Rentals are not condos and we need them
Landlord Rescue
December 18th, 2017

There is a giant difference in this life between wants and needs. It’s not really popular but I am by nature exceedingly pragmatic. We have a huge problem in this city of Toronto and the city of Vancouver with housing. First we have a lot of people with unrealistic expectations of housing and that problem is getting worse and worse.

First I want to take a moment to appreciate Toronto Community Housing Corporation, who has often been a victim of censure on this blog. My main problem with the city of Toronto is not the way they maintain their buildings, but in their hypocrisy.  Reality says as a tenant you cannot expect a whole lot of service for $200 per month and that fact is borne out in those buildings. Regardless, because of TCHC, there are a lot of low income people who have a house that is warm and dry and for that I am really grateful. I do not envy the people who work there. Of course no one wants to say, you get what you pay for, but you get what you pay for.

Champagne dreams – beer budget
Rentals are all about fighting the good fight of reconciling the budget. You get what you can afford. The landlord is in effect your housing parent, continually forcing you to stay on budget. There is no rental credit card. The owner of the building decides what he pays for, and in most cases you get some what decent service, and have a warm and dry place you can afford.

An experienced landlord knows that things like boilers and roofs cost millions of $$$ and will be saving money for it well ahead of time.

Basically in most rentals if you are on a beer budget, you get beer, probably Bud Light, realistically that’s not a minor accomplishment in today’s bat shit insane Toronto market.

Purpose-built rentals on Wilson Ave

This is what we need a lot more of, just rentals all over the city. I had that idea that the City of Toronto should allow up to rental 6 plexes everywhere in Toronto that is currently zoned for single family. Why not? Frankly I don’t give a shit about what the neighbors say. The neighbors all want changes that will increase their property value, but we need housing more than we need to enable their feelings.

We need Walmart level of housing, not Coco Chanel housing and we need a lot of it. Nothing will provide that more than rental housing that is large enough so that the occupants don’t have to move when the place is sold.

Condos are not rentals
While we are lucky that the condo market has provided a lot of rental housing, the condo structure of ownership was never designed for rental housing. First of all it’s just too expensive and fancy. Second once the condo is sold, the tenant is usually displaced.Third costs for condos are rising a lot faster than rents are increasing. For example in one of the condos I  manage maintenance fees went up 12.6% but the rent increase maximum is 1.8% in Ontario.

Not to be rude, but any idiot can see this is not going to provide a long term solution to the housing need, landlords aren’t going to continue to sign up for a money losing rent subsidy situation once prices go down. They just won’t.

In the past, owners turned to AirBnB situations to make more money but now the city has made a bunch of rules to prevent that which I think are going to fail badly. It’ll be like herding cats to figure out who is renting what etc. and the AirBnB website has said quite clearly that they aren’t going to police the rules of every city to make sure that their hosts comply.

Again the core problem is landlords won’t sign up for a money losing situation, and asking them to is just as crazy.

I see condos as way too expensive to provide housing for most people, and offering way too many services. Like one of the buildings I manage a unit at pays over $200K per year just for security, are you that important that you need a security guard now? You can’t let yourself into the building? Honestly when buildings hired actual concierges, it was really nice, but when they outsourced that to security companies that pay poorly trained employees minimum wage and they don’t know anyone in the building, and they can’t take mail or keys, I’m just not sure what the purpose is.

So we need to adjust our expectations of what as a society we can realistically afford for housing and use evidence based housing information to make out decisions.

One fact is undeniable, condos by the simple process of being bought and sold, are unstable as rental housing. Period. The solution to that is to provide a number of rentals buildings too large to be emptied upon sale, and too simple to be really expensive, and to build them in single family neighborhoods to avoid straining infrastructure.

City role
The cities role is to tell people how to build what they want them to build and what will sail through approval. Then figure out how it could be financed and work to expedite it all. Building what the city wants you to build should be simple and easy. The city needs to look at it’s own friction points and ask themselves how are we going to change this?

We also need rental only zoning perhaps as I mentioned in the single family areas, with an emphasis on above ground dwellings. Basement apartments aren’t a long term solution to housing either. Nice 3,4,5,6 plexes, are nice manageable buildings for smaller landlords with pride of ownership, and can provide density in single family areas without disrupting the entire community.

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