Author Archives: Today Living Group

Rental properties: Our top FAQs

Answers to questions from landlords and tenants

Answers to our top questions from landlords and tenants

If you’ve been following us on Instagram lately, you know that we’ve been posting answers to some of the most common questions we get about rental homes from our landlords and tenants. Here, we’ve compiled the most recent ones.

“I know my lease doesn’t start until the first of the month, but the former tenant is already moved out. Can I get the keys earlier and start moving my stuff?”

This seems like a simple ‘favour’ to ask from a landlord, and a simple kindness that a landlord can provide to a new tenant. However, early move-in can present liability issues for both parties: Long-distance/internet phone service may not yet be transferred; tenants’ insurance may not be in effect; and the previous tenant may assume they can return to collect stuff they forgot. Early access to a rental property can be risky.

“It’s not a pet. It’s a chinchilla. It doesn’t count.”

Yes, this an actual quote from a tenant. If it’s a living creature, and it’s not a human being, it’s a pet – and having it in the unit is a contravention of the rules in buildings that are deemed to be pet-free.

“My landlord has a set of keys to my unit, but I’m concerned about privacy. Can I insist s/he gives me their set until I move out?”

No. Landlords and property owners/managers need to have access to the property in order to effectively manage the rental for things like repairs or inspections. However, it’s important to note that they must give you 24 hours advance notice to enter your property – they can’t just turn up randomly and go through your place when you aren’t there. (And it’s worth noting that almost everyone, sometime, locks themselves out of their place – it’s kind of nice to know that you can call someone who’s got a set of keys.)

“My tenant always pays their rent more than a week late. And now it’s affecting my ability to make my mortgage payments. What can I do?”

Landlords in Ontario have a number of options when a tenant persistently pays their rent late: They can serve a notice to end a tenancy early for non-payment of rent (this can be served if rent is even a single day late, but most property management companies wait 14 days); they can report the tenant to a credit reporting agency; or they can serve the tenant with a Notice to End a Tenancy at the End of the Term (which is essentially a 60-day notice).

Of course, evicting a stubborn tenant can be tricky: Even if they haven’t paid their rent on time, or at all, it can be months before a Landlord and Tenant tribunal can render a judgement.

How to avoid the problem in the first place? A property management company can ensure that proper background checks and references are done before a tenant moves in, which reduces the risk significantly.

“I think my tenant has been subletting their unit without authorization – and they may be putting it on Airbnb.”

Most standard rental agreements have clauses prohibiting subletting of the apartment without express authorization from the landlord. Additionally, almost all condos in Toronto have strict rules about the length of tenancies, which means that offering short-term stays on sites like Airbnb are prohibited.

If your tenant is subletting their unit, or if you find it listed on home-sharing sites like Airbnb, you can take steps to end the tenancy and have everyone evicted immediately.

Have more questions?
Let us know.


5 insider tips that'll help you get a fantastic new apartment

What the pros look for when assessing a new rental home

Tips from the insiders for finding a great apartment

It’s funny: Most of us, when we transition into adulthood – or at least sometime during our 20s – seem to get all kinds of advice about things like how to buy a new car, how to get our careers started, even what to look for in a potential life partner.

But we get a lot less advice about how to choose the right rental apartment, even though a person’s home is, in many ways, every bit as important as their career or their car – and definitely has the potential to make day-to-day life almost as unhappy as choosing the wrong life partner.

In a city like Toronto, where high real estate costs mean more and more of us are choosing to live in rental condos well into our 30s and 40s, choosing the right unit becomes even more important. We all want to find an apartment that will allow us to settle in and feel at home, even if it’s ‘only’ a rental.

5 secrets the pros use to find great places

You know what it’s like when you’re hunting for a condo to rent: You do some research online, look at a lot of pictures, and then line up a bunch of viewings one afternoon. They all look pretty good – but how can you tell which will let you feel like you’re ‘home’, and which have issues that’ll drive you crazy once you’ve been living there a month or two?

