Can a tenant be required to pay a landlord’s arrears of condo fees? You’ll be surprised by the answer!

A colleague at work showed me a form that one of her clients — a prospective tenant– had been asked to sign by a property management company. In it, the tenant agreed they could be required to pay the landlord’s arrears of condo fees. “Why would anyone in their right mind sign this?” she asked me.

But it turns out that a tenant can, in fact, be called on to pay a condo owner’s arrears.

The condominium corporation has the right to require the tenant to pay under s. 87 of the Condominium Act. Here’s what the legislation says:

Default with respect to leased unit

87 (1) If an owner who has leased a unit defaults in the obligation to contribute to the common expenses payable for the owner’s unit, the corporation may, by written notice to the lessee, require the lessee to pay to the corporation the lesser of the amount of the default and the amount of the rent due under the lease.

And if you think about it, that makes sense. If someone doesn’t pay the arrears, the condo corporation can take steps to take back the unit, which means the tenant would be evicted.

By  requiring the tenant to pay the arrears or the rent, which is ever is less, to the condo corporation, the tenant gets to stay. But in almost all cases, the rent will be more than the monthly condo fees.

If a tenant does pay the arrears, the good news is that they are  deemed to be rent, so really all that changes is that instead of paying that portion of the rent to the landlord, the tenant pays it to the condo corporation. Again, there’s what the legislation says (same section):

No default in lease

(6) The payment to the corporation shall constitute payment towards rent under the lease and the lessee shall not by reason only of the payment to the corporation be considered to be in default of an obligation in the lease.

After being served with written notice, the tenant pays the landlord’s arrears, the tenant gets to stay in the unit, the landlord doesn’t lose the unit for non-payment, and the condo corporation gets paid. It’s actually an elegant solution!

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Another happy client! #Testimonial

(Working with this client was fun: after she bought the property, we went to Lowes and Home Depot and she bought some gorgeous hardwood and tile flooring. Can’t wait to see what it all looks like when it’s done!)

“I appreciated Peggy’s offer to help with the updating and design of the home I was looking for but it wasn’t until I saw pictures of the work she had done on her own properties as well as the before and after of properties she had listed for sale that I realized the value she could add.

“Not only could she see the difference certain improvements could make but also recommend tradesmen and get the work done quickly. Whether you are buying or selling, Peggy has a great deal of talent to add to your project.

“I am now happily improving the home I purchased through Peggy using her suggestions and workmen she has recommended.” Valerie Kirk

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My investment condo is now ready to rent! #TunneysPasture #Rental #Ottawa

This gorgeous, spacious (840 sq ft), two bedroom, two bath unit is a beauty! We finished the renovations yesterday and it’s ready for someone to move into right now!

50 Burnside is a pet-friendly, quiet, non-smoking building in a fantastic location, steps to Tunney’s Pasture,  the new LRT, the river, bike paths, great restaurants, the Parkdale Farmer’s Market, and trendy restaurants and shops! This unit is available for $2100/month including water and parking: tenant pays hydro, cable, internet, phone and HWT rental (about $10/month plus HST).  Credit check and great employer/landlord references required, and tenant will have to take out a tenant insurance policy on their belongings.

Here are some pics! One of the biggest transformations was to the front foyer with the new encaustic tile, mirrored doors and a gorgeous ribbon light!

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That spider light in the dining room is still one of my favourite things: this is the second time I’ve put one in a unit I renovated.

 

And then of course, there is the reconfigured kitchen, including one of the coolest intercom phones ever (yes, it stays) and a number of custom cabinets!

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The kitchen opens to a a spacious living room and a private balcony where you can enjoy your morning coffee!

 

 

Both bathrooms were redone as well: new tile flooring, vanities, faucets, mirrors and fixtures, and of course, fresh paint! Here is the main bath with that lovely stacked glass tile tub surround:

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The second bedroom has brand new mirrored doors: will make a great office, den, or guest room (or perhaps nursery?)

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DSCN3259The master bedroom is huge (it too has a private balcony). The unit has brand-new baseboard heating with programmable thermostats, plus there is a wall mounted heat pump A/C in the living room so you can chill out!

 

Add a walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom in the master bedroom for the utmost in convenience, plus parking big enough for a SUV and this one’s a 10!

