Posts Tagged ‘Rental property’

Ontario Landlord Association and GTS-Global Tracing Solutions

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

You wouldn’t think how the experience of dealing with tenants (or for this article, ex-tenants) could be so close to the story of Cinderella but when I gave it a closer look, I was surprised to see the similarities. Things CAN change when the clock strikes midnight- especially if your tenant decides to do a midnight run. That beautiful and expensive carriage (vehicle)  that you thought they owned turns out was either borrowed or leased. The great references disappear quicker then the horses that were pulling the carriage. But remember there can be a happy ending if you take the rights steps.

Let’s look at the Prince (in this case it will be played by GTS-Global Tracing Solutions) he has a clue as to where “Cinderella”  (ex-tenant) could have gone. He starts with the glass slipper, well as most people don’t realize, they leave footprints wherever they go- Cinderella is no different. And in her case the Prince is lucky that there are also some digital footprints left behind as well. So the Prince starts to analyze the foot prints and pulls out some clues for him to follow.  With a few phone calls, more searching and some helpful “info fairies” along the way he is able to locate a different location. Where the peasant girl –Cinderella (the tenant that made the midnight move) now calls home (yes she too ended up back with her evil step mother) .

So it’s not exactly like that for a skip tracing company but in many ways it is. People pretend to be things they are not and provide an “image” and information to get what they need- in this case it’s a roof over their head. That is why it’s important to start off on the right foot (sort of speak) and make sure that you are using a thorough application and doing the checks on the information provided. NOW is the time at the beginning of the relationship to confirm and ask the questions that you need answered. Don’t have time – use a service like Tenant Verification Services. At least give US a chance to start on the right path , so we can give you the best chance to recover by locating a new address for service or a new phone number so you can start your collection process. It is hard to find someone when you are their last known address and there is nothing else to go on.

GTS-Global Tracing Solutions Ltd. is here to help you recover what is rightfully yours from those that are clearly not making the right decisions.

Is it better to rent with utilities included?

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

By Dominique Jarry-Shore | Tue Feb 01 2011

With several cold snaps already behind us, renters may be wondering whether it’s better to have their heat and hydro included in the rent or pay it separately.

There are pros and cons to both.

When heat is included budgeting can be easier with set costs every month. This can be especially helpful where roommates are concerned since divvying up heating bills from month to month is an extra hassle. It also protects you from rising energy prices, since the amount of rent you pay will likely stay the same or rise by only a small amount, as set out by the Landlord and Tenant Board.

This year, the rent increase has been set at less than 1 per cent, and although landlords can apply for a rent increase over and above that amount .

If you’re planning on staying in your apartment for several years, it could be more advantageous to have the heat included because annual rent increases will likely be less than the increase in energy costs.

The drawback to having the heat included is that you have less control over how much you pay for it. If you’re someone who is good at saving on heat, and generally has a small heating bill, you could end up paying more than your consumption when it’s included in the rent.

Stuart Henderson is a member of the Ontario Landlord’s Association and a small-business landlord who owns about 50 rental units.

He says landlords will often adjust the amount of rent a tenant pays when the heat is included to account for a tenant who might waste energy. Even if you aren’t the type to leave the window open in the middle of winter, your landlord may have factored that kind of wastefulness into the price as a precaution.

Henderson says a more worrisome concern is rising energy costs and that uncertainty means many landlords are wary of including utilities in the rent.

He calls the 10 per rebate on hydro bills introduced by the McGuinty government a “very small help” and estimates costs for landlords have gone up 10 to 20 per cent in recent years due to a combination of factors, including the HST, the increase in the cost of energy, and in some areas, rising property taxes.

With the rent increase set at 0.7 per cent for 2011, Henderson says landlords are more and more willing to negotiate a rent that doesn’t include utilities.

This is where it can get interesting for renters.

By comparing similar units in the neighbourhood, renters may want to try bargaining for a lower rent in exchange for paying the heat themselves.

Here are some tips for negotiating a better deal on your rent where heat and utilities are concerned.

1) Compare apples to apples. Take some time to research the prices for similar units in the neighbourhood both with heat included, and excluded from the price. That way you’ll have a better starting point when bargaining. Craig’s List and other online housing sites can be a good place to start.

2) Find out how is consumption is measured. Sometimes heat is included in the rent because it’s not possible to determine the exact consumption in your unit. This is especially true in some older townhouses where one heating system may be used for a couple of units. Find out how exactly your consumption will be measured to make sure it’s fair. If this seems suspect, you might want to skip offering to pay your own utilities.

