President’s message - LPMA provides input on proposed standard lease The proposed standard lease has been a hot topic in the rental housing industry during the last few months. All residential landlords in Ontario will be required to use the new standard lease. We have had meetings with landlord representatives in London to discuss what we would like the lease to comprise. The Ministry of Housing was open to discussions from landlords and tenants, and LPMA met the deadline of October 13 for written comments. We are anticipating that the lease will be implemented at the end of 2018. One of its objectives is to reduce disputes. On a lighter note, the annual LPMA holiday gathering will take place on December 12 at RiverBend Golf Club in London. It is an outstanding evening of socializing and networking that includes a substantial contribution to the Salvation Army’s toy drive, thanks to the generosity of our members. We are looking forward to seeing everyone! – Lisa Smith, President
Good record-keeping is the key to avoiding Fire Code infractions Benjamin Franklin’s observation that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” still holds true when it comes to fire safety. Landlords and tenants share responsibilities that help to prevent fires and even avoid jail time. Jack Burt, Assistant Deputy Fire Chief with the London Fire Department, says that it’s critical that landlords and tenants keep smoke alarms in individual units in good working order. Disabling a smoke alarm is at the top of the most common chargeable infractions. The fire department gives out a few hundred tickets a year, typically to tenants, at a cost of $360 each. Burt says that tenants also habitually wedge open
the doors to stairwells when they’re bringing in heavy objects. That’s problematic because the stairwells can quickly fill with smoke. On a daily walk-through, he says that property managers should ensure that exit doors are closed. “We don’t want smoke getting into that stairwell,” Burt says. “If it does, people likely aren’t going to get out safely.” Landlords should also check that unit doors have intact door closers because it’s common for tenants to disable them when their apartments are hot. If tenants close their doors behind them during a fire, “it protects everybody else in the building,” he says. London lawyer Joe Hoffer says that the LPMA lease states that tenants must not disable their smoke alarms or door closers. When tenants interfere with their function, landlords are often saddled with an inspection order or a fine, even though the laws state that tenants could be charged. The same is true of exit doors when tenants prop them open. “It means that landlords have to be very rigorous about identifying and correcting any deficiencies or any non-compliant situation in their buildings,” Hoffer says. Although it’s fairly easy for large landlords with on-site staff to meet those requirements by walking through their buildings daily, it’s more challenging for small landlords who aren’t able to visit their properties daily and gain access to the units. “They rely much more heavily on tenants to report any problems,” Hoffer says. Good record-keeping can help exonerate landlords for infractions caused by tenants, Burt says. Landlords need to note when they checked smoke alarms and in which units. They also need to change the batteries annually in smoke alarms. “It (record-keeping) also lets you know if the tenant is disabling one,” Burt says. “The cause is obvious when the smoke alarm is lying on top of the refrigerator, for example.” When fire inspectors investigate an infraction for a disabled smoke alarm, they interview the property manager and the tenant, and they ask for records,
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Burt says. A landlord’s records can show that the landlord had changed the batteries in the smoke alarm in the last year. “And the fact there’s no battery in it means the tenant has taken it out,” Burt says. If the inspector can’t prove the tenant disabled the smoke alarm, he or she can still charge the tenant with failing to notify the landlord that the smoke alarm wasn’t working. Tenants are required by law to notify their landlord if their smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) alarm isn’t functioning. Conversely, if a fire inspector asks for records and the landlord can’t produce them, there is no proof that the landlord ever changed the batteries. Records are required by law and landlords need to keep them for two years on site, Burt says. Landlords are also required to check the fire extinguishers and hose cabinets monthly. The fire alarm systems must be tested monthly and annual inspections must be conducted by a certified third-party company. Other landlord responsibilities include ensuring that smoke alarms are located in each unit outside sleeping areas and that units that touch a wall with a gas-fired appliance have a CO alarm. Any building with more than 10 residents also requires a fire safety plan that is reviewed annually, Burt says. Depending on the size of the building, dedicated elevators are required for use by firefighters. Landlords can be charged for Ontario Fire Code offences, including failing to maintain a fire alarm or sprinkler system. “In the City of London, we are getting jail time for Fire Code violations,” Burt says.
High-rise security: Technology and community a winning combination Empty nesters and students living away from home are often attracted to the low-maintenance advantages and security of apartment living.
