Ontario Landlord Held Liable for Tenant Fire Death

An Ontario judge recently upheld a lower court’s ruling that a landlord was responsible for the death of a tenant who perished in a fire, even though the fire was caused by the tenant himself.

The judge in the case R. v Singh sentenced landlord Jasvir Singh to three years in prison for “criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and four counts of mischief endangering life,” according to court documents. The reason? Violation of Ontario’s fire code.

According to the decision, Singh was aware that his tenant was not only a serious alcoholic, but that he often cooked in his room on a hotplate. Indeed, a fire on the property started when the tenant, who had been drinking heavily, left his hotplate on, causing his blanket and mattress to catch on fire.

Why Do Lease Agreements Need Addenda & Disclosures?

Why does drafting a new lease agreement feel like buliding a wall piece by piece, to protect against every possible way the renter could cost you money?

In short, that’s what a strong lease agreement does: it protects you from all (or at least the most common) of the ways tenants cost landlords money. From unpaid rents, to property damage, to tenant lawsuits, to neglect of property upkeep, to crimes committed by tenants, good rental agreements cover all of these bases and more, through a combination of legal clauses, disclosures and lease addenda.

The resulting lease package will be your property’s Constitution, and your Bill of Rights for the next year or longer, so you need to make sure every likely contingency is considered.

Need to make sure the tenant doesn't bring home pet playmates for that one dog you're permitting? Use a Pet Addendum. Don't want your tenants hosting house guests for long stretches. Write up a Tenant Guest Policy addendum.

Pros & Cons of Month-to-Month Rental Agreements vs. 12-Month Leases

Have you ever paused to think about the length of your lease terms? Landlords don’t have to choose traditional 12-month lease agreements for their income properties. Some landlords prefer multi-year lease agreements, and others prefer to go month-to-month from the beginning.

First, a note on nomenclature: in some regions, landlords refer to a “lease agreement” as being 12 months or longer, and a “rental agreement” as being short-term or month-to-month. Call them what you will, it makes no difference legally; a lease can be either monthly or for a ten-year term.

Pros

Flexible for renters. Flexibility is the biggest advantage of choosing a month-to-month lease agreement. It benefits tenants who don’t want to commit for an entire year. They don’t have to worry about breaking a lease agreement, which can be expensive and difficult. Tenants are still required to give proper notice before moving out. Depending on the state landlord-tenant laws, 30-60 days’ notice is usually required.

What Are Green Lease Agreements?

If you are thinking of going green, you might want to consider a green lease.

A green lease is written in such a way to encourage both the landlord and the tenant to adopt environmentally friendly, sustainable practices. Green leases therefore benefit the landlord, the tenant and the environment.

There currently is no widely accepted standard for green lease agreements, so one green lease may look and feel quite different from another. Landlords and tenants have a lot of flexibility, which lets them structure their lease in a way that meets both of their needs. The key elements of a green lease are usually rent structure, operating expenses, recycling, acceptable products and best practices. It is essentially a lease agreement that describes how the rental building will be used and operated in an environmentally friendly way.

The goal of such an arrangement is for the building to have as little impact as possible on the environment.

What Rights Do Tenants Have with Legalized Marijuana?

You pride yourself in being a good landlord. You keep current on landlord-tenant laws to always be well informed.

But sometimes the laws and rules are clear as mud.

In order to avoid getting into hot water, it’s important to be aware of tenants’ rights. However, problems arise when the laws, and consequently the tenants’ rights, aren’t entirely clear. This can happen when changes are being made to current legislation, or interpretation of laws is evolving through case law.

Take the messy legal situation surrounding marijuana. Currently, it’s legal for adults aged 21 or older to use the drug for recreational purposes in Colorado, Washington and Alaska. It’s also legal to use marijuana for medical purposes in 23 other states. At the time of publication, medical marijuana is legal in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Should Landlords Allow Subleasing?

