VOLUME 15 / NUMBER 5 / NOVEMBER 2018
ELEVATING THE RESIDENTIAL EXPERIENCE THE POWER OF COMMUNITY
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Investing in sustainability is no longer an option. It’s a critical strategy for long-term growth and success. According to industry research, buildings with green certifications benefit from lower operating costs, increased tenant comfort and better financial performance—and with the ‘cleantech’ sector gaining steady momentum all over the world, it seems only plausible that the best is yet to come. But, leading-edge technology and sustainable strategies aside, a thriving apartment community is a lot more than its physical systems. It is a living, breathing entity with unique dynamics unto itself. To navigate these, at times, wild and unpredictable waters, apartment buildings need reliable, caring leadership and meaningful engagement between residents and staff. Exemplifying this approach is a team of enterprising young women at Bentall Kennedy. United by a compelling vision for remaking residential relations with experiential programming, these women are helping to transform property management from a “sunk cost” into a powerful engine for revenue. Read our cover story on page 22 for a glimpse into their transformative management style and “complete” approach to hospitality. Also in this issue: energy storage systems, comprehensive retrofits, proptech, advancements in the submetering sector, and the latest news, trends and transactions affecting landlords and apartment owners today. As this is our final issue of 2018, from all of us at Canadian Apartment and the REMI Network, have a restful, peaceful holiday season and we look forward to reengaging in the New Year.
Graeme Huycke Andy Schwartze Barbara Carss
Kelly Nicholls Melissa Valentini
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VOLUME 15 / NUMBER 5 / NOVEMBER 2018
FEATURE 16 B ehind-the-Meter Energy Storage An emerging option for bulk-metered buildings 20 P roptech in the Age of Disruption Alate brings innovators and real estate owners together
COLUMNS 8 Transactions 2018 Market Overview 10 CMHC Airtightness and the Indoor Space By Graeme Huycke 28 Newsworthy Industry Hot Topics 32 Insurance Disclosing Material Information By Andy Schwartze 34 Legislation Medical Cannabis By Barbara Carss 36 Property Management Advancements in submetering By Peter Mills
22 The Rise of the Socially Engaged Property Manager Meet Bentall Kennedy’s all-female team of entrepreneurial real estate professionals By Bethany Meisinger-Reiff
38 Smart Ideas
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VOLUME 15 / NUMBER 5 / NOVEMBER 2018
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ELEVATING THE RESIDENTIAL EXPERIENCE
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Our Business is to Make Yours Shine! Whiterose is an Industry Leader with a long list of condos in the downtown and surrounding areas Whiterose Janitorial Services Ltd. believes in servicing its customers with professionalism, communication and appreciation. The Key to our success is service, quality and value. We clean beyond the surface! Quality management begins behind the scenes prior to commencing a job all employees are evaluated and or training to the whiterose standard given special attention to health and safety policies. Whiterose Janitorial Services is a full service company and a member of ACMO and CCI. Specializing in cleaning and live in & live out Superintendents for the past 30 years. Spectrum of Cleaning Services: • Facility assessment • House keeping and general cleaning services • Customized cleaning service plan • Customized cleaning schedules • Window cleaning (Exterior high rise) • Garage cleaning • Marble restoration & Polishing • Carpet cleaning
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2018 Market Overview Investment demand continues to outstrip supply As 2018 winds to a close, CMHC is predicting a national vacancy rate of just 3.0% by year’s end. Rents continue to rise steadily in most regions, with strong upward pressure on the GTA and Vancouver. There also continues to be a shortfall in vacant apartment units with the notable exception of Alberta.
nvestment demand continues to outstrip supply, with the rental apartment sector seeing peak pricing particularly with high-rise, concrete towers in central locations. Newer low-rise developments in Western Canada are also garnering strong interest and high prices. According to Morguard’s Keith Reading, migration patterns, demographic changes and a stable and healthy economy
are driving rental demand. “Housing market conditions are also supporting rental demand, as tighter mortgage rules have shut out some potential buyers who are being forced to continue to rent,” he said. “All in all, the purpose-built rental market is expected to perform well during 2019, in extending the current phase of the asset class cycle.”
Notable Q4 Transactions Address
Sale Price (Millions)
Res component of Wynn Group Portfolio
Timbercreek Asset Management
1 de la Cote St Catherine
1, 10 Rosemount Ave
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8 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
In addition, Killam purchased two development sites: a 1.9-acre site property on the waterfront for $2.2 million, and a 1.2-acre site in Stratford for $1.2 million. In Waterloo, Killam acquired a site adjacent to Westmount Place. This acquisition is expected to allow for greater density and flexibility with Killam’s future multiphase residential Westmount Development. Killam purchased an additional 16,500 sf development site on Erb Street for $2.3 million, expanding the area of the Westmount residential development opportunity by 0.38 acres to 2.4 acres. This also increases the overall development opportunity to approximately 800 units.
ARE YOU CONTEMPLATING THE SALE OF YOUR APARTMENT PROPERTY?
2018: A Record Year for Killam So far this year, Killam Apartment REIT has acquired $263 million in assets, making 2018 the largest acquisition year in its history. On October 1, the company announced it had acquired $88 million in new apartment properties and development land located in Calgary, Ottawa, Charlottetown and Waterloo. In Calgary, Killam purchased the Treo at Sherwood—two new four-storey, wood-frame apartment buildings located in the Sherwood neighbourhood. The fully-occupied, 158-unit property was acquired for a purchase price of $39.0 million ($247,000 per unit), representing an all-cash yield of 4.9%. The property is located adjacent to Killam’s recently announced 10% interest in the 13.6-acre Nolan Hill development. In Ottawa, Killam purchased 151 Greenbank Road, a new five-storey, concrete apartment building. The 60-unit property was acquired on September 26, 2018, for a purchase price of $20.7 million ($345,000/unit), representing a stabilized all-cash yield of 4.6%. At the time of purchase, the property was 88% leased. The average rental rate is $1,729 ($2.24 per sf). In Charlottetown, Killam purchased a newly constructed four-building complex containing 107 units in Charlottetown, PE. The property, known as the Harley Street Apartments, was purchased for $22.4 million ($209,000/unit), representing an all-cash yield of 5.6%. The average monthly rent is $1,505 and the property is 100% occupied. The buildings include underground parking, a unique feature in the Charlottetown market.
