10 Reasons To Hate Basement Apartments

December 28th, 2010 · 86 Comments · Personal House, Property Management, Rental Property

This is the easiest post I’ll ever write.

  1. Rarely Legal
  2. Worst Tenant Demographic
  3. Lowest Income Tenant Demographic
  4. Worst Credit Profile Tenants
  5. Fire Code Issues
  6. New Landlords
  7. Utilities Sharing Problems
  8. High Turnover
  9. High Vacancy
  10. Weird Layouts

The source of all evil is probably a basement apartment. They are the source of landlord/tenant issues when the landlord lives upstairs or tenant/tenant issues when another tenant lives upstairs. If there’s pot smoking in your apartment 90% of the time, it’s wafting up the vents not down. Deadbeats love the damp it or just the smell of unsophisticated landlord that lives upstairs.

Tenant Demographic

If you can explain to me why a tenant in his or her right mind would rent a basement apartment when they can rent an apartment in a building for the very same price or lower, I would love to hear it. Because they like the dark? or the sound of running feet overhead? Generally it’s because of the price or they can’t get approved in a building because of their nasty credit, poor work history or some other problem.

Cash Flow… Blah Blah Blah

I get it, you need the money from the basement apartment or do you really? By the time you add in the risk from the utilities problem and minus your split from the rent or add in the time spent chasing the money from the basement, is it really worth it? Plus here’s a secret, a whole house attracts the very best tenant profile of all. There are many people out there who don’t like to share their space or have had to move because of these tenant conflicts who want a whole house.

Hardest Properties To Manage

It’s the tenant/tenant issues that will drive you crazy, and the quality of tenant you get. A few months ago I rented a basement apartment for a reader of this blog. I rented it to a very nice seeming young lady, she’s a complete liar, she told me she was single, she’s not, her boyfriend looks like a hoodlum. Awesome stuff! Then there’s another one I rented just up the street here, nice young couple except they are dirty. More awesome. Basements suck.

New Landlords

The only people who are not aware of these issues are new landlords. They look at the numbers on a duplex and think they’ve hit the jackpot. They are buying into one of the more challenging kind of property to manage. They’ll often get into trouble, your tenant screening needs to be 110% for these apartments and even I get tricked. If it seems too good to believe it probably is.

Basement Apartments Are Not A Goldmine

For many landlords what seems like a great benefit just isn’t by the time you calculate all the time required. More seasoned investors often opt to rent out the house as a whole. All the utilities go into the one tenant’s name and the landlord no longer has to “manage” them or the conflicting tenants. I’m not sure why tenants who rent in a house often argue. In a building you almost never see these kinds of squabbles over smoking, parking, garbage, lawn maintenance and so on.

Great Areas Are Different

If you happen to be in a great area, you will get a decent tenant profile in a basement apartment and so go ahead and rent it out. If you are close to the subway, you’ll also get decent tenants. Once you get away from these areas, you’ll start seeing the problems appear. If it seems like you’ve had a string of bad tenants or aren’t impressed with the people you’ve had, maybe it’s time to look at renting out the duplex as a single family dwelling and gaining some peace and quiet.

What have you found? Have you had problems with basement tenants? Is it worth the extra money to rent it out?

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86 Comments so far ↓

  • Mike Holman

    I lived in a basement apt for 3 years before I bought my first house. I can honestly say that basement apts were cheaper.

    • Rachelle

      It’s true they are much cheaper, that’s not necessarily good for the landlord ๐Ÿ™

      • TheMang

        You are some know it all bitch aren’t you? All these comments people left just constantly put holes in the “easiest” article. You are just plain dumb, something special. Basement apartments are a goldmine when paying of a mortgage and cheap for tenants so they can put money away. Its a win win. And if you rent a damp disgusting basement then ya they will be vacant. And if you are a landlord you should be good at reading people, otherwise don’t do it. Rachelle is the liar here. She is a fucking moron blogger that knows nothing. So go to hell you self absorbed bitch.

  • brandi

    Many years ago, I was that new landlord – never again! We rented our 2 bedroom basement to a “friend” a single mom. We gave her a great deal to help her out and no lie, within a month, she had moved in her new boyfriend, her brother, brother’s girlfriend, their baby and her 2 nieces. Yes, thats right, 6 more people and there was nothing we could do. It took a few more months until they moved to a bigger place. We learned quickly we were not landlords.

    • Rachelle

      It’s unfortunate because you might have been an awesome landlord but now you’ll never know. ๐Ÿ™‚ For instance I get very good tenants in condos usually and whole houses…

      • TheMang

        You are some know it all bitch arenโ€™t you? All these comments people left just constantly put holes in the โ€œeasiestโ€ article. You are just plain dumb, something special. Basement apartments are a goldmine when paying of a mortgage and cheap for tenants so they can put money away. Its a win win. And if you rent a damp disgusting basement then ya they will be vacant. And if you are a landlord you should be good at reading people, otherwise donโ€™t do it. Rachelle is the liar here. She is a fucking moron blogger that knows nothing. So go to hell you self absorbed bitch.

