Toronto Tenants Want Landlord Licensing Scheme

UK Landlords are familiar with licensing schemes, as many local authorities have introduced them over the last few years. The practice is not so common in other countries, but an organisation representing tenants in Toronto, Canada, is putting pressure on the city to increase the scale of its existing licensing scheme to bring rogue landlords into line.

The Association of Community Organisations for Reform Now (ACORN) surveyed 174 residents living in the rental sector and found that 94% of them were living with problems in their homes. More than 66% of them said they had had problems from the day they moved in, but it was extremely difficult to persuade their landlords to complete even basic repairs.

Rogue Landlords in Toronto
Problems in Toronto rental units included cockroach infestations, holes in walls and ceilings, and peeling paintwork. Many tenants also felt threatened when they asked their landlord to carry out repairs.

More Comprehensive Landlord Licensing Scheme
ACORN wants a more comprehensive landlord licensing scheme where larger landlords would pay a fee. The extra revenue to the city would then pay for extra city inspectors, who would have the power to carry out annual inspections of larger apartment buildings. They would also be given the authority to levy large fines to landlords who violated property standards.

Toronto’s City Council will consider the proposal in the next few days. If the licensing scheme goes ahead, it will affect more than 2,900 larger apartment blocks and 500+ public housing apartments.

Landlord’s Forced Facebook ‘Likes’ Policy Backfires

The landlord of an apartment complex in the U.S. tried to force his tenants to become ‘friends’ on Facebook in a bid to increase the complex’s popularity and gain extra exposure – presumably to attract more tenants. Unfortunately the policy seriously backfired.

The Facebook Addendum
Tenants living at the apartment complex were somewhat surprised to find piece of paper stuck to their door entitled ‘Facebook addendum’. The mysterious document purported to be an addendum to their apartment lease. It stated that all tenants were required to ‘friend’ the apartment complex on Facebook within five days or they would be in violation of their tenancy agreement. The document also included a clause giving the landlord permission to post photos of tenants and their guests on his Facebook page.

As you might expect, tenants were outraged. Hundreds of current and former tenants flooded the apartment complex’s Facebook page with negative reviews and angry comments.

Is it Even Legal?
News of the questionable – and probably illegal – policy soon spread like wildfire and random people off the internet joined in. Before long, the City Park Apartment’s Facebook page had 860 one-star reviews and lots of irate comments, which included:

“This gestapo like enforcement of your new Facebook policy will not stand up in court” and “Have a nice day Nazi scum!”

One of the tenants interviewed by a local news outlet summed up the fiasco nicely when he said:

“I don’t want to be forced to be someone’s friend and be threatened to break my lease because of that. It’s outrageous as far as I am concerned.”

*Innovation Award Runner Up!*

We are delighted to announce that at the recent Landlord & Buy to Let Awards, a prestigious ceremony that recognises the companies and individuals who have excelled in their field in the private rental sector, that Property Portfolio Software was the commended finalist in the Innovation category, marginally pipped to the post by the winners, a pest control company!

Whilst this is a big honour for us, validating our dedication and resolve to make life easier for landlords, a big ‘Thank You’ must go out to our customers for their feedback and suggestions that not only enabled us to be nominated for the award, but also ensures that we continue to head in the right direction. Thank you.

Stable buy-to-let sector sparks interest among investors

The private rental sector is showing signs of stability after a phase of uncertainty caused by falling rents and rising vacancy.

Britain’s Excel Centre survey shows that more than one in five rents have increased over the last 12 weeks and an additional 39 percent of rents have remained stable at current levels. This spells good news for residential landlords, as rents are either rising or staying the same for a large majority of rental properties.

Thankfully, the demand for residential rental properties has seen a 50 percent jump over the past six months, and conditions look conducive for the current landlords as well as for those who are looking to buy a stake in the rental sector.

However, property values continue to remain low throughout much of the UK. A large number of properties in the UK are still selling below the original asking price. One in ten properties sold for the listed amount and 50 percent of residential property for 10 percent below the original asking price.

Nevertheless, this could be an opportunity to expand our portfolios and is a boon to first time buy-to-let business entrants.

The renewed interest among investors is a positive sign. 75 percent of estate agents noted a marked growth in demand.

Some Landlords Ignoring Laws

It is a worrying fact, according to the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) that a huge number of landlords are still ignoring the deposit legislation that requires them to put their tenant deposits with a Government registered body. It is true that the number of landlords choosing to ignore the law has halved over the past year but that still leaves an awful lot who are taking the risk of continuing to totally ignore it. According to the DPDS 30 percent of landlords openly admit to ignoring the law.

