Commentary

Talking Tenancy: How to Move Beyond Mutual Distrust

Through respectful two-way communication, landlords and tenants can break the cycle of mistrust, neglect and decline that takes such a toll on our city's homes and neighbourhoods.

By Tanya Ritchie
Published December 02, 2011

No home is an island: the "worst house on the block" diminishes us all. To keep it in good shape, every house has a number of interested parties.

If there's a mortgage, the biggest stakeholder is generally the bank or mortgage company - but this is only in financial terms, and most likely they don't really care much about the property beyond that mortgage being paid.

Next is the owner of the house, whose interest is much higher, especially if this house is owner-occupied. If the house is rented, then the tenant has an interest in that house. And lastly, the neighbours and community surrounding this house also have an interest in it.

What do I mean by "interest"? I mean that these people or companies are better off if the house is better off; it is a benefit to them if the house is occupied, maintained and enjoyed.

So why do we see so many houses in a state of disrepair? The most obvious answer is that the interested parties lack the means, ability or inclination to tend to these buildings in a suitable manner.

For example, a retiree, not so limber any more, children grown up and moved away, unable to keep up on the maintenance and unable to afford a contractor. Often neighbourhoods age at the same rate and communities face a decline until a new generation steps in and takes over.

But we can't blame our derelict neighbourhoods on seniors, can we? What about the ones we might call slums - neighbourhoods where houses are often occupied by tenants and absentee landlords ignore everything but the monthly rent cheque?

I've been a hands-on landlord for about ten years now, and all the houses I own are within a few minutes' walk from my own. When people talk about "bad" neighbourhoods, I am angered. Every house is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; it is in my interest, in my neighbours' interests and in the city's interest to ensure that these slums do not carry on as they are.

But how do we go about remedying a problem that is so manifest in the image and psyche of the city? If I may use as examples tenants and neighbours I have had over the last decade, I'll try to illustrate why this problem recurs and try to suggest how to fix it.

The Landlord Problem

This is a pretty basic one. Some landlords buy into the myth that downtown Hamilton is dirty, disreputable and dangerous. The property is cheap, so they buy it, put in tenants, and that's all. Once the property is unlivable, they renovate it to re-rent or re-sell. Perhaps they even leave it vacant as a tax dodge or tear it down.

A family who once rented from us came from a third-floor apartment. They had two small children who could see daylight through their roof - and not through a skylight.

However, many tenants have treated me as though I were such a landlord - I can only assume based on previous bad experience with neglectful landlords. If something in the apartment breaks - through no fault, but just wear and tear - I am immediately called a slumlord.

Once, an extreme rainfall caused damage to downspouts and roof of a property, resulting in a leak inside. Obviously there was nothing to be done in the middle of the storm, but as soon as things were safe, the roof was patched ad hoc, and a professional roofer was called to quote and repair the damage.

But it took four weeks for the roofer to come out and replace the roof, which was not soon enough for the tenant, who decided to stop paying.

In these two parallel cases, we see reasonable versus unreasonable landlord behaviour. A landlord who simply will not fix a problem needs to be educated as to his responsibilities, whereas a landlord who fixes a problem properly, but is reliant on circumstances outside his control, should not be condemned.

The Tenant Problem

If it is true that tenants can become jaded about their landlords and assume neglect will be the normal state of affairs, it is equally true that landlords can become jaded about their tenants.

Usually, tenants adhere to what we call the 90-10 Rule: ten percent of tenants cause ninety percent of problems. There are the ones who simply don't clean up, there are the ones who can't so much as change their own light bulbs, and there are the ones who try to grow marijuana.

Alongside these bad examples, there are the ones who treat the property as though it were their own, as house-proud as any home owner, who clean and garden and love the place.

Though I have seen a handful of cases where tenants willfully damage the property or break the law, most often the problems that arise with tenants are ones of simple cleanliness.

We would never seek to prevent a tenant from having a pet and have had great experiences with tenant pets - but often pets are not housebroken and this is disastrous.