  • Financial Uproar

    Being the proud owner of a house with a basement suite, there are points I agree with and points where I disagree.

    Any basement suite I’ve ever seen is considerably less than it’s apartment equivalent. Mine rents for 25% less than a comparable apartment. Maybe in a hot rental market landlords can get more, but I’ve never been able to.

    I’ve had great tenants and not so great tenants. If I compare them to the level of tenants I’ve had in my other rental houses I’d say they were pretty much the same. Some people have no problem living in a basement. And some of them are liars. You have to take the good with the bad. It’s part of the business.

    I specifically have my basement set up so I pay all the utilities. There’s no way for my tenant to turn up the heat. Too cold? Here’s a blanket ๐Ÿ™‚

    Saying all of that, you do make some great points about basement apartments and it’s important for people to know the negatives. I think people are out of their mind to buy a unit and then rent out both halves. And if your basement apartment doesn’t meet zoning requirements you’re always at risk to get shut down.

    There are hundreds of thousands of these units across Canada. Because of them, many people get affordable housing, affordable housing that wouldn’t be available if it wasn’t for basement suites. I think the pros outweigh the cons. But then again, I’m pretty biased ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rachelle

      Basement apartments aren’t all bad, but they’re not a goldmine either. I rented my own basement for years. I have notice since I’ve been doing this that tenant quality is eroding in general as barriers to owning your own property decreased.

      For example I used to rent the 2 bedroom downstairs for $900 then I found that the building down the street had reduced their prices to $800 for a two bedroom. The last time I rented it was for $775 per month, but my utilities cost went up about $200 per month. So my net was about $500 per month. Plus in this old house of mine the soundproofing is not good at all so every time they had an argument I would be subjected to it. I did have some very good tenants in there for extended periods of time.

      When the baby got older I had to move my office down there, he was getting into everything but it didn’t make me too sad.

      On the other hand this is not a good rental area, it’s far from transit and amenities and also not what one would consider a desirable area where the price delta would justify a person choosing to get cheaper rent but still live at a really nice address.

      It’s so funny I wrote this today because tonight I attended one of those situations. The basement tenant was moving out, he spit on the other tenant’s boyfriend’s car. Then the other guy parked across the driveway so no one could get out and was threatening the leaving tenant. They were fighting about garbage, noise, drug smoking on the front porch etc. Just the type of situation everyone loves to deal with. Meanwhile I cut my finger on the rose bush over the hydro meter so I’m bleeding on everything… I manage other properties too and never seem to encounter these kinds of problems.

      • TheMang

        You are some know it all bitch arenโ€™t you? All these comments people left just constantly put holes in the โ€œeasiestโ€ article. You are just plain dumb, something special. Basement apartments are a goldmine when paying of a mortgage and cheap for tenants so they can put money away. Its a win win. And if you rent a damp disgusting basement then ya they will be vacant. And if you are a landlord you should be good at reading people, otherwise donโ€™t do it. Rachelle is the liar here. She is a fucking moron blogger that knows nothing. So go to hell you self absorbed bitch.

        • Rachelle

          I am a know it all bitch and I am entitled to my own opinion. If you think that basement apartments are a “goldmine” I’m sure you’ve carefully calculated out the extra utilities paid, extra management costs, associated legal expenses and headaches. Have you considered that your asshole is a “goldmine” too? Put to good use you could make a fortune with that thing and there is no extra utilities or pot/cigarette smokers to deal with. It’s a win win. Now go away and shake your money maker.

      • Christine

        what and bad people don’t rent coded apartments? SMH. In the current rental market, finding anything but a basement suite is really difficult. Not everyone who rents a basement suite is a problem. That is really unfair to make that statement.

        • Rachelle

          I urge you to come work with me for a while and see if you still feel the same way.

          • Janet

            I’ve been reading these comments, and while I don’t agree that you’re a “know it all B***h”, I do think you’re being a little unfair. About four years ago, when I left my husband of 20 years, I rented a basement apartment. I am a mature, educated woman, a dental hygienist (think clean), and a darn good tenant.
            My new “landlord” wasted no time in calling me to ask if I would watch her youngest kids (a three year old and twin babies) while she went to drop her older child off at school. At first it was just a half hour or so in the morning, but eventually she started just going and doing her grocery shopping, leaving me sitting with her kids for hours.
            She was also a “borrower”. One day she called and asked if I happened to have a pound of bacon in the freezer that she could borrow. When she came downstairs to get it, she also asked for eggs…. this became a regular thing.
            On one occasion, her three year old was down in my apartment with her, while she was “borrowing” milk. The little one went into my bedroom and began jumping on my bed. When I told her she was not allowed to do that, she informed me that “mommy lets me do this”. I replied, yes, but on mommy’s bed, not mine. She smiled sweetly and said, “no, mommy lets me jump on your bed when you’re out”. Two days later, I caught her mother entering my apartment and going into my fridge while I was at the dog park with my dog.
            I paid my rent on time or early. I “lent” things all the time (and NEVER got anything back). I babysat for free whenever I could, and this is how I was treated.
            So maybe the situations you have experienced were bad from the landlord’s perspective, but I do believe that it goes both ways.

