Recent cat house is an important lesson for landlords to monitor properties

The night Elizabeth Hall-Petry, owner of a three story walk-up and duplex, was interviewed for this story, a mystery leak in the three story walk-up flooded down from the third floor apartment into the two suites below, right into their power boxes. Hall-Petry says, “It’s a false economy to not have a resident manager on site. Sure, I could collect one more suite of rent but how much would I lose from not having quick action, someone to keep an eye on things?”

While Hall-Petry started calling for plumbers late Friday evening, the on-site manager turned off both hot and cold water, offered extension cords to power a lamp and the tenant’s fridge, along with two fans to dry out the power box. She then sent text messages and knocked on doors notifying tenants that the building’s water was being turned off and that the landlord was seeking to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Elizabeth Hall-Petry owns an apartment building and a duplex. | Rusti L Lehay

Landlords with on-site management have more opportunities to check on things, but Hall-Petry also rents out and regularly visits a duplex to maintain the common laundry and furnace room area. Tenants will say hello. Observation on these visits of clean, tidy environments and happy tenants are all good omens.

Both Hall-Petry and Roxanne Litwyn, a realtor and landlord in the Alberta Avenue and Parkdale area, also pre-screen potential tenants. “I try to prescreen by asking several questions …before setting up viewings ….and meeting with them,” says Litwyn. By personally delivering the rental application to potential tenants, Litwyn says she can better predict the kind of tenants they will be. “I find how they take care of their current rental is a good indication of how they will take care of my property.”

Roxanne Litwyn, a local landlord, takes pride in her properties and ensures her renters do too. | Roxanne Litwyn

In October, a house on 112 Avenue made the news when 55 cats were discovered living there in terrible conditions. Tragically, many cats had to be euthanized due to their ill health. The landlord, who lives out of town, had discovered the condition of the property after she evicted the tenants. She “had no clue” about the conditions. 

This situation wouldn’t happen to Litwyn or Hall-Petry. Litwyn exercises her right to refuse tenants with an abundance of pets. Hall-Petry asks for applications to be completed for both people and pets, accompanied by vet papers for the pets. Tenants must bring dogs along with them for the viewing. Observing how the animals are cared for, their social behaviour with people and other animals, and knowing they have regular vet care guides the landlord’s decision of whether or not to take that person on as a tenant. 

Elizabeth Hall-Petry pre-screens potential tenants and does her part in maintaining properties as a landlord. | Rusti L Lehay

Some landlords in this neighbourhood may just want the rent money, but Litwyn and Hall-Petry care about their properties. Litwyn has lived in most of her homes before she transitions them to rental properties. She says, “I attract good tenants by having my properties well-maintained. I prefer being proactive, avoiding the ‘something is broken’ calls that prior maintenance might have avoided altogether.”

Tenants also have rights and obligations beyond paying the rent. Hall-Petry discovers many tenants are totally ignorant of roles and responsibilities for both the tenant and landlord, nor do they know that there is specific legislation and an act called the Residential Tenancies Act.

Hall-Petry always says, “There are two sets of rules, not just mine. A tenant agrees to do certain things and so does a landlord. This is all laid out in the act.” You can always call the Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board with questions. If landlords aren’t doing their job, tenants can take them to court. If more people knew their rights and reported bad landlords, many property owners would have to be more responsible.

In the meantime, choose landlords who take care of their property and you will have found a home.

Featured Image: Roxanne Litwyn says she’s blessed to have Sandra & Mike who are avid gardeners as tenants in her Parkdale rental home. | Roxanne Litwyn