Saving Money At Any Cost – Why it’s Dumb

October 25th, 2014 · Commercial Property, Contractors, Property Management, Rental Property

Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Here’s the problem with constantly asking contractors for lower prices. Someone will say yes and they will give you your money’s worth.

Here’s the other problem. You own the house. and. the. crappy. illegal. building. code. breaking. “renovations”.

You are not saving money, you are just kicking the can down the road.

I’m currently having a major issue with a renovator who managed to mess up a basement apartment that has actually been vacant for over a year. I got some quotes from decent contractors I have used before. They do nice work. The owner managed to find their own contractor who had a much lower price. Shortly after hiring said contractor the owner left the country. It was left to me to approve the final work and payment for the work.

It was awful. Now it’s my problem. Except fixing other contractors work is not something anyone wants to do for a reasonable price. So the apartment sits empty for another 2 months while we wait to find a price cheap enough to repair the mistakes of the previous “cheap” contractor.

Heating Adventures

That’s ok, because as it turned out, the heat doesn’t work. I send out my usual contractor (another landlord I work for) and as it turns out the hot water tank is being used as a boiler and also supplying the hot water. This is the result of a previous cost saving initiative. I called the contractor who did the initial installation and they do not want to come back because apparently they have come back every year and now they don’t want to.  According to the current guy this type of system will work for a few years then plug up.

This is also now my problem. Lucky me.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the owner is telling me that they will sell the property this spring because it doesn’t cash flow. I call this phenomenon starving the goose that lays the golden eggs. There is nothing wrong with the property.

Working For The Contractor But Not Being Paid

The other day, I get a phone call from another owner. She’s headed out to pick up materials for her contractors. She works full time and has a couple kids and now she’s picking up materials. I told her to hire people who pick up their own materials. Get the wrong thing and the wrong amount and it’s your fault. Push the responsibility to the people it belongs to. She’s not getting a discount or being paid to do their work. Shopping and picking up materials is contractors work.

In most cases I install a lock box and the contractors go and let themselves in and out. The contractors I use are not crackheads from Kijiji. There is not a cost savings on the planet that is great enough for me to micromanage a project like painting a basement apartment. I’m not picking up the paint, standing over them, telling them how to paint, cleaning up their drips and generally putting up with bullshit.

Neither Should You. Are you sick of problems with contractors? Tell me your horror story in the comments…

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Rental Madness

September 5th, 2014 · Property Management

Mercedes Racer  (LOC)Business is good and continues to get better, I finally hired a fantastic new property manager. She’s the bees knees with a proven ability to find quality tenants 100% of the time. She’s also one of the most diligent and ethical people I know. I’ve just been too busy and it only makes sense to get someone aboard who can provide the same or better level of service I provide.  So if you happen to get Dina on the telephone instead of me, say hi.

It’s been really busy this year and I can’t help but be happy about the number of properties I rent and manage increasing every single month.  I have a few clients I’ve worked for for over 10 years now. That’s even longer than I’ve been in business as Landlord Rescue. Some people found me from my previous employer. They saw my photo on the web and called me up. One of the tenants I placed is still in the unit from over 10 years ago, a landlord’s dream.

The Most Qualified People Doing The Important Crucial Work

The most important part of the entire landlord business is the “Tenant Acquisition Process” and that is where most people have the most problems. The biggest mistake is probably thinking too much about your own needs and compromising and taking chances. The second biggest problems is underestimating how important it is to screen for niceness and decency in a tenant. After all you may end up in a 10 year business relationship.

Yet in most management companies, the people with the most experience are not doing the work that is the absolute cornerstone of the entire business. Selecting quality tenants is the single most important task in property management.   Without that you have a house built on sand. In most management companies, this crucial task is relegated to underlings. Not at Landlord Rescue.  Renting property is still my favourite task, I get out of the office and meet new people.

Last month, when Dina started, she asked me if she could do N-4’s or Non payment of rent notices. We did not have any. Not one. This month I did one, but it wasn’t for a tenant I rented to, it was for a tenant on a property I took over from another manager. A triplex, it had two units empty, one for over nine months.

We also managed a back to back rental in a condo in Mississauga, I like to rent back to back if I can. It’s a little more nerve wracking for us, as we have to coordinate the trades and old tenant move out and new tenant move in gracefully. For the owner it saves a month’s rent which makes a big difference. We don’t always succeed but we do try to rent the unit while the tenant is getting ready to move.

