London Property Management Association LPMA News December 2012
London Property Management Association LPMA News December 2012. Navigating the legislation constraining our industry is challenging for even the most seasoned landlords and managers, but it is most challenging for those who are new to property management. With the generous support of our sponsors, LPMA recently hosted the PM 101 Seminar Parts 1 & 2. This is the fifth time we've hosted this event since October 2009; since then we’ve educated a total of 336 landlords, property managers and resident managers on the basics of the rental housing industry. Topics included: how to fill your buildings, the rules of renting, the basics of maintenance and repair, how to enforce your lease, dealing with problem tenants (not that any of us have any of those!), collecting rent arrears, and how to recover the repair costs from damage caused by your tenants.
December 2012 LPMAnews London Property Management Association President’s Message education and reliable information to our members that helps them navigate their way through this sometimes Navigating the legislation complicated business. This is done through our seminars, constraining our industry is challenging for our monthly meetings and our newsletters. Stay up to date even the most seasoned landlords and and watch for more educational opportunities provided by managers, but it is most challenging for LPMA. those who are new to property I look forward to seeing many of you on Dec. 11 at management. With the generous support of our annual holiday celebration. On behalf of your LPMA our sponsors, LPMA recently hosted the PM Board of Directors, I wish you and your families a safe and 101 Seminar Parts 1 & 2. This is the fifth happy holiday. All the best to you and yours in 2013! time we've hosted this event since October 2009; since then we’ve educated a total of 336 landlords, property managers and resident managers on the basics of the rental housing industry. Topics included: how to fill your B.J. Santavy buildings, the rules of renting, the basics of maintenance and repair, how to enforce your lease, dealing with 2nd Vice President’s Message problem tenants (not that any of us have any of those!), collecting rent arrears, and how to recover the repair costs This is an ideal time of year to from damage caused by your tenants. schedule your annual fire alarm In addition to the PM 101 Seminars, LPMA has inspections. Under the Ontario Fire Code, hosted the PM 201 Seminar, Fire Code Seminar, and the a landlord or property owner is required to: Suite Metering Seminar. On Jan. 23 from 8:30 am to Provide a working smoke alarm on 12:30 pm, we will be hosting a Hoarding Seminar at the each level of the property. Additional Belfor Meeting Room, 60 Enterprise Dr., sponsored by alarms may be required if sleeping areas Cohen Highley Lawyers and Belfor Property Restoration. are separated by significant space. The cost is $49 for members and $89 for non-members Provide a copy of the manufacturer's instructions for with a continental breakfast included. We already have 18 the smoke alarms. This may be the original or a photo people registered and there is a limit of 45, so register copy or instructions from the fire department’s website or now! You don't want to miss this event! LPMA’s website, www.lpma.ca. The demand for these seminars speaks to the Maintain the smoke alarm in working condition. This need for continuing education for landlords and property includes replacing batteries when required, ensuring management staff. LPMA is committed to providing hardwired alarms are kept in good repair, etc. Maintain the level of protection originally supplied. If a property is equipped with interconnected smoke alarms, Inside This Issue then replacement alarms must offer the same level of protection. The replacement alarm must also be of compatible design to work with the existing alarms. • London Hydro’s New Property Management Website Maintain their property in good condition and in • Tips for Upgrading Rental Suites accordance with the Ontario Fire Code. Fire separations, • CFAA Report exits, fire alarms and sprinkler systems must all be • 2012 FRPO MAC Award Winners maintained as required. • Property Management 101 Seminars a Huge Ensure their property meets the requirements of the Success retrofit section of the Ontario Fire Code. • The Benefits of Hiring a Property Manager Make sure you document and keep accurate • Social Media - A Valuable Communication Tool records pertaining to all of the above to ensure you are • Training Building Managers compliant and able to provide this information to the fire • LPMA Office Closed Dec. 24 to Jan. 1 department upon request. Jody McKee • Upcoming Events • LPMA Sells Legal Forms • New Members Page 2 LPMAnews December 2012 London Hydro's NEW Property Management Website London Hydro has worked closely with LPMA to develop a new online program designed to assist property managers and owners in managing their accounts. The project took several months to review and, thanks to the LPMA board's involvement, a prototype was tested and evaluated before launching the new application. The Property Management website provides instant access to relevant information about your properties 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Features: View all of your properties, including a summary of the status of occupancy, connection, Continuous Service Agreement (CSA) enrolment and pending moves into the building Downloadable reports in Excel format Email or print consumption reports for prospective tenants (as required by the Residential Tenancies Act 2006 Ontario Regulation 394/10 subsection 39 (1) of the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010) London Hydro has Update phone number, email address and password worked closely with Owners can opt to receive a daily summary email to notify them of scheduled moves LPMA to develop a new and/or disconnections that have occurred online program to assist Owners have full control to sign up and assign or remove access to designated property managers and owners in managing delegates (such as a superintendent for a specific property) their accounts. Sign Up is Easy - Request a Property Management Website Sign up Form from firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.londonhydro.com and click on the Property Management Icon. You may also call Customer Service at 519-661-5503 to have a form mailed to you. Return your completed form to London Hydro. They will contact you by email when your access has been set up and they will provide you with a link to set your password. Once you are set up, visit www.londonhydro.com and click on the Property Management icon on the homepage. From that point, you can begin to manage your properties at your own convenience. The website is available around the clock, every day. Sign up by Dec. 31 and you’ll have a chance to win an Apple iPad. Details are on page 8. Monitor Move-ins/Move-outs and important property information with London Hydro's NEW Property Management Tool, available at www.londonhydro.com. Contact us for more information at PropertyManagement@londonhydro.com LPMAnews June 2006 LPMAnews December 2012 Page 3 3 Page Tips for Upgrading Rental Suites Even inexpensive decor elements can help landlords rent units more quickly Many homeowners undertake renovations that include upscale items, such as granite counters and jetted bathtubs, only to discover they can't recoup their costs when they decide to sell their homes. The same principle holds true for landlords, experts say. Landlords need to pay attention to their market – and not go overboard on elements they personally find appealing. Joyce Byrne, a broker with Sutton Group Preferred Realty, is also a small landlord who specializes in renting single-family houses to students. She says landlords should avoid purchasing items, such as granite counters, that require maintenance. They should also determine if the market rent for their area will justify their investment. If landlords shop around, they can find attractive, reasonably priced finishes and features that will set them apart from their competitors. “I try to make sure there's a wow factor in each room,” Byrne says. “Because it's very A large mirror and durable, competitive in any kind of rental market, I want them (prospective renters) to say, 'That's nice,' or say updated faucets help to something positive every time they walk into a room. I don't think you need to spend a lot of money to do give a tired bathroom a facelift. that.” She installs vinyl blinds with wide vanes that resemble California shutters to ensure her rental houses look as attractive from the outside as they do on the inside. She also installs upgraded light fixtures and ceiling fans in bedrooms, kitchens and family rooms. She uses neutral paint colours that create a sense of flow throughout a house. Stainless steel appliances can be purchased reasonably and they appeal to tenants. “They add a big wow factor and people love that,” Byrne says. “They also love dishwashers.” She suggests that landlords gradually replace old appliances with stainless steel versions. She's partial to laminate counters since they don't require any maintenance, unlike natural stone counters. They're durable and have evolved to the point that they look fashionable in any kitchen. “The choices now are fabulous,” she notes. She recommends pairing them with a backsplash to dress up a workspace. In a bathroom, shower doors make a good impression and are practical since students often forget to place the shower liner inside the bathtub and end up with a flooded bathroom floor as a result. A large mirror and durable, updated faucets help to give a tired bathroom a facelift. Old tiles in unappealing colours can be treated with a special paint that avoids having to remove tiles altogether, Byrne says. Shirley Criger, a property manager with Gateway Property Management, believes the most important factor is a clean unit Continued next page Page 4 Page 4 LPMAnews December LPMAnews June 2006 2012 Upgrading Rental Suites (Continued) with a new coat of paint and freshly steam-cleaned carpets, at the very least. “Most people want new carpet,” she says. New carpet can often make or break a deal with a prospective tenant. “Most landlords try to stay away from the free month's rent,” Criger says. “If you're going to give any kind of incentive within reason, you can carpet a two-bedroom apartment around the $1,100 to $1,200 mark. Or you could let tenants pick the paint colours they want in a unit.” In a building with a high vacancy rate, offering to upgrade some features, such as counters or dishwashers, could be a good way to attract tenants. She says landlords can do a facelift for a reasonable amount of money by changing the faucets, counters and cabinetry hardware, as well as by installing deeper baseboard. Replacing light fixtures adds a focal point to every room. If prospective tenants seem reluctant to commit to signing a lease, landlords can ask them what they don't like about the unit. “In any of the big high-rises, you might be able to go back to your operational person and ask if