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This beautiful unit includes the following features:

Gleaming hardwood floors
New baseboard heaters with programmable thermostats
Wall-mounted AC/heat pump
In suite laundry with brand new ventless Bosch washer/dryer
Brand new floor tile in kitchen, laundry room, bathrooms and foyer
Brand new main bath including tub, vanity, glass tile tub surround, mirror, lighting etc.
Renovated Master bedroom ensuite (MBR also has walk-in closet)
Brand new mirror doors in foyer and second bedroom
Fabulous new lighting throughout
Reconfigured kitchen with granite counters, built in book case, some custom cabinets and brand new pot lights
Fresh paint throughout
Two private balconies
Covered parking
Live-in superintendent in the building

(Building also has shared laundry and bicycle storage at a nominal cost.)

This one’s a beauty!

 

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How does an agent deal with other agents during multiple offers?

Because I’ve done quite a few sales involving multiple offers, I had a colleague ask me today for advice stickhandling a new listing where she’s expecting to get them. Here are my tips:

Most important,  be sure to keep everyone in the loop. Our legislation requires that every one who has put in an offer is kept apprised of the number of other offers, but I go further than that. I make sure anyone who has expressed an interest in the property is told what’s going on. You never really know who will decide to compete. I like to keep the net wide while they are still making up their minds.

First, I make up a list of emails of every agent who has shown the property. Right now I have a new listing that is getting a lot of activity (28 showings since it went active Monday afternoon.) So at the end of each day, before the office closes, I am asking our support staff to print me off a copy of the requests for showings so I can keep track of things, and as I have time, I am looking up the email addresses for those agents so I can create the list. Getting my office to print off a list of agents with confirmed showings means I don’t miss any of them.

As soon as I get the first written offer, if I hadn’t specified a time in  the listing, I set up a time for presentation of that offer to my seller. I send an email to all of the agents on that list telling them the time of presentation, and where it will be. Once again, if I haven’t heard from them already, I ask them if they want to be kept in the loop about offers.

Unless they say no, I keep sending further emails out to them every time another offer comes in, so that they know what’s going on, even though legally, I am only obliged to tell an agent who has made an offer how many offers I have received. If there are still new showings underway, I add the new agents to my email list as well. If an agent asks me not to be notified any further or tells me their clients are not interested, I remove them.

If someone asks me something specific that isn’t in the listing, but that I think would be relevant to all buyers,  eg. how old is the roof,  I might include that information in one of my circulars so that everyone is on a level playing field when it comes to information.

If I start getting quite a few agents asking to be kept in the loop, I will also send around a notification to everyone setting out the rules. This may be telling them, for example, that if I haven’t received a written offer by such and such a time before presentation, I may not be able to present it. As you can see, I need to know how many offers I have in hand so that I can meet my disclosure obligations which I can’t do if someone sends me a last minute offer. (Often, agents will ask for offers to be “registered” by a certain time, as otherwise, we just don’t have time to do the things we need to do.)

To give you an idea of what’s involved, I had sixteen offers on one property — I sent out over 800 notification emails, as I had to email all the agents who’d expressed an interest in being kept in the loop each time an offer came in and there were over 40 of them!

For agents who are planning to present their offers in person, I ask them to send me a copy ahead of time for that very reason. If they can’t, because they are on the road, or aren’t meeting with their clients and won’t have a written offer until shortly before presentation, I warn them that this could result in presentation being delayed.  I send out the same circular to everyone again, but instead of saying I’ve received a written offer, it says I’ve been informed that an agent will be presenting a written offer in person but that I have not received the actual offer.

Note that all notifications refer to the number of written offers. We cannot say we have received an offer unless we have received one in  writing. There is no such thing as a verbal offer under our laws.

If an agent brings a written offer at the last minute, we delay presentation while I send around the notifications again to let the agents know I have one. If not, just before presentation, I usually send around a notification indicating how many offers I have received in total and indicating that I did not receive the offer that I was expecting.

I am prohibited, by law, by the way, from disclosing the contents of any offer I have received, so all I say is that I have just received the third offer, or the fifth offer, or whatever. The only other disclosure required is if one of them comes from an agent in my brokerage: if so I have to disclose that this is the case.

At presentation, I go over each offer with my seller in the order I received them. Before then, as offers come in,  I usually  prepare a table that sets out the contents of each offer in a summary form so that it doesn’t take long to make a decision. This usually indicates the agent, their contact info, purchase price, closing date and conditions.  I have my client write on the offers that we are rejecting “Presented at XXX date/time and respectfully declined” and sign it so that we have verification that the offer was presented.

Then we go back to the offers that looked interesting and discuss them until my seller reaches a decision. At that point in time, we sign up the acceptance of the successful offer and decline whatever ones we were debating by making the notation I mentioned.

Then I call the successful agent to let them know, and take on the unenviable task of notifying those weren’t successful. I always try to call them in person first to tell them, because I know what it’s like to work so hard on behalf of a buyer and lose their dream property: it’s not easy. I mark off on my table how I let them know – by personal call, by email, by message left, and so on.