Here’s how the pros separate the good suites from the great ones.

  1. Research the landlord.  Most experienced tenants will tell you that in the long run, a condo that’s handled by a property management firm tends to be a better option: Good property management companies tend to have specific responsibilities and are invested in maintaining high standards, they are fully compliant with relevant legislation, and in many cases they’re well-known in the condo building. Renting directly from the owner doesn’t have to be problematic – but it’s worth Googling your potential landlord’s name before you sign a lease agreement.
  2. Look under all the sinks. The cupboards under the kitchen and bathroom sinks tend to be places where plumbing damage or bug infestations will be most evident. Taking a couple of minutes to quickly open the cabinets can help ensure you don’t end up with a unit which has bugs, water damage, or mold problems that could cause problems once you’ve moved in.
  3. Are the floor tiles straight and plumb? Good contractors often say that builders who can’t lay tile in a straight line probably don’t know how to install a toilet or wire a socket. Sloppy floor tiles in the kitchen, hall or bathroom can be an indication of cheap or shoddy construction that otherwise isn’t evident.
  4. Make a call on your cellphone – and walk around the whole unit while you talk.  There is nothing more frustrating than moving into a unit, only to find that you have a mobile phone dead zone in the living room or bedroom. A quick phone call to check reception can rule this out.
  5. Ask to speak with the current tenant. The current tenant is your best source of ‘real’ information about what it’s like to live in your unit on a day-to-day basis: Are the neighbours helpful? Are the walls soundproof? Are the common areas well-maintained and safe? Are the utility bills reasonable? These are the kinds of little things that can make a huge difference to your quality of life. (If you’re not able to speak to the current tenant, consider approaching another resident in the lobby, either during your viewing or on another occasion. You might be surprised to find just how helpful an existing tenant is willing to be.)

Of course, you should combine these ‘insider’ tips with our previous advice on how to make apartment hunting in Toronto easier.

Good luck – and don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to learn more about renting condos in Toronto and the GTA!

 

 

Corporate housing: A home base in difficult times

Because sometimes your home isn’t available.

Corporate housing by TLG in Toronto

No matter where you live in Canada – or, in fact, in North America – you’ve probably noticed that the last few years have seen an increase in extreme weather events. Whether it’s flooding, fire, wind damage or environmental challenges, the result is often the same: Homes are uninhabitable for an extended period.

And while we often think of ‘homeowners’ having to deal with the consequences of home damage, the truth is that just about everyone can be affected, whether you’re living in a single-family detached home, or in a downtown condo, or are renting an apartment.

The good news is that in lots of cases, homes can be repaired and made livable again. The bad news, however, is that the time required to fix a flood- or fire-damaged home can take weeks or months. So where do you live in the meantime? Hotels are expensive, apartment rentals often require year-long leases – and you don’t have a lot of furniture with which to furnish an apartment, anyway.

That’s where furnished accommodation comes in.

Known by all kinds of different names – executive suites, corporate housing, furnished suites, serviced apartments, short-term accommodation are just a few – furnished suites are what many people turn to when their home is rendered unlivable for a few weeks or months.

Furnished suites (like ours) are more like a ‘home’ than a hotel room: They have kitchens equipped with dishes, cutlery and cookware; fully furnished rooms; proper bedrooms to accommodate families when needed; and many have ensuite laundry. At the same time, they don’t require a commitment to a year-long lease and that you buy your own new furniture.

We work with a lot of insurance companies across the country. If your home has been damaged and you need to find alternative accommodations for an extended period, talk to your insurance company. Chances are, your insurance policy provides for alternate accommodations during the repair or restoration process – and corporate housing will allow your life to get back to normal more than a hotel room ever could.

Want better training results? Get everyone together.

Corporate housing in Toronto

Recently we were speaking with one of our clients, a senior Director of HR who regularly organizes training events for her Fortune 500 company, with offices across North America. She was talking about how training sessions are so often conducted remotely these days, and that it’s a false economy.