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| www.REMInetwork.com | November 2018 | 9
CMHC REPORT >>
Airtightness and the Indoor Space Examining the impacts of comprehensive energy retrofits by Graeme Huycke A comprehensive retrofit can be disruptive to say the least. When the owners of a four-storey 1970s rental building, located in Victoria, B.C., decided to undergo extensive upgrades to its building enclosure and mechanical systems, two research projects were initiated to understand the impacts these retrofits would have on energy consumption and indoor environmental conditions within the building.
primary concern was the impact that new building enclosure insulation would have on indoor air quality. Energy retrofits can adversely impact indoor conditions if they reduce indoor-outdoor air exchange to the point where indoor pollutants accumulate and resultant moisture conditions give rise to condensation, mould growth and the deterioration of interior materials and finishes and the building envelope system. Accordingly, the retrofit project included the installation of a continuously operating, 10 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
energy-efficient exhaust fan in each dwelling unit to mitigate these risks. To understand the effectiveness of the approach, research was undertaken to characterize the post-retrofit interior environmental conditions in comparison with industry benchmarks and the occupantsâ€™ experience prior to the retrofit. It also examined the effectiveness of the post-retrofit ventilation strategy and the impacts that occupant behaviour and interactions had on the retrofitted ventilation system performance.
Study Key Findings Improvements to the continuity of the exterior air barrier combined with the addition of exterior insulation in the building enclosure and the installation of the continuously running exhaust fans in the dwelling units resulted in the following impacts on indoor environmental conditions: â€˘ The upgraded building insulation and airtightness helped to moderate indoor temperatures (that is, reduced problematic temperature swings and maintained more consistent and
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CMHC REPORT >>
“upgrading the thermal and airtightness performance of building envelope assemblies can mean that additional measures will be needed to provide acceptable indoor environmental conditions.”
comfortable conditions) during the winter/shoulder season. • Relative humidity (RH) conditions within the monitored suites indicated levels were well within the typical comfort range (between 25% and 60%) recommended by several American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) documents and Health Canada Exposure Guidelines for Residential Indoor Air Quality. • The higher thermal insulation installed on the exterior of the wall system sheathing board and controlled interior temperature and RH levels significantly reduced or eliminated condensation (and the potential for condensation) on windows and within the exterior wall assembly. • Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels within the monitored dwelling units, a proxy for indoor air quality, were within acceptable ranges most of the time. According to ASHRAE Standard 62.1, levels under 1000 ppm indicate adequate air ventilation and circulation for indoor environments. A pattern of increased CO2 levels (>1000 ppm) was observed in bedrooms overnight suggesting insufficient fresh air to these rooms when windows were closed and interior doors were shut. • A survey of the building occupants indicated that the building envelope insulation and airtightness retrofit led to a considerable reduction in exterior (outdoor) noise. However, the noise and vibration of the continuous operation of the newly installed bathroom exhaust fans annoyed some residents, resulting in the fans being disconnected. 12 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
• The continuous exhaust ventilation approach was not balanced (that is, inunit pressures were continually changing based on exterior wind pressure conditions, window operation, fan operation and stack effect), resulting in uncontrolled smell and odour migration between adjacent suites. • In general, the use of a simple, low-cost continuous operating bathroom exhaust fan strategy, in combination with the use of operable windows, appeared to provide adequate indoor environmental conditions in this retrofitted building located in a temperate climate region. However, when rooms were isolated from the exhaust fans for extended periods of time (for example, the closing of bedroom doors during the night), it resulted in a reduction in occupant comfort levels and indoor environmental conditions. Similar outcomes can be expected in colder climate regions where windows remain closed for extended periods of time during the winter months. A balanced ventilation system with ducted supply to bedrooms and living areas (for example, via heat recovery ventilators) would be a more effective strategy but more difficult, disruptive and costly to implement. Implications for the rental housing industry Much of the existing residential building stock in Canada has reached an age whereby significant renewal is required to preserve, and improve, energy performance. However, upgrading the thermal and airtightness performance of building envelope assemblies can mean that additional measures will be needed to provide acceptable indoor environmental conditions.
This study showed that the installation of a simple ventilation system as a part of the overall retrofit strategy can help maintain post-retrofit indoor environmental conditions but it may not provide uniform and adequate benefits in all the rooms of dwelling units at all times of the year. This illustrated the need to consider ventilation approaches that can deliver and circulate fresh outdoor air in all habitable rooms to meet the indoor environmental needs of the occupants as an integral part of energy efficiency retrofit projects. Housing Repair and Renewal: Funding Available Rental housing providers across Canada who would like to undergo repairs and retrofits to their aging apartment buildings can apply to obtain financial assistance through CMHC’s Housing Repair and Renewal Stream. Over the next 10 years, $3.46 billion in loans and $2.26 billion in capital contributions for the preservation and renewal of existing buildings. The loans will be interest-only for a 10-year term, renewable for a further 10 years with an interest rate reset. The amortization can be for up to 50 years. For private sector applicants, capital contributions are available for exceeding minimum requirements for affordability, energy efficiency or accessibility. Visit www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/nhs/ housing-repair-and-renewal-stream for more information. To take advantage of CMHC’s Mortgage Loan Insurance, contact Graeme Huycke, Senior Specialist, Client Relations, Multi-Unit Underwriting, at 416-250-2705 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
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Measure by Measure Cutting costs and keeping property owners happy
Keeping tenants happy, buildings occupied, and property values high are top priorities for property management firms. In reality, that's easier said than done – especially in an era where “plugged-in” lifestyles, rising labour costs, and rental regulations are making it increasingly difficult for property stakeholders to find financial breathing room.
14 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
“The rental market is inundated with not just energy-related concerns, but also rent control, new building evaluations and regulations, and lower vacancy rates,” agrees George Hantzis, Large Commercial Energy Solutions Manager with Enbridge, adding, “all of those things intensify the challenges to keep tenants satisfied while continuing to grow a business.”
They also emphasize the need to partake in energy retrofits and smart cost-saving measures to lean out operating costs and free up money for their core business: delivering quality rental supply. “There's no one thing that will improve your bottom line. That's why, when people like us go into a facility to help property owners or managers find ways to save energy, we are always looking at the issue from a holistic approach,” says Dominic DiMuzio, Enbridge Multi-Residential Energy Solutions Consultant. Enbridge's team of technical experts collectively work with hundreds of multire s i d e n t i a l b u i l d i n g s a n n u a l l y t o h e l p stakeholders optimize their energy usage and save money. It's that hands-on experience that has equipped them with cost-saving insights and proven energy smart measures. Here are just a few:
Tweak your controls A few system tweaks can go a long way. Energy Consultants can play a big role in identifying energy-wasting procedures and make small – yet impactful – changes that will result in long-term savings. For example Carmine Faiella, Multi-Residential Energy Solutions Consultant offers this advice, “when you reduce your set point temperatures the savings are automatic. That said, you need to be careful and considerate of tenant comfort.” Get with the program A number of energy-saving consultation programs are available to property stakeholders at no cost. In some cases, such as Enbridge's Commercial Custom Retrofit Incentives programs, participants can receive
financial rewards for implementing energysaving measures. “We'll work with customers, free of charge, to identify energy efficiency opportunities that save natural gas and in return save them money. And if they implement any of our recommendations, we will cover up to 50 per cent of the project cost,” explains Hantzis. “These programs are available, and they've been proven to work – so there's no downside to trying them.” Adds DiMuzio Good tenants plus stable occupancy rates equal high property values (and happy owners). It's a simple formula that's becoming harder to apply. With some smart energy measures and assistance from those in the know, property managers can find a friendly balance.
