Condo Rules – Occupancy Restrictions Rant

September 16th, 2015 · Property Management, Real Estate Lawyer, Rental Property

Human Rights Day commemoration, 21 Mar 2015Lets talk about the sneaky way that condos restrict occupation of their units and how that impacts investors and occupants alike.  I’ll even name then and shame them in this post because I’m a fed up by this blatant ignorance of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal’s clear rules and regulations. You may not discriminate based on family status. Some people are both dumb and discriminatory.

Unknown Client

Just last month I refused a client, she had a lovely 3 bedroom condo on Coxwell Ave.  We talked a while, I told her that it should be pretty easy to rent because it was on the second floor and a three bedroom. “We will be able to find a great family for your condo” I said. “No, I don’t want to rent to families” she told me. I asked her “Who exactly do you think will rent a three bedroom condo?”

According to this lady, there are a lot of seniors who want to pay for a three bedroom even if they only need one. I can’t wait until the rampaging horde of seniors finds me, because I keep renting to young professionals and families. The seniors are stuck to their large paid off houses and so far are not renting condos.

Sadly, I told her I don’t discriminate like that. First because I don’t want to. Second because it’s illegal and all I lost was the opportunity to make 20 trips downtown looking for a magical tenant.

3650 Kaneff Crescent, Mississauga

This condo is managed by Tridel and it used to be a seniors building. They’ve enjoyed a long history of discrimination and they continue to this day. It’s no surprise that a lot of units are for sale in that building. Last year we rented a one plus den that had been converted to a two bedroom unit to a family. We did not ask how many children the family had. It’s none of our business as long as the parents can pay rent. We had no legitimate reason to decline them. After the family (very nice and clean BTW) move in we find out that they have 4 small children when the management of 3650 Kaneff Crescent, Tridel sends the owner a letter stating that his maintenance fees will increase 50% because there are 2 more people then are allowed by the building by-laws.

The place is very clean and organized and well taken care of. The building wants to charge more for these 2 extra kids because of wear and tear on the building. That’s $400 more a month. It’s 1300 square feet, unlike the 3 bedroom I manage that’s 900. (coming up next)

So I sent a letter to the owner of the unit and he requested a meeting with the condo board.

Please forward this information onto the condo management. It is my position at this point that we were unable to discriminate based on the number of children that the tenants had because it is illegal. However the Ontario Human Rights Code does also prevail over the condo bylaw. Just as it would be disallowed to ask a resident to pay more based on their colour the condo board regulation is not complying with the requirements of the OHRC based on lack of discrimination based on family size.

Certainly a maintenance fee increase of 50% is unreasonable at best and illegal.

Condominium corporations may not contract out of the law, in this case the OHRC because of perceived increased utility cost. Do they give single people a discount because they are not using their allotment of utilities? I think not. This is a poorly veiled attempt to limit children in the building or provide a severe financial disincentive for landlords to allow families as tenants.

My suggestion at this point is that the Condo Board review the relevant legislation and possibly send it their lawyer for consideration before imposing any extra fees or penalties or increase in maintenance fees. The bylaws are created when the building becomes a corporate entity, usually a year or so after occupancy. However the rules for housing and specifically the addition of housing guidelines to the OHRC and subsequent enforcement of those laws have changed considerably in the last few years. It is only reasonable that our enforcement of these by-laws must change to reflect the updated status of the OHRC.

Many thanks,


That was in February and apparently no increase was sent to the owner. Now the lease is expired and the condo board and Tridel as their agent are pressuring my client to terminate the lease or they will impose the increase in maintenance fees.

Tridel, what are you doing? This condo board is a bunch of uninformed yokels, but you are supposed to be professionals and tell your clients when they are doing questionable and stupid acts that will wind up before the courts. Do you really want a OHRT suit that will cost tens of thousands or more to defend so you can illegally discriminate against families? Seriously, get your head out of the board’s ass and give your head a shake. I don’t think that’s an appropriate use of funds for a condo that already charges $734.11 per month in maintenance fees for one plus den. Just saying. (Now you know why I don’t work as a condo manager lol)

The Westlake 2220 Lakeshore Ave W

As mentioned previously, this building has sold a 3 bedroom, two bath condo to my client. It’s a whole 900 square feet so the rooms are a decent size but the common area is about the size of an eat in kitchen. Living room is combined with the kitchen. It’s small. The families who came to see it, rejected it because there is no living space to speak of. So we rented it to a few roommates that are all working, very polite and completely respectful.

