I wrote a post for Money Smarts Blog a while back. It was a story about a senior resident in a building where I worked. She was one of the first residents of the building and was a great lady. It was called Evicting a Senile Old Lady – A Tenant From Hell Story
The facts of life are that as one ages (this will happen to all of us; unless you win a Darwin Award) Seniors value their independence and will often try to stay on their own much longer than they safely can. They can also have very limited budgets if they haven’t saved or have outlived their savings. Care homes are very expensive and aren’t that great.
One landlord told me that he had a senior who applied for his place a basement apartment. She was moving from her current apartment because she couldn’t go down the stairs. The landlord knew that there was a rather icy set of steps to go down to his basement apartment. Why the lady even applied for this unsuitable apartment was a mystery to him. He ended up turning down the application.
Seniors are usually a good risk, they pay their rent, they don’t party their asses off and they’re great as tenants. They may suffer from decreased mobility and other age related ailments. It’s just a good citizen thing to keep an eye out for them.
Five Services Landlords Could Provide for Seniors
- House maintenance, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, raking leaves.
- Grab Bars for Bathroom Baths
- Changing light bulbs, batteries for smoke alarms
- Extra salting in winter
- Disability Ramps or solid handrails
The tenant is not legally responsible for maintenance, but many tenants assume it anyways. For a senior having a hard time a self propelled mulching mower, self start snow blower or leaf blower may make a world of difference. Eventually you may have to get a service to perform these tasks.
Properly installed Grab Bars in the bathroom will make showering and bathing safer and easier for a senior. Properly installed means screwed into the studs with large screws that will hold up a person. These devices come with very precise instructions that should obviously be followed.
Tenants are required to change their own light bulbs; I’ve always been flexible about doing this service for the elderly. The idea of a 80 year old standing on a chair to change a light bulb just sounds like a recipe for a broken hip. It’s easy to do this at the same time as regularly scheduled battery changes for smoke alarms and periodic inspections.
Don’t save money on proper salting of ice and steps during the winter. Keep an eye on your contractor and make sure that they us adequate amounts. Slip and fall accidents are a major cause of broken bones and injury.
Make sure all handrails in a seniors home are very well installed. Drywall plugs are not sufficient. Handrails need to be secured into studs. I don’t use handrails and neither do you but when your senior needs them to hang on to they’d better stay stuck to wall.
Take advantage of the available grants for landlords offered through CMHC. You can get the money necessary to keep your great senior tenant in your property.
Eventually you may have to do what I did and kick out your long term senior tenant out for their own good. My thoughts are with you if you’re in this situation. It’s not easy to make those types of decisions for another person. Being a landlord is tough. If you got into the business to win some type of popularity contest, you’ve made a dreadful mistake. We’re all getting older one day at a time; I’d like to think some type of Karma system is in place so that I get treated well when I’m old and vulnerable.
Happy Aging !