Make smarter retrofits When it comes time to replace or upgrade critical building components, consider that an ideal opportunity to not only seek a more energy-efficient solution, but to upgrade connected systems. “When a customer is changing their boiler, for instance, that's an ideal time to also take a look at changing the way they pump those boilers or control them,” offers DiMuzio. As for what jobs to prioritize, Hantzis adds: “We’ve had a lot of success working with property managers on boiler efficiency upgrades, as well as installing Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) on ventilation systems. If those have not been done, I would recommend doing those first.” Do more with what you have There are several ways to optimize savings with existing equipment. For example, one is to introduce an advanced building automation system (BAS) that monitors, manages, and reduces energy usage on an interval level. Another is to install pipe insulation across all hot water systems. And pipe insulation typically delivers a quick return on investment.” “It's all about sustained savings,” says Chinmayee Rindani, Multi-Residential Energy Solutions Consultant. “When your building is monitored, you can track if there are any manual adjustments made on site that are pushing your energy costs up. Understanding your property’s energy consumption through monitoring can provide a roadmap to future opportunities and sustained energy savings.
For more information on Enbridge's efficiency programs, or to learn about how Enbridge’s Energy Solutions Consultants have helped multi-residential customers in the past, visit www.enbridgesmartsavings.com/business.
Behind-the-Meter Energy Storage Why bulk-metered building owners may benefit from this developing technology by Erin Ruddy
dramatic rise in energy costs and strict sustainability mandates have been spurring business owners to explore innovative, energy-saving solutions for decades, thus launching the ‘cleantech’ industry to new heights. But just how viable are some of the ground-breaking methods we’re reading about today, and at what point should budget-minded, risk-adverse apartment owners feel confident enough to take the leap? One of the biggest game-changers in the multi-residential sphere has been submetering, a system that allows landlords to regulate energy consumption by putting payment into the hands of tenants. 16 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
This approach has not only prompted conservational behaviour, but when combined with HVAC upgrades, lighting retrofits and other building improvements, has led to substantial savings for multi-res building owners in the realm of 30 per cent. For those pursuing higher performance, additional cutbacks in consumption have come from the use of renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, but the lack of intelligent management systems to store and deploy surplus energy has inhibited these intermittent sources from readily gaining favour. Enter behind-the-meter energy storage systems, a not-so-new technology that’s
been making waves in the cleantech space. Simply put, energy storage is the process of capturing energy produced at one time to use at a later time. Business magnate Elon Musk has been popularizing this method since the launch of the Tesla electric car in 2003, and more recently, with the Powerwall “at-home” battery. But Musk isn’t the only one touting the merits of this renewable energy solution. As we head into 2019, developers and distributors worldwide are working toward its mainstream integration. What’s changed is the advent of intelligent management software, enhanced regulatory measures and design improvements that have incrementally
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lowered the cost of systems, all things combined making market conditions for customer-located energy storage ripe. Today, commercial building owners who are seeking more control over their energy costs and increased reliability have begun to take notice. Leading the way is Starlight Investments, a privately held Canadian real estate asset management company with more than 36,000 multi-residential units across North America. In August, Starlight announced it had partnered with Peak Power Inc., an energy storage service provider, to install up to 2350kW / 4700kWh of energy storage systems. Used to target Ontario peak demand charges at Bloor Islington Place in Toronto, the behind-the-meter battery systems reached commercial operation earlier this year and are on their way to generating a projected electricity bill savings up to 15 per cent. “We are delighted to be one of the first commercial building owners in Canada to install behind-the-meter battery energy storage,” said Perry Rose, Executive Director, Procurement and Technical Services, Starlight Investments. “Innovative technology, such as energy storage and Peak Power’s software, are providing options to building owners for better ways to manage their day-to-day energy needs.” The installation at Bloor Islington Place is one of six sites Peak Power installed using funding from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada Grant. SDTC is a foundation that supports Canadian research and development projects that harness clean, innovative technologies with viable, sustainable potential. Once complete, the six sites will be aggregated into a “Virtual Power Plant” to provide additional services to the Ontario grid. Peak Power also has a site using a Tesla Energy Storage System at the Thomson Building at 65 Queen Street West in Toronto. “Starlight is committed to sustainability for the benefit of all stakeholders including residential and commercial tenants, as well as visitors to our properties,” said Rose. “We continue to seek new and innovative ways to improve our carbon foot print and minimize energy and physical waste. As this technology develops, we’ll certainly be watching for opportunities to integrate it on a larger-scale.” 18 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
Targeting the Global Adjustment As utility consumers are all-too aware, the Global Adjustment fee isn’t cheap. Accounting for up to 80 per cent of the commodity cost of electricity, the GA is used to cover the difference between the market price and rates paid to regulated and contracted generators, and to pay for conservation and demand management programs. For customers with at least one megawatt (MW) of demand, Global Adjustment charges are calculated by looking at total energy use as a share of the total energy use during the five hours of the year when the overall demand for electricity is at its highest—known as the “5 coincident peaks.” Forecasting these five peaks is complex. Analysts have relied on spreadsheets, regression analysis and general intuition to predict when peak events will occur. This was one of the driving factors that prompted Starlight Investments to pursue a partnership with Peak Power. “The electricity grid is changing due to the growth of new technologies, such as solar power and electric vehicles,” said Matthew Sachs, Chief Operating Officer with Peak Power. “Battery energy storage can help
balance the grid by providing fast-acting response to short-term fluctuations in supply and demand, such as peak demand events, which put a strain on the grid. Installing energy storage at your building can help you save up to 25% on your electricity bills, while also providing grid services to utilities, reducing GHG emissions from electricity production, and improving grid resiliency.” Sachs also noted that 3280 Bloor was outfitted with the Building Insight Platform, which consists of internet enabled sensors and advanced analytics and forecasting for a “complete energy management solution.” So, when will we start seeing energy storage systems permeate the apartment sector? According to Sachs, the applicability of the technology depends on the utility tariff structures which affect project economics. “Currently this technology makes the most sense in Ontario for Class A customers, which are large energy users,” he explained. “The tariff structures have been changing, however, and the trend has been to allow more participation.” Illustrating this, Sachs pointed to the lowering threshold that classifies a Class A customer. “It used to be 5MW, then it was reduced to 3MW, then 1MW and most recently 0.5MW for manufacturing sites. We believe that in the future everyone will be able to participate, but that will take some time for the regulatory structure to change.” Another key for multi-residential apartment buildings is that the technology can only be implemented if it’s a bulk-metered building. With plenty of those still in existence, this might be the option hesitant owners have been waiting for. As a rental housing provider, why should energy storage batteries be on your radar as a future energysaving solution? 1. Batteries can improve data centre reliability. 2. They can provide power even without a cooling load. 3. They are a cleaner alternative to on-site fossil fuel generators. 4. They are perfect for dispensing energy for short durations during power outages. 5. Prices continue to drop as the market continues to develop.