          • Rachelle

            I know there are shitty landlords and when I start a complaining tenant blog, I’m sure I’ll have lots of submissions.

    • Bernadette

      That is just wrong…I am a tenant in a basement apt and we are human beings just like you are….”tenant” is not my name….I have arthritis, living even with a sweater on does not help the cold from the landlord controlling my heat makes it worse…..Listening to you proves one thing you are one of those landlords that as long as he or she gets the money from teh apt and does not have to put any in..its all good….You are the landlord, its your job to make it insulated enough and provide enough heat for the tenant to be warm……There are words for landlords like you and none I can say on here….Shame on you!

      • Rachelle

        Dear Bernadette,

        Heat complaints are common in basement apartments mostly because when the home was built, it was not designed for an apartment. Most basements have vents in the ceiling and heat rises. No matter how good my landlording skills are I cannot affect physics. Basement apartments are also below ground, concrete is porous, and this leads to higher humidity which make any cold more uncomfortable.

        If I had arthritis, I would not live in a basement. It is not a good environment. No landlord or property manager is going to rebuild the house to deal with these building issues.

        As I told you my office is in my basement and I have a little space heater down there. I could turn the heat up to 80 degrees upstairs and it would still be cold feeling downstairs. So I get what you’re saying.

        • Roger Dubois

          I was reading through the comments and just had to reply. ”heat rises and I don’t control the laws of physics?” you sound like a slumlord. If the basement apartment wasn’t meant to live in – then don’t rent it out without upgrading it to a liveable standard. You aren’t providing a charity. You are providing a place to live for a profit. People don’t have a choice to live there – for example in a big city people new out of school near somewhere affordable to live, and that’s the only place – or someone stuck in minimum wage. I think part of your issue with all these problem tenants is the fact you rent out crappy places. Tenants – you have rights. The next time you move out of a cold and damp place and the landlord did nothing but collect your money – put in a complaint to both the local bylaw and building departments because guaranteed 90% of these are illegal.
          Then tell them to take their blanket and shove it you know where.

          • Rachelle

            Hi Roger,

            Basement apartment weren’t designed to live in. You are correct. They were designed to store your stuff and furnace. Then house prices went crazy and a lot of people decided they needed mortgage helper apartments at the same time as people making minimum wage decided they couldn’t afford to live in a conventional apartment or condo.

            If I were to design this magical basement you speak of, where it’s all upgraded to “liveable standard” it wouldn’t be affordable and no one would rent it. I say this with experience, having seen people build fantastic inlaw suites and everyone still want to pay under a $1000 for a all inclusive 2-3 bedroom suite with granite countertops and in floor heating and a walk out. And guess what…then it’s not affordable and it’s not profitable.

            Profit is not a dirty word it’s reality. The landlord must make money renting out the suite he has.

            People do have a choice, they can go live in this magical other place in your house where you rip up your whole entire house, change all the building systems, install in floor heating to rent at a loss. Then some ungrateful scumbag will rent it and smoke marijuana in it and tell you to go fuck yourself and your 3 kids, one of whom has asthma, while you freak the hell out. Or like one guy with free utilities did in Mississauga, and leave the hot water tap runnning at full blast, just so he can screw the landlord, who happened to be a single mom, working her ass off to get ahead.

            Tenants need to get realistic and stop expecting champagne dreams on a beer budget. Your landlord is not a magical being who is depriving you of luxury living because he’s greedy and wants to make a “profit” between his mortgage payments, taxes, repairs, future repairs, furnace breakdowns, utility increases and everything else, in many cases they don’t even break even.

            I’ve closed down countless basements that were affordable because of tenants that complain, most of whom complain while still in them… and become homeless and can’t find another place at the same price. I had a guy report me to the city who was paying $500 per month a stone’s throw from the Danforth. Not just him but all the affordable apartments most who had been living there for 10+ years.

            Now the rent there is not affordable… and it’s improved.

      • John

        I have a cold basement apartment. My landlord provided me with an electric heater that looks like a radiator. I keep this at medium because of the heat it puts out. It works quite well.

        • Rachelle

          Unfortunately many basement apartments are cold and humid. A space heater is just necessary for the space to feel comfortable.

      • Freckles

        Bernadette. Kudos to you for speaking up. Im in similar state with arthritis and other medical conditions. The slum Lord here clears the ice and snow from his walkway and stairs but not mine. He’s not inexperienced at being a landlord so im going to say he’s just a DOUCHE and if someone ever injures themselves due yo his negligence he will get sued.