The result of this situation is that the DPS have now put their support behind the idea of a landlord register in the hopes that it will make forcing landlords to comply with the deposit laws easier.

Kevin Firth, director of the DPS, said “More needs to be done and ignorance is no excuse. We believe that the introduction of a national register would make landlords more accountable and offer tenants a greater level of protection. Mandatory registration and deposit protection would leave rogue landlords with nowhere to hide.”

Whatever you make think of this legal requirement, the fact that so many landlords continue to ignore it is great fodder for those who wish to make sure our industry is tightly controlled by Government. Perhaps it is time we all thought about doing the right thing as this demonstration that we are unable to self-regulate can only lead to trouble as far as I am concerned.

Property Software Vs Property Management Company

Lots of landlords start off with no need for any help at all with their property management. They have a very small portfolio and trick themselves into thinking that they are just as efficient with their hand records as any software or management firm. That is clearly a mistake, but the fact is that when the going gets tough and landlords finally face up to needing help, they often make another error. This one has the potential to cost them a lot of money. They choose property management firms over property management software.

When they start to struggle as their portfolio grows, many landlords panic and throw the whole lot into the hands of a property management firm. This can be a major mistake for a couple of reasons:
Of course, first there is the money. Most property management firms charge a substantial block of money every week. The alternative of buying and setting up decent landlord software does involve an initial cost but once that is paid the monthly outgoing is minimal, if anything at all. In contrast, a property management firm will cost a huge block of cash and it will charge increasingly more as your portfolio grows.

Landlord software does not work like that.

It does not care how big your portfolio gets, it just allows you to enter more into the system and does not hit you with a huge bill for the privilege.
Another thing that landlords do not anticipate about property management firms, is the sense of disempowerment they bring with them. Most people go into property in their own business to achieve a sense of being in control of their future and their finances. With a property management firm you lose all of this. They take over the whole thing and you have little say in how they run things. They may claim you will but when it all comes down to it they have their policies. On the other hand, property software dramatically reduces the hours you spend running the show but still allows you to be completely in control and in charge.

Property management software allows you to build your own reputation just with the help of a tool to make things a lot easier. When you hire a property management firm, you are placing your business reputation, the most vital thing of all, in the hand of strangers. Some of them are probably very good but no matter how good they are mistakes are made and it is a very frustrating feeling when those mistakes that harm your business are not even your own.
If you are getting to the point where your property portfolio is growing and becoming unwieldy, do not make the knee jerk decision to turn it all over to the property management firms. Not without at least giving property management software a try first. It will help you to reduce your hours and maintain control, so it really is the best of both worlds

National Registration Fee Still Causing Outrage

We have talked on here before about the new scheme the government have dreamt up which involves landlords joining a national register and paying £50 for the privilege, ostensibly to cover administration costs. 

Whether you agree with the aims of the national body or not, being forced to join one feels is a little dictatorial and to be forced to pay for it as well just adds insult to injury. 

Landlord Assist is concerned with this fee being the straw to break the camels back on top of all the other fees associated with setting up to become a landlord. I tend to be of the opinion that if you are going to be put off by an extra £50 then perhaps you do not have enough financial flexibility to be considering entering into the property game. But I also feel this is not the point.  

In my opinion you cannot make joining a club compulsory and then force reluctant joiners to pay for it as well. I feel my opinion on the matter is unlikely to make any difference as the government has already set a precedent on this type of thing. Teachers were not long ago forced to join a national registering body and still pay around £50 pound a year to be a member of something many disagree with. 

I feel that the national registry for landlords and the fee associated with it are probably inevitable but it will not stop me voicing the fact that I am opposed to it as a matter of principle.

Better Tenancy Agreements and Notices

Whether it’s an agreement for a new tenancy, or a notice concerning a rent increase, renewal or updated terms and conditions, any documents related to the tenancy agreement are very important items for a landlord.  A good tenancy agreement is one of the most important factors in ensuring that your interests and property assets are protected in a landlord – tenant relationship. It also ensures a smoother relationship, since there are lesser chances of misunderstandings or misinterpretations from either party.   Continue reading

Information is Key

A landlord often has the unenviable task of having to collect money that is owed to him; money that, for some reason or other, just doesn’t seem to be coming in.

This is an extremely frustrating task for you, not to mention stressful. And since you deal with people everyday, you don’t want to take a hard-line approach and offend hassle-free tenants who pay their rent on time.

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