As a landlord, you’re sometimes asked to make tough decisions.
Your tenant may approach you one day, and tell you they need to move out. If their lease term is not yet up, they might be looking for a creative way to solve their problem. If they propose a sublease with subtenants, what should you do?
First, make sure you fully understand what it means. What exactly is a sublease agreement? The tenant leases the property to a third party, effectively becoming a middle-man, who is simultaneously your tenant and the subtenant’s landlord. They are responsible to you for the rent and property care, and they are responsible to the subtenant for the landlord’s responsibilities.
It’s important to note that allowing subleases is up to the landlord in most – but not all – states. As a landlord, you are not usually obligated to allow tenants the option of subletting their apartment without your written approval. Nonetheless, be sure to check with your state landlord-tenant laws, as some states

Should I Charge Per Diem Late Fees on Rent?

Libraries use them. So do banks and credit card companies. As a landlord, you probably charge late fees too, to encourage timely rent payments. But did you know that some states allow per diem (daily) late fees, until the rent is paid in full? That means for every day a tenant is late with his or her rent, the fee increases.

Late fees can be a strong incentive. Tenants don’t want to waste money, and most will be careful to avoid large late fees, thereby paying you on time every month. It creates a win-win situation.

But are there downsides to charging per diem late fees? What are you legally allowed to charge? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of charging daily late fees on rent.

The Proverbial Stick

By charging late fees, you’re essentially creating a punishment which gives tenants an incentive to pay on time. It’s like the mule that pulls the cart because it moves away from the punishment: the stick.

Ever Consider Leasing Furnished Units? Pros, Cons & Quirks of Furnished Rental Units

Have you ever thought about furnishing your rental units and leasing them at higher rents? There are some unexpected pros and cons to furnishing your rental property, so let’s dig deeper into the world of furnished rental properties.

Higher Rents & Investment Recovery

Do furnished units lease for significantly higher rents in your neighborhood? How much more? After how long would you recover your up-front investment? If you could recover your initial investment in less than a year (a typical lease term), then you should consider furnishing your unit. Imagine a scenario where you could furnish the unit for $750, and charge an extra $100/month for the unit; the success would hinge on your turnover rate, and the cost of repairing/replacing furniture during turnovers.

Risk of Damage

Renters will damage your furniture, the question is how quickly and how badly they will damage it. Pets are an added risk, and should be avoided in furnished units (damage aside, pets’ dander will seep into furniture, creating an allergen risk for future occupants). But there is good news to

Selling a Rental Property with a Tenant

Thinking of selling an income property this year? What happens if it is tenant occupied? What are your options?

Selling a rental property with a tenant is a little different than selling your own home. Updating your property, making repairs and preparing for showings can all be tricky when you have tenants. There are also differences between selling a leased house and a fully rented apartment building.

Selling an occupied rental property has its advantages and disadvantages. In your specific situation, will the tenants make your property more valuable to potential buyers? Or would it sell more easily, and for more money, if it were vacant? Take the time to evaluate your options and decide which scenario is best for you, and discuss it with a real estate agent who knows the local market well.

Sell to Your Tenant

Are your tenants looking to buy a home in the near future? Selling to a tenant can be a great solution to selling your rental property. They are already familiar with the building, and know how it has been maintained.

Secrets of Investing in College Towns & Leasing to Students

Investing in real estate has always been a popular way to increase wealth, and everyone knows the three keys to real estate investing are location, location, location. Buying in the right location can mean better market growth, higher property appreciation and greater demand for rental units.

One specialized area in income properties is investing in student rental housing. In college towns, there are higher numbers of rental units due to the constant flow of students. Student rentals are a niche market, with its own quirks and rules.

Let’s explore the secrets to investing in college town properties.

Types of Properties

When it comes to student housing, many different properties can fit the bill. Apartments near campus can easily be rented out to students. Duplexes or triplexes are also popular choices. Sometimes local families even choose to lease out their guest bedroom or basement to a student for extra income. Look for properties that offer easy access to campus by walking or biking, or on public transit lines.