Advice for Landlords: How to Work with Tenants during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Keys in hand in black glove. Use alcohol spray to corona virus and kill germs at the key of the house or office regularly. Covid-19 ncov or coronavirus quarantine concept.

Keys in hand in black glove. Use alcohol spray to corona virus and kill germs at the key of the house or office regularly. Covid-19 ncov or coronavirus quarantine concept.

In Canada, several individuals and businesses are reeling from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In a recent poll, a jaw-dropping 44% of Canadian residents report that either themselves or someone living in their households has lost a job. Alarmingly, an additional 18% of people expect to lose their employment or have their hours cut in the near future as well.

The impact of these immense layoffs or reduced work hours on rent payment is likely to be felt from April 2020 and expected to linger much longer, due to the expected economic slowdown in the next 12 months. With recurring bills such as mortgage payments, utility bills and other financial obligations, how can landlords and their tenants weather this storm without rancour?

Tenants who are having difficulty making their rent payment can utilize the Canadian Government’s Emergency Response Benefits (CREB) to supplement their income. As well, landlords can also consider utilizing the Mortgage Deferral Program to defer rental payments. Certain provinces are also providing additional support to counteract the economic impact of the pandemic on their residents.

Government Funding Available to Renters who have been impacted

The COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, introduced to provide Canadian residents with temporary income to handle obligatory expenses.
Some of the relief measures which renters can take advantage of include:

  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which makes provision of $500 weekly for up to 16 weeks for Canadian residents who qualify
  • The Canada Child Care Benefit Boost of up to $300 per child for the 2019-2020 year
  • Delay of debt payment without interest or penalties, to the Canada Revenue Agency until August 31st
  • Six-month interest-free reprieve on student loan payments
  • Provision of relief measures by Canadian big banks, including postponing line of credit payments
  • Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. This will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements.

Additional Provincial Support

British Columbia: The B.C. emergency benefit for workers will provide a one-time, tax-free, $1,000 payment for B.C. residents whose ability to work has been affected due to COVID-19. Additionally, a $500/month rent relief is being provided as part of a Temporary Rental Support Program. This rent relief will be paid directly to landlords to ensure they continue receiving rent.

Ontario: Parents of children who have been affected by closure of schools and daycare are being offered a one-time payment of $200 per child.

New Brunswick: One time payments of $900 is to be made to eligible workers who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.

Alberta: Emergency isolation support has been provided for Albertans who have to self-isolate. Other supportive measures for Albertans include a 90-day payment deferral for utility bills and a 6-month interest-free student loan repayment deferral.

I am Worried about Mortgage Payment; What Can I Do?

As a landlord who relies on the rent for mortgage payment, you might be worried about how non-payment of rent by your tenant(s) could affect your ability to make mortgage payments. In this case, the new Mortgage Deferral Program offered by Canadian banks and mortgage lenders can help increase your flexibility to accommodate tenants having difficulty making their rent payments. 

How Does the Mortgage Deferral Program Work?

Through the Mortgage Deferral Program, the Canadian Government aims to help homeowners whose monthly source of income (e.g. rent, a job) has been affected by the pandemic and as a result, are unable to make monthly mortgage payments.

This program ensures that mortgage payments can be suspended for up to 6 months once an agreement has been reached between the lender and the homeowner. Once the agreement period has elapsed, all missed payments are repaid- inclusive of any accumulated interest and mortgage payments resume as previously scheduled.

Any homeowner who wants to use the Mortgage Deferral Program should realize however, that it does not result in the cancellation of any amount owed on mortgages, and any interest accrued will be repaid. Hence, if you can make your mortgage payments without getting mortgage deferral, it is advisable to do so.

As a landlord, if your mortgage is insured by the CMHC, you can simply contact your mortgage lender to take advantage of this benefit, as CMHC-insured homes have been cleared to get mortgage deferral on request. However, if your home isn’t insured by CMHC, you would have to contact your lender to find out what options are available to you.    

“Can I Charge Interest or Late Fees on Late Rent?”

The answer is that in some provinces, Yes, you can charge late rent fees, but you probably should waive these fees for tenants during this difficult time.