Multiple offer situations are great for sellers, but pretty stressful for buyers. For every winner, there are several losers. The important thing we have to do as listing agents in these situations is to be scrupulously fair. We have to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on, that everyone is treated fairly, and that buyers know that the seller considered their offers fully before making a decision.

 

 

 

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Are Realtors Really Driving Ottawa’s Hot Market?

The Ottawa real estate market is crazy hot right now. Inventory is at a historic low, and we are seeing multiple offers almost everywhere. The speed with which properties are selling has created a situation in which most of us are holding off on offers for our listings for at least a few days.

A story in today’s Ottawa Citizen calls that a “high pressure sales tactic” that is forcing buyers into quick decisions, and describes it as cut-throat. It adds:

High-pressure sales tactics such as “offer nights,” where realtors accept blind bids within a short period of time, are putting buyers at risk.

So let me just unpack that a little, because these statements are unfair and mistaken.

My obligation to my seller is to get as many people through the door as possible so that I can get them top dollar. In this kind of market, if you are acting for the seller and don’t hold off on offers for a few days, any decent property that is reasonably priced will sell within a few hours of being listed, and long  before it even hits tRealtor.ca. This is because there is a delay in uploading information from Matrix (our back-end to Realtor.ca) into the MLS/Realtor.ca system.

If we didn’t hold off on offers, the only successful buyers would be those whose realtors could get them in the door within the first few hours of a listing going live. It’s frustrating to have a buyer call me about a new listing they saw on Realtor.ca and have to tell them it’s already sold, and often with multiple offers.

By holding off on offers, I at least give all interested buyers a fair shot at seeing the  property and a fair chance at getting it.  (And yes, the bids are blind, because our governing legislation requires that terms and conditions of an offer be kept confidential. If you want an open bidding system  that works like a regular auction, where everyone knows what bids are, lobby your legislators to change the REBBA legislation. Until you do, blind bids are required by law.)

The article blames realtors for pressuring buyers into making quick offers without doing their due diligence when it comes to home inspections:

As bidding wars over real estate in Ottawa intensify, some home inspectors say buyers are under increasing pressure from realtors to make decisions under tight deadlines without doing their due diligence.

Now, no realtor that I know would ever urge a buyer to remove a home inspection condition. In fact, a prudent realtor includes the home inspection condition in the offer and requires the buyer to strike it out and initial it if they decide to waive it to make it very clear that they are doing so knowingly.

I have only had one buyer insist on waiving a home inspection clause in an offer this year  and that was against my strong advice to have one. Believe me, I felt almost sick when my buyer told me she wanted to waive the inspection. Our unconditional offer was accepted and I arranged with the seller to let us in to have an inspection later that week: we were lucky and nothing serious turned up. Far from pressuring our buyers, then, we tell them the risks and let them make adult, informed decisions.

The story quotes the President of the Ontario Home Inspectors Association, Murry Parish as follows:

To protect buyers in a hot market, Parish suggested the seller should be the one paying for a home inspection before listing a house.

That doesn’t protect the buyer: that protects the seller!

Some sellers do get home inspections, but the contract for the inspection is between the home inspector and the seller, not the buyer. If the home inspector misses something, the buyer has no privity of contract, they can’t sue. So the buyer who relies on a seller’s home inspector takes a big risk: they really should have their own inspection if they want to be protected. At least when we hold off on offers, that gives our buyers the time to do so.

The home inspector quoted in this article, however,  claims that “good inspectors are usually booked seven to 10 days in advance, so squeezing in a last-minute appointment is difficult.”

First of all, I can’t imagine any seller agreeing to give a buyer  a fulll ten days to get a home inspection done in a hot market or a cold one- they would never tie their property up that long. We usually get inspections done within a few days, regardless of market conditions. And secondly, there are hundreds of home inspectors in Ottawa, so there are plenty of good ones available on short notice.

So take this article with a grain of salt, please. We are not at fault for market conditions (see my previous post on why the Ottawa market is so hot). Despite what this article says, we are doing our best to work hard for our buyers and sellers in a very tight market.

 

 

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Giving back to our neighbours! #ParkdaleFoodCentre #FillTheFreezer

I met with the folks at Parkdale Food Centre a few weeks ago to see how I could help there and they suggested I host a Fill the Freezer event. That’s where you get a group together to cook food that you will leave behind for those who need it. They supply the kitchen; you supply the ingredients.