So here is Onni the developer being stupid.

Hi (Wonderful Client),

So I just spoke to Tina from Westlake.  Our tenants have been having access issues as they only have 1 FOB between the three of them and as the building develops, they have implemented a system where in order to access your floor, you will need to swipe your FOB.  Each fob only accesses your floor (strangely enough.  Meaning if you live on the 6th floor, you will not be able to visit your friend on any other floor without them swiping their FOB in the elevator).   

Additionally, according to Tina, it has been determined by the Board that each unit is allowed a maximum of 2 FOBS… 1 garage and 1 general access.  This may change depending on Board decisions / outcome of voting I assume by unit owners (so make sure you attend those Board meetings!  😉

Our tenants currently have 1 FOB.  In order to secure another, they require an email from the Unit Owner indicating;

That you require an additional FOB
The name of the tenant it is required for (tenant)
The purpose for the FOB (for the tenant)
Who will be picking up the FOB (myself)
Personal cheque from the Unit owner of $75 payable to Onni Contracting Ontario

Tina, kindly confirm if there is anything further that you require or if I am missing any information.  

(Client), let me know when / where is best place for me to get the cheques from you.  I will collect deposit from tenants once I issue to them that will be exchanged for the FOB at the end of their tenancy.


Dina Mulic

Then I replied to all including this manager…

Hi Dina,

Did you tell management that we have a three bedroom and that it’s completely possible to have 3 adult people living in a three bedroom?

Is it possible that we are seeing the same discriminatory policy we saw and complained about at Kaneff Crescent? Are management aware that policies discriminating like this are against Ontario Human Rights Commissions guidelines on housing?

I’m sure the Westlake wouldn’t want to be the brought in front of the OHRC for providing to provide proper access for our residents. Residents who are perfectly legally allowed to live in the building.

I’m sure that we can get 3 FOBs because that’s just reasonable.


Fortunately Onni saw the light and decided to issue us another FOB to access the building. It would not be illegal for 3 couples to share a 3 bedroom. It would be tight but possible. So without doing anything wrong we could need 6 FOBs per 3 bedroom. As a landlord you might only rent to three people but they might end up with a spouse/bedfriend.

Occupancy Thoughts

Some people’s response to these higher rents is to simply share accommodations. It’s unfortunate but people want to get ahead and even if that’s not our style, they figure out ways to make due in very small spaces. I had a lovely family at 225-235 Sherway Gardens Rd condominiums, they moved in pregnant, and had two children, then I became aware that every time I went to inspect the unit their parents were “visiting” so that was 6 people living in 500 square feet. They paid the rent every single month, the place was immaculate and neat and tidy. I didn’t even have to paint the unit after they left. The law is pretty clear that landlords do not have the right to limit occupancy other than according to the city bylaws. Even so, if the unit is being kept immaculately, I’m not going to call the city on an apartment I manage. Had they told me before they moved in that they were going to live 6 people in a one bedroom I would have said no but eventually they moved out and bought a nice house. They were saving up money for a long time.

Benefits of Management

As more and more condominiums are rental units, I see more and more of these conflicts between landlords trying to break even and condo managers. You can get some really bizarre boards who are completely unchecked by their management companies. (They are terrified of getting fired) Owners don’t generally know the rules that well and most people don’t have the chutzpah to set these boards and managers straight. I’ve had condo managers try and stick owners with repairs many times, extend the amount of time renovations on a suite over 6 months because of unnecessary bureaucratic approvals, general incompetence and more. I’m really looking forward to this new Condo Tribunal which will give condo owners reasonably priced access to justice.

Otherwise we will end up with a city’s worth of Panorama Courts in 30 years. One more article on that nightmare condo.

What have your experience been as a landlord of a condo?

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Goodbye August Madness!

September 1st, 2015 · Rental Property

Batemans - Aug 2014 - White Horses Bathed in SunshineAugust is always a madhouse. Students come into town, parents move before school starts. It’s both a wonderful and busy time of year for me. Now begins the slow decline in rentals until December when the market dies until February and then starts to climb again until frenetic August again. So many leases were written this month, I’m looking forward to the slower pace of September and onwards so I can catch up on my paperwork. Those leases and unit condition reports don’t scan themselves you know.

We’ve also managed to rent almost all our available stock. So if you want something rented… now would be a great time to call. 135 Village Green Square rented in 6 days, 169 Fort York was a back to back rental with 3 days between tenants, 199 Richmond St West rented in about a month. Our listings are 60 days but we sure don’t want to take the entire time.