Residential tenancy agreements are province specific. In British Columbia for instance, landlords can charge certain fees for late rent payment, this is also dependent on the lease agreement that the tenant signs with their landlords. As an adjustment to the pandemic in Alberta, late fees or interest cannot be applied to late rent payment until June 30th. In Ontario on the other hand, landlords cannot charge penalties on late rent, instead they’d have to issue an eviction notice if payment is late. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no new eviction orders can be issued, and scheduled enforcement of current orders has been postponed.

More importantly, despite your ability to charge penalties for late rent, we do recommend that landlords be sympathetic to the circumstances that many tenants are facing and waiving these fees is a great way to build goodwill with your tenants and to not add to their financial strain.

I Need to Find a New Tenant; What Extra Precautions Should I Take?

Since this is a difficult period for many tenants, the Landlord and Tenant Board has been closed and evictions halted. What this means is that until the quarantine period is over and the courts re-open, you would be unable to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent. When the courts reopen, we expect that there will be a backlog of eviction hearings which will likely result in hearing delays of 6 to 8 months or more. All of these factors increase the risk that landlords take on, so if you must get a new tenant, be sure to run a very thorough background check.

For tenant verification, you can conduct a thorough Credit and Background Check with SingleKey, so that you have all the information you need to make a decision.  This report also includes a scan of the applicant’s social media public accounts; and a public document scan that searches for criminal records, negative press, court decisions, public biographies and past employment records of the applicant to help you determine if you’d be comfortable proceeding with their tenancy application. We also strongly suggest getting proof of income from tenants and ensuring that the rent does not exceed 45% of the gross household income as this is the best indicator of the tenant’s ability to pay rent.

Going through this process can be quite tasking if you are a busy person. This is why we recommend to hire an experienced realtor to help you find and sign a quality tenant.

Is there a way to protect my rental income from tenant non-payment of rent?

As a landlord, if you are relying on rental income as your primary income source, or relying on rent to cover mortgage costs, you can use insurance to mitigate the risk of non-payment of rent by your tenant.  With The SingleKey Rent Guarantee program, you can secure your rental income and also protect your property from vandalism or willful damage. 

Since many tenants unfortunately live paycheck to paycheck, we are seeing a spike in tenant rent payment default due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the resulting job loss and reduced work hours. Therefore this is a great time to consider enrolling in a Rent Guarantee Program. 

Note that tenants are required to have employment in order to be approved for this program; so make sure to enroll in the Rent Guarantee Program as soon as possible, before your tenant(s) are impacted by the slowing economy.

Conclusion

With many tenants having to delay their rent payments and laws enacted against eviction in most provinces, it is very important to make some adjustments as a landlord during this pandemic. Take advantage of government benefit programs and if you have to, utilize the Mortgage Deferral Program to delay your mortgage payments over the next few months. If you need to fill a vacancy, make sure to conduct a thorough background check, preferably with the help of an experienced realtor. Finally, most people are going through a difficult period now, and showing empathy towards tenants is very admirable in these uncertain times.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with SingleKey. Give us a call at 1-877-978-1404 or email us at [email protected]. You may also fill out the form on our Contact Us page!

Is It Worth It To Offer A Discount On Rent In Order To Secure The Ideal Tenant?

tenant background check and verification services in Canada

As a landlord, you have positioned yourself in a vocation that has enabled you to secure a pretty stable income. Being a property owner certainly has its perks. In order to get the most out of your investment, it should be a top priority for you to find a tenant who is willing to pay top dollar. That’s what makes being a landlord worth your while. Or does it? 

The concept of “worth” needs to be examined a little bit closer here. Is it really worth it to rent your property to an individual simply because he/she is willing to pay higher rent than anyone else? Not necessarily.

Of course, renting your property is a business. 

But there are other things to consider when deciding upon who will live in your apartment, condo or house. Believe it or not, there are some aspects of your job that are more important than money. Before you snicker at that sentence, consider the headaches you may endure at the hands of a tenant who has little to no respect for your property. If a person is willing to outbid other potential renters but isn’t willing to maintain his/her living quarters, you may end up on the losing end of a bad deal.

“Your property may be great, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to bouts of bad luck with tenants, increased competition, and environmental nuisances like neighbourhood construction projects,” informs Holly Welles on Landlordology.com, “When the cards are stacked against you, a discount can help speed up the tenant search and reduce the negative financial effects of vacancies.”