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Whether they are snowbirds travelling south for the winter or Millennials spending weekends with family, tenants appreciate knowing that their homes will be safe while they are away. London landlords agree that ensuring tenant safety is a priority for property owners, too. “Security is one of the primary things people look for,” notes Tom Gabriel, Assistant Vice President, London Operations, Homestead Land Holdings. Making tenants feel safe begins with ensuring that a building is properly illuminated. “People feel much more comfortable when a property is well lit,” Gabriel says. “It deters vandalism and any form of illegal activity.” Main entrances and parking garages are obvious locations for plenty of lighting. But landlords should also pay attention to secondary entrances and exits, parking lots, and stairwells. “You want to make sure to correct areas that are poorly lit,” Gabriel says. Homestead is actively upgrading the interior and exterior lighting with LEDs throughout the company’s residential portfolio. “Landlords can take advantage of all the energy management rebates currently available to upgrade the lighting around their properties,” Gabriel says. LED lights rarely burn out, he adds, so landlords can be confident that when they are installed they will last for a long time. Secured entrances are a given in most multi-unit buildings, whether it’s a simple buzzer and intercom system or a high-tech touch screen entrance panel that enables tenants to see who is at the door before letting them into the building. “Tenants should be reminded not to hold the front door open for strangers,” says Lisa Smith, Senior
London Property Management Association (LPMA) is a non-profit organization, located in London, Ontario, Canada, that provides information and education to landlords.
Membership is open to landlords and property management professionals who own or manage one or more residential rental units.
LPMA represents the interests of both large and small property owners. The association has more than 400 landlord members representing approximately 35,000 rental units.
Sign up online www.LPMA.ca, or call Brenda Davidson at 519-672-6999 for more information.
Residential Property Manager, Sterling Karamar Property Management. “You can always explain that you have to close the door behind you for security.” Sterling Karamar provides tenants with an annual list of security tips, including advice on how to stay safe when using underground parking. “When tenants drive in, they should stop until the garage door has closed completely behind them to ensure that nobody comes in behind them,” Smith says.
make arrangements to have someone check their unit regularly and to collect any mail. Sterling Karamar reminds tenants to keep their emergency contact information current. “If people go away and something happens to their property, we need to contact them right away,” Smith says.
Smith, Criger and Gabriel agree that buildings are safe and problems are rare. “It really comes down to the individuals and everybody working together,” says Gabriel. “Creating a sense of community with the residents in the building is what gives people that sense of security.”
Tenants should never keep valuables in their car, including spare change. “People also break into cars for the garage door openers that are often kept on the visor, so it’s important to take them inside as well,” Smith says. Homestead uses key fobs to prevent strangers from accessing common areas like party rooms, fitness rooms and laundry rooms, and often monitors high-traffic areas with security cameras. Technology has made it easier for landlords to improve security inside their buildings, Gabriel says, but people are still the best deterrent. Homestead is known for having live-in superintendents and building managers at every property. “They are not security guards, but we train them to look out for resident safety,” Gabriel notes. “Tenants appreciate knowing that our staff are on site and can come at a moment’s notice if something suspicious is going on.” When tenants go away for an extended period, Shirley Criger of Gateway Property Management Corporation says that it’s important for them to advise their building manager. Tenants should also
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We have fun social & networking events: Trade Show and VIP Reception – Another excellent event by HDAA to showcase the suppliers and acknowledge our larger landlords. What to expect in 2018: HDAA is planning on moving the date and the time. We are also planning some keynote speakers. Night at the Races – Big wins, great food and a photo finish with the winning horse! Golf Tournament – This is a member-favourite event, always a great day on the green with suppliers and their landlord customers. What to expect in 2018: We are planning to do it again next year, with one change – NO MORE MULLIGANS! Let’s see who will win with no help! Boat Cruise – This was such a great night viewing Hamilton from the water. What to expect in 2018: Next year we will be doing it in June so we can see the City longer before it gets too dark. We have excellent dinner speakers: HDAA has had five dinner meetings in 2017. We work hard to bring relevant and interesting speakers for the dinners. Here is a review of the topics and presentations:
Topic: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Rental Market Report Guest Speaker: Arun Pathak, Smar Holdings & HDAA President Arun updated the members on the CMHC Rental Market report and outlined how Hamilton’s primary rental apartment was up slightly in 2016 compared to the previous year. Rentals increased among all bedroom types, with bachelor units registering the strongest growth in supply. Despite high average vacancy rate, the growth rate in the fixed sample average rent for two-bedroom units increased by 4.9 per cent in 2016 compared to 3.8 per cent in 2015. February Topic: Key trends & insights on sales transactions in the Hamilton market Guest Speaker: Danny Iannuzziello, Skyview Realty Danny spoke about the evolution of the business with a comparison of Toronto and Hamilton. He also reviewed all transactions in Hamilton over the past year and spoke about some indicators of opportunities in Hamilton.