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PROPTECH IN THE AGE OF DISRUPTION Newly-formed Alate brings innovators and real estate owners together All around the world, the property technology sector is taking off. Known simply as “proptech”, it comprises all forms of emerging technology intended to help with the building, buying, managing and maintenance of every type of building complex, including rental housing.
hese days, everyone over the age of ten is equipped with a smartphone, and tenants are no exception. Smart technology has infiltrated all aspects of how we live and work— whether it’s to make rent payments or turn up the thermostat. Many traditional methods have already gone wayside, but the disruption is only just beginning. Founded through a partnership between Dream Unlimited and Relay Ventures, Alate Partners is eager to facilitate this disruption. Officially launched in mid-November with $40 million in seed financing, the company is building what it describes as “an ecosystem”, bringing together leading proptech innovators with influential real estate owners, operators, and managers. “We have extensive experience investing in and supporting the growth of early stage tech companies,” said John Albright, co-founder and Managing Partner at Relay Ventures. “But we also recognize the tremendous potential for those technologies designed specifically for the real estate market. This is an industry vertical that is primed for significant global growth, but which requires the expertise of those who are deeply entrenched in that market.” In addition to committing capital, Dream and Relay Ventures are working together to develop the overall strategy and provide governance and insights to Alate. Dream will also validate, test, and implement select new technologies in its own real estate operations. Michael J. Cooper, President and Chief Responsible Officer at Dream, has been witnessing first-hand the rapid change in the real estate sector and the many challenges proptech companies face when attempting to pilot their solutions at scale. As one of Canada’s leading real estate companies with approximately $14 billion in assets under management in North America and Europe, that challenge, it appears, will greatly diminish. “Alate will support proptech companies and offer select innovators in this market an opportunity to validate their compelling technologies and products across Dream’s large
20 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
and diverse commercial, residential, and industrial real estate portfolio,” he said. Identifying challenges, incubating new ideas As Alate embarks on its first year, the group plans to work with a range of innovative companies—from early stage startups to growth companies—that it identifies as helping to accelerate the development and adoption of technologies aimed at enhancing or augmenting how real estate is designed, built, and managed. Concurrent with the launch and kick-starting operations, Alate announced it had made investments in two tech properties: Lane and ParkWhiz. Lane is a “tenant experience platform” for commercial office buildings, based in Toronto, that helps leading property owners and managers unlock the full value of their assets and deliver a superior experience for everyone at their properties. ParkWhiz is a smart parking solution that connects parking lot operators and managers with drivers to find, book, and pay for parking through its app, website, and distribution partners. ParkWhiz has parked millions of vehicles across more than 230 cities in North America. Yona Shtern, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman of ParkWhiz, said: “Alate has already made valuable introductions and helped us secure pilots that will accelerate our expansion.” Moving forward, Alate hopes to develop itself as a launching point for great ideas, giving entrepreneurs the support they need— whether it’s advice, funding, or a powerful introduction—while simultaneously showing real estate incumbents how emerging trends and technologies can impact their businesses and provide solutions to the industry’s biggest challenges. If solutions don’t exist, it will work with its network to incubate ideas and build great teams to commercialize opportunities. Visit www.alate.com for more information
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COVER STORY >>
THE RISE OF THE S ENGAGED PROPER How an all-female team of entrepreneurial real estate professionals are bringing the power of community to the high-rise lifestyle by Bethany Meisinger-Reiff
COVER STORY >>
SOCIALLY RTY MANAGER Luxury amenities can still turn heads—but increasingly, it’s meaningful engagement that convinces prospects to sign on for the long term.
COVER STORY >>
Front (left to right): Shannon Tullio- Regional Property Manager, Chrystal LeBlanc- Marketing and Leasing Manager, Kellie Speakman- Vice President, National Residential Operations Back (left to right): Paula Agnelli- Director, Residential Property Management, Alexandra Foggetti- Marketing Coordinator, Rebecca Whitney- Director, Strategic Marketing, Elisha Crawford- Leasing and Resident Experience Manager The days when amenities sold themselves and property managers simply focused on aesthetics and maintenance are long gone. Consumer expectations for personalized experiences and ultra-luxury hospitality have raised the stakes. Now, to win over and retain high-value residents, property managers need to elevate the residential experience as well.
This requires a fundamental rethinking of how properties are programmed—and how they integrate with the larger community. In short, property managers need to be in the business of building connections between the property, their residents and the surrounding neighbourhood. At real estate company Bentall Kennedy, this shift in
24 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
philosophy is being led by a group of young, enterprising women with a compelling vision for remaking residential relations with experiential programming. In the process, they are helping to transform property management from a sunk cost into a powerful engine for revenue. Rental rates are up, vacancies are down and investors are seeing a higher return.
Community-centered service Residents who feel that they are not just listened to, but also cared for, are residents who want to stay. This doesn’t just mean customized birthday cards, although that is a start. Rather, property managers need to connect with their residents on a personal level by getting to know their wants, their interests, their hobbies and habits, even their pets’ names. These data points are essential for not just responding to concerns, but also anticipating needs. For example, having a dog walker available for dog owners on move-in day is a small touch, but one that has a real and tangible benefit for residents. “We are definitely focused on customer service and how our role as property managers affects the lives of residents
“property managers need to connect with their residents on a personal level by getting to know their wants, their interests, their hobbies and habits, even their pets’ names.” from the moment they walk through the door,” said Shannon Tullio, regional residential property manager for Bentall Kennedy. “It is a big change, and a change for the better.” Fostering bonds within the property is also essential to resident engagement. At Hull Estates, a 263,500 square foot residence in Calgary’s historic Beltline neighbourhood, Leasing and Residential Experience Manager Elisha Crawford takes pride in helping residents nurture their talents and interests. She has given the term “resident
artist” new meaning by showcasing tenant artwork on the property. She also helps residents set up and promote their own businesses. “It’s about creating a community within a community,” Crawford explained. Likewise, Crawford and Tullio, along with their Bentall Kennedy colleagues, strive to anchor their properties within the broader community by promoting two-way traffic. At Two St. Thomas, a new 217,000 square foot residence in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood, a
resident experience team has brought in fitness experts to offer yoga classes. Local fine dining restaurants have catered building events. And during Fashion Week, the property hosted a designer and several models to show their pieces. Hull Estates residents have access to a VIP club that offers discounts on local amenities, such as massage therapists, fine dining and spas. The residents value the personalized exclusivity, while the local businesses appreciate the patronage. Crawford has also organized events for area businesses to come in and highlight their services. “As property managers, part of our role is to bring the
outside community into the building, both to engage the interests of our residents but also to benefit local and small family-owned businesses,” Crawford said. To be meaningful for residents, programming is not necessarily interchangeable between properties, stressed Kellie Speakman, vice president, national residential operations for Bentall Kennedy. “To be successful, it needs to be relevant to the residents,” Speakman said. “It also needs to be ongoing—it can’t be something you do four times a year. It’s about creating small and large touch points with residents at the first interaction and throughout their tenancy.“
| www.REMInetwork.com | November 2018 | 25
COVER STORY >> CONDITION > BUILDING ASSESSMENTS
Damage down below The smallest drip can become a major problem for elevator shafts. Consider the following to keep leakage issues at bay: Stay vigilant. Snow, rainfall, groundwater, and run-off can cause water leakage in elevator pits. Once inside, water begins eroding sensitive equipment (tracks, springs, hydraulics, electrical components), leading to cost and safety issues if ignored. It takes a team. Solving elevator pit leakage requires sensitive work in a restricted space. Property managers or maintenance professionals need elevator technicians to shut the elevator down and coordinate the investigation, after which you’ll need a professional solution. Find an engineer. Elevator technicians do monthly or semi-monthly inspections, and that’s the best time for engineers to get in, do their inspections, and work with contractors towards solutions. Be proactive. If there’s any concern about elevator pit water leakage, don’t wait. Hire an engineer to conduct a review and give recommendations right away. “Once water starts to get in, it starts to find multiple ways in and then you end up with a lot more work,” says James Cooper, an Associate with RJC Engineers. “The sooner you start dealing with it, the better – you don’t want to wait until it’s a waterfall down there.”
