa.ca.” The landlord must provide a new tenant with two copies of the information package with the lease agreement. One copy is to be retained by the tenant; the other copy is to be signed by the tenant and retained by the landlord with the lease agreement. Landlords must also provide information packages to existing tenants by November 30, 2021. On request, the information package must be provided to a by-law officer. A landlord is responsible for updating the information in the package when it changes and for providing that updated information to new and existing tenants. If a tenant refuses to sign, there is a provision for delivering the document by courier or registered mail. To reduce the work and cost, EOLO obtained an amendment to allow proof of delivery by email or other means. Contact information: property manager vs. property owner When a property manager is listed as the point of contact in the information for tenants, the property manager is required to maintain current contact information for the property owner. The property manager must give that information to the City on request. The landlord or property manager, as the case may be, must update the contact info immediately before a change, or within 24 hours of a change. Special assistance registry Landlords will be required to maintain a “special assistance registry” for accommodation requests under the Human Rights Code. The registry must include requests, and landlord decisions,
54 | August 2020
on special assistance for: • Evacuation from an apartment building • Periods of vital service disruption • Pest control preparation • Assistance understanding documents • Any other concern that requires accommodation under the Ontario Human Rights Code Pest control: New responsibilities for landlords AND tenants Landlords will have to establish an integrated pest management plan, including: • A schedule of preventative inspection reasonable for the property (which could be once a year for a small property with no history of pest problems) • Educational information to be made available for tenants • Reporting processes • Standing pest treatment plans (which could be templates provided by the City, EOLO or pest control companies) • Providing a tenant a pest treatment plan before treating their unit Tenants will also have new obligations under the City by-law to: • Report pest infestations • Avoid knowingly causing conditions that may attract or harbour pests • Treat an infestation of fleas, lice or ticks on an animal under their care (a pet) • Abide by a pest treatment plan provided by the landlord On request, landlords must provide a copy of a pest treatment plan to a by-law officer. The inclusion of those obligations under the by-law will give landlords a new tool to make tenants prepare their rental units for pest treatments.
For “apartment buildings”: Capital maintenance plan
structure other than a townhouse or rowhouse that contains multiple rental units and is three or more storeys in height or contains 10 or more rental units. Apparently, this is to include triplexes. Owners of such buildings must create and maintain a capital maintenance plan listing, as applicable: • Accessibility features and equipment • Building-wide electrical distribution systems • Plumbing • Fire escapes • Elevators • Mechanical systems • Roofs • Exterior cladding • Balconies and balcony railings • Parking structures For each of the capital elements at the building, the capital maintenance plan shall: • Identify the capital element • Record the date of last inspection • Describe the condition, including any deficiencies, witnessed during the last inspection • Describe any required remedial action, such as refurbishment or planned replacement, and the anticipated time period during which this action will occur Note that it is only when a building element is defective that an owner needs to state when they plan to repair or replace it. No one will be required to forecast when they will repair or replace building elements in good condition. While a number of the new requirements may seem to landlords to be of little value, the requirements are less onerous than the requirements of landlord licensing programs, and they do not come with any requirement to pay a licensing or registration fee.
In the by-law, “apartment building” means a
BECOME AN EOLO MEMBER NOW! EOLO invites Ottawa area landlords to join the organization. Have your interests and concerns heard, and benefit from EOLO’s support. As an EOLO member, you will be able to: • Receive
prompt emails of relevant City rule changes
two networking receptions a year
two free education events a year
Receive all 6 annual issues of RHB Magazine with current developments, City and provincial funding programs, and landlord-tenant laws.
To apply for membership, go to www.eolo.ca, download the membership application form and send it to us at the contact info on that website.