Topic: Licencing update in Hamilton
Topic: Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) re-assessment & how it affects landlords
Guest Speaker: Arun Pathak, Smar Holdings & HDAA President
Guest Speaker: David P. Gibson, Yeoman & Company David updated the members about how the 2017 re-assessment is based on an assessment valuation date of January 1, 2016. This four-year phase-in will not have a full impact until 2020 but he updated the members on the specifics of deadlines for filing, reconsideration and appeals. He also updated the members on the increase in filing fees and how the GIM approach is being replaced with the NOI approach to valuation.
The Rental Housing subcommittee was struggling to find its footing and a motion had been put forward by Councillor Johnson to approve a working group to look at the feasibility of a voluntary licensing registry. It was evident that the possibility of having licensing come back to Hamilton was growing. Arun updated the members on what the Political Action committee would be doing to fight back. Topic: What to expect in 2017 Guest Speaker: Mary Ongaro, Absolute Ventilation & Tina Novak, Valery Properties
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Mary and Tina updated the members on what the Events, Membership and Education committee had planned for 2017.
government released in the spring. He covered the new exemption from RTA, the prescribed universal lease, the new rules on landlords’ own use, the N5 amendment, tenant “voiding” eviction and AGI changes.
May: Topic: Tax Considerations for Rental Property Investors Guest Speaker: Nick Scaglione and James Buckley, DJB Accountants Nick talked about new rental real estate investors and explained the pros and cons of acquiring properties personally or through a corporation. He talked about growing and had the members consider incorporation and/or family trusts. James updated the members on succession and estate planning with details on transition and tax minimization of estate, allocating growth to the next generation through a family trust and probate planning (dual wills). Topic: Political Action for 2017 Guest Speaker: Arun Pathak, Smar Holdings & HDAA President Arun updated the members on what the Public Relations committee was working on for 2017. He updated the members on what FRPO and CFAA are working on and how tenant groups like Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are impacting our industry. October
Topic: Hamilton Rental Housing Round Table Guest Speaker: Brad Clark from Maple Leaf Strategies HDAA hired MLS to help find an alternate solution to licensing while ensuring code compliant rental housing with safe, clean and healthy dwelling units. Brad updated the members on the recent round table meeting and the steps going forward to bring the vision to life. November Topic: Stump the Board Guest Speakers: The 2017 HDAA Board members The board took questions from members on: AODA requirements, pest control, return on investment, above guideline increases, cap rates, Airbnb, mortgage stress test & rates, software trends and many more.
What to expect in 2018: We have five dinners planned with various topics like: Real estate market review, CMHC Report, political debates, buying outside of Canada, Stump the Board and more…. We have informative education seminars:
Topic: Fair Housing Plan Guest Speaker: Joe Hoffer, Cohen Highley Joe covered the Fair Housing plan that the
Tenanted Properties - Lucie Brusse did a knowledge POD presentation at the REALTOR® CONNECTIONS Conference & Trade Show in
Hamilton and District Landlords Since 1960, the Hamilton and District Apartment Association has grown significantly. Our member landlords and property managers manage in excess of 30,000 units throughout Hamilton, Burlington, Brantford, Guelph, Mississauga, Oakville, St. Catharines and into the Niagara Peninsula. The association is a highly respected organization, sought out regularly by government, industry, media and the public. To join, submit the application form available at www.hamiltonapartmentassociation.ca, or contact HDAA at 289-208-5445.
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March. She outlined what to remember when buying or selling a tenanted property. Basic Landlord Forms - Tina Novak did a morning education seminar on basic landlord forms in March. She covered everything from when a potential tenant walks in to right before you must go to the Landlord Tenant Board. Look for part 2 in 2018! Bed Bugs & Landlords – Terry Quinn did an education seminar on providing practical information and useful tools to help you with your bed bug problem. Human Rights & Landlords – Ronny Mackenzie made sure that landlords are following the Human Rights Code when communicating with their tenants. Superintendents & Landlords – Ronny Mackenzie will help your staff be the best they can be with this important seminar on how they should handle difficult tenants. (Nov. 23) What to expect in 2018: We have five education seminars planned with various topics, like WHMIS training, basic landlording 101 part 2, financing your 4th or 5th house, moving to the next level of landlord, how to handle the “one offs” and more….