Learn more about RJC at rjc.ca.
In with the old, and new This high-touch, highly experiential approach is a natural fit for new luxury developments; however, it can also revitalize older and repositioning assets. When Two St. Thomas was under construction, Tullio and her team visited local residential towers and businesses with extra-gooey chocolate chip cookies to raise awareness about the project. That homegrown, word-of-mouth marketing created buzz before the building even opened. “It has created a great vibe, unlike any other that I’ve experienced in this industry,” said Tullio. “Being known in the community helps with our bottom line. We could start with a high price point and succeed.” In contrast, Hull Estates is a 60-year-old asset that Bentall Kennedy repositioned from a 55+ property to one that serves young professionals, families and active adults. The updates, combined with Crawford’s focus on hospitality and community building, have transformed the property from one with
a high vacancy rate to a waiting list in less than a year. “The residents love it, the businesses love it, the word of mouth that we get is working wonders,” Crawford noted. “I’ve had businesses seek me out wanting to know how they can be part of our community.” “Nothing is more rewarding” At Bentall Kennedy, every decision about a building— from design to amenities to programming—is based on the building’s targeted demographic. Staffing is no exception. “We assemble property management teams that are very relevant to the tenant demographic because every interaction that they have with those residents will set the tone for the lifetime of their residency with us,” said Speakman. Equipping staff with the resources, budget and freedom to make programming decisions is also key to forging genuine links between residents, the property and the community. “We really empower our site teams to be
entrepreneurial,” Speakman said. “We want our teams to think outside the box and put their personality on the brand—that’s why we selected them. And we have a group of young female leaders who are taking this concept and running with it in a way that is resonating with their residents and the communities in which they operate.” The company is finding that the benefits extend far beyond resident retention. It is also strengthening bonds with staff and improving its employee retention rate. And by providing a young, visionary cohort of women with a sense of ownership in their properties and careers, Bentall Kennedy is investing in its next generation of leaders. “Nothing is as personal in someone’s life as their home and their family – and you touch both when you are in residential multifamily,” said Tullio. “At the same time, I have the ability to provide a comfortable and safe and well-developed environment for my team. When the residents are happy and the team is happy, nothing is more rewarding.”
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Industry Hot Topics
Feds foil carbon pollution amnesty efforts
Viva-Cité rental project breaks ground in Montreal
abitations Trigone and partner Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ recently broke ground on Viva-Cité Saint-Constant, a new rental project aimed at adults 55-plus. The new residential community is ideally situated in Saint-Constant, just steps from the commuter train station and Lac des Fées, and across the street from a park and trail system. Slated for completion in spring 2019, the first phase of construction will consist of 154 apartments. Another 174 units will be built next summer as part of Phase 2. Grouped under the Viva-Cité banner, this rental project is part of 11 planned complexes offering all-inclusive, condo-style apartments geared to 55+ active adults. Occupants will have access to a terrace, gym, pool and multi-purpose room. Services will include an activity program developed by a “recreationologist.” “In light of its popularity with 55+ adults, we are continuing with this formula,” said Habitations Trigone’s president, Patrice St-Pierre. “The construction of a Viva-Cité in Saint-Constant rounds out the range of products offered by the Carré Bloomsbury project, where Phase 3 of the condo development is underway. Located in a green setting close to all services, this new Viva-Cité phase is consistent with our vision of a living environment that combines well-being with accessibility.” “With Habitations Trigone, we are participating in the creation of new real estate niches that are responsive to specific clienteles,” added Normand Bélanger, president and CEO of the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ. “The Viva-Cité banner is geared to baby boomers in search of a different type of housing, one without the maintenance obligations that come with a house, while the new banner, Axcès Trigone, will appeal to a broader public. Both use the all-inclusive formula. We are proud to say that since 2015 we have been supporting the growth of this Québec developer whose success benefits the entire Québec economy.” 28 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
mall and medium sized businesses in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick have been promised about $155 million to cushion the initial shock of fuel surcharges when the first phase of the four-year incremental rollout of carbon pricing begins next spring. Another $73 million has been earmarked for municipalities, Indigenous communities and the education, health care and non-profit sectors. Annual disbursements of $385 million for business owners and $185 million for the other designated sectors are projected by 2022. “Canadians know that polluting isn’t free,” Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna reiterated yesterday, as she and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined forewarned carbon price and rebate plans for provinces that have ignored the deadline for devising their own schemes. This includes a four-part schedule of surcharges for 22 different fuel types. However, most consumer expenditure is expected to go to gasoline and natural gas price add-ons. A carbon levy of $0.0442 per litre will go on at the gas pumps beginning next spring, rising to $0.1105 per litre by April 2022. The carbon levy on natural gas will begin at $0.0391 per cubic metre (m3) and climb to $0.0979/ m3 over the four-year period. Federal strategists are aiming for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions on two fronts. The upfront premium is meant to encourage more efficient use of GHG-emitting fuels, including fossil-fuel-generated electricity. Collected funds can then be invested to develop and commercialize low-carbon technologies and to encourage energy efficiency and a shift to low-carbon energy sources. “The case is clear: Canada needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and the best way to do that is to put a price on carbon pollution,” asserts Minister of Finance Bill Morneau. “Pollution pricing encourages Canadians and businesses to innovate, invest in clean technologies, and take advantage of long-term growth opportunities.” As envisioned, the federal government will collect and redistribute approximately $4.2 billion in Ontario every year (and another $1.44 billion in New Brunswick, Manitoba and
NEWSWORTHY >> Saskatchewan) once the full carbon surcharge of $50 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is in place. The major share of this will be channelled into what’s to be known as climate action incentive payments, to be delivered as rebates directly to residents. In 2019, when carbon is initially priced at $20/tonne, the federal government projects $1.58 billion will be rebated to Ontarians, translating to an average of $300 per household. That’s 15 per cent more than the $260 in annual savings the Ontario government claimed to have delivered to average families when it invoked a carbon pollution amnesty through the dismantling of the province’s cap-and-trade system earlier this year. Since rebates are prorated to carbon price expenditures, households in Saskatchewan — where, in 2016, the carbon intensity of the electricity supply was pegged at 660 grams of CO2e per kilowatthour (kWh) — are in line for largest rebates. This is projected at an average of $1,161 when the $50/tonne price is in place versus an average of $697 in Ontario, where the carbon intensity of the electricity supply was 36 grams of CO2e/kWh in 2016. In addition to these funds, small and medium businesses, non-profits, Indigenous communities and broader public sector players, such as municipalities, educational institutions and hospitals, have access to the existing Low Carbon Economy Fund to promote energy efficiency upgrades and fuel switching. Meanwhile, Ontarians are invited to submit their ideas to the public consultation on a Made-in-Ontario plan. It’s promoted as an alternative to “the previous government’s insistence on imposing a punishing, job-killing carbon tax on Ontario families and businesses”. Instead, the current government emphasizes “resiliency efforts, pollution reduction and how government can better partner with the private sector.” Rod Phillips, Ontario’s Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, rebutted the federal announcement via Twitter, stating: “Anyone who tries to convince you that any tax will put more money in your pocket Midnorthern_wrongsize.indd should have you thinking twice.”
