Thursday, December 20, 2007


I am just now calm enough to be able to write this out. Man was I MAD.

I was worried on Tuesday that perhaps the tenant did not clearly understand about last months' rent and 60 days notice. So I called and left a message saying that hey - it's the law to give 60 days notice! So you'll be paying your rent on January 1st and if we find someone to rent Feb. 1 and you are out I will go above and beyond and return your last months' rent. Otherwise, it is gonzo. I will do my best to find a tenant but February is not easy.

So she calls me back Tuesday afternoon and says in that sicky-sweet liar voice "I talked to a lady at the tribunal and she said I could use my last months' rent for January as long as I'm out by February 1..."


I know you are lying. The tribunal people would never advise you to break the law. And it is very very clear in the 2006 Landlord Tenant Act - Thou shalt give thy landlord notice of two rental periods, the second one being your redeemable LAST MONTH. I clearly explained this to her, and pointed out that also - she had signed an effing contract with that exact statement.

Soooo....she's not paying the rent January 1, you know it. She has a "friend" who might move in and take over payments. I do NOT think so. Out you go. I'll list the place and try to find someone and if they don't pay Jan. 1 we're filing in court and then she'll find out who the tribunal really is.

So I listed the place, and seriously - who is looking for an apartment the week before Christmas?

Well - Lance the perfect tenant is! I am so shit-lucky it's not even funny. Lance and his wife of 11 years are splitting, but she gets the house, he gets the mortgage payment. He and his daughter from a previous relationship are still living in the marital home but it's --- awkward. He is the General Manager of a well-known children's playset-making company, he has good credit, he owns his own vehicle, he doesn't smoke and doesn't have pets. His 17-year-old daughter LOVES the third floor loft room and he loves the big kitchen and bathroom.

First and last is paid and Lance-the-man is movin' in as soon as the ladies are out. Oh, and Lance is also paying slightly more per month than the ladies were. He's getting an extra-special move-in gift.

GET OUT LADIES. You and your lying jerk mouths.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ugh. Turnover again

My newest tenants are leaving. Apartment #1 in the triplex. Ugh. What a pain. I guess the sister of one of the women moved down here from Halifax as well, and now the place is too small for everybody.

At least they've given me proper notice. Unfortunately they haven't painted yet, which is a bit of a pain in the arse. So now I have to find a tenant to move in February 1 (preferably) or March 1. And I have to paint that top room. It'll be way nicer in a nice plain off-white - it's too dark with the hunter green.

But. Finding another tenant is not what I wanted to do this Christmas. I may have to suck up a month's vacancy on this one, honestly. Who wants to move in the end of January in Canada?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Snow removal

I think I need to hire someone to take care of the snow removal and lawn maintenance at the triplex. I wonder how you go about doing that? I was thinking of a $75/month contract (December to February), and that way if it snows a lot, I'm alright, but if it snows a little bit, they do alright.

Or, $35 per snowfall. But that could get expensive, especially the way this year is going. I don't even know who would do something like that! To me - wouldn't it be nice to pick up $75 extra a month, tax-free, just for shovelling a bit of sidewalk once in awhile?

It's coming down hard right now, we'll probably see 6" again if it keeps up. And we're both at work. Tonight I won't be home until 9:30-ish, and who knows when Rob will be home. Tomorrow is my work Christmas party, and you know what? I hate getting up early in the morning, ESPECIALLY to shovel snow. Gah. Especially to shovel snow 4 blocks away.

And seriously - we're planning for a third house in July. So next winter will be damn impossible. 111m of frontage kills my shoulders, I don't think I could do two houses.

Lawn maintenance could continue on the same sort of contract. This year with the drought, we mowed the triplex for the final time in mid-July. Horrible, eh? But seriously - the grass just did not grow at all after that! I would pull out weeds whenever I went over there, but it didn't need mowing. In a wet summer, it could need mowing once a week.

Agh. Rob hates spending money, but I don't see him over there shovelling either! He'll just say - "They can wait". But they can't. I don't want to be that kind of landlord. Blah.

Some thoughts on real estate investment

I'm finished the year-end accounting on the properties, yay! And god-damned I'm good. :) We bought the triplex in March, had one tenant for April. Two for May-August, and three from September on. Which adds up to 81% of possible income collected in the 9 months we've owned it. One turnover with no vacancy, which is a miracle (usually I end up with a month's vacancy on a turnover, at least), and we increased the rent at that time. Only $25, but still. Our operating income (Revenue - operating expenses + mortgage + insurance, not including renovation expenses) was -$74. That's pretty freaking good. With a full year of occupancy, we'll net a profit on this house. Of course, that doesn't include the $3500 furnace, $2000 basement reno/kitchen installation, or $450 stove.