“Sure, Facetime is great if I need to talk to my mother,” she said. “But video conferencing just isn’t effective when I need to train a group of specialized senior managers from offices across the country and in different time zones. There are always technical difficulties, people don’t get an opportunity to ask detailed questions, and the ones that do get asked often aren’t answered as well as they could be. What’s more, I know that most of the participants are doing it from their desks, which means they get interrupted by co-workers every five minutes. We end up doing follow-up training, or extra sessions – ultimately I think we spend twice as much time on training senior people as we need to, with only mediocre results.”

Remote training: A false economy

Our client’s company – and many of the other ones we know – think that remote training is a good way to save money: It seems cheaper to get everyone in on a video conference than to bring them together at headquarters or in another city. And for some kinds of basic training or routine updates, it makes sense.

But for senior managers, or really in-depth specialized education, virtual training often ends up costing more than organizations realize. They end up paying training personnel for additional sessions; they pay for lost productivity when participants have to do additional or make-up sessions; and ultimately whatever change they were trying to implement as a result of the training doesn’t make it to the bottom line in the way it was intended.

Our client’s recommendation: “Getting all the senior execs in a room together, even for a single day, would improve results dramatically. Everyone would stay focused, there’d be no ‘technical difficulties’, and there would be more opportunity for questions and feedback,” she says. “And bringing senior leaders from different parts of the organization together is a great team-building and networking opportunity. So it can be valuable for the company in a whole lot of ways.”

These days, many companies avoid getting everyone together: Sure, Skype or GoToMeeting seems  more economical, and so much more cutting-edge and innovative. But when you need to train senior leaders, whose time is valuable and who need to understand the material well enough to take it back to their own employees, putting everyone in the same room at the same time may in fact be the most economical option. Especially when you consider the long-term productivity benefits of better relationships among your senior team.

This is where corporate housing can help: Bringing teams together, in person, for an extended period. Not only does it foster team-building and communication, especially across offices that may not know each other very well, but it can deliver a longer-term ROI that virtual meetings just can’t provide.

SUITE SPOTLIGHT: Huge suite in Broadview Lofts!

Rare opportunity to rent in one of the most desirable buildings in the city

Today Living Group condo for rent in Broadview lofts Toronto

Opportunities to rent suites in this hard loft conversion building don’t come around often – you should check this out.

Details of this suite:

  • Spectacular 1 bedroom
  • Open concept
  • Almost 1000 square feet (yes!)
  • High ceilings
  • Located in the heart of Leslieville
  • Unbelievable light throughout
  • Exposed wood ceilings and brick walls
  • Parking is included

The truth is that this is the sort of suite that needs to be seen – words just can’t do it justice.

For more details about this suite, click here.

To arrange to view this suite, contact Mary Casey at maryc@todaylivinggroup.com or call us at 416.213.8881 x228

Our holiday hours 2018

TLG corporate housing Christmas 2018

Our holiday hours

These are our hours over the holidays:

December 24 – 9am-12pm

December 25 & 26 – Closed for Christmas and Boxing Day

December 27-28 – Open 10am-2pm

December 31 – 9am-12pm

January 1 – Closed for New Year’s Day

We resume normal business at 9am on Wednesday, January 2.

Of course, we’re always available, 24 hours a day, on our after-hours emergency line.

Meet the newest member of the TLG team: Jeremy McFadden

Jeremy McFadden Today Living Group

We’re excited to announce the addition of Jeremy McFadden to our team as a Customer Service expert.

Jeremy’s been working with Today Living Group as our go-to handyman for years, but now he’s officially part of the full-time TLG team. He’ll be taking care of the maintenance and upkeep for our furnished  and unfurnished suites. If you’re an owner, tenant, guest or client, you’ve probably met Jeremy – he’s often the first on the scene for arrivals, departures, inspections or as part of our 24-hour emergency team.

We’re looking forward to seeing more of Jeremy – we’re so glad he’s joined the team!

Our 2018 holiday food drive!

Toronto corporate housing TLG collects food for food bank

Thank you!