There have been more than a handful of cases where tenants cannot abide by garbage collection bylaws, and try to put out too many bags, don't know how to recycle and inevitably use their backyard as the city dump. These issues are compounded when lack of cleanliness leads to pests.

Quite recently I received a request from a tenant to call an exterminator, as he had a problem with mice and roaches. I called the exterminator, who came out in only two days to treat the house. Afterwards, however, I received a note attached to the bill - treatment was most likely ineffective due to the extremely unsanitary living conditions.

The Conundrum

What we are faced with is an impasse. Cynical tenants do little or nothing to clean or improve their homes because they know their landlord is a slumlord who doesn't care about the place and won't do anything to repair it. Fed-up landlords do little or nothing to repair or improve their houses because they know that their tenants are slobs who will ruin or damage anything they put in.

I know well the despair of walking into a newly-vacated property to see what tenants have done to it, sometimes in only a few months: what was clean, renovated and welcoming is now filthy, damaged and overrun with pests. But I also know the misery of tenants who live without hot water or with broken windows, through no fault of their own.

The result of this is a cycle of neglect, and it is the houses themselves that bear the scars.

With so many interested parties, surely the opposite should be true, but perhaps the Bystander Effect comes into play here - because there are so many parties, none of them feel a great responsibility to the house.

In my own experience, breaking the cycle by being a communicative, conscientious and courteous landlord is sometimes effective. Tenants who come in with low expectations will stay longer and treat the house well, a good relationship will develop, and in the end we will be sorry to see them go.

In other cases, unfortunately, no amount of good intention will improve a situation and help rendered to tenants is perceived as weakness, and disrespect for the property only increases.

Inevitably, it is the house and the neighbourhood that suffer. In several cases of recalcitrant tenants, I have had unhappy neighbours, fed up with behaviour or mess. I have also had wonderful tenants who have had problems with their neighbours - often because of a slum landlord!

This negativity often leaves good people with the feeling that they have no option but to move away, and we have lost great tenants because of issues with "bad" neighbourhoods.

The Solution

On both sides, communication is the most important factor. If a landlord demonstrates to a tenant - even before they have agreed to rent or signed a lease - that the landlord's primary concern is for the welfare and comfort of the tenant, not for the rent cheque, then a relationship can grow.

But it has to be mutual. A tenant must demonstrate that they will treat the house as though it were their own, not simply a place to crash while they're passing through. If something breaks - tell the landlord. If you missed garbage day - tell the landlord.

Similarly, if the landlord has called a contractor and a broken window won't be fixed for six weeks, give the tenant a timeline. Be honest and communicate.

If the tenant can't pay the rent, tell the landlord in advance, even if you only suspect that you might not pay. I would rather be pleasantly surprised when a tenant who said they'd pay late actually pays on time, than rudely surprised when a tenant who did not communicate shows up a week late.

Negotiate about gardens, snow removal and lawn cutting, gutter cleaning, graffiti removal and other issues that are no fault of either party. If your taps drip or your toilet runs, if your door has a draught or your lights are flickering, tell your landlord. We are not psychic!

The same thing goes for neighbourhoods in general. It helps to have a clear line of communication with your neighbours. If your neighbour's gutters are leaking and flooding your basement, let them know that it's a problem. Suggest a contractor or offer to assist yourself.

Introduce yourself and ensure that they have your name and number, and you have theirs. For landlords especially, it's often invaluable to have good neighbours who have the interests of your property and the welfare of your tenants in mind.

We must move forward with the assumption that we are dealing with reasonable people on all sides. If the tenant cares about the property, the landlord will be more than happy to improve it as well. And, of course, if the tenant cleans up and the landlord doesn't have to pay for garbage removal and exterminators, the landlord will have money for improvements.

And if, after all that, you are stuck with a slumlord who won't hold up their end, or a tenant who trashes the place, then you have a few options. If it's a minor problem, can you just deal with it yourself? If you can't, can you compel them to deal with it?

Sometimes communication breaks down. In these cases, check out the website or get in touch with the Landlord Tenant Board and find out your rights and responsibilities.