Our association loves to give back: Spring Hope Food Drive - We had over 140 buildings participate throughout Hamilton, Burlington & Oakville. Over 13,759 pounds of food were collected; it is the largest amount collected EVER in this region! Walk so Kids can Talk – HDAA has created a volunteer team to start attending local charity events to help raise awareness and help local charities. The first event by our HDAA Charity Team surpassed our goal with $550 collected and we had fun raising money for a worthy cause! We have five Charity events planned: Big Brother & Sister bowling, Spring Hope Food Drive, Walk so Kids can Talk, November toy drive and more….
We are politically active and provide a voice for landlords: One of the most important things a landlord association can do is help provide a voice and make a positive change for landlords. Our President was busy in 2017, writing articles and providing interviews to various radio & TV stations and newspapers. He was also a delegate at council and planning committee meetings in various cities to help stop licensing. HDAA has submitted feedback and participated in the creation of the National Housing Strategy, sent in feedback on the Fair Housing plan, and presented at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
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Housing First is much in the news as the preferred way to reduce or eliminate homelessness. It has much to be said for it, and some things to be said against it. This article will describe the Housing First approach, how it serves formerly homeless clients and how it serves landlords. The article will then turn to what can go wrong, and how landlords can best avoid the possible problems. The Housing First approach Housing First principles include: Immediate access to housing with no readiness conditions
Individualized and person-driven supports
Social community integration
Consumer choice and self-determination
Many homeless people are suffering from mental illnesses or drug or alcohol addictions. In the traditional approach they were supposed to take part in programs to recover from their illness or
addiction, and then when they had recovered they would be ready to move to permanent housing. The difficulty with that approach is that living on the street or in a homeless shelter is not a lifestyle conducive to recovery. Housing First takes its name from the idea that people are more likely to recover if they are rehoused quickly without living in a shelter for months or years. Housing First is supposed to be housing first, but not housing only. The goal is recovery, but the path to it starts with permanent housing rather than ending there. To achieve stable housing and recovery, social service agencies provide individualized and person-driven supports. The support is usually provided by home visits from a case manager, who supports the client in accessing other services and training programs. The home visits also allow the support worker to observe the conditions in the client’s home (usually a rental unit) so that the worker can intervene if conditions are slipping, before they slip too far. Peer support can also be used to encourage clients to maintain good conditions.
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Homelessness in Ottawa by the numbers Persons using shelters in 2016 Average Length of stay
7170 Single Men
For people aged 50+
Social assistance maximum for singles Income and Rent in 2017
For employable people: $721 (Ontario Works) For disabled people (ODSP): $1128
Average rent for a bachelor apartment
Average rent in cheapest neighbourhood
Housing First programs seek to integrate their clients into the community, rather than setting them apart, in supportive housing for example. Finally, Housing First programs leave clients with choice as to the housing they want. Clients can choose to live in their familiar neighbourhood, or move to a different neighbourhood. They can seek to rent a low-rise rental unit or a high-rise one. Just like ordinary tenants, the clients can move if they think they will prefer or do better in a different location. That adds significantly to their satisfaction with their housing and environment. Features for landlords For Housing First to succeed, there must be landlords willing to rent units to the homeless “clients.” That is what enables consumer choice and social integration. In Canada, Housing First programs usually bring these features to
landlords: rent assistance, which can sometimes be paid directly to the landlord along with a social assistance shelter allowance, and social worker visits to encourage tenant compliance with unit cleaning and responsible behaviour. Some programs will pay for cleaning or unit damage if they occur. Some programs create a three-way relationship so that the agency supports both tenant and landlord to maintain the tenancy. (Other agencies see their role as supporting only the tenant, and take on confidentiality requirements so that they cannot communicate with the landlord themselves.) If the relationship deteriorates so that the tenancy needs to be ended, some agencies will persuade the tenant to agree to vacate so that the landlord does not face the delays and expense of an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board.
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: • Receive prompt email notification of relevant City rule changes • Be able to attend two networking receptions each year • Be able to attend two free education events each year
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•R eceive EOLO’s newsletter with more information about new issues Banner Ad at the City and and developments in 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.
