Real Estate is a fantastic way to make money and build your personal wealth. I invest in real estate to make money. But to say I am greedy is not accurate. To generalize and say all landlords are greedy, selfish, and lazy is like saying every tenant is wonderful and generous. Or every homeowner is kind, thoughtful and a contributing member of society. I know…I know… what am I getting at? Dave just sent me an article from the Edmonton Journal, “‘Callous’ Landlords Face Record Find of $70,000“.
From the article:
In November 2005, Capital Health inspectors noted that work needed to be done to bring one building, which was constructed in 1969, up to public health standards.
The railings on the balconies in the front suites of both buildings were too low, and gaps between the spindles were too wide, posing hazards.
Inspectors found similar problems with two interior staircases and discovered a bedbug infestation in one suite in the building at 13117 83rd St.
In the same building they saw what appeared to be significant deterioration of the concrete balconies.
The Suetters were advised to fix the deficiencies and hire a structural engineer to examine the stability of the balconies. Over the ensuing months, inspectors returned to the buildings several times, noting each time that none of the work had been done.
It sure sounds bad, but I can’t help but wonder what the real story is. I don’t know any of the people involved in this story, but I know how one sided the news can be. And, I know how easy it is to find yourself in court with fines. It happened to Dave with a multi-unit building he owned in Niagara Falls. He even made the local Niagara Paper with his story… I believe the title was “Absentee Toronto Owner Fined in Crackhouse“. I will try to find the article and put a copy of it on here.
And, trust me, there were more than 2 sides to that whole story! Dave was fixing the property up, and it was never unsafe. And he only received one fire code violation notice…and it was the one marked FINAL NOTICE, COURT DATE SET. I’d rather not publish all the sides and all the explanations, but suffice to say that the story presented in the Niagara Falls paper was not a fair representation of what happened. Nor was Dave really “guilty” of the charges but it was easier to plead guilty, pay the fine and do the repairs then it was to actually hire a lawyer, prove his case and still do the repairs.
I guess I wanted to write this for a few reasons:
- The masses tend to side with tenants, but the reality is, tenants (in Canada) are very well protected by the laws. In most landlord vs. tenant cases you’ll find courts strongly favour the tenant.
- I hate generalizations. And the comments in this article were very quick to jump all over landlords in general being greedy.
- I know, from experience as a first hand witness to a similar (although smaller scale) situation how one sided such stories can be. And how unfair the systems in place can be to landlords.
If you are a landlord, and these stories have you shaking in your boots – take heart, there are lots of things you can do to avoid fines and court appearances as a landlord:
- Hire competent and quality property managers,
- Address tenant complaints quickly – even if it’s just an explanation as to why work can’t be done right now. Make sure tenants understand what you will do and what you won’t do, and why,
- Ensure your property is ALWAYS up to the latest codes,
- Keep your neighbours happy. If it’s not a tenant issuing a complaint that triggers an inspection, it will be an unhappy neighbour. Ensure your property is well maintained and your tenants aren’t being too noisy or too intrusive on your neighbours, as much as you can,
- Consistently do everything by the law. Act quickly, but make sure you take the steps and jump through the hoops required and keep a paper trail. If you ever do have to stand up in court and defend yourself a history of all of the above will be an enormous asset.
And don’t worry! This story is an extreme one – and maybe these landlords really are greedy, selfish and lazy and are paying for it. I just don’t think it’s fair to tell their story so one-sided. Nor do I like to paint every landlord with the same brush. Dave’s experience was due to a bunch of circumstances all working against him. He could have prevented it…but it also wasn’t because he was greedy, selfish or lazy. He was just inexperienced and in over his head on a property he never should have bought. Ahhh the life lessons!!
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