When you’re a property management client we get proper notice and we’re able to coordinate these low vacant period rentals very nicely more often than not.

Tenants get Scammed

One of the very last rentals we did was a short notice rental of a house after the tenants were scammed out of their money by this guy. It must be a great business because he’s been doing it a long damn time.

When they contacted the police they uselessly said it was a civil matter.  How the hell is that even possible, he’s not the landlord and he has no authority to rent places and he rents them to 10 different people and runs off with the money.

Landlords get Scammed

For the newest case from Small Claims court for utilities…Small Claims Judge denies claim for damages and utilities. It’s so damn hard to claim for damages with no forwarding address. If you do the work, I’m not sure you can claim your time. But utilities are a god damn mess. Seriously.

Happy September!

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For God’s Sake Buy A Parking Spot

August 17th, 2015 · Property Management, Rental Property

American Muscle carWhen I first started renting condos, they came with 2 extra things FOR FREE. Parking and locker. Then a while back, they started charging for parking and gave you the locker. Then developers started charging for both a parking and a locker. Then they started charging $50,000 for a parking spot downtown, if they were even available for your suite. Sometimes if you are buying a one bedroom you can’t even buy a parking.

So quite recently I was hired to rent a condo at 352 Front Street in Toronto (Fly Condos) and I encountered something so brazen and obnoxious I can’t even. PAID VISITOR PARKING. I rented the condo but my resident has a car and after calling around like an idiot looking for parking for days we found one and he moved in. One stinking month later, the spot he got from a real estate agent was cancelled and he can’t find another. Now it’s my problem nightmare because if he can’t find another parking he must move because he needs his car for work.

Despite what the guy selling the unit tells you, you need a parking people. Condos are high end. People who rent them have cars. Condos without parking take a lot longer to rent.

Oh and for the developers of condos with PAID VISITOR PARKING, (likely the excess parking not purchased for $50,000.) I want to PUNCH you in the face. Serious violence people!  Parking now sold to a private company that doesn’t give one crap about your tenants or residents of the building and who will charge your mom $32 daily parking or $10/hour to come visit you. Are you kidding me?

This is now a trend. I just rented a unit at 199 Richmond St W (Studio Condos) and it’s the damn same there. 9 Mercer Street (The Mercer) the same problem. They don’t even have visitor parking there. It cost me $16 per time I parked there except when it cost $30 because I tried to chance it and got a ticket.

I understand the idiots at Toronto City Hall don’t want cars in Toronto. Not for them, but for everyone else. Unfortunately, the young professionals and people who can afford to pay the high end rents for your 500 square foot box in the sky, are not going to sell their car to live in your condo. This is because and and and and are full of condos competing with yours and lots have parking.

Please just get a parking with your condo and refuse to buy from developers that don’t offer them with one bedroom suites. It would make me extra happy if you send them the link to this article.

It’s an unfortunate truth that because of the way new condos are bought and sold, they are bought by investors and not by the people who actually use the apartments. Investors don’t always think long term about what their tenants have to deal with. $50,000 is a shocking amount for a parking but even more shocking and wrong is the developer who sells 2 floors of parking to a private company that charges people for parking when residents can’t even get a parking or rent one.

Just Get The Parking!

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Recommended Real Estate

July 26th, 2015 · Property Management, Rental Property

TownhousesSo George a reader of the blog asked the following question in a comment.


Condos rent like crazy it seems, but appear to be poor investments compared to multi-unit purpose built buildings.  On the surface, they have very little room for error or interest rate changes and an extremely low cap rate. Is this still correct or have times changed?  Congratulations on your booming business!  Competence and diligence always conquer.   Your blog is a wealth of information for newbie investors.  Thanks!
Do you believe  condos a good entry point into the market?   I have been trying to get into real estate investing for years but lacked the confidence until recently. I have a home suite that is going very well, but have been looking at duplexes (not up/down ) and quadraplexes.  (I have shied away from condos). Admittedly their cap rates are very low as well.   I have just become confident enough to take the plunge after reading several books, using your cap rate calculator (that’s an eye opener! ), finding some good blogs ( yours, million dollar journey, and canadian money forum in particular) that have veteran insights.  I don’t like REITS as I think they are just another stock. I ‘m curious about your view as a rental specialist.