Tanya Ritchie is an immigrant who moved to Hamilton ten years ago and lives in Ward 3. She is the co-owner of Hamilton Guest House, Hamilton's only backpackers' hostel.

52 Comments

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 02, 2011 at 10:14:01

Thanks for the article. It pretty-much confirmed what I'd already understood about the industry, but it's good to see it laid out like this.

The landlords that really disappoint me are the ones in Westdale. They've seen the neighborhood, they know that they're the crappiest-looking house on the block. They can't pretend that their run-down shack looks the same as the rest of the houses. And pushing a stroller through an un-shoveled sidewalk makes me hope their pipes freeze.

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By MakeJump (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2011 at 12:21:12 in reply to Comment 71796

If such a large gap in understanding between tenants and landlords is propagated by a negative stigma concerning a given property then are you not contributing to that stigma with such a negative view?

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By TnT (registered) | Posted December 03, 2011 at 11:39:03 in reply to Comment 71798

The negative stigma is something I've battled for almost a decade and a half. I've worked tremendously hard at being a hands on landlord. Often running into conflicts, but in the end very little conflicts related to the property. I know some people really trash landlords as not caring, but I assure you I do. I don't have statistics on how many landlords live in the area like me, but the perception is they don't. That can lead to issues.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 02, 2011 at 12:17:29

I've helped a lot of people through bad situations at the Landlord Tenant Board. The state of rental housing in this city is too often abysmal, and people really suffer as a result. Personally, though, I try to maintain good relationships with my landlords, because I've seen how ugly things can get when things go sour. Inevitably, it only escalates to the point of lawsuits and eviction hearings, and nobody ever really wins.

If you want to understand why these homes are in such poor repair, look at the economics. The landlord doesn't even see most of the rent if there's a mortgage, and more than half of that is likely interest alone. Out of an average $1000 in rent, what actually goes toward the building? And how much of that is available in the short term for repairs/upgrades? For many, I'd bet about $50, which sounds about right when looking at them. Many spend less. Think about that in comparison to the staggering amount of money people spend to live in them over their lifetimes...

I hate to encourage LIUNA's south-mountain developments, but the co-op model has worked pretty well for everyone I know who's lived in 'em (here or elsewhere).

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 02, 2011 at 13:36:23 in reply to Comment 71797

Yea, most people (willfully?) fail to understand the simple economics of many property owners. Just because a landlord/owner owns a house, it seems than many automatically assume that he/she has loads of money as their disposal.

After mortgage, insurance, tax (incredibly high in Hamilton), heat (most often included in Hamilton, hydro (usually only the common areas, as most units have their own) and repairs, there isn't much left.

And that's NOT including some extras such as management fees (if you above a 3rd party assume management, usually at a rate of 8-10% of revenue), different heating/lighting/water/sewer layouts and whatnot.

I'm not saying anyone's at fault here, as there are losers on both sides here, but I can recall many, many, many times over the last decade when explaining to tenants of mine all the costs involved in OWNING PROPERTY and they HAVE ALL BEEN SHOCKED. They just sort of thought were "free" or "someone else's problem". People are funny.

I'd suggest that if you cannot afford to keep a building in decent running condition w/professional management, and that includes being able to discern/hold out/scrutinize for better tenants (you can never tell for sure, you can only minimize the risk), then you might want to look at getting out of the business.

EDITED PART: It's not worth it to risk your financial future (endless money pit) or your tenants personal safety (nothing is worth that!). Do it right, or don't do it at all.

A 4-unit house in the downtown core is only going to net you around $700/month or so (after most of the expenses I listed above), and that's NOT INCLUDING management fees ($200 off of $700NET)and repairs (which with 100+ year old houses, you WILL ENCOUNTER).

I totally agree with the authors statement that the tenants have to let us know if something is wrong. There have been many occasions when something breaks, then is not reported, and the problem gets worse (as it always does), then all of the sudden, you're a "slumlord" who cares about nothing else other than the monthly cheque". Yea, that's it. Genius.

Great article, Tanya!