Here at Today Living Group, we’ve always known that a large part of our success comes from the community in which we live and work – Toronto and the GTA.

That’s just one reason why we have supported the Daily Bread Food Bank with food drives, donations, and sending a TLG team in to help sort and pack food that will be distributed to some of the people in our community who are most in need.

This year we’re collecting non-perishable food in the office, as we have done in the past. However, we’d also like to invite our clients, guests and partners to help support this effort.

What’s the impact of your help?

  • $25 will provide a family of four with two-three days of fresh and wholesome food
  • $40 will ensure ten hot meals for people at a community meal program
  • $80 can fill a senior’s cupboards with food this month so they don’t have to choose between paying the rent and buying groceries

If you’re stopping by the office in the next few weeks, we invite you to bring a non-perishable food item with you.

You can also click here to donate to our team – you will receive an automatic charitable tax receipt for donations of $10 or more.

As always, thank you for being a part of Today Living Group throughout 2018!

 

5 ways managers can help employee relocation go more smoothly

Relocation is hardly ever ‘routine’. Here’s how you can support employees.

Today Living Group relocation management

As the working world continues to become more global, employee mobility and employee relocation is increasingly common.

But for the employees (and their families) involved, relocation is hardly ever ‘routine’. Here’s how HR professionals can support employees – and the business – allowing them to relocate smoothly, seamlessly, and hit the ground running in their new location.

Have a plan: For relocation in general, and the employee specifically

For organizations which don’t relocate employees on a regular basis, it can be tempting to conduct relocations on a sort of ad hoc basis. But this can leave the employee with a lot of questions, uncertainty, and with a lot of extra work at a time when they need to be extra-focused on their job. And it can lead to significantly increased relocation costs for the organization for movers, accommodation and loss of productivity.

Organizations which take the time to create Relocation Roadmaps almost always save time, money and headache. These roadmaps should include:

  • A comprehensive list of the expenses and responsibilities of the relocation – and who is responsible for each element
  • Details about their new work environment: Vacation days, sick days, trips home, etc.
  • Timelines
  • Key contact information for the employee (both within the organization and in their new city)
  • Key information on the employee and his/her family
  • Healthcare information (what the employee should do if s/he becomes sick or is injured in his/her new home, etc.)

Establish a single point of contact – who has the power to act

One of the most common problems we see in relocated employees is that when they have a question, or something goes wrong, they don’t know who to contact to get it resolved. Establishing a single point of contact for each employee who relocates (and making them available outside of regular hours during key parts of the move) can make a huge difference to their peace of mind – and save money by avoiding costly workarounds.

Build trusted partnerships in key cities

For organizations who regularly relocate employees or send them on long-term temp assignments, building relationships with key suppliers, such as movers, IT companies and furnished accommodation providers in the cities they relocate to most often can mean that relocations are handled precisely to the organization’s requirements, often within a single phone call.

Understand the non-work factors affecting the employee

Whether you’re sending an employee to work in a branch office for 3 months, or relocating them for a 3-year stint, they’re not working in a vacuum: They may be leaving family or bringing family with them; learning a new language or taking courses; caring for a sick relative – there are any number of factors that can be complicated by their move. (And 60% of spouses are reluctant to relocate. http://gmsmobility.com/corporate-relocation/knowledge-base/family-matters-trailing-spouse-career-assistance/ ]  The more you know about their life as a whole, the better you can support them, whether that’s by helping them find schools for their kids or ensuring their contract allows them adequate visits home. This support can seem time-consuming, but will deliver a better productivity ROI in the long run.

Make their landing smooth and seamless

There’s nothing worse than landing in a new city, feeling a little anxious about starting a new job in a whole new place, only to find that your luggage hasn’t arrived or your apartment isn’t ready or you don’t have internet access.