A sound argument could be made that the same applies to multi-unit purpose built buildings as well. The cap rate is extremely low and does not usually include deferred maintenance or capital projects required. Condos do not have such a luxury, the reason cap rates are low is because of maintenance fees and reserve funds. So from day 1 you are saving for the new roof that’s getting old rather than waiting till it starts to leak before “discovering” that old roofs need to be replaced for example. I think there are a lot of factors to consider when calculating the cost of building operations that many people do not consider.

My Favorite Investment Property

I’ve had the opportunity to look at and evaluate performance of rental properties over the years and my favourite kind of property is the lowly townhouse.  There are a few costs to look at from a management perspective as a rental property.

  1. Landscaping and gounds maintenance
  2. Exterior maintenance, siding, roof, etc.
  3. Vacancy and turnover
  4. Lower Purchase Price

Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance

In most of these condo townhouses, landscaping is provided as part of the maintenance fees, but you get economies of scale. It will usually cost between $100 to $ 200 per month for these services if you don’t do it yourself as the landlord. Tenants are not required by law to do it and if you do try to get them to do it and the Landlord & Tenant Board gets a wind of it, they can get an abatement of rent.

Exterior Maintenance

Roofs, siding, windows, fences are all usually included. This is part of your maintenance fees. The condo boards are pretty good at keeping the place looking uniform and preventing “that guy” from painting his house pink.

Vacancy and turnover

These properties tend to be fairly stable, people stay for a longer time, in most cases they are 3 bedrooms and your target market is a family. Most families are concerned with their children’s school etc. and do not move as often as young professionals in one bedroom condos. Many times, your property will stay empty between tenants at least for a little while so less turnover equals less vacancy equals more money for you.

Lower Purchase Price

Townhouses generally have a lower purchase price than detached houses, but provide a similar level of rent but for much less capital outlay. You also don’t have to deal with basement tenants and the epic tenant fights that occur.  So you kind of dodge a bullet there.

All in all, in my opinion you get most of the benefits of the detached house for less money and you enjoy high quality stable tenants paying relatively high rents.

Townhouses are my favorite rental property for all these reasons.

Have a happy week!


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How To Avoid Problem Tenants

July 14th, 2015 · Property Management

An old tenant house with a mud chimney and cotton growing up to its door, which is occupied by Mulattoes, Melrose, La.  (LOC)

How to Avoid Problem Tenants

A problem tenant who is always late with his payments and doesn’t think twice about trashing the house and vanishing leaving behind repairs worth thousands of dollars is every landlord’s nightmare. So as a landlord, how do you protect yourself and your property from the tenant from hell?

  • Rely on your first impression

Your first impression or gut feeling about a person is bound to be right almost always.  An unkempt appearance, impolite behaviour or insistence on an upfront cash payment for six months can all be signs of something amiss. Don’t get into a rental agreement with the first person who shows interest just because an empty rental home is going to hamper your cash inflow. People who insist on an upfront cash payment for an extended period often do so because they don’t want you coming around the house for the next few months. And if he seems uninterested in his own personal grooming, then it’s highly unlikely that he’ll look after your property.

  • Identity proof

Ask them to show you their drivers license as proof of identity. Have they put their real name on the rental application?

  • Ask for references

Every tenant’s application should include at least two references, one from their employer – to verify that they have a job as they claim and another from a previous landlord. If possible, try to contact their employer directly instead of using the phone number they have given you to confirm that your tenant works for them. There have been cases where landlords have been misled by tenants with the help of friends posing as employers.

  • Verify credit history

Ask your prospective tenant to give you written permission for a credit check. A private screening service should be able to perform the credit check and collect the necessary information, including whether the tenant has a history of late payments, whether it was a one-time occurrence or when they happened. Though this will incur a small fee, it is well worth the expense and can save you from a huge loss in future.

You can also ask them to show you a copy of their bank statement or pay slip. You do need proof that they can pay you the rent on time!

Can he provide a rental guarantor? This is especially important if the applicant is young, newly employed and doesn’t have a long credit history. Don’t forget to make sure that the rental guarantor has the necessary financial standing to make good on the rental payment if your tenant suddenly decides to vanish.

  • Check out their current home

If they are currently renting a single family home, drop by to find out how they have maintained the property. A quick chitchat with neighbours can give you a great deal of information on their partying habits and whether they have had problems with other residents.

  • Proper documentation

The importance of a well-defined tenancy agreement cannot be overstated. If in doubt, start with a short-term lease for six months. All correspondence between you and the tenant should be documented and saved to avoid any misunderstanding.

Kurt Jacobson is a surfing enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 10 times in the past 7 years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding waves he writes about rental homes for

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