        • Rachelle

          Who broke your arms and legs? Valet service rentals for you.

          • Freckles

            Bernadette. Kudos to you for speaking up. Im in similar state with arthritis and other medical conditions. The slum Lord here clears the ice and snow from his walkway and stairs but not mine. He’s not inexperienced at being a landlord so im going to say he’s just a DOUCHE and if someone ever injures themselves due to his negligence he will get sued.
            And in response to your comment/question “who broke your arms and legs?” that person was my ex husband who had broken 1 arm and 1 leg. That’s only part of my arthritis condition it’s also hereditary and i live with numerous medical conditions.
            You are an attention seeking condescending red neck. Keep in mind that karma never forgets and we all face judgment day. PEACE , pass it on

    • Susan

      You are a horrible landlord to say, “are you cold, here is a blanket!”. I’m in a basement, my landlord turns the heat off, which id illegal, hours to work leanness me freezing until I go to work in the afternoon when they get home and turn the heat back on. I’m breaking my lease because of it, well actually they broke it, I’m just leaving.

      • Rachelle

        Basements do seem very humid which does not help with the heating issue.

        • Ella

          I’m not sure why you are saying basements are very humid, Rachelle. I live in a basement in southern ON. I own a hygrometer and currently because the heat is always blasting through the ceiling it pushes out all of the humidity in the house. I’ve seen the RH get as low as 12%. It’s so dry down here that my eyes are hurting 24/7, the paint is cracking and I was getting shocked from the light switches 15+ times a day before my husband put tape over the screws. As for the temperature? Still freezing because there is no moisture in the air for which the heat can adhere to. The landlord keeps his heat at 23c but it’s always a very cold, dry 20c down here. Too cold, here’s a blanket? It gets so cold sometimes that I am in thermal underwear, plus clothes, under a blanket and I cannot get my feet to warm up. Sometimes I just sit with a plastic heater in my lap to defrost. And I have a lot of body fat. You really should review scientific evidence before you go doling out advice based on bullshit.

      • Freckles

        Resd up on your rights. You may be able to recoup some of your rent thst you paid. You deserve to enjoy your residence Susan. Good luck

      • Freckles

        Susan. You may be able to recoup some of the rent you’ve paid. You are supposed to be able to enjoy your residence. Please read up on your rights

    • Jen

      Why I choose basements over large apartment buildings? One simple word; bed bugs. I have had far too many dealings in too many different buildings (yes even fancy expensive buildings) with different property management companies to just an individual who owns the building and at the end of the day I will never live in a place with more then ten individual apartments. Does it limit where I live? Most definitely; especially since I refuse to live in suburbs. But I would rather live in the smallest, dankest basement in the city before I would live in a luxury high rise (because bed bugs do not care how rich or clean you are). If I get bed bugs in a basement suite I know exactly where they came from. With an apartment? Not so much. Yes, I am aware of the landlord tenant act rules regarding spraying and all that but at the end of the day I have absolutely no desire to pack up everything I own twice a year so the apartment can get fumigated (once again) and so I can breath in toxic chemicals (oh yeah and I have to live with them as apparently you cannot vacuum for ten days or something like that).
      Also, way to be classist, super professional and not alienating or disgusting at all. Because, you know poor people are the only terrible tenants.

      • Rachelle

        No there are also terrible rich tenants too. Nice thing about them is that you can get your money back for damages etc.

  • jesse

    Coming from the Vancouver area, in the city proper a significant % (probably a majority now) of houses have basement suites, often two of them and occasionally three if one includes a laneway house.

    My experience with renting has generally been positive, relative to the horror stories, but the old “I’m the only occupant” is used and abused so much I never believe it any more. I’ve seen cases of people casing suites for their parents or out-of-town relative who will be immigrating. Sure… I’ll take your unseen relative no questions asked… click. After a certain point all you can go on is looking the applicant in the eyes and even then who knows.

    The other think I found is the tenure is generally short, about a year or so on average. Filling the suite has never been a problem for the right price (discounts were offered to perceived good tenants) but given the number of applicants we rejected I have to wonder where the rejects eventually ended up!

  • Rachelle

    Vancouver is a very different market than the Greater Toronto Area it may be different there.

    I’ve wondered that too! Where do our rejects end up?

  • Rob in Madrid

    Wow the memories, we bought our House at that Hightower of the last housing bubble (early 90s)and as as we over extended ourselves we too put in a basement apartment and I guess we were lucky the first tenant paid the pricey sum of 450$ a month and gave us 2 months deposit, yeah cash flow, lived there for two years before moving on, then a friend moved in lived there for another two years Before again moving on. We then found another tennat but before signing the paper work we got a call warning us he was a professional tenant and we canceled the lease. By that point we were in better shape and took back the basement. So for us basement apartment worked out very well.