Comment edited by RB on 2011-12-02 14:28:53

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 02, 2011 at 17:12:17 in reply to Comment 71801

Cheers. And you are spot on about the economy of it: so many tenants assume that their rent just gets spent on my (cough, cough, choke) luxurious lifestyle. We tread a fine line, trying to charge enough to keep the houses in good repair, but little enough for low-income people to afford. I sometimes think there needs to be a "don't be a douche" clause in the lease agreement.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 11:04:34 in reply to Comment 71809

Hahaha! Totally a good idea... we can call it the "No Dickhead Clause"... PERFECT!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 02, 2011 at 15:57:45 in reply to Comment 71801

In this market I honestly can't understand why anybody would get into that business in this market. Being a landlord is basically using renting to cover your ownership expenses while you pray for the value to climb... and with so much uncertainty since the USA housing bust, that doesn't seem like a great plan.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 11:13:33 in reply to Comment 71803

I hear ya, but everyone has their own reasons.

Some think they can ride along, with minimal involvement/cost, and just make free money every month (even though you DO have to claim it). Those are the ones who watch too much HGTV.

Others have loftier goals, and see this as a means to an end: one house > leads to more houses > sell them then buy a building & have it professionally managed > collect more revenue. You're never really "sitting back and relaxing"; I know a good amount of people who own large investments properties and NOBODY is relaxing where their $1M+ investment is concerned. That's why they can afford to spend $1M+ on an investment... cause they are concerned, proactive & hard-working, not lazy & reactive.

I think most see it this way, but find the road to get their very daunting & eventfully not worth it. That's why the guys at the top are who they are... they have the determination.

It's tough and stressful, though. Remember, nobody cares about your property as much as you do. Nobody.

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 02, 2011 at 17:05:52 in reply to Comment 71803

Well, we got into this business before the market crash. Also, we're in it for reasons other than "buy, hold and pray". There are so many beautiful houses that are neglected, so many neighbourhoods that people avoid like the plague. A naive desire to save these houses and neighbourhoods comes into play; and of course the people in them. Everyone deserves a safe, clean and affordable place to live, and we are trying to provide that for some folks in Ward 3.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 02, 2011 at 17:24:59 in reply to Comment 71807

I'd really love to do a collaborative project sometimes between angry tenants and enraged property owners targeted at everyone who watches those "investment property" shows and thinks it'd be a neat and profitable low-commitment hobby.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 11:16:03 in reply to Comment 71810

Yea, it'd be interesting to see what people have to say. If I could make a few predictions:

Many absentee landlords would continue to be... absentee.

Many tenants would throw crazy accusations/assumptions at the landlords that did manage to show up.

Regardless, it'd be interesting to see what came of it.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 02, 2011 at 12:45:40 in reply to Comment 71797

If you want to understand why these homes are in such poor repair, look at the economics.

And don't forget that rental properties are also taxed at a much higher rate than residential properties - costs that are ultimately passed on to tenants either through higher rents or worse living conditions.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted December 02, 2011 at 13:16:20 in reply to Comment 71799

Don't quote me on this, but I think rental properties only go to the higher tax level if they have more than five units.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 02, 2011 at 14:26:07 in reply to Comment 71800

I'm almost positive you're right; 6 & up bumps it up to a higher tax bracket.

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By Jennifer (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2011 at 19:16:08 in reply to Comment 71802

Actually, it's more than 6 units - so 7 and up.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 11:03:51 in reply to Comment 71812

Ahhh... thanks Jen.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted December 02, 2011 at 20:53:12

Undustrial, I would love to be part of a panel or group of landlords and tennants information group.

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By Renting (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2011 at 19:25:12

Tenants, when you rent a car, are you allowed to re-paint it, or mess up with electrical or mechanical parts ?
Of course not, because it's not your property, you just allowed to temporarily use it on certan conditions.
But that's what most tenants do to rented property, in Hamilton.
Landlords are hardly protected from that damage.
Too many tenants are on social assistance, do not work and do not respect other's work/property, also do not have money to pay for the damage they did. So they know they can get away with whatever they do to the property.
But some quite handy in manipulating the social assistence system. They live common law, just have different mailing addresses.
It's almost social assistance tenants' heaven here in downtown Hamilton.
That's the reason why beautiful century houses become neglected in downtown.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 11:17:16 in reply to Comment 71845

Harsh, but very, very true, unfortunately.