2017-07-26 2:53 PM
Ford announces rent control pull-back
s part of its new “Housing Supply Action Plan,” the Ontario Government is proposing a strategy to increase the province’s rental housing supply through measures intended to bolster new development while protecting rent control for existing tenants. According to the press release, “The demand for housing in Ontario has risen rapidly in recent years, driven by strong population growth and low interest rates. However, the supply of housing has not kept pace, leading to higher prices and rents.” The new Housing Supply Action Plan, to be launched in the spring of 2019, proposes to put in place the following key measures:
• Preserve rent control for existing tenants; • Encourage developers to build more rental housing by exempting new rental units from rent control; • Cancel the Development Charges Rebate Program, which it calls “expensive and ineffective,” estimating it will create a savings of approximately $100 million over four years. Find out more at www.reminetwork.com | www.REMInetwork.com | November 2018 | 29
Rock salt inventory shortage expected
partment owners in Ontario could find themselves paying a premium to keep their walkways safe this winter, with rock salt expected to be less available after flooding and a strike hampered output at two out of three major mines. Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of Landscape Ontario, said that municipalities are at the front of the line to get the allocations they need for road-clearing operations from the mines. And, with only so much salt to go around, he said the snow contractors that service private properties, and their suppliers, have been informed they will need to make alternative arrangements. DiGiovanni said one option has been to establish new relationships overseas and pay higher prices upfront to have salt shipped in from Chile, Egypt and Morocco before the St. Lawrence River freezes. But he added that some contractors may need help from their clients to come up with the financial resources and storage space to pursue this route, and those who do may still find themselves coming up short. “There are two issues,” said DiGiovanni. “One is the extra cost. Two is even with the barges coming in, there is not going to enough supply, depending on the weather, because the inventory that was in place was knocked out with the late winter storm we had this year.” Landscape Ontario has also outlined a number of strategies for stretching limited supplies. They include calibrating equipment, mixing salt and sand, reviewing which parts of properties require salt coverage, and using other de-icing alternatives, such as beet juice or treated salt. Property owners and their snow contractors have a compelling reason to salt generously: to avoid being accused of negligence and getting sued for damages by people injured in slip-and-fall accidents. The de-icing product is generally seen as the best way to melt and prevent the slippery patches that can form on pavement in the winter and pose a hazard. To read Michelle Ervin’s full article, visit: www.reminetwork.com
30 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
Affordable modular housing coming to rural Alberta
ndividuals and families in rural Alberta will soon have access to modular housing via a new government-funded shipping container project developed through the Alberta Rural Development Network. The National Housing Strategy’s Affordable Housing Innovation Fund is allocating $10 million towards the development of at least eight energy-efficient shipping container projects, in which the first phase seeks to create 467 rental units over the next two years. The YWCA Banff Courtyard Project is the first site to get underway; a 33-unit, 3-storey modular housing project designed to meet net-zero targets for energy efficiency and provide affordable rental housing for up to 78 residents who face barriers to finding suitable accommodation. The Courtyard will be ideal for women, new and extended families, individuals, and with a least four suites that are barrier free, people with accessibility needs. In addition, ARDN is developing a toolkit to guide local governments and community organizations to stimulate new affordable housing development. The toolkit will save community groups time and money by providing free, comprehensive, step-by-step guidelines on how to successfully develop, build and manage affordable housing projects. “If you don’t have a home, it’s very difficult to build a life. Investment in affordable housing is critical to ensuring that Canadian communities continue to thrive,” said the Honourable Kent Hehr, Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre. “Our government is proud to support innovative organizations like ARDN as they work to design efficient, forward-thinking housing solutions that not only work here in Alberta, but could easily be replicated in rural communities across the country. Cultivating bold new ideas like this is exactly what the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund is all about.” The guide will be based on the initial eight projects, which include a variety of owner/operator models such as private developers, not-forprofit groups and local municipal governments. The first edition of the guide will be launched early next year and will be updated after all eight modular housing projects are completed.
Celebrating 30 Years. With you. Because of you.
As we reflect back on 30 years in commercial real estate, we are proud of our accomplishments and excited about the future. We are proud of our leadership position as the largest commercial lender in Canada. We are proud of the entrepreneurial spirit that has kept our structure flat and our leaders engaged. We are proud of our strong balance sheet and the confidence it brings to our clients. But what makes us most proud are the relationships that we’ve formed, the businesses that we’ve helped to build and the impact that we have made – together with our clients – on commercial real estate in Canada. And that is what excites us about the future. Finding the high value opportunities. Providing the highest quality mortgages in response. Constantly innovating to move clients toward their business goals. So thank you for your faith, trust and loyalty for the past 30 years. We promise to continue to earn it and deserve it for the next 30 years and beyond.