It’s a strange accident of fate that renting and managing condos pays us a lot more than managing rental buildings.  So my clients benefit. We benefit. My passionate commitment to providing a service with real value, with guarantees, to investors is paying off.

Life is Good.


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Water Theft?

August 17th, 2014 · Personal House, Property Management

rusty waters

So yesterday I heard an entirely new situation. So the resident of the super nice homes I manage calls me with a complaint. His wife went outside and caught the neighbor filling a bunch of 5 gallon pails to water her garden. In the rain no less.

In the past they noticed that their hose bib was not where they left it so they suspect it’s been going on for quite a while. They knocked on their neighbors door to discuss the issue with with them. The neighbors did not answer.

So he called me, and we had a good laugh about the joys of multiculturalism and we tried to figure out a way to keep the water theft from going on. We know she knows it’s wrong because she startled when she saw the resident looking at her and apologized and ran away. Then they would not answer the door.

My only suggestion other than turning off the water every time they go away, was to call 311 and ask them what to do. Other than that the Police?

Anyone else ever dealt with this? Please let me know in the comments.

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See You Later Robin Williams

August 13th, 2014 · Excellent Service Awards

Robin Williams Dead at 63

I’m sad Robin Williams is dead, it’s too final. Despite what looked like a fantastic life, he hung himself. He had a wife and kids that loved him and seemingly everything to live for, he’s dead today because the pain of living was greater than the pain of being dead. He didn’t owe me anything to keep on living in pain so I wish him well, he provided me with laughs and joy.

I think my favourite line of his is in Mrs. Doubtfire as Mrs. Doubtfire recounts her amorous adventures with Mr. Doubtfire. Apparently Mr. Doubtfire’s idea of foreplay was to shout “Brace yourself Effie ! ” As a young woman I remember laughing my head off relating all too well to the comedy.

Mental Illness Is Very Common

Mental illness is very common everywhere, in fact if we are all honest, the “mentally ill” are probably more common than the sane people. As a manager you are all too often going to deal with crazy people of all types, from people having a bad day to full on hospitalizations. If you’re lucky it’s not you. :-)

I remember one nice professional lady who did have some kind of issue discussing how someone was messing with her toothpaste and messing up her house. She was 100% convinced that someone was entering her suite and moving her stuff. As I looked through her file, it became clear that either she was the victim of a long standing conspiracy by building staff or something was wrong with her. The building had changed her lock 20+ times and police had come. Her TV also talked to her even when unplugged. That was the major clue to a problem I could never fix.

When I was doing evictions full time there was no shortage of drug and alcohol addicted individuals who were simply so caught up in their disease they could no longer manage money. One guy punched our accountant in the face when he refused to give him a rent receipt for rent he hadn’t paid so the tenant could file his income tax. We couldn’t even get rid of him as he moved from apartment to apartment in the building as a visitor.

No one is too mighty to be spared mental illness. When I was in college I used to help a guy named Neil buy eggs and shop for food, he had been a guy with a family and great job, and kids when struck down by schizophrenia later in life. A majority of us are either ill to some degree, have been ill, work with people who are ill, or have family affected by mental illness.

One of my friends Dave, hung himself in a park. He was funny and smart and played the guitar and we even flirted a few times. He had 2 children and struggled with addiction.  Like Robin he had people who cared for him, but the pain of living and struggling was too great.

RIP Robin


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Rental Market Report

August 12th, 2014 · Property Management

SoftThe effects of the wholesale dumping of condos onto the rental market is having noticeable effect this year. This is prime rental season and properties are moving but nowhere near as fast as last year. Properties are very price sensitive this year as well. In other years you might get away with an extra $100 in rent, but this year supply is plentiful and you will not get any calls at all until the price goes down.

I’m having to work really hard for my money this season and we are not seeing any price increases only decreases in the condo world. To put this in perspective, I have suites I’ve managed for 6-7 years that are renting for the same price I originally rented at. The maintenance fees have gone up steadily during that time.

So if you are having a hard time, you’re not alone. I was also speaking to a colleague in Ottawa and they too have the same problem. Houses they would have rented in a week before are taking a month. I’d say prices are actually trending downwards as landlords have no choice but to lower prices in a market with outrageous amount of supply.

Sorry about the bad news, but it is what it is.

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