3) Check the energy efficiency of the apartment. Are the windows winterized? Which was does the apartment face? Keep in mind that a basement will cost more to hear than a top floor apartment.

4) Find out who you’re you dealing with. You’ll probably have more of a chance negotiating a rent with a small-business landlord as opposed to a large company-managed building where rules may be less flexible

Dominique Jarry-Shore is an editor with She lives in an apartment in downtown Toronto.–is-it-better-to-rent-with-utilities-included?bn=1

Do you agree with the Liberal Minister of Community and Social Services?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Landlords have rights

By Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Ottawa Citizen January 20, 2011

Re: The Public Citizen: New landlord discovers tenants have cards stacked in their favour, Jan. 16.

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) was created to help people with disabilities to become more independent and live with dignity — something our government takes seriously. However we do not tolerate fraud or the misuse of funds for illegal purposes and I encourage everyone to report such a practice to the proper authorities.

Our government also takes tenant safety seriously, which is why we changed the Residential Tenancies Act to make it easier to evict persons whose actions pose a serious threat. Under the Act, grounds for eviction based on the behaviour or actions of a tenant include damage to a unit and involvement in illegal activity.

Every tenant in Ontario is subject to the same rules regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or whether the tenant is a social-assistance recipient. I would imagine this case is indeed following those rules set out by the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur,

Minister of Community and Social Services

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Supporting the Fight Against Bed Bugs Province of Ontario Invests $5 Million in Local Public Health Unit Programs

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Supporting the Fight Against Bed Bugs Province of Ontario Invests $5 Million in Local Public Health Unit Programs

Dear Friends,

Today, I was happy to announce that the Government of Ontario is investing $5 Million to support the fight against bed bugs. The province’s 36 public health units will be able to apply for funding to support bed bug-related programs that emphasize coordination with other local services, education and awareness and/or provide supports to vulnerable populations. A total of $5 million will be invested by the province to support these programs.

In addition, a new public education website featuring tools has been launched to give Ontarians a one-stop-shop to get accurate information and simple, easy-to-use tips to combat infestations. The province is also distributing a guide, An Integrated Pest Management Program for Managing Bed Bugs, to stakeholders on how to identify bed bug infestations, perform inspections properly, prepare living areas for treatment and carry out pest treatments. The province and the public health units are also working to develop better ways to assess bed bug activity and infestations. This announcement was a response to the Top 20 Recommendations from the Bed Bug Summit at Queen’s Park which I hosted on September 29, 2010.


· Toronto Public Health has seen a dramatic increase in infestation reports – from 46 in 2003 to more than 1,500 in 2009.

· Adult bed bugs are 3mm – 5mm in size – about the size and shape of an apple seed – and a reddish brown color. LEARN MORE

· Bed Bug Initiatives · For information on bed bugs and how to prevent or get rid of them, visit

The Toronto Sun: Ontario Rent Hike Lowest in 35 Years

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Ontario’s rent hike lowest in 35 years

By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief
Last Updated: January 2, 2011 5:20pm

Ontario rents will be allowed to edge up by only 0.7% in 2011.

It is the lowest increase in the 35-year history of the province’s rent guideline — the maximum annual rent increase allowable without seeking special approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board for a heftier hike.

“The McGuinty government is providing real protection for tenants by linking the rent increase guideline to the Ontario Consumer Price Index which prevents routine rent increases above the rate of inflation while ensuring landlords can recover increases in their costs,” said Liberal cabinet minister Jim Bradley.

Stuart Henderson, a moderator with the Ontario Landlords Association, which typically represents property owners with less than five units for rent, said the tiny increase has many of the group’s members wondering if they can afford to stay in the business.

“We’re the ones that are paying all these new costs — the price of gas, hydro, the HST — and then we kind of get kicked in the stomach with a 0.7% increase,” he said. “It leaves kind of the worst landlords in the market, people who are renting out fire traps, illegal places.”

The next provincial election will be held in October, and Henderson said the McGuinty government is clearly currying favour with tenants.

“It’s political opportunism,” he charged. “We feel that the McGuinty government is trying to protect against a backlash from tenants in Toronto.”

Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, said landlords may be complaining now but they weren’t protesting when the province allowed yearly increases in the range of 5% in the 1990s.

The recession has been very hard on many tenants, and unemployment in Toronto continues to hover at about 10%, he said.