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Disclosing “Material” Information A failure to do so could cost you by Andy Schwartze
e tend to believe that all apartment buildings are largely the same, and therefore, so are their insurance policies. But, as any seasoned investor will point out, they are not...and astute insurance underwriters would agree. Case in point: while assessing an apartment building recently, one vigilant underwriter took to Google Earth to inspect the roof of a property that was up for purchase by an interested buyer. The seller had at some point installed irregular rooftop equipment that had not been disclosed, and given its location, that equipment would be subject to severe wind gusts. Written in to the insurance statutes, owners (and their brokers) are required to disclose “material” information that can affect an underwriter’s decision as to acceptability and/or premium. 32 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
Weather patterns are changing, and wind damage is among the growing concerns. In this case, the installation was mounted in such a way that a serious wind storm could have lifted it off the roof like an air foil. The resulting mess would cause major damage to the roof membrane, not to mention the horrible consequences if pieces were swept over the side. An insurance inspector doesn’t normally ask to see the roof surface. What is installed up there is generally assumed to be typical equipment relating to the building. But when an owner installs atypical equipment, there is a requirement to make sure the insurer is aware. Not only can the failure to do so lead to the insurance contract being rendered void with respect to that claim, but there is also a responsibility on the
part of any contracted property manager to ensure this disclosure. Failing to do so can bring the property manager’s liability insurance in on such a claim, as it can easily be alleged that professional managers who often buy insurance as part of their contracted obligations, should know what a “material” disclosure looks like. Other examples include: fuse boxes, galvanized piping, outdoor antennae and distorted claims histories, to name a few. This coming winter, salt shortages—which may encourage some owners to simply not bother—increases the risk of slip/fall claims, and should be disclosed. Property managers know that their management fees are “fixed” at a certain rate. Yet their liability insurance is annually “variable”. Managers need to protect their liability insurance as much as possible from
> SOCIAL MEDIA COLUMN Sponsored by MediaEdge
Tips for effective B2B hashtag use, part one By Steven Chester An effective hashtag strategy is a key component in your social media plan. However, for those starting out on social media, hashtags tend to befuddle. Here are some quick tips to up your game.
the significant fluctuations that occur when they have claims. It is, therefore, most important that, where the building owner directs the placement of insurance, there is a clear statement in the management contract absolving the manager and its insurer of any legal responsibility, in the event that the owner has failed to disclose “material” information to its selected insurer. We know of one major insurer that routinely tries to pull the property manager’s liability insurer into claims it is managing for its building policyholders. Contractually protecting itself from such exposures is very important to the property manager and no building owner should expect otherwise. What about cannabis? Obviously, cannabis is the latest topic of concern in the property/casualty world. Like all new social developments, the insurance world agonizes over the eventual impact on claims. This is nothing new; it happens all the time. Typically, the strategy is for insurers to wait and see who will be the first
to be hit by a big claim. Everyone hopes it’s the “other guy” who has to struggle with the new claims reality, and as it unfolds, everyone else takes a position that is adopted going forward. This very same approach was assumed in response to the flooding concerns that have surfaced in recent years. The ultimate solution is now referred to as “overland water”, which is just another name for rain flooding. So, with cannabis, we expect no different strategy. Building insurers know that there will be some domestic growing taking place. Fortunately, individually metered units can be monitored for excessive power use (this is such a smart move), but it is doubtful that growing this stuff in an apartment will be an enforceable cause for legal eviction. In addition, it will be almost impossible to regulate the right of unit occupants to smoke weed within their confined apartment space. No doubt, the level of complaints to property management will rise further as the smell permeates ventilation stacks. It’s a reality that will simply have to be accepted.
Andy Schwartze, BSc., MBA, CIP, is an insurance broker specializing in property management and real estate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hashtag research Do your research. B2B social media users tend to have a very specific set of tags that they like to use so that they can converse among their peers. Listen to your audience, and you’ll find those tags and can capitalize on them. Be sure the information you’re posting relates to the tag, however, as if you’re simply adding tags to your marketing content that do not add to the conversation, you’ve lost the trust of your group. A very common error is what’s referred to as “hashtag stuffing.” This is where a user adds hashtags to just about every word in their post, or leaves an annoying array of tags at the end of their text. (#Who #really #wants #to #read #this?) Narrow your post down to two or three main tags, and insert them into the post in a more natural, conversational format. Be cautious of branding Branding your hashtag is normally ineffective (not to mention cheesy). The adage “if it doesn’t add, it takes away” is a good one here. If you’re the only user posting #XYXYCompanyRules, what purpose is that tag serving? Now you understand the basic rules. However, each social media platform views hashtags through a different lens. Stay tuned for the next column. Steven Chester is the Digital Media Director of MediaEdge Communications. With 15 years’ experience in cross-platform communications, Steven helps companies expand their reach through social media and other digital initiatives. To contact him directly, email email@example.com.
Medical Cannabis A prescription for uncertainty by Barbara Carss Despite the vast new potential pool of recreational cannabis users, tenants with medical authorization to grow and consume cannabis may still trigger some of the most contentious debates in multi-residential buildings. Landlords have options to prohibit or control smoking within units, while Canada’s newly launched Cannabis Act limits cultivation for personal use to a maximum of four plants per household. However, residents with medical authorization will remain largely exempt from those conditions.
ental housing industry advocates have been urging the Canadian government to review and modify rules for the quantity and/or growing locales of plants that medical users are currently allowed to cultivate. This formula is based on the number of plants deemed necessary to yield a patient’s prescribed daily dosage with few accompanying guidelines beyond some recommended safety and security measures. “In one case, I have seen a Health Canada registration certificate authorizing up to 49 cannabis plants in an apartment unit with no requirement for consent from the landlord,” reports Joe Hoffer, a partner and specialist in municipal and tenancy law with Cohen Highley LLP. “I have seen what amounts to a full blown grow op with high-level lighting, humidity controls, tented areas of the floor ducttaped together and the parquet flooring lifted and scattered about.” “It can lead to absurd situations,” concurs Hans Brouillette, director of public affairs with CORPIQ (Corporation des propriétaires immobiliers du Québec). “We recently heard from one of our members who had to contend with a tenant who was authorized by Health Canada to grow up to 244 cannabis plants for personal use.” Quebec, along with Manitoba, is one of two Canadian provinces where it will be prohibited to cultivate recreational cannabis in any residence. Fines for doing so have been set at $250 to $750 in Quebec and $2,542 in Manitoba, although both provincial stipulations contravene federal legislation and are vulnerable to a court challenge. Setting terms for in-suite cultivation Regardless, Hoffer advises that landlords should still have room to manoeuvre. In most cases, residents will have other medical cannabis supply options so a prohibition on growing it in their homes would not obstruct their access to the product. “In my view, it would be an abdication of duty of care for landlords to permit grow ops in a multi-residential setting because they have to protect the property, health and safety of all residents,” he submits. “Fire and mould threats — and also security issues, in the case of 49 plants sitting there tempting miscreants — warrant imposing a rule.”