So I booked two events: one was Friday the 13th and the other will be on April 27th. I posted it on our Carling realtor page for Royal LePage Team and quite a few realtors volunteered for the different events. I also put out a call on social media and got a couple of volunteers from there as well.

Today we made two kinds of soup: carrot-ginger and creamy potato-leek, and for $ 60 worth of ingredients, we made 54 containers of beautiful soup for our neighbours.

Here we are (L to R), Angela, Kevin Drew (from my office); Winn; me (in the red apron), Shelagh MacDonald (again from my office) and Marlene. Missing is Tara Shields, also from my office, who was on the phone in another room when this shot was taken. (I won’t use last names to protect the privacy of the folks I met on Twitter.)

Parkdale 3

And look at the beautiful soup we made for our neighbours! The potato leek soup was topped off with sour cream and chives and everything was popped fresh into the freezer.

 

If you would like to do a Fill the Freezer event, contact Alissa Campbell at the Parkdale Food Centre. When we do the next one on the 27th, one of my friends is bringing her two kids: children are welcome!

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Giving back to our neighbours! #TheOaks

One thing I love about Royal LePage Team Realty is how generous my fellow realtors are. You’ll remember the sock drive I did in December (Sock it to Christmas!) that generated donations of around 1,500 pairs of new socks – most of those were donated by realtors in my office.

Sock it to Christmas got me interested in doing more along similar lines. I reached out to Jeff Turnbull, the doctor who co-founded Inner City Health together with Wendy Muckle. Inner City Health  works closely with the homeless shelters in town and also manages the Safe Injection Site trailer at Good Shepherds on Murray. Through Jeff, I met Wendy, who is the Executive Director of Inner City Health. We chatted on the phone last Friday morning and I asked her what she needed most.

There are a couple of things that are urgent. One is cookies and juice boxes for the Safe Injection Site. Wendy said that they are trying to get the people who come in to stay longer: as I understood her, people who are addicted crave sweets as they start to come down. Wendy said they get $ 50 a week from the city to cover these items, but they are spending $ 300 a week as demand goes up.

I threw out a call on social media and several people said they would stop by with donations. However, my  hope was to find them a reliable, ongoing source of these items. I mentioned the situation  to a realtor in my office, Joanne Batchelor. It turned out she knew someone in the Executive Office at Costco: and thanks to her, Costco is now considering a bulk donation. So,  while it’s not the reliable source we are still hoping to find, it will be a generous donation nonetheless if it comes through and meanwhile we’ll keep looking.

Another item Wendy mentioned to me was bath towels. The shelters are in desperate need of bath towels because without them, the folks there can’t shower. Who knew?

It occurred to me that perhaps we could find an ongoing source of towels by contacting local hotels to see what they do with their discards. If they are only going to end up in landfill, we’d take them!

I reached out to The Westin on Twitter and they were  right on it — they referred the request to their Assistant Director of Housekeeping immediately!  She’s been away this week, but she’ll back on Tuesday and she will see what they have on hand. If that works out, that’s another problem solved!

Wendy and I also talked about what I might be able to do for The Oaks. This is a managed alcohol treatment facility located very close to my own neighbourhood, Westboro, near Merivale and Kirkwood and just a few blocks from my office. It’s run in partnership by Inner City with Good Shepherds.

This particular facility was the subject of a Fifth Estate documentary called The Pour, which is well worth watching. Chronic alcoholics are given managed amounts of alcohol throughout the day there (staff actually make the wine in the premises) and as their conditions begin to stabilize and improve,  other supports are there for them as well. In many cases, after decades of living on the streets, they are able to reconnect with their families. It’s pretty amazing.

Director, Ray Maquette, and he and Elise, their nurse, gave me and three friends of mine   a tour on Thursday. Again, two of them  are fellowrealtors, Angie Zarysky and Rebecca Wilson, the other is a mortgage broker we work with, Cathy Macdonald. We were impressed! They are  doing great work and when we asked what they needed most, Elise said they were in dire need of a hospital bed. Many of the residents are getting older and they really need a hospital bed they can raise and lower as currently, the nursing staff are bending over all the time to examine them.

And it turned out that Rebecca had a hospital bed which she immediately offered to donate – another problem solved!

Ray and Elise  said they really need those raised toilet contraptions and walkers as well, as many as we can find, so when I got back to the office, I got hold of MacLean and Associates. That’s an auction house that does estates sales, located right around the corner from The Oaks. (I do a lot of estate work with Canada Trust and that’s how I met them.) Anyway, they got back to me right away to say that they don’t have any now but when they do, they will not only donate them, they will deliver them!

Anyway, that  was my week. If you can help in any way with the items I’ve mentioned, do let me know, and thanks!

 

 

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