I can divide people into three groups. First are the people who "get it". Next are the people who don't get it, at all, but say to each his own. The third are the bitter ones. These are the ones who tried and failed, or tried and bailed, or wanted to try but have 100 reasons why they didn't.

I hate the bitter ones. And laugh at them. Which isn't nice, but seriously - it's all about education (yourself and your tenants). I listen to those who failed, and they're going on and on about tenants destroying your house, not paying, or otherwise making your life a living hell. In other words, their failure was not caused by them.

But it was. I am not being cocky or condescending, and I fully appreciate that someday someone will get the better of me. And that day, I will look back on this post and say "Good god, why did I put that in print?" Haha. But anyway - if you're interested in rental investment, here is my list of things you MUST do if you have a hope of success.

1. You make money when you BUY a house. Do not buy a property without at least a little bit of positive operating income, even after your mortgage payment. I have people say all the time "But it's still a good thing if you have to put a couple hundred dollars into it each month." Something about putting money into your retirement savings. Don't listen to this. You will never have 100% occupancy, you will never go a year without repairs, you will never be able to make a significant profit on a property while you're still paying a mortgage, and basically this is forever, in my mind. Twenty-five years is still too far away. This is LONG TERM investment, and it should be relatively sturdy. If something is costing you money at the BEST of times, what is going to happen to you during the bad times?

2. Know the law. Inside out, backwards, and upside down. Have a lawyer you trust and who knows you, and will help you when you need it, not when it's most convenient to them. Someone will try to screw you at some point, whether it be a seller, a real estate agent, an inspector, or one of your tenants. Know your rights, but most of all, know your TENANT'S rights. That way, when they try to say something foolish, you don't freak out.

3. This is a business and you are not their friend. My mentor said to me, "If you cannot evict a single mother on Christmas Eve, you won't make it in this business," and he was right. That was my biggest mistake at the start - liking my tenants and giving them too many chances. Issue an eviction notice as SOON AS they are late, no questions asked. If they pay, it goes away, if they don't, you've already got the process started and are not wasting time (and therefore money). It should never take more than three months to have a tenant evicted for non-payment. Landlords who tell you horror stories of freeloaders staying there for 6 months or more were too lazy or nice to get the process started when they should have.

4. It's your house, but it's their home. Remember this. You will have happy tenants if you stay out of their business, unless they call you about a problem, or someone else notifies you of a problem. And when they do call you - fix the problem right away. Small issues are cheaper than big issues.

5. Still - you want to check on your property. Do every-6-month smoke alarm inspections. This way, they know you're coming, you're not prying, but you can take a cursory look around and make sure things are ship-shape.

6. Keep your neighbours happy. These are the people that will report you to the city and make your life a living hell, if they're not happy with the tenants next door. Face it, multi-unit properties lower property values, no matter which way you look at it. I own in areas where that doesn't make too much difference, but it does matter to the guy who shares a driveway with your tenant. So introduce yourself, give him your card, and make sure you address anything he calls you about.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Because, you know what? That's a lot of sidewalk to shovel. I woke up early-ish today to see 10cm + of snow outside, and getting warmer by the minute. So I guess I was feeling peppy, needed the exercise, and didn't want the snow to get any heavier. I walked over to the other house (my car is currently buried) and shovelled all the sidewalks. I looked it up and I have 111m of street frontage sidewalk to shovel. Plus three walkways. Good workout.

Then when I came home I figured I might as well shovel our frontage and walkway as well. Holy crap I got a workout. It started to rain while I was doing all this so I'm kinda glad I didn't wait. I also dug my car out.

Then at 4-ish I had to go get the rent from #1 tenant, and just as I was heading out the door the plow came and I'm buried up to the driver's side window. Fuck me. So I walked 4 blocks, in the pouring rain and slushy snow, to pick up my rent. But hey, it's 900 bucks, so I guess that's alright.

Tomorrow morning, however, is going to be a bitch to get to work. The streets are destroyed. All that snow is blocking catchbasins, and the pouring rain has nowhere to go. Besides the fact that my tiny car is in a mountain of snow.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Well, that went well

#2 tenant was working afternoons, as suspected. Paid today. #1 tenant had a last-minute chance to go to Niagara Falls, so she's paying tomorrow. Upstairs guy I haven't seen today.

Talked to #2 and everything is going really well over there. I love her, and she loves my house, which is great. I hope that she stays there forever. She even liked my magnets I made with my new phone number. Which I have to admit, were pretty freaking sweet.

We actually started the bathroom. It's all gutted now except the tub surround, which we don't want to do until we absolutely need to. The damage is better than I expected in some places. Installed new shut offs at the sink, which no longer exists, ripped out all the old crappy wall tiles, the stupid huge cabinet and counter top are gone. A good day's work!