34 | Canadian Apartment | Part of the REMI Network |
Alternatively, landlords can employ special lease conditions for circumstances in which they must accommodate plant cultivation on a larger scale. “They should have a set of terms and conditions in place, usually implemented via an amendment to the tenancy agreement,” Hoffer says. “For example, that would require the tenant to have proper liability insurance with coverage for damage from grow operations, and indemnify the landlord for any damage caused. It should also cover compliance with property standards and environmental regulations, permission for regulatory officials to inspect and reimbursement for the cost of any environmental compliance orders.” In the new recreational regime, he predicts landlords will respond with varying degrees of discretion if residents overstep limits for in-suite cultivation. “Start with a letter telling them to cease the operation,” Hoffer says. “If there is no compliance, you can issue an N5 (to notify termination of tenancy).” Moving smokers outdoors Multi-residential dwellers with medical authorization to smoke cannabis could stand out from their neighbours simply by staying inside, since they will be exempt from any ban on smoking in units. In contrast, both Quebec legislation and Ontario’s Bill 36 effectively push most residents of non-smoking buildings outdoors if they want to light up. “In theory, even if a tenant obtains the right to smoke cannabis for medical reasons, he or she should not cause problems for the building’s other tenants,” reasons Damarys Pineda Machado, a lawyer with Gagnon & Associés Avocats. “If the owner notes that the tenant is disturbing other tenants’ peaceful enjoyment, the owner must send a formal notice to the tenant concerned. The owner could also suggest alternatives to smoking cannabis, such as using it in edible form, which would eliminate the second-hand smoke and resolve the complaint.” Read the full article, originally published October 9th, at: www.reminetwork.com
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Safe, Reliable and Accurate How digitalization and automated Move-In/Move Out processes are changing property management by Peter Mills In an age of digitalization and automation, there is no longer room for unreliable, laborious operations and processes in any business. The submetering industry is leading the digital movement by storm, with constant advancements being made to streamline the process of measuring in-suite utility consumption and collecting building data.
rom smart technology to meter utility consumption, to automated MoveIn/Move-Out (MIMO) processes, submetering companies continue to improve functionality, cost efficiency and energy conservation in a growing number of buildings Canada-wide. Most submetering providers also offer many subsequent services that make a landlord or property manager’s job easier,
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such as reliable multi-utility billing and data collection for benchmarking and reporting ease and accuracy. Debt recovery from previous utility theft is another big advantage of using an advanced submetering provider’s highpowered technology. In 2018, Wyse Meter Solution’s SYNERGY program recovered over $134,000 in utility theft in their suites alone.
Most notably, however, it’s the automation of the MIMO process and new resident enrollment that is really changing the property management industry. Smart software When installing electrical submetering systems in residential apartment buildings, there are a few key factors property managers should consider. First, they’ll want to make
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sure that their hardware and technology are regulatory compliant, error-proof to avoid billing conflicts, and have access to a safe, reliable and secure environment. From an aesthetic standpoint, they’ll want to install current technology that will minimize invasiveness. High Density Multi-Point Meters like the SiecoTech Canada PowerStar Multiple Customer Metering System are used for billing residential and commercial building occupants for the electrical power they consume. Here’s how the system works: small current transformers are installed on the power-lines, supplying power to each suite. These current transformers are then connected to the PowerStar meter by multi-conductor cables. The individual energy consumption of each occupant is then recorded and transmitted to an online central billing database. (Meter data may be transmitted automatically via the internet, or pulled using software.) Once consumption data is collected, your provider can then use this information to monitor tenant usage and generate reliable, accurate monthly utility bills for residents. The compact design of these high-density multi-point meters allows up to twenty-four meters to fit into tight spaces often considered too confined for metering, and innovative connecting methods also reduce installation costs. MIMO options for new resident enrollment As part of your contract with a submetering provider, building managers, site staff and rental agents are generally provided with training on the submetering program and the proper procedures for enrolling residents as bill payers. During this training, your provider will outline the available enrollment processes. Online enrollment is usually fast and simple, and gives the resident immediate access to their account, so that they can begin monitoring their consumption and monthly costs right away. In addition to online enrollment, most submetering providers will also offer integration options, such as Electronic Data Exchange, which allows them to communicate with the building manager’s property software and stay current on all lease changes and provide accurate billing. Most providers that offer automatic enrollment and advanced technology will also offer Move-In/Move-Out options, such as property management software integration, to save your staff time from doing MIMO reporting manually
“Automated MIMO takes a huge, time-consuming task off of a property manager’s plate, which frees up time to focus on sales and other elements of operation” each month. This process should involve scheduled automated program interfacing, with secure encryption and cutting-edge technology. Turnkey is available with sophisticated property management software, such as Yardi. It’s not hard to see how this option is a game-changer in terms of productivity
and efficiency for property managers and their staff. Automated MIMO takes a huge, time-consuming task off of a property manager’s plate, which frees up time to focus on sales and other elements of operation that will ultimately improve and grow your business.
This article was written by Peter Mills, Co-CEO, Wyse Meter Solutions Inc. For more information, contact email@example.com
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TOOLS FOR BETTER BUILDINGS Handy new apps for property owners and managers On-Demand Home Services
Energy Benchmarking, the Mobile Way
A free app aimed at Ontario’s design and construction community recently became available. Called the energyCompass.design tool (or Compass for short) the new app intends to streamline energy benchmarking and reporting during the design phase of building development projects. “Previously, data available through energy simulation studies has not been leveraged en masse to analyze performance trends or to benchmark similar buildings to improve energy performance,” said Mike Williams, principal at RWDI. Compass translates the extensive data of building energy simulation models into easily understood graphic presentations, like ecoMetrics (launched by Diamond Schmitt Architects
and developed in conjunction with RWDI). The intention of both tools is to improve energy literacy and inform green building design towards a zero-carbon future. “The design and construction industry is almost exclusively comprised of small companies and we are tasked with trying to solve some of this generation’s biggest problems, such as climate change,” Williams said. “Our thesis with Compass is that if we can find ways to begin to share data, effectively working together, we will be able to develop real solutions faster.” Funding for the benchmarking initiative was provided by The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) and the Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO). www.energyCompass. design.com
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Here’s an app busy landlords might want to keep handy, or pass along to tenants looking for help at home. ZenGOT is an online platform and app that provides on-demand home services (such as cleaning, yard work, errand running, pet walking and general assistance) by trusted, qualified and affordable home service providers. ZenGOT has accumulated a network of service providers in nine of Canada’s ten largest cities making services available to over a third of Canadians. “Using a multi-step vetting process, we’ve onboarded a team of top-notch service providers – our process is so rigorous that fewer than 50% of signups make the final cut,” explains zenGOT’s Chief Operating Officer Andrew Jenkins. “Our commitment to engaging trusted, qualified service providers is a key to our success. With 72% of people having used on-demand services and the Canadian market for on-demand home services largely untapped, zenGOT is primed for rapid growth.” www.zengot.com
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