there is any funding in the budget for carpet replacement,” Criger says. Landlords should also look into incentives for replacing a refrigerator with an energy-efficient model. They should ensure appliances are in good working order, as well. B.J. Santavy, director of residential operations for Skyline Management Inc., says what tenants want differs from one building and one neighbourhood to another and also depends on the demographic they belong to and their stage of life. The culture of an apartment building is important to seniors, for example. They're not particularly interested in new or upgraded features, such as insuite laundry facilities. “What we find with our seniors is they're looking for a real sense of community,” Santavy says. “They want a social room and they want to know they're going to get to know their neighbours and that there's something for them to do during the day if there are organized activities in the building.” Young professionals, on the other hand, want a gym in their building, as well as kitchens with granite counters and modern cabinetry, hard-surface flooring and new finishes in their units. “You really need to think about who you're appealing to, what demographic you want to rent to and what kind of rent you're charging. If you're going to spend $17,000 on a renovation in an apartment, you want to make sure you're getting the right rent for it,” Santavy says. Because the market in London can be competitive at times, many landlords find they're struggling financially because they have to undertake renovations just to fill their buildings and rent their units for the market rent. She says a basic renovation of one unit costs $7,000 to $10,000, which many landlords find difficult to justify. Even painting and replacing flooring costs $1,000 to 2,000. If landlords are having trouble renting a unit, Byrne advises them to install a flat-screen television. And if landlords are showing a townhouse to a tenant they really want to rent to, they could offer to include a patio set. In a more upscale unit, she recommends installing an over-the-range microwave. Landlords can also sweeten the deal by offering to install stainless steel appliances if prospective renters sign a two- year lease. “You're not giving away anything. You're just trying to close the sale with a really good tenant,” she says. Byrne cautions landlords to talk to prospective tenants by telephone and check their references before they show the unit. “You don't want to start making offers to them before you know you want them.” Santavy says aside from ensuring units are clean and well maintained, small landlords could offer tenants upgrades, such as new flooring or new appliances, for an additional amount every month on top of the base rent. “That might be an option for some,” she observes. She advises landlords to conduct market research so they know what other landlords like themselves are charging and what their units look like. “Go out and pretend you're looking for an apartment and see what other landlords are doing. That's what you're competing against,” Santavy adds. LPMAnews December 2012 June 2006 Page 5 CFAA Leads New Building Energy Efficiency Coalition CFAA has brought together eight other national associations to form the Building Energy Efficiency Coalition (BEEC) in order to promote energy efficiency in Canada's stock of commercial buildings (including multi-family buildings). The specific goal of the coalition is to lobby the federal government to allow a much higher rate of capital cost allowance (CCA) on major energy retrofits, thereby encouraging more retrofits. More and more studies assessing the significance of energy efficiency to our economy indicate that improved energy efficiency in buildings: leads to direct, indirect, and induced jobs, is the cheapest source of energy available, reduces the need for costly energy infrastructure, and is critical to Canada in achieving its emission reduction targets. At present, the BEEC consists of the following organizations: Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations (CFAA) Association of Energy Engineers Canadian Construction Association Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating Energy efficiency leads to Energy Services Association of Canada direct, indirect, and induced Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada jobs. Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada Rental Property Association of Canada (REALpac) Thermal Insulation Association of Canada A number of additional associations are expected to join BEEC in the near future. CFAA received critical assistance from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) to bring together the coalition and to prepare the detailed reform proposal. On October 29, BEEC submitted a tax reform proposal to Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty and Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver. The submission recommends that certain qualifying investments in major energy retrofits be added as assets qualified for inclusion in CCA Class 43.2. The effect of that change would be that instead of a four per cent CCA rate for major energy retrofits, property owners would be entitled to a 50 per cent CCA rate. Taking into account the half year rule and the declining balance method of calculating CCA, that would allow major energy retrofits to be expensed in large part over four years, instead of the 25 or 30 years achieved under the four per cent rate. The BEEC submission makes the point that by encouraging energy-saving measures, the proposed reform would