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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Most, if not all, of Ontario is now in Stage 3 and COVID-19 cases are on a consistent decline. Summer is in full swing and people are eager to enjoy the nice weather while it lasts. Many speculate that the fall will bring a second wave and, while we hope this is not what our future holds, all we can do is wait along with the rest of the country to see how things will unfold. We can also hope that our industry can withstand any other challenges that may come our way. We at the HDAA remain hopeful but will continue to add value to our membership through webinars, regular communications with updates, and helpful resources and information. - Arun Pathak, President
Stage 3 updates End of eviction ban There have been some big changes and easing of restrictions in Stage 3. The most notable is the end of the eviction ban. The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) is now ramping up to hold hearings and deal with the large backlog of applications. It is estimated that around 6,000 eviction applications were processed in Ontario between March and July and are awaiting a hearing at the LTB. A point to note is that, although this does sound like a large number, in 2018-2019, the LTB dealt with over 46,000 L1 applications. The concern is whether there will be mass evictions in the coming months once the LTB starts plugging away at the backlog. This concern is heightened by the passing of Bill 184 with regard to the new rules surrounding rental repayment agreements. Bill 184 would allow landlords to file for eviction orders without a hearing if the tenant did not meet the terms of a repayment agreement. Of course, tenants are allowed to file a motion to contest this eviction order; however, some tenant advocates argue that this puts many vulnerable tenants at a disadvantage. There are more options for mediation at the LTB with the passing of Bill 184 as well, which will hopefully provide more avenues for landlords and tenants to explore and help with the backlog of applications while maintaining landlord and tenant relations. Bill 184, as well as the opening of the LTB, has also caused quite an uproar with tenant advocate groups, leading to protests in Gore Park and at the LTB, calling for “no COVID evictions.” While there are concerns of what will happen to many who are unable to pay their rent, we do have to ask how long landlords can survive without rent coming in, particularly smaller landlords who rely on rental income for their livelihood. The City of Hamilton has been supporting our vulnerable homeless population
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by providing them with places to stay and putting the call out to landlords in Hamilton to assist with the lack of housing. However, without proper financial contributions and brick and mortar subsidized housing, there is only so much the City can provide to either tenants or landlords.
Taking legal action against homeless encampments There have also been issues with homeless encampments in the City of Hamilton and lack of options of what to do with the individuals who reside in these camps. The City had cleared some of the encampments in May and June but legal action was taken soon afterward on behalf of these groups, resulting in Ontarioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s superior court ordering an injunction to block the clearing of these encampments. The City of Hamilton is now prevented from clearing homeless encampments until early September. What will happen after this time is unknown but the City will need to come up with proactive measures to help the most vulnerable in our City. If mass evictions do occur, this will result in a further strain on the City and likely one that the City is not prepared for.
Enforcement of mandatory masks in public enclosed spaces Hamilton, along with many other municipalities, has also enforced mandatory masks in indoor areas to help minimize the spread of the virus. As of July 20, 2020, Hamilton passed By-Law 20-155, which requires all individuals to wear a mask or face covering in enclosed public places. Hamilton also continues to recommend hand washing and social distancing, along with other measures. Numbers in Ontario fortunately continue to decline but we have no definite way of knowing what will happen in the fall months and once schools start opening up. There are many guidelines and recommendations that have been distributed by the federal and provincial governments, as well as by the City of Hamilton, which will hopefully limit the spread of the virus and reduce the possibility of Ontario reverting back to high infection numbers through the stages.
Review of property standard bylaws With the opening of the City and continuation of City meetings, we will see some tabled issues start to gain traction. Before the start of the pandemic, Hamiltonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s planning committee voted in favour of reviewing its property standard bylaws to look for possible improvements to better protect tenants who may be living in unhealthy or unsafe environments. This mainly comes as a result of tenant advocate groups, particularly ACORN, fighting to see a strengthening of City standards. The City is hoping to hold consultations soon and HDAA is looking forward to participating in these discussions on behalf of our membership and the many landlords in the City.
Potential for hosting Commonwealth Games Lastly, there have been discussions to have the City of Hamilton host the Commonwealth Games. Supporters argue that this would provide a very unique opportunity to create new affordable housing and help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing in the City. The proposal
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discusses the creation of 3,000 units of affordable housing, which would be used to house the athletes in the short term before being turned over to the community, adding to the supply of affordable housing. The Games could likely attract some much needed funding from different levels of government and the private sector as well as stimulate tourism and hospitality for the City. This would be a great benefit to the City amid the negative financial effects from the pandemic. The City would be responsible for some of the costs of the game of course; one can argue that perhaps the City should concentrate solely on producing and funding affordable housing and not funding the hosting of the Commonwealth Games.