    • Rachelle

      My basement apartment help pay off this house, so I’m grateful but surprise surprise no one gave me free money at different points I had to give up the backyard, one tenant in particular liked to invite her family over for beer drinking parties, One of which involved people playing golf in my vegetable garden ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ernie

    wow … you sure are judgemental of us ‘bottom dwellers’. I’m renting a basement for the advantages it affords … yes there are some good reasons for preferring to live downstairs.

    I’m probably the best renter most landlords will ever have … even if I say so myself.

    I’ll give you another 30 years … chances are your rhetoric will have toned down a wee tad.

    ~retired in the basement

    • Rachelle


      My apologies for insulting you I did not mean to do so. What I want to do is clone you and Mike and rent you all the basement apartments. That is the problem I can’t find enough tenants exactly like you ๐Ÿ™‚ if I could I wouldn’t be complaining.

  • Garfield

    I have been renting my basement ROOM out now
    for about five yrs.. and I have had good tennants
    and bad tennants, what I have found is that the
    younger they are , the more problems I have with
    them. The ones on ODSP are the worst, You never
    have a problem getting your rent, its sent to you direct from ODSP, its the other stuff you try to collect on, thats a problem. Over all, if I didn’t need
    the money, I would not rent out the basement room.
    I have an apt. building and I live in it too. I had to
    install special windows that met the fire code as well.
    In one of my other apts. if you want to talk about
    garbage, one tennant filled the snd bedroom from
    floor to ceiling with garbage . they were a family of
    four, him and her with two teen age kids. they were
    the worst tennants I ever had.

    • Rachelle

      Yep, basement tenants are not for the faint of heart. I too rented out my basement apartment and I did have great tenants for long time but, the bad ones were very bad…

    • Rachel

      So nice of you to be judgmental of people on social assistance. ๐Ÿ™

      • Rachelle

        I’ve rented to many people on social assistance. It’s not my fault the government doesn’t give you enough to pay your rent and eat. If I was faced with that choice, I’d eat too. Unfortunately… I work for landlords who also have to eat. My job is to protect their interests and their money. Ask anyone who works in the business. We’re not being judgmental. You can’t get credit cards or mortgages either. Why should I give you an unsecured line of credit for an apartment?

        • me

          “Why should I give you an unsecured line of credit for an apartment?”, because the tenant is paying the mortgage or making money for a landlord if the unit is paid off. If everyone could get a mortgage then who would be left to rent? Little offended by this as up until January 2009, I had good credit, and my wife and I where saving for a down payment to buy a home. That was until a drunk driver took her life. Creditors don’t care about the reasons why a single person can’t handle duel-income debt which is why I HAVE to rent now for the next 5 years until my credit is fixed. Landlords are judgmental as are any other business out there.

          • Rachelle

            The fact is that if your credit is so bad you can no longer get a cell phone, then it’s hard to justify renting you an apartment. It is fairly sad that people like you who have a single traumatic event that cascades into unfortunate consequences for your credit get lumped into the same category as people who never willingly pay a bill in their life or never seem to manage their finances. You will find some people that can read a credit report and interpret it.

            It’s usually clear when a single event is at fault because every single credit source defaults at the exact same time oftentimes after years of great records. Then afterwards when the situation stabilizes…things get better. Death, divorce, illness, unemployment are credit destroyers.

  • Deb

    I rent the upper floor of a house in Calgary that includes the garage. I have been here for three years and have a great relationship with my landlords. When I moved in a guy lived in the basement and had been there for five years. We had a good relationship also. But he had a girlfriend and ended up moving in to her house.

    Cue the new tenant who has been here for three months. Both myself and the landlord can’t stand her. She lied to get the suite and is one of those people who manipulates people to get what she wants. I have never disliked someone so much and as an example, I spent 5 minutes talking to her last week to try Nd be niceand within that time she asked to see my suite, asked if she could have my $$$ recycling, and asked for free paint to paint her bathroom. (I own. Painting company). She totally put me off. Then the next morning she asked if I wanted to go for breakfast and if she could pay me on Friday, then the next day text and said she was sick and could I go get her gingerale. There is garbage and old furniture stacked at the bottom of the stairs that partially blocks access to the laundry room, an old leather chair she left on the deck. She won’t park correctly in front of our house which causes the neighbor to complain to me and she is just not very clean.

    I have talked to my landlord about it and she told me that the woman is constantly asking for things. (like new fridge, ext) and always demands a reduction in rent if it’s not done asap. My landlord keeps saying she will give her notice if she demands one more thing, but then it follows with, but she always pays her rent on time…nor sure what I should do as I am uncomfortable living here now.

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  • Lizza

    I have a wonderful spacious basement apartment and its the best apartment in the building. Enjoying life and being a positive person is vital for happiness and I you can have that too. Job burnout happens all the time and it sounds like that is what has happened…

    • Rachelle

      Lizza, I’m glad you like where you live, I can assure you that most people do not feel this way about living in basement apartments. If you disagree with me feel free to conduct your own survey of your peers.