How things can go right EOLO wants the programs to support both tenant and landlord so that if a problem is arising the agency can inform the landlord. On their part, landlords need to perform frequent unit inspections, either as part of a meeting with the agency worker or on their own. In the wake of the CBC report on the Ottawa problem described above, Kandice Baron shared her story about how a Housing First program took her off the streets and dramatically changed her life. How things can go wrong In the example from Waterloo described at page 58 the landlord seemed not to have realized that the tenant might be injecting illegal drugs. However, the point of Housing First is that addicts are not required to be “clean” before they are offered housing. In a recent case in Ottawa the landlord got the impression that the agency was making sure the tenant was keeping the unit clean, and did not check the unit for five or six months. The agency dropped the ball since the worker admitted to the media that he had not visited the unit. He alleged that he was overworked, and did not have the time. (That position is totally unacceptable to the City, to the landlord community and to the public. One hopes it is unacceptable to the agency the worker worked for too.) Compounding that problem, the particular agency takes a very hard line that they are working for the tenant only, and cannot disclose any information to the landlord. As a result of those two failures, and a failure by the tenant, the unit became an ugly mess with floors covered one or two feet deep in pizza boxes, dirty dishes, rotting food and personal belongings. Maggots began to grow in the unit, and the necessary clean-up was extensive. Notice that all three of the tenant, the agency and the landlord fell down on their jobs. The City of Ottawa is investigating because the landlord is blaming the City for the support agency failure, and perhaps the housing agency overselling of the support and back–up the landlord would receive. The City may pay for the clean-up. Based on the facts recited above, EOLO considers that after the tenant himself, the bulk of the blame fails on the support worker and the agency, but the landlord contributed in part to his own loss.
She said, “I was homeless and this program saved my life. I’m a few years clean and I know other people that are working now that would never ever be able to hold a job.” Baron wants the public to know that when Housing First is done right, it can make all the difference. “I had an amazing case worker. We hit it off the first day. Like, we really get along and [she] addressed my concerns and my goals, what I want to do in my life and encouraging me [to] get clean. And I am,” she said. A rough childhood led Baron down a path of addiction— crystal meth and opioids were her drugs of choice — as early as 13 years old, she said. She bounced from shelter to shelter until a shelter worker recommended she try the Housing First program. She saw it as an opportunity, since no landlord would rent to someone like her, struggling with addiction and the law, she said. After getting a place to stay, her case worker visited her twice a week to check on her and the apartment. The worker provided support and helped with her recovery. Baron said having her own place was critical in helping her to recover from her addiction. She has been clean for over two years. She is set to graduate from the housing program this winter and plans to attend community college. “I know [the program’s] a success. I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” she said. “I’ve seen people graduate, get full-time jobs, and they’re doing really good.” In Ottawa, over the last three years, more than 450 people have been moved out of homeless shelters, many of whom had been homeless for five years or more. This provides savings to taxpayers and a much better life for the unfortunate people who need access to the programs.
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WRAMA meeting The election results from November 8 are in! Congratulations to the new executive and best wishes on the work ahead in fulfilling the WRAMA mission, which is to “...actively and positively develop and sustain the integrity of its members’ business – the provision of private residential rental accommodation – in the Golden Triangle.” The incoming executive includes: • • • • •
Treasurer - Veronika Mitchell Secretary - Alex Oda Past President - Lars Sterne Vice President - James Craig President - Andrew Macallum
To become a WRAMA member, contact us through www.wrama.com or Twitter @WRAMAprez.