”It’s not renting out a movie at Blockbusters — it’s people’s housing,” Dent said. “Any increase right now during this difficult time is hard for any tenant.”

Also, Ontario does not have “real” rent control because the landlord is only obliged to follow the guideline for an existing tenant, he said.

“If you move into a unit, though, a landlord can charge you whatever he wants,” Dent said. “The last tenant could have been paying $500 a month and they can charge you $2,000.”

I could have never imagined how hard it is to evict someone.

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

To anyone interested in the services of Landlord legal –

I could have never imagined how hard it is to evict someone until I was faced with having to do it myself. It wasn’t until I started the process that I realized that it is impossible to do on your own without proper legal counsel. There are so many “t’s” and “i’s” that need to be crossed and dotted and if you miss one, you could lose a lot of time and money. That is when I contacted Landlord Legal.

The best part about April Stewart and her team at Landlord Legal is that they’re specialists. Evicting “bad” tenants for “good” landlords is all they do! I could have NEVER evicted my bad tenant on my own. He was a professional con who played the legal system with expertise. But what my bad tenant didn’t know was that April is more diligent and a lot smarter than he was. April’s a hard working, super persistent woman who is at the top of what she does and gets the job done, period.

I hope I never have to use April’s services again but should I ever need to, you better believe that the only person I will call before anyone else is “The Terminator!”
– Nick S, Toronto

Landlords get a bad deal when it comes to bad tenants

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

By Hugh Adami, Ottawa Citizen December 19, 2010

Why would anyone want to be a small landlord when there is little protection in Ontario from bad tenants?

Take Mike and Cathy Clarmo, who live in the Osgoode community of Edwards. The only way they could get a tenant to leave their rental property was with a cash payout of $3,000. And that was after 4½ years of watching the house’s resale value plummet because of their tenants’ neglect.

Their problems all started because the Clarmos couldn’t say no to an acquaintance who wanted to rent the three-bedroom bungalow they purchased in 2004. The Clarmos had just finished renovating the house when the man — a childhood friend of one of their sons — showed up at their doorstep in the spring of 2005. The couple had been planning to sell the property, which was just down the street from their home, and hoping for a $20,000-to-$25,000 profit to put toward retirement. Mike explained their plans, but the man persisted. He needed a place for his wife and children.

Mike said OK, figuring he would make some of the investment back in rent, and sell later, when the house was sure to be worth more.

Instead, cracks started appearing in their nest egg soon after the family moved in. “It broke our hearts to see the condition of the house deteriorate as it did,” says Cathy.

Probably the worst thing was that the house constantly reeked of animal urine.

The family had a dog, cat and rabbit. Drywall and floors were damaged. The garage was so cluttered that the couple was sure there was a fire risk.

Photos they took also show the front yard of the home littered with junk, including car parts such as engines and tires. The woman, who drove a school bus, damaged the eavestroughing after backing the vehicle into the house, Mike says. Rent was often late.

The Clarmos decided to sell the property after a business deal went sour. In April 2009, they gave the tenants more than two months of notice to vacate.

The tenants offered to buy the house “as is” for a reduced price. The Clarmos agreed. But the tenants couldn’t get a mortgage. The Clarmos abandoned their plan to sell after the husband approached Mike and tearfully told him he couldn’t find another house to rent.

A year later, they planned again to sell the house. But the husband, whose wife was no longer living with him, told Mike he was now well versed in tenants’ rights. He wasn’t going to move, and if Mike wanted to terminate the tenancy, he would have to go before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Mike did so twice. He says he came away convinced that as the landlord, he was considered the bad guy.

At the first hearing, Mike spoke with a mediator, who suggested he allow his tenant to stay at the house rent-free for five months with the condition that he move by the end of this month. The man’s lawyer suggested that Mike could get him out by the end of October if he gave him a few thousand dollars on top of free rent for three months. Mike refused. He recalls the lawyer telling him that he would regret his decision as he was bound to lose the case.

Mike produced photos that he had taken of the house at the first hearing. The adjudicator joked about the one of the cluttered garage. “‘It looks like my garage,'” Mike recalls him saying. In his written decision, adjudicator Greg Joy dismisses or challenges every complaint made by the landlord.

The Clarmos found a prospective buyer for the home soon after and again applied to have the tenancy agreement terminated by Nov. 1, which was also the closing date of the sale.

The adjudicator in the second hearing reserved his decision, which allowed the tenant to stay put for at least the time being.

