According to Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations (FMTA), condos are unique in terms of residential tenancy law and landlords often fail tenants when condo-specific conundrums crop up. Here are five investor missteps that can leave tenants out in the cold and send even the best renters running for purpose-built rental units.
The Problem: Raising Rent
How Landlords Fail: Jacking it Up – Too Much
“You see this in condos built after 1991,” says Dent. “None of those condos are subject to rent control, so landlords can increase rent whatever they want, which often results in us seeing condo rents 40% higher than in other buildings.” Driving rents up can drive great tenants out, and if the new rent price is unmanageable, this can also lead to a prolonged vacancy thereafter.
The Problem: Repairs
How Landlords Fail: Skirting the issue
Tenants are supposed to go to landlords with repair issues, who in turn are supposed to go to the condominium board. According to Dent, all too often landlords send tenants directly to the condo board, but failing to follow procedure can cause even more issues. “The board may ask the tenant to pay for the repairs even though it’s against provincial law, then there may be fees associated with that, that the landlord has to pay,” he says.
The Problem: Communications with the Condo Board
How Landlords Fail: Misleading Tenants about “Rules and Regs”
Every condo board has different regulations surrounding use of facilities, renting moving elevators, numbers of guests allowed and other guidelines for tenants. However, when a landlord doesn’t set up proper communications to inform the tenant of these regulations, it can lead to trouble. For example, landlords can keep quiet about the fact that landlords are supposed to pay for specific deposits, and end up passing on these deposits or fees to tenants illegally.
The Problem: Pets in Units
How Landlords Fail: Ignoring Tenant Rights
“Usually condo boards will have some provisions that will allow for some kind of pet scenario - maybe if the landlord paid a deposit, or a small fine, then some kinds of pets are allowed in the unit” says Dent. However, landlords often skip paying this and instead, issue a blanket “no pet” clause, denying the tenants legal right to a pet. “Many landlords fail to help their tenants in this way,” he says.
The Problem: Emergencies
How Landlords Fail: Not Being Adequately Prepared
Flooding is one of the most common emergencies reported in condos, especially from units above. “Legally as a landlord you’re supposed to do those emergency repairs, but often landlords leave tenants high and dry - or in the case of a flood, low and wet,” says Dent. Tenants can be stuck in mouldy, damaged units if a landlord isn’t quick to react to a flood or a fire. “Being a landlord is a business; you should have an ample capital reserve to deal with an emergency situation,” he says.