This town is a scam-artists utopia.

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2011 at 06:15:13 in reply to Comment 71845

There is absolutely no rule of thumb when it comes to finding a good tenant. We've had great tenants who received social assistance, and some jerks. We've also had great tenants who worked full time, and some jerks. Social assistance is not the common denominator when it comes to derelict properties, although obviously poverty doesn't help. But it doesn't cost anything to clean up and pull the weeds.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 11:19:40 in reply to Comment 71853

There is no definite denominator, true, but there are averages that support Renting's claim.

There are exceptions to every rule, but by and large, I've found that more often than not, those on assistance pose a greater risk to your property than those who work.

Again, harsh, but in my experience, very, very true. It's not nice to say, but unfortunately, those are the facts.

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2011 at 11:58:36 in reply to Comment 71867

Not in my experience. While it is absolutely true that poverty is a factor, working poor versus welfare collecting poor makes little difference. A little while ago we actually made a chart of every tenant we'd ever had, in an exercise to determine the best and worst sorts of tenant. We applied every variable we could think of: age, race, sex, source of income, single or couple, kids or not, pets or not, etc etc etc. Result: no pattern. The only definite trends were that people on ODSP are great tenants in all of our cases. A young black guy with a job can be awesome and dependable or a total flake; an older white guy can be a crazy bastard or a solid investment; single mothers can be the best or worst - and everything in between. We've had junkies of every age and form of income. And the opposite. Oh, one more pattern. Cats SUCK.

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By Feline Friend (anonymous) | Posted December 11, 2011 at 19:00:52 in reply to Comment 71869

I love cats, I would hate to see a no cats law. Can you legaly refuse to rent to Cat People? How about smokers? What are the laws forbidding pets, or anything really?

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 12, 2011 at 23:38:23 in reply to Comment 72129

Pets can't be banned unless they pose a threat to others (ie big scary dog, etc). I'm not sure about smoking to be honest, but I imagine the law is heading in the direction of banning.

The "damn cats" line was added with tongue in cheek, I feel bound to add. Cats are lovely pets and deserve owners who care for them properly.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 13:30:09 in reply to Comment 71869

Gotta agree with the cats thing... no cats allowed.. ever.

That's odd with the charting of tenants... mine have definitely been the opposite, but as we can both agree, there is very little "guarantee" that some will turn out to be a bad tenant.

I sometimes wonder what has better odds; craps in Vegas or correctly guessing which tenant will be a keeper!

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By jacob (registered) | Posted December 06, 2011 at 09:33:11 in reply to Comment 71878

love this. A thread on diligent, law abiding landlords devolves into the same old. Residential Tenancy Act Part 2, s14: you cannot ban pets

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2011 at 20:27:28 in reply to Comment 71918

I do not wish to ban them. But there's no law that I can't bitch and moan about them.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2011 at 12:33:28 in reply to Comment 71869

As a bit of a cat person, I'm genuinely curious: why do cats suck?

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 13:27:03 in reply to Comment 71872

one word... PEE!

It's impossible to get out of the carpets and they have to be replaced. No "product" will work; it must be torn up and replaced.

Good rule of thumb to reduce risk: cats = no tenancy.

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2011 at 13:33:24 in reply to Comment 71877

Here here. Cats smell. Cats leave dead mice everywhere. If a tenant is given to slobbiness, the cat will not be housebroken properly and the litterbox won't be changed. Even with otherwise perfect tenants, cats shed and claw the doorframes. Cats suck. Mind you, with dogs you're stepping over dog mines in the back yard.... Sigh.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 08, 2011 at 15:32:11 in reply to Comment 71880

Cats smell

No they don't. Cat pee and puke and hairballs and whatnot, those smell. But cats themselves don't have much of an odour at all.