Rent collection strategies At its meeting on November 8, WRAMA welcomed Greg Maitinsky, CEO of Go Beyond Collection Agency, who spoke about landlord collection strategies to avoid rent delinquencies. Some controls he advocated be put in place included better site-staff training, higher
superintendent remuneration and various tenant screening procedures involving third party vendors, such as Naborly and RentCheck. He also noted that tenant payment platforms like TenantPay reduce delinquencies among tenants and lessen the need for collections. The audience was informed of best practices in the landlord/collection agency space including the importance of on-site data collection from prospective tenants, the possibilities of in-house/late tenant calls, and creative & formal techniques of addressing tenants who do not pay rent, a sore spot with the onset of new legislation, which eliminates the ability to collect for time after a tenant vacates pursuant to an N4 notice. The nature of actual collection activity was discussed, including listing tenant files, the various possible legal actions based on LTB orders and an inside view of what collection agents do. Mr. Maitinsky provoked discussion and fielded questions from the audience. Andrew Macallum, WRAMA President & Greg Maitinsky, CEO Go Beyond Collection Agency
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A Housing First failure and lessons learned Also at the meeting on November 8, the owners of a triplex shared their unfortunate experience with Housing First, and what seems to have been a home take-over. Housing First programs place homeless candidates in private rental housing, with support services and rent payments through the social service agency. “Housing First” takes its name from the idea that people are more likely to recover if they are rehoused quickly without living in a shelter for months or years, while trying to recover from mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction, to be ready to be housed. Housing First is supposed to be housing first, but not housing only. The couple researched the program and felt that participating was a good thing to do. The agency provided assurances that the tenant would be monitored, workers would be available to assist if issues came up and there would be no risk to other tenants. All of that made the program appealing. The purpose-built triplex was located in a busy but nice part of town. The upper unit tenant was a single mother with two girls. The middle unit tenant was a single pensioner who accessed her apartment through the back of the building. The lower unit was rented to the tenant placed by the agency. The tenant was a single man of 30 years of age, who moved into the unit in January, 2017. In February, the community agency called the owners to report that the tenant had been hospitalized and another couple was residing in the unit. The worker asked the owners to call police to evict the couple. However the police refused to intervene, saying this was a civil matter, which is their usual response in landlord-tenant cases. With the worker’s
assistance, the locks were changed on the unit. The couple returned while locks were being changed and were told (by the agency worker) to leave. The couple retrieved some belongings and left. The owners cleaned the unit, as food waste would have attracted pests. During the clean-up, the owners found: Used needles and drug paraphernalia • A note from the couple warning the tenant not to enter their room • Cigarette burns in the carpet • Writing on the walls •
The owners met with agency workers to express concerns. It blamed the damage and mess on unwanted guests and assured that the couple had moved to another city. They promised they would visit the male tenant regularly (3 to 4 times a week) when he returned from hospital. They also promised the owners could have monthly visits as well. (With 24 hours written notice, entry to inspect the state of repair and cleanliness is the landlord’s right, which can be exercised monthly or more often, if the circumstances justify that.) On inspection day, two social workers attended. The apartment was filthy and smelly. The day after inspection, a homeowner next to the triplex phoned and said he saw people coming and going from the unit at all hours. The neighbour also saw the Sanguen Health Centre van arrive every week. (Among other services the Sanguen Health Centre distributes supplies to address drug overdoses.) The owner delivered an N5 Notice to end the tenancy for interference and damage two days after inspection. During the delivery, he saw six people in the unit. The following week, a social worker phoned the owners asking them to call the police. The tenant had left the unit and wanted his “friends” removed. Within a few days the
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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Greg Maitinsky speaks to WRAMA members
“friends” left the unit. After talking with his social workers, the tenant signed an N11 agreement to end the tenancy. (That meant the landlord did not have to incur the work, expense and time delay involved in evicting a tenant through the Landlord and Tenant Board.) The community agency manager advised the owner not to enter the unit because it was too dangerous. Debris, rotting food and needles were everywhere. Because of the needles, the owner needed to engage a company that cleans crime scenes. The agency paid for the clean-up.
to “up their game”, and assign clients to the right facilities. After the November 8 meeting, WRAMA learned that a similar situation recently occurred in Ottawa under its Housing First program. See page 53. In Ottawa, that CBC report was followed by another report from a woman whose placement had worked well, who is convinced that the program saved her life.
Taking the three cases together, here are some comments. The agency in Kitchener-Waterloo did at least communicate with the landlord, help get the tenant out quickly, and pay for the clean-up. Landlords need to remember that home take-overs take place among vulnerable people, and without the agency the landlord holds the bag alone. Landlords also need to inspect units provided for Housing First at frequent intervals, and not rely on the agency.
From the owner’s point of view, the failure was an attempt to provide housing to someone who needed greater supports than social worker contacts. Put another way, the support level was not high enough to meet the person’s needs, which may have required supportive housing with 24/7 staffing. It is absolutely true that in many cases the support agencies need
Finally, many Housing First placements succeed. Working in this area is a powerful way for landlords to give back to the community. Housing First can work well if the landlord pays some extra attention, and the social service agency assesses the prospective tenant’s needs correctly, and provides the right support level in a diligent manner.
A few months later the owners learned the tenant had died. As stated at the beginning of the article, he was 30 years old. In this sad case, Housing First failed the tenant more severely than it failed the rental owners.
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Published on Dec 27, 2017