HR professionals can make a big difference, by:

  • Using the relocation plan to ensure details aren’t missed
  • Partnering with accommodation providers who can act like ‘concierges’ in the employee’s new city
  • Ensuring employees have someone on the ground in their new home to contact for help with day-to-day challenges

We know that while the idea of relocation sounds exciting, the reality can be stressful – but it doesn’t have to be. A little advance planning and the right partner can increase the ‘exciting’ while minimizing the ‘stressful’.

 

Investing in a Toronto condo? Here's what you need to know.

tips for buying toronto investment condos

A little research goes a long way

As Toronto continues to rank in every Top 10 list for livable and desirable cities and detached single-family homes become less affordable for average families, more people’s thoughts turn to condominium ownership.

Many people think of condos as an investment: Whether they use it for an investment property from the beginning, or figure they’ll live in it for a couple of years and then rent it out when they move on to a larger place, condos are often a ‘gateway property’ to real estate investment.

And overall, Toronto condos do make sense. The city is growing, it’s desirable, and while no real estate market offers guarantees, it’s generally safe to assume that a condo in a desirable downtown Toronto building will retain and grow its value over time.

However, it’s important to remember that condominiums have unique characteristics that make ownership different than the four-walls-and-a-yard of single-family homes. They also come with specific rules, regulations and government legislation that can affect ownership, costs, and how well your unit can function as an investment property over time.

We’ve been managing Toronto condo units for investors for 20+ years now. Here’s what we think all potential condo owners should know before buying a unit they intend to use as an investment property.

 

Understand the market (for buyers and renters)

In the past few years, the number of Toronto condos purchased for investment purposes has risen significantly. And while there are plenty of potential tenants to go around, the best ones are market savvy, and have a good idea what a ‘fair’ rent looks like. Attracting and keeping good long-term tenants means pricing your unit competitively within your building or neighbourhood.

 

Read the condo rules carefully before signing on the dotted line

As the number of rental units as increased, so has concern on the part of condo owners about the rise of tenants in their buildings. Tenants are often seen as transient and less invested in the overall well-being of the condo building, and that makes resident owners worried about their property values.

In response, many buildings have added clauses about rental units to their condo rules. This may involve everything from minimum tenancies to access to elevators for moving in and out, and can limit your ability to rent your unit.  Just about all buildings, for example, prohibit renting your unit on a per-night/Airbnb-type model.  So before you sign anything, read the condo rules – and don’t skim!

 

New condos are most desirable to high-end renters

Generally speaking, if you’re looking to attract renters at the high end of the market ($3500+/month), you’ll want a new (less than 1 year old) condo. This is largely because new condos come with new appliances and newer floors, and prospective tenants feel like they can just move in without having to paint or change too much.

 

Older condos have the advantage of size

As most of us know, Toronto condos have gotten steadily smaller – the city of Toronto says the square footage has shrunk by more than 25%!

But this is where older condos have an advantage: There are plenty of tenants who would rather have room for a king-sized bed or more counter space than a Sub-Zero refrigerator. You’ll still need to update your condo every few years (we see more potential tenants really resisting even larger condos if they are fully carpeted, for example), but the potential for long-term tenants will likely make the investment worth it.

 

Understand your options regarding furnished and unfurnished suites

You may decide that you want to lease your suite as a regular, unfurnished apartment: Tenants sign a 1-year lease agreement, the situation is bound by the Landlord & Tenant Act, etc. And this can be a great option (though most investors discover that being a landlord isn’t quite as easy as they’d hoped).

Or you may decide to offer your unit as a furnished suite: The condo is fully furnished, right down to dishes and flatware, to be used primarily by shorter-term guests who may be in town for business or need a place to say for a month or two because their own home is being renovated or was damaged in some way.

Both of these options can be beneficial for investors: Unfurnished suites provide the predictability of a year-long lease; furnished suites tend to attract shorter-term tenants but at a higher monthly rate.

 

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

For more than 20 years, we’ve been helping Toronto condo investors get the most out of their properties, via both furnished and unfurnished suites. If you’re thinking of buying in the city, but aren’t sure what will make the most sense for you, get in touch – we’d love to help.