Trade dollars for convenience.

A good tenant doesn’t lodge numerous complaints, come up with excuses about why his/her rent is always late or mistreat your property. Should such an individual deserve a bit of a discount on his/her rent? Absolutely! Consider the fact that, in the long run, this tenant will likely be saving you money on repairs and maintenance. Not to mention, he/she will spare you from the litany of hardships that could ensue in situations where you consistently have to address issues.

Welles also reminds us of other reasons to consider lowering your rent for certain individuals. “You could also offer discounts in return for more convenience,” she writes, “If a tenant can pay rent each month through automatic electronic payments rather than physical checks, for example, you can offer a rent reduction for making your financial life a little easier.”

Discounted rents are great ways to keep good tenants.

Remember that since a big part of your job is securing good tenants to live in your property, part of your responsibility is to hang on to the good ones you already have. Naturally, people consider moving all the time. If you’ve had tenants living in your property for some time and they are thinking of relocating, a discount may do the trick in having them stay put. 

Your gesture will offer a twofold benefit. 

1) It will ensure your property is inhabited by people you like and trust.

2) It will prevent you from having to go on the hunt for new tenants. 

Studies have confirmed that discounted rents make for great incentives for renters. 

On SoftwareAdvice.com, Taylor Short reveals the findings of one such study. Software Advice Inc. surveyed nearly 200 renters to find out which incentives would most likely convince them to stay.

“80 percent of renters would prefer a discount on rent, an easy-to-understand and direct incentive,” Short reports, stressing that “while you want to avoid dropping rents for all tenants, if you feel a good tenant is worth keeping, a discount could be the ticket. Base this incentive on the needs of the particular renter.”

Are you considering offering a discount on your rent in order to attract or keep the ideal tenant? For help with how to go about it, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with SingleKey. Give us a call at 1-877-978-1404 or email us at [email protected]. You may also fill out the form on our Contact Us page!

5 Tips For First-Time Landlords

Tips and advice for first time landlords
tips for first time landlords

Congratulations! You’ve finally decided to rent that property of yours. As you’re most likely already aware, you’ve made a wise investment – one that is bound to bolster your income for years to come. But, before you pop the champagne, it’s vitally important to recognize that becoming a landlord for the first time is no easy feat. It’s certainly not as simple as collecting a fat cheque once a month.

Without being prepared for potential hardships, being a landlord can be quite difficult. To avoid headaches and make your new venture as a landlord a successful one, it’s wise to take a few very important steps.

Here are five tips for first-time landlords:

1. Get familiar with Ontario’s housing regulations.

As an Ontario home owner who plans on renting his/her property, your first step should be to learn as much as you can about the province’s housing regulations, namely the Residential Tenancies Act. You should also become familiar with the Landlord and Tenant Board, which is one of the governing bodies that uphold the regulations.

By becoming knowledgeable about Ontario’s housing regulations, you will fashion yourself a fair and capable landlord. Not to mention, you’ll avoid the legal ramifications of trying to impose rules on your tenants that are unlawful. For example, were you aware that unless your property is a condo (where rules are set by the condominium corporation), you cannot prohibit a tenant from keeping a pet on your property?

2. Carefully screen your potential tenants.

Employers perform background checks on their candidates, right? As a landlord, you have every right to put your potential renters through a thorough screening process. Naturally, you should meet and interview the people who wish to rent your property. Just as employers do, you should perform credit and reference checks. This will ensure you’re renting your property to someone who will be reliable with their monthly rent payments.

In many cases, you’ll also have to trust your gut instincts. Be sure to have friendly conversations with your would-be tenants to get a feel for their personalities. Are they people you’d feel comfortable living in your property? Are you confident they’ll maintain the home and avoid causing any damage? Do you feel they can be trusted to pay your rent on time? Positive answers to these questions are a must.

3. Be diligent about collecting your rent on time.

If you’ve successfully completely step number two, it’s likely you’ve rented your property to someone you could possibly consider a friend. Naturally, it’s wise to welcome a tenant who you can get along with. However, the start of a new and friendly relationship doesn’t negate the fact you have a job to do. As a landlord, it’s imperative you collect your rent on time.