      You can also conduct your own survey of property management companies… most won’t take basement apartments or houses that have them. Call leasing agents ask them to rent them out. Go to the Landlord & Tenant and ask around what floor the tenants live on… I’ll admit I’m no Sally Sunshine but saying what I’ve observed after 15 years in this business doesn’t make me burned out.

  • Robert

    Hi Rachelle

    Just found your website and i was horrified to read your article on basement apartments. That’s because my experience of having a basement apartment in Toronto has been marvelous! I have three basement apartments on the go. Over the last 12 years having them there has provided me with $194,000 in revenue. That’s a lot of easy money for almost no work on my part, except the initial renovations.

    I fixed them up to modern standards, charge a premium, and in most cases have had wonderful tenants. The ones I had problems with they were relatively minor. Mind you, I go the extra mile and screen the hell out of them before saying yes. That’s really important as you know – screening!

    I soundproofed the ceilings the best i could and look after my tenants. They look after me by paying the rent and looking after the place and watching over the house when I’m gone.

    I bought a house in a different city and put a basement apartment in that one as well and so far it has also been a good experience coming up to a year.

    So i think your article is overly harsh on basement apartments and the kinds of people who live in them. Or have I just been “lucky” for the last 12 years and an exception to the rule? I don’t know!

    Still, I think people are well advised to heed your warnings though, especially the part about what area they are in. I advise they call around to other landlords who are renting basement apartments and find out what the tenant market is like before deciding to renovate and rent their basements.

    Good discussion!


    • Rachelle

      I swear it depends so much on the area. If you are in an area like mine where you can get a one bedroom apartment in a building for the same price as a basement…it really is hard to get decent people. Having said that I also get your point about the revenue. The basement in this house paid the mortgage and I paid utilities and taxes. I have had really great tenants here and in other basement apartments.

      But…whenever you do have problems in a duplex 9 times out of ten it comes from the basement.

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  • Mike

    I am looking to buy my first house, mostly what I saw, prices are much higher for the houses that have finished basement with a sep – entrance.

    I know, if my mortgage is more then 1700 then I cant afford them with out renting a basement. What would you suggest me to buy a house much cheaper (to afford mortgage easily) or go for a bigger house and rent the basement.

    I just want to know the risk factor in renting ?

    • Rachelle

      Buy the cheaper house. Most people do not end up enjoying basement tenants. Some are excellent, but I’ve been there with some not so good ones. I really enjoyed the ones who took over my backyard with their two dogs, classy beer store lawn chairs and played golf in my tomato plants.

      • a

        Here’s the thing. All these slumlords complaining about basement tenants would like to look at them as solitary, mute purveyors of payments towards your mortgage. The disappointment you are expressing is this: these “mortgage payments” are ***human beings*** who, because they are ***human beings***, have families and friends, and sometimes like the outdoors and sunlight. It is illegal and impractical to want to chain them inside and tape their mouths shut, leaving just access to their wallets open for you to steal your mortgage payment.

        If you can’t afford a house without renting some of it out, buy something you can actually afford. 99% of people who rent out their basements cannot actually afford their homes, and their greed and delusion turns them into exploitative (and apparently unrealistic bordering on delusional) slumlords.

        The one guy above, who had a happy 12 years (and not coincidentally, soundproofed his floors) does not sound like a slumlord. He doesn’t sound like the kind of jerk who’d throw an arthritic tenant a sweater in the cold.

        If you cannot accommodate basic tenant rights (which include the human right to affiliation), and can’t meet code, you need to scale your greed waaaaay down, and buy something you can *actually* afford.

      • Dawn

        Correct me if I’m wrong but did you not allow the dogs onto the property when initially renting to the tenants? Common sense would dictate that when you knowingly rent to someone with pets, they’re going to make use of the yard property.

        Did you ever have an adult discussion about them not playing golf in your tomato plants and they failed to comply?

        I get that you’re own experiences with renting out your basement suite may have left you jaded about this type of rental but, it seems that most of your arguments are based on what irritated you based on your own personality, not because these types of tenants are the lowest possible denominator when it comes to tenants. I mean really, they’re bad people because you didn’t like their taste in lawn chairs?

        • Rachelle

          Actually my basement suite experiences did leave me jaded but the next 10 years of managing multiple properties with basements didn’t help at all either.

  • Katherine

    I live in a basement apartment right now…its 20 minutes from the city…in the country. I LOVE IT the people that own the house are fantasic. They leave me alone…i see them once a month when i Pay my rent. They have never entered my apartment without my consent, and they are just perfect ๐Ÿ™‚ I know not everyone would have such a great experience…but i love it.

    Plus its a walkout…so mostly above ground, with my own driveway! I’m not moving until its time to buy my own house ๐Ÿ™‚

    For all you landlords with a basement apartment..u can have a good experience too, if u make sure the person is good! Not just a reference check either…meet with them a few times!