Which isn't to say cats can't make a mess - between shedding and scratching, I'd avoid owning a cat in a place with wall-to-wall carpeting, for example.

The big problems happen if you get a cat that's badly stressed and it starts getting territorial - then they start trying to mark their territory, puking, etc.

Obviously as a landlord that's not a chance you want to take, of course... but cats are perfectly capable of being non-destructive pets.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 13:32:33 in reply to Comment 71877

Actually it's not even enough to get rid of the carpets sometimes if it has gone through to the subfloor. And if it's a basement apartment and it's made it's way into the cement, you'll never get rid of it. It's the worst.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 13:46:43 in reply to Comment 71879

Yup, that's right. It's brutal... better off not even allowing them into your place.

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By Renting (anonymous) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 18:31:40 in reply to Comment 71883

Always put underlayment under your carpet or laminate. It will make 2 things: protect the subfloor and give it a bit of soundproof. Just use the better, more expensive though.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 00:35:10

My understanding is that renting a living space differs from other types of commercial dealings because it is A Right of Estate. Meaning you give up some of your rights as an owner. The root cause of this neglect I think is in communication breakdown, not just negativity. People on social assistance are not just a bunch of welfare scam artists getting a kick out of smashing up your property. Some generally have problems, lack of education, etc. It is not the hallcient life people think. Take a moment and do the math and you will see. Try living on the welfare amount yourself and you will see how restrictive it is.

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By Renting (anonymous) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 12:22:36 in reply to Comment 71851

Nobody said that they are bad. They just do wrong. And right, welfare should be restrictive so that it motivates to look for a job to get a better living.
But somehow my social assistance tenants watch movies and listen to the music non-stop while I work non-stop around the house (cigarette butts everywhere). It's not for the faint of heart to be a landlord in Hamilton around downtown. You also need to spend a lot to rehab at least one of that beautiful but neglected houses.
A Right of Estate or whatever, it's a property belonging to someone. Somebody paid money for that property. And money not growing on trees, they are paid in exchange for hard work.
Try to save at least a few grand to see how much you should work and limit your spending. And will you then spend your money easily on somebody who does not even want to work?
But it's also not even tenants' business how their landlord lives. They use the product of others work, they pay for it.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted December 06, 2011 at 09:27:28 in reply to Comment 71870

yeah, it's a property owned by the bank. You only have an interest in it, and so does your tenant. Get it?

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By Renting (anonymous) | Posted December 08, 2011 at 12:55:40 in reply to Comment 71917

Rent from the bank then.

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2011 at 13:44:50 in reply to Comment 71870

"And right, welfare should be restrictive so that it motivates to look for a job to get a better living. "

That is a fallacy that annoys me a great deal. Poverty is seldom motivational. For those out there who would rather skive than contribute, the amount is not a factor. For those trying to pull themselves up, poverty restricts their options and depletes their spirits.

It is a vicious cycle, and poverty makes it worse, not better.

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By Renting (anonymous) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 18:40:24 in reply to Comment 71882

Just a little thing. Where are money come from ? Should you work longer hours to support another family, or your tax should be increased ?
To the poor: baby steps will bring you to wellness.
You should climb the ledder, as everybody does.

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2011 at 23:58:12 in reply to Comment 71898

If you lost your job or means of income, my anonymous friend, I would not wish you and your family to lose the roof over your head and have to subsist on the charity of food banks. You cannot put a price on dignity.

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By Renting (anonymous) | Posted December 07, 2011 at 13:49:20 in reply to Comment 71909

Of course, your dignity is so high that you better go to the food bank than do a dirty job to support your family, even if it's temporary. Am I right ?
My dignity is better work dirty job, but do not feed my family from the food bank. Been there.

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By InHamilton (anonymous) | Posted December 05, 2011 at 22:15:15

I just recently had a tenant who is and until now working as a manager of a well known steak restaurant. he didn't pay rent for 3 months, didn't pay hydro bill. Evicted by the tenant board then stole the washer and dryer when he moved out. So far, he is the worst tenant i had than the one's i have who are in ODSP or ontario works. Just can't imagine what kind of food is being served if customer requested to reheat the steak or had complains with that manager.