Make clear to your tenants when the rent is due by stipulating the day of the month when a payment is expected. Many first-time landlords find it difficult to ask for their rent when it is missed. However, allowing a tenant to get comfortable with the bad habit of either paying late or not at all isn’t something you should accept. Be sure to contact the Landlord and Tenant Board for information about the hopefully-avoidable task of filing eviction paperwork.

4. Learn all about landlord taxes and your eligible deductions.

Your new job as a landlord is just that – a job. Clearly, you’ll have new revenue to report come tax time each year. It’s important to remember that, as far as the Canada Revenue Agency is considered, it doesn’t matter what type of property you own – as a landlord, you’re making rental income. You must declare all of it.

That also means you can list some expenses that are eligible for deduction on your tax return. You are eligible to list such short-term expenses for your rental property as repairs, maintenance and painting. You’re also entitled to declare such long-term expenses as driveway paving, installing new windows and HVAC replacement. Remember that when your property expenses exceed your rental income, it’s considered a loss.

5. Keep all of your documentation in order.

To be a successful landlord, you also need to be a master bookkeeper. At the very least, you need to make sure your documentation is organized. There are particular forms you’ll need to keep handy at all times. They include rental applications, condition reports and locally required disclosures (such as the presence of radon, lead or mould in the property). Be sure to keep several copies of your documents. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have them saved to a hard drive or in an online database. And, under no circumstances should you give away your only copy of any document. If you need to have your tenant sign something, be sure to have the form returned to you right away.

SingleKey is your go-to platform for everything rental. If you’re a first-time landlord, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-877-978-1404 or email us at [email protected] . You may also fill out the form on our Contact Us page!

Offering You The Key To Living Stress-Free!

Singlekey tenant landlord relationship
Singkey is here to help with landlord's biggest challenges - finding a right tenant and managing risks.

Welcome to the Single-Key Blog! We look forward to providing you with educational and entertaining reading experiences on a regular basis. Be sure to keep checking out our blog section as we will endeavour to give you timely updates about the world of landlords and tenants.

To be a bit more specific, our blog will provide landlords with ample information that will help for their jobs to be a lot easier. Suggestions about how to develop and maintain strong relationships with your tenants and solutions for receiving rent money on time will be abound in our blog.

However, this blog is for renters too! For great tips and advice about such topics as how to locate the perfect rental property or how to manage monthly rent payments, be sure to make this blog one of your favourite go-to places on the internet!

So, what exactly does Single-Key do for landlords?

We offer a unique service that guarantees that you will be paid your rent money on time each and every month. At Single-Key, we understand that the entire rent collection process can be a gruelling one. We’re sure that you’re quite used to hearing a wide range of reasons, from your tenants, as to why they may not have their rent payments by their due dates. Our services remove that headache from your life for good!

Attain the peace of mind you’re looking for by enlisting our services. For a monthly fee, we not only ensure that you receive timely payments from each of your tenants but we also professionally manage eviction situations. You’re likely to agree that the only thing more frustrating than having to hunt down tenants for rent money is having to serve them with eviction notices. When you register with Single-Key, evictions become our responsibility.

What does Single-Key do for tenants?

If you’re a renter, don’t assume that we’re out to get you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We’re here to help you! As much as we understand how frustrating it can be for landlords to have to hunt down their rent money, we know that, for you, securing rent money can sometimes be difficult.

Tough times are bound to pop up. People from all walks of life experience hardships such as job losses, unexpected car repairs, injuries that prevent the ability to go to work, deaths in the family and so on. Not only will there be times when money needs to be spent elsewhere or is simply hard to come by, but you’ll also experience moments when paying the rent just simply isn’t your top priority.

At Single-Key, we take the stress out of the entire “paying the rent on time” dilemma. If your landlord is a Single-Key customer, we offer you payment flexibility. That means that you will have some leeway with your rent due dates. If necessary, our services will enable you to postpone your rent for up to a month. In addition, you will be given the option of paying your rent with either cheque or Interac.

And here’s the best part – it costs you nothing! Monthly fees are paid for by landlords. For more information about how Single-Key is the key for landlords and their tenants to live stress-free, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-877-978-1404 or email us at [email protected].