Tenants Reporting “Illegal” Apartments Should Think Twice

January 24th, 2018 · Tell Me What You Really Think Here · Property Management, Rental Property

I received a call from a landlord today. His tenant who pays $800 for a two bedroom apartment basement with all utilities included has reported him to the City. I haven’t seen the place but the place sounds ok.

The city is coming to inspect the place. Like reports of child abuse or domestic violence, the city must investigate. Here’s what you need to know. If the problem is minor, the landlord will have 30 days or more to do the work, if it isn’t minor and requires major work, the tenant must vacate.

What did you think happened? You report your landlord and they get in trouble? Not really, all that happens is they have to fix the problem and if the problem cannot be rectified, you get 30 days to move. If the problem requires extensive renovations due to the City Order, you have to move.

So let’s say you live in a $500 per month basement that’s pretty crappy, but you want to live in a nicer place… just move to a nicer place and pay for it. If you call the city, they are likely to shut it down. You will have to move. Maybe you can move into a homeless shelter. Chances are the landlord will not rerent the place after having a bunch of trouble with you. It’s just not worth it for a lousy $500 per month less the cost of utilities and you probably left your lights on all day because why not? you’re not paying for it.

I had a place on Sussex Ave in Toronto. It had 2 basement apartments, rented for around $1000 per month, declared completely safe according to the Fire Inspector but illegal according to City Zoning. We consulted an architect to try to legalize the basements and they said the city of Toronto will want 30K just in development charges. The tenants were evicted, and instead of 4 affordable apartments, there are 2 huge luxury apartments, the landlords get more money, didn’t pay the city for any development charges and doing better than ever. We should send the tenant (evicted now) a check for the wonderful work he did for our landlord business. In every case I think of where the landlord had this issue… the tenant got thrown out and the landlord ends up renovating and renting for a lot more.

So if your place is safe in case of fire, in that it has a fire alarm/co detector and no bars on the basement windows and It’s cheap, don’t be idiot and report it to the city unless you have another place to go to. Not only will your landlord not appreciate it, there’s a good chance you will have to move, immediately.

If you do not have a fire detector or C/O detector go to the Hardware Store and buy one. It’s $60 for the 10 year smoke/co. Then take it off your rent. Or even the cheap smoke detectors are $6. Or bug your landlord & then if that doesn’t work get the Fire Department in. Here you kind of run the same risk as above, if it’s really unsafe the work require might mean you have to move.

For sure, you won’t be getting a reference. Because no one enjoys having the City or the Fire Department called on them. Too many times, what we find is tenants behind in their rent trying to cause trouble for their landlords. Meanwhile you’re not only messing with yourself, in many cases the landlord will just sell the house, or not rent it out again etc. There goes one more affordable apartment.

I bought a car once for $400, ironically a tenant sold it to me. It was a shit car. I didn’t complain, I got it fixed and it lasted me 18 months. That’s $22 per month for a car. Again it was shit, but I paid $22. Now you know what would have been stupid? Calling the guy that sold me the car 18 months later when the transmission blew out and complaining.

Now rents are expensive in Toronto, because houses are expensive, utilities are expensive, repairs are expensive, property taxes are expensive. So let’s say you manage to find a 2 bedroom basement for $800 all in, which is cheap as hell in Toronto, and you are unhappy, let someone else have it and move.

What blows me away is… when I get to tell the tenants they have to move… they are always shocked, and I always ask them… “WHAT DID YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN?”

This is not Kindergarten here people, this is real life, and this is what happens. The city may be friendly but they are not really your friend.

Make Careful Choices. That is All.

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