raise the net income of businesses, and thus raise on-going tax revenues. The proposal would create a win-win result for both the government and the real estate industries. Both parties benefit from reduced energy consumption and from significantly enhanced cash flows. (The only entity receiving less revenue would be the utility provider, but the provincial utility providers want energy conservation to take place, and consuming less energy is the whole point of energy efficiency.) Revenue neutrality is a critical part of seeking tax reform in the current deficit-fighting environment. The goal is that the submission recommendations be included in the 2013 or 2014 budget. To view the submission in its entirety, visit the CFAA website at www.cfaa-fcapi.org. Click on the link to the proposal under either “Recent news” or “Submissions to government.” CFAA will continue its advocacy for federal measures to help the rental housing industry to become more environmental friendly, more efficient, and better able to provide quality rental housing to Canadians, with increased profitability for rental owners. LPMA is a member of the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations, the sole national organization representing the interests of Canada's $80-billion private rental housing industry, which provides homes for more than eight million Canadians. LPMAnews June 2006 Page 6 LPMAnews December 2012 Page 7 2012 FRPO MAC Award Winners The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) held their annual awards gala dinner on Nov. 29 in Toronto. London Property Management Association would like to congratulate a number of our members who were recipients of the 2012 FRPO MAC (Marketing, Achievement and Construction) awards: Lifetime Achievement Award Mowbray Sifton - Sifton Properties Limited Property Management Advertisement - Single Project Minto Properties Inc. - Leslie York Mills, 740 York Mills Rd., Toronto Lobby Renovation of the Year Award Timbercreek Asset Management - Le Palais, 175 Hunter St., Hamilton Rental Development of the Year Minto Properties Inc. - 620 Martin Grove Rd., Etobicoke Environmental Award of Excellence Skyline Apartment REIT Outstanding Customer Service Minto Properties Inc. Property Manager of the Year Richard Izawa - Skyline Apartment REIT and LPMA board member Customer Service Award of Excellence Minto Properties Inc. - Cherryhill Village, London Continued next page Page 8 LPMAnews December 2012 LPMAnews June 2006 age 7 P Property Management 101 Seminars a Huge Success London Property Management Association hosted the Property Management 101 seminars for the fifth time in November. Once again, the seminars proved to be very popular as both nearly sold out. The first seminar, Property Management Basics, covered leasing, rent rules, and repairs and maintenance. Enforcement of the lease, problem tenants, rent arrears and damages were discussed at the second seminar, Maintaining Your Cash Flow. The material presented at the seminars was developed based on a need seen by LPMA administrator Brenda Davidson. "I get a lot of calls from members who don't know the basics such as rent increases and properly screening tenants," Davidson Property Management Basics says. covered leasing, rent rules, and The eviction process is another area that can be very frustrating for small repairs and maintenance. landlords. Mistakes on forms can cost landlords time and lost rent. "Our seminars give landlords the tools to effectively manage their properties starting with advertising to prospective tenants and ending with eviction and collecting a judgment," Davidson adds. There are plans to offer the seminars again in the fall of 2013. Davidson says: "Originally, when we started running the seminars we thought that we would run out of attendees, but that doesn't seem to be the case. As we continually attract new members, and the large management companies turn over staff, the need for education continues." The seminars were sponsored by: - CMS Legal Services - Cohen Highley LLP - International Name Plate Supplies - Lionheart Property Management - Minto Apartments - Rent Check Credit Bureau - Skyline Apartments - Stevenson & Hunt Insurance Brokers e-mail addresses JOE HOFFER ?KRISTIN LEY ?LAURA MCKEEN email@example.com Lawyers firstname.lastname@example.org PAUL CAPPA email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Rent Control Consultant/Licensed Paralegal email@example.com EMMA SIMS ?SHANNON KIEKENS firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com RACHEL HENDERSON ?GAIL KUKOR LANG firstname.lastname@example.org Licensed Paralegals RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES LAW LONDON OFFICE 255 Queens Avenue One London Place ? 11th floor London, ON N6A 5R8 519 672 9330 KITCHENER OFFICE 55 King Street West 10th floor Kitchener, ON N2G 4W1 226 476 4444 www.cohenhighley.com Page 8 LPMAnews December 2012 The Benefits of Hiring a Property Manager Experienced managers can save small landlords time and money, experts say Many small landlords purchase their first rental properties and find tenants for their units, only to discover that problems soon arise they're not equipped to deal with. At that point, they have two options: to become better educated at being a landlord or hire a property manager. Sarah Palmer, owner of Vantage Property Management, says the benefits of hiring an experienced property manager outweigh the expense. “Ultimately, all of the benefits will save the landlord both time and money. We will improve the net income, or the bottom line, on their property.” It's important from