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By just don't get it (anonymous) | Posted December 07, 2011 at 15:00:38

Try buying a rental property in a better neighbourhood.

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By landlord (anonymous) | Posted December 10, 2011 at 19:27:07

Hi InHamilton, Another landlord I know had to evict a manager of well known steakhouse a couple years ago. I wonder if it's the same person?

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By TnT (registered) | Posted December 11, 2011 at 10:59:55

A tennant review list warning landlords of bad tennants would somehow be a violation of peoples rights.

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By HammerRenter (anonymous) | Posted December 11, 2011 at 18:56:46

I have rented for all my life. My parents were renters. My brother and I both rent. We had a very leftist upbringing you could say, and property is theft. I am quite sure that the person who has wrote this article has the best of intentions. Not a judgement on you or your particular rentals. The underlying problem is that you are no representative of landlords at large (though I do not have the testimony of your tennants either) who are abusive and neglective of their rental units and human beings who live in them. I find your article to be one that rather glossess over the real issues of landlord abuse and your comments about no pets is in violation of human rights. People, especially poor people, keep pets for the theraputic purposes and companionship. I do not wish to be hurtful in my comments, but until the city can expropriate slum properties and run them as social housing, this will continue.

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 13, 2011 at 00:35:28 in reply to Comment 72128

In the body of my article I said that pets can be wonderful and I would never seek to ban them. And, yes, the article glosses over many landlord abuses, and many tenant abuses too. This was because of word limit constraints. If there's anything you'd like me to address in more detail, please ask. I think that this city has many wonderful landlords and tenants, but mutual animosity and poor experiences on both sides spur the relationship.

As for property is theft... look up the phrase, my friend, and its history, and explain to me how it relates to my article. The speaker wasn't speaking of real estate when he used the word "property", he was talking about slavery and serfdom in the French Revolution.

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By Landlord (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 21:11:45 in reply to Comment 72188

TDR- I appreciated your article because there is a strong lack of balance in what information people are exposed to. I spoke with a clerk at the Landlord Tenant Board and approximately 70% of the caseload is as a result of tenant behaviour. Unfortunately, landlords are largely anonymous and as such a safe target.

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By HammerRenter (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 19:23:16

Believe me I know what the purpose is. Proudhon was using it as an example the land owners could use and abuse their property an way they wanted as long as it didn't infringe on the rights of any other persons. This is doubly important today when we have absentee landlords being rewarded by tax incentives to let properties crumble. I live under Mr. Morelli's care here in Ward 3 and believe me when I say I know of the neglect of an area. I'm not sure where you live, but if you come down enough times to see what it happening in the ward zone where you own your property it might shock you.

Here is the quote from Proudhon:


"If I were asked to answer the following question: What is slavery? and I should answer in one word, It is murder!, my meaning would be understood at once. No extended argument would be required . . . Why, then, to this other question: What is property? may I not likewise answer, It is robbery!, without the certainty of being misunderstood; the second proposition being no other than a transformation of the first?"


—Pierre-Joseph Proudhon


Seems pretty clear.

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By Landlord (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 21:23:29 in reply to Comment 72315

HammerRenter- There's no shortage of opinion about the poor quality of landlords in Hamilton. What makes this article important is that it presents the problem from a different point of view. As a landlord in ward three, I'm continually astonished by how much more work it is to maintain my property in that area. I offer tenants clean, safe and affordable apartments but the apartments are rarely left clean or in good repair when the tenants move out.

I share your disappointment with the failure of some landlords to maintain their property but I can also understand why they've given up. My preference would be for them to sell their property, but once they've lost control the property can be very difficult to sell.

I've also spoken with social housing providers and the cost of maintaining these properties is very,very high as a result of tenant neglect. Your suggestion of expropriating these properties won't solve the issue of improving living conditions and will simply transition the cost to taxpayers.

You'll likely disagree, but structural changes to the Residential Tenancy Act or stricter enforcement of property bylaws is likely a more prudent solution.

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