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Upcoming events With the uncertainty of the pandemic and wanting to keep the safety of our members our top priority, HDAA has decided to hold our meetings virtually for the foreseeable future. Look out for our emails and visit our website regularly for updates on future webinars. We will be holding a webinar on the legislative changes surrounding Bill 184 in the near future and will be providing details to our membership soon. HDAA 2020 Calendar September 10 – Dinner meeting - TBD September 16 – Committee meetings September 24 – Board meeting October 14 – Education seminar November 4 – Committee meetings November 12 – Dinner meeting November 19 – Board meeting December 9 – Education seminar
M & E has your building covered: Mechanical Electrical Condition Assessments Project Management Fire and Life Safety
416.250.7222 rentalhousingbusiness.ca | 59
Final Take Away
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Transforming Residential Real Estate with Technology Peter Altobelli, Vice President, Yardi Canada LTD.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been transformative for the Canadian residential real estate industry. It has stimulated a steep rise in the need for tech platforms to facilitate remote work, keep properties safe and boost productivity. Property managers are investing in technology that allows them to maintain constant communication with their teams, residents and vendors, while eliminating physical touchpoints. What technology should you consider to fuel efficiency in this unique and evolving environment? Â Optimize procurement and vendor management Automating the procurement process and leveraging online portals results in increased visibility and allows for the remote management of a significant aspect of your business. Think about virtually managing vendors, having more control of MRO costs through online purchasing catalogues, approving and processing purchase orders and invoices, and generating vendor payments without being in the office or coming in direct contact with your vendors. Integrated software services provide the means to reach this new level of expedited procurement and enhanced vendor relations, which in turn ensures resident satisfaction. Create a sense of community Traditionally, creating a sense of community has been a great way to make residents feel at home, leading to positive reviews, referrals and increased renewals. With the rising trend in long-term rentals in Canada, creating a sense of community has become a vital focus for property managers. But how can you create a sense of community when your customers canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t interact with your team? You can use property marketing software to make prospect and resident interactions contactless without compromising on the renter experience. Consider digital marketing campaigns that will drive more traffic to your websites and offer virtual tours. Execute leases with online rental applications, selfservice screening and esignatures to further reduce contact through the lead-to-lease process. You can answer every question, every time with call automation. Residents can make payments, submit maintenance requests, view the community bulletin board, have two-way communication and more via an online portal and app. By optimizing marketing and leasing with the support of a robust, integrated CRM
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system, you are all set to brand your properties and nurture them into thriving communities. Make data-driven decisions During this time when the world is moving faster, results are more immediate and implications of decisions made are felt more acutely, we have come to realize the significance of data visibility. Integrate your software system to provide one set of data, a single version of the truth. Whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your accounting and financials, CRM, maintenance or energy management, being able to quickly tap into the same data set will help you leverage predictive analytics and prescriptive actions to lower costs, increase revenue and mitigate operational risk. Mobilize your workforce Run every aspect of your property management from the palm of your hand. If you have not mobilized your taskforce, there is not a better time to start. The 2019 Informa Canada Multi-Res Tenant Survey found that over 71% of renters want to be able to engage with their landlords through an electronic medium. This customer preference has only grown since the onset of the pandemic, and technology can offer you the ability to mobilize every function in your organization, leading to increased efficiency and reduced in-person meetings, while maintaining your focus on customer service. Train your staff to succeed The multifamily industry has been able to persevere and adapt thanks to pioneering leadership and dedicated staff. Technology can help you develop and engage your staff from a safe distance. Give your employees the skills and knowledge they need to excel at their jobs and create growth opportunities. Online training tools lets you automatically distribute role-based learning plans including company policies, safety, leasing and professional skills. Looking forward, together Currently, in our sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has done a tremendous job of banding together to create awareness, innovate solutions and protect the market through the constant vigilance of protocol and regulations. With the help of technology and the mindful reconfiguration of what used to be standard property management operations, we can look forward to a more efficient, brighter and safer future.
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