  • Kristine

    Thanks for looking down on basement tenants ๐Ÿ™ I’m a recent uni grad, on my first job and I live in a basement suite. In school, during an internship in a different city, I also lived in a basement suite. The landlord there was actually my roommate’s supervisor, and we all worked at the same place. A couple months in he moves in a random middle aged male into our suite, when we were 2 girls in our early 20’s and did not agree to this at all. Then he kicks us out at the end of 4 months when he knew that our internships were to last another 4. We always paid our rent on time, were clean and are quiet types.

    Horrible tenants exist, but so do horrible landlords. My current landlady has been very nice and reasonable so far, I hope she continues to be. I wish landlords could be more considerate of us tenants.

    • Rachelle

      I’m sorry, here’s nothing wrong with basement tenants per se… and I totally agree with your point of horrible landlords as well. I’ve met my fair share.

  • Juliet

    This is probably the worst article i ever read. Basement apartments are cheaper. It helps the Landlord and the Tenant both save money.

    How often do you hear a stampeed of people running upstairs? depends… do they have children?

    apart from that, i am disgusted from your comment about “low profile tenants”

    I certainly hope you never end up on the welfare system, cause if you do; its a shelter for you.

    many people who end up living in basement apartments are not “scum” as you have labeled them. Some are business owners who have claimed bankruptcy.

    Single mothers who are not in receipt of child support and can not afford a “real” apartment.

    Couples who are first starting out want to pay as little and save as much.

    Depending on where you live an “apartment” is not an option. In York Region for example, there are very few apartment buildings.

    Such a poor article… same on you for labeling people without knowledge of these “low profile clients”

    and, everyone lies. just like you. Over exaggerating this story.

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  • David

    I am currently renting a basement apartment in Edmonton. I have been here a year and have just decided to move out. My Landlords live above me. I have had No issues at all. My apartment has its own entrance which is a plus. However the stairs leading to my apartment are Very steep and are located outside. Snow fall is a real pain. I have had to shovel out many times. You cannot even climb the stairs after a downfall. I have fallen down them more times than I can count. My apartment is located in a poor area of the city with lots of drug use and homeless people. I need to keep the curtains down because the side of the house where I have windows has a sidewalk. So anyone walking by can see right in. Even into my bedroom. I can live with all of these issues. However the real pain is parking. There is only parking on the street. Too many people live here to just park on the street. I am half a block from like 4 churches. So if you go out Sunday, you won’t be parking any where near my apartment until well after supper. They clear trees and you can’t park out front. They clear snow, and you can’t park out front. The landlord doesn’t feel like parking in the garage, and you can’t park out front. Anyways….I’m rambling. What I wanted to say is that I enjoyed living in this apartment. But probably won’t do it again. Oh. And I pay 1000 per month. Which is a little high.

    Things I won’t miss about my basement apartment experience:
    10-Uneven floors requiring spacers on all tables to level them out.
    9-Landlord practicing on their grand piano right above my bed.
    8-Landlords cats playing with the springy door stop(yeh…it’s funny unless it is happening to you at 0300am).
    7-People throwing used needles into the back yard.
    6-Homeless people “shopping” in my garbage.
    5-Living in the dark because you can’t open your curtains.
    4-Walking 2 blocks because that is the closest open parking spot.
    3-Drug dealers and prostitutes on the street corners.
    2-Killer cement stairs with cement stucco on each side that make you feel you are walking…or falling, into an underground cript.
    1-SPIDERS…Too many damn spiders!!!

  • Roy

    Rachelle is a liar and won’t allow posts about how other people’s posts already have discredited her entire argument. Rachelle your a self absorbed bitch who knows absolutely nothing about life. Easiest post ever hah!

  • Roy

    And all rachelle has to say to Juliet’s comment is “I’m truly not exaggerating” ha ha ha what a horrible come back argument. Just admit you were all wrong.

  • vieille femme

    Je suis clairement d’accord avec toi

  • Diego

    Hardest properties to manage???!!! Try a high rise condo. What a lame article.

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  • Get Real

    I prefer to read sensible comments from those people who can rationally read an article and be ok that an author has an opinion that comes from their experiences, like this article.
    There’s unfortunately a lot of angry, defensive comments on here, defending being a basement renter or a basement landlord. When someone is angry and defensive it tells me they unfortunately haven’t developed an intelligence to read an article and remove their emotion from it, understanding that the article was never written to put anyone down personally. How can people be so ignorant? She’s obviously not shaming basement renters, she’s warning people about the downsides to renting out a basement suite. If you tell me there are no downsides then you’re completely in denial. Give me a break. I enjoyed the straight-cut delivery of this article. If you can’t handle it then get off the internet.