Mike’s lawyer suggested they give the tenant $2,000 to get out of the house. The tenant’s lawyer then came back with another figure — $3,000 — plus the demand that his client be allowed to stay until Nov. 15. Worried the board could rule in favour of the tenant and that the prospective buyers of the house would pull out of the deal, Mike agreed.

The former tenant would not return my calls.

The $3,000, which the couple feels was extortion, plus $1,400 in legal fees and $1,000 to refill the home’s oil tank are the smaller losses. The Clarmos did sell the house for $240,000 — about $25,000 more than what it cost them to buy and renovate the property in 2004. But the selling price was still a far cry from the $290,000 to $300,000 a real estate broker had told them the house would have been worth.

The Clarmos don’t know if they should be angrier with their tenants or the board.

They realize the board exists primarily to protect tenants, and with children, their tenant was bound to get even more sympathy. But, they say, their case illustrates the need for rules to protect the good landlords.

Tenant gravy train: Levy

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Handouts, rent banks, sole-sourced deals galore drive industry watchers crazy

By SUE-ANN LEVY, Toronto Sun

For more than 10 years a tenant group — with strong ties to left-wing city bureaucrats — has seen its sole-source contract not only renewed, no questions asked, but its funding has more than quadrupled as well.

In 1999, when I first reported on the “purchase of service” contract given to the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association (FMTA), the group got $97,510 to run a hotline service.

This year, the group got $446,760 to operate the hotline, educate tenants and provide outreach.

The FMTA money comes out of the shelter, support and housing budget — the same people who brought us the $11.5-million Peter St. shelter boondoggle.

In 1999, FMTA had 5,000 members. Interim executive director Geordie Dent told me Thursday they have anywhere from 1,000-3,000 members at the moment.

In 1999, the hotline took nearly 7,500 calls.

According to statistics provided by city spokesman Pat Anderson, the hotline responded to 7,566 calls and e-mails to Sept. 30.

The tenant gravy train doesn’t end there.

For at least eight years, tenant uberlord Coun. Michael Walker has presided over a special fund that gives grants to tenants disputing above-guideline rent increases.

Walker’s vote-buying pet project has a budget of $75,000 this year.

This year the city also has access to $1.9 million in provincial rent bank money, which gives loans to people in danger of being evicted from their apartments for rent arrears. Some $570,000 of that goes to administration, the rest for no-interest loans averaging $1,725 each. Anderson reports the repayment rate of those loans is a mere 40%.

Then there’s Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA), which got $80,705 in city money to help “extremely vulnerable” tenants at risk of being evicted.

All of this drives paralegal Harry Fine crazy for one simple reason.

He feels precious taxpayer money is being used to fund “cronies and organizations” duplicating what the province does very ably.

Fine, a former Landlord Tenant Board adjudicator who now operates his own business advocating for landlords, says there are about 80 community legal clinics — 13 alone in Toronto — that deal largely with landlord and tenant matters.

In addition, he says, at every LTB office in Toronto, there are lawyers paid for by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants (another provincially-funded organization) to give advice to and represent tenants at their hearings.

The LTB also has its own hotline, he says, which provides “far better advice” than the FMTA.

Fine feels both CERA and the city’s Tenant Defence Fund are no longer necessary, either. He says a policy document on the rights of tenants issued by Barbara Hall of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2009 makes it “near impossible” for a landlord to evict a tenant.

He doesn’t understand why the city would be dishing out grants to fight rent increases when “fair” provincial adjudication is there for tenants.

“Considering the duplication and almost obscene support for tenants provincially, the city has no place providing duplication of services,” he says.

Fine and others have also expressed concern with FMTA’s secrecy and the radical left affiliations of several of its 10 full and part-time staff.

Dent, who writes on a website called MediaCoop (among others), has openly expressed anti-Israel sentiments and advocated for the G20 protesters in his blog.

Sarah Vance, listed as one of FMTA’s hotline counsellors, was a former spokesman and employee of OCAP. Kelly Bentley, one of FMTA’s outreach organizers, is also a former OCAP member.

When asked about the musings on his blog, Dent contended his writing is in no way “related” to FMTA.

He also insisted their work does not duplicate that done by the province, noting the LTB does not have a good handle on city bylaws or how a variety of legislation related to tenants fits together.

But a tenant activist, who did not want to be named, said sole-sourced contracts like that given to FMTA must be stopped and a full audit done of whether they’ve delivered good value for the millions they’ve received in the past 10 years.

“What’s really needed is an independent review by somebody outside of shelter, support and housing who has no vested interest,” the activist said.