  • No

    First of all, NEVER ever rent a basement ‘suite’. Most of them rarely legal. Houses were built to be houses NOT apartments, so if you are going to modify them to bring in some cash for your ‘mortgage’ at least have some respect for the *cough cough* tenants that are giving you this income. Slumlords I call them, because they are trying to make a quick buck off scamming people of lower income that cannot afford to buy their own homes, yet you believe they should be punished by cheaping out, and not providing a decent quality renovation or lack thereof to someone in need of a roof over their head. If you ever go into a basement ‘suite’ situation, never ever sign a lease. Do month to month, because there will always be some sort of issue. Usually that being the illegal installation of a ‘paper’ ceiling allowing you to hear the tenant above you and their every move, or perhaps the lack of ventilation in case of temperature changes, or even carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s the most ridiculous situation and no one should be lessened to live in a basement, let alone pay for it.

    • Rachelle

      Don’t worry many don’t. The fact are that for people who need affordable housing basement suites can fill this gap. It’s cold outside and your friendly Ontario Works recipient gets $525 per month to live AND pay rent. People who are new to the country, elderly on a pension, students etc. cannot afford to rent a condo. For many people, living in a basement suite is preferable to dealing with bedbugs and cockroaches endemic to “affordable apartments” Plus you can get to live in a much better neighborhood, for people with kids, schools are important.

      Second you are confusing the term legal as a term with safety and that’s not always true. There are a lots of reasons for an apartment to be illegal and most of them have to do with city zoning and have nothing to do with safety and fire codes. Don’t confuse Nimbyism with truth. Last time I checked the City of Mississauga wants $8000 for a permit to build a basement apartment. The city of Toronto wants $27,000 in development charges for a third unit in a house. It’s not surprising that landlords elect to not get ass raped by the city’s fees. That doesn’t mean the apartment isn’t safe.

      Brampton has subdivions that were built with lovely 3 bedroom upper and lower units and they shut down tons of these apartments if the owner did not have proof dating back to 1994?

      So lots of reasons, for an apartment not to be legal, most of them don’t have to do with safety.

  • Lily

    Hi, I live in a basement and i have absolutely no problem with the apartment. The neighbourhood is good, I have a parking space, I don’t do too much, the landlord and his family are friendly. But I have a question; if something is broken in the basement is it my responsibility to fix it or that of the landlord. For example the bathroom or the stove. Second questions is it right for the landlord to come down to the basement at any time without seeking permission from me.

    • Rachelle

      Hi Lily, it is the landlord’s job to fix the apartment, unless you caused the damage. As for the other question it’s not clear enough, is there a common area? or is your landlord going into your place? They just open the door and walk in? Knock on the door? Your landlord is allowed to go into your place with 24 hour notice, unless it’s an emergency or unless you waive the requirement.

  • Paul

    This bitch dosnt know to write.
    Somehow her horrible “articles”, if you want to call then that always come up in my searches.
    She sounds like she is always on PMS.
    And get a life and stop replying to everything.
    Someone please stop her

  • Dee

    I have lived in 2 basement apartments (suburbs of Toronto) within the past year and a half. My current experience has led me to conclude that I will never live in a basement apartment again. As a single mother, I figured I could live in a quieter, more family friendly neighbourhood for the same price as a bachelor or one-bedroom nearby.

    I began with feeling low energy/depressed from lack of sunlight, fresh air, and constant cold/darkness.

    I would forbid myself to spend too much time indoors on my days off and tried not to let it get to me.

    My current landlord had a leakage problem within the bathroom he kept telling me he would fix. When he kept slacking, I called in a 3rd party to get an estimate. He insisted on fixing it on his own, which took him several months. Black mold developed on the walls and I was left with severe headaches, joint pain, and abdominal pain. He was also in and out of my apartment on a regular basis with or without me being home.

    It made for a very uncomfortable and stressful environment.

    It’s not nice to look down on the demographic who rents basement apartments when homeowners who need to rent out their own homes for the extra income aren’t so well to do themselves.

    • Rachelle

      Dee, it’s really ok. I’m not really nice so here’s what I have to say about mold. You need a lot of airborne spores to create the health effects you are talking about. Honestly though your point is valid, if you’re renting out a basement, you don’t have much money and the spaces are not very nice. For me it’s a combination of awfulness.

  • Donkey Donut

    Dear Rachelle

    I found this wonderful fully renovated basement apartment. Rented it for a year. Landlords seem fine and sane. During my first weeks stay theres a banging sound coming from the ceiling every 10 seconds. Couldnt sleep so brought down the owners and they said its the heater pipes in the ceiling, heres some earplugs. Now Im not much of a joker but I thought the earplugs was funny. On top of the banging in the ceiling I get tapping sounds and sqeaks 24/7.

    Is there anything me or the owners can do for this medieval horror sound torture to cease ? Please dont say demolish the house or move out it took a lot of looking to get this apartment.

    Thank you

    • Rachelle

      My understanding is that they can break a hole in your ceiling and secure the pipes better. But that’s just a guess. Really they need a plumber to come and tell them what the hell is going on. Not sure what the tapping is…