the outset for landlords and property managers to be clear on their goals for the property and to ensure they are realistic. “The most important trait to look for in a property manager is accountability,” Palmer notes. “An effective manager will set realistic goals for the rental revenue and the net income so the landlord gets the results that he expects and the manager needs to deliver what he promised.” Property managers have The manager should communicate problems to the landlord when they arise and to access to contractors who propose and implement effective solutions “so the landlord will have confidence that his can paint and do repairs property is being taken care of properly,” she says. quickly at a competitive cost. One of the most important benefits is the manager's ability to properly screen prospective tenants, and perform credit and reference checks using a standard set of criteria to evaluate rental applications. “This is invaluable to the landlord because he can avoid the vast majority of tenant problems, such as unpaid rent and damage to the property,” Palmer says. Shane Haskell, owner of Lionheart Property Management, agrees. “It's not enough to stop at first impressions. Doing your due diligence is key through various checks on the tenant.” He says small landlords should assess the services that property managers offer, the professional associations they belong to and if other landlords have referred them. They should also visit a property manager's website and determine if he or she is involved in social media since tenants are tech savvy. Continued next page LPMAnews December LPMAnews June 2006 2012 Page 9 Hiring a Property Manager (Continued) Professional websites and signage also help managers to rent a vacant unit more quickly. “Effective advertising reduces the amount of time that the property sits vacant so it saves the landlord in lost rent and the considerable time that's needed to show prospective renters the property,” Palmer says. When tenants have vacated a unit, property managers are able to prepare it to rent sooner, usually within one to three days, because they have access to contractors who can paint and do repairs quickly at a competitive cost. This also saves the landlord the cost of lost rent due to vacancy. Palmer says most experienced managers use property management software to provide accurate monthly financial statements that include income statements, rental records and expense details, as well as specific items when they're requested. The specialized software also allows managers to track rent collection and repairs. Financial information is helpful if the landlord needs to apply for refinancing on the property. “This information is extremely valuable, for instance in the case the rent is unpaid or there's a tribunal matter either on unpaid rent or maintenance. It allows the landlord a maximum chance of success in resolving problems to their advantage in the case of a tribunal matter or even when rent needs to be paid,” Palmer notes. A written contract sets out the responsibilities of each party. For example, the landlord usually takes care of paying the mortgage, but the property manager is responsible for the day-to-day management, Palmer says. Without a clear delineation of roles, the landlord would make the manager ineffective if he got involved in tenant issues. Haskell says landlords should ensure they're receiving the services they're paying for and that the property manager is always reachable and stays in touch. London lawyer Joe Hoffer says if a property manager is acting as the landlord's agent, he or she is treated as a landlord under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). However, managers need to ensure they're not encumbered by the landlord's liabilities, including being ordered to compensate tenants if they're inconvenienced because the furnace breaks down, for example. The management agreement should have an indemnity clause to protect the property manager from such liability. On the enforcement side, the manager wants to be authorized to appear at a Landlord and Tenant Board hearing and ask for a judgment for arrears of rent or an eviction order. “If you don't have an agreement, it's quite possible the manager won't be able to enforce the landlord's interests without having some written authorization,” Hoffer says. “You also expose yourself to liability.” Hoffer says the written management contract should include the legal name of the landlord and the manager, as well as the addresses of the properties the manager is overseeing. The contract should also make clear that the manager is acting as the landlord's legal agent and has the legal capacity to bind the landlord to agreements for leases and repairs and maintenance, has the authority to collect money from tenants and to invoke collection procedures. “The manager also wants to make sure he has the authority to ensure the property complies with applicable laws, such as the RTA, the fire and building codes and the property standards bylaw,” Hoffer says. Most landlords want to give those powers to their managers so that “the manager has operational control of both revenue and expenses for the property and all compliance issues,” he notes. The contract should outline the maximum amounts that managers can spend on maintenance and repairs, and capital items without needing the owner's approval. Clauses will also detail the management of bank accounts and the frequency of statements so the owner can review the financial status of the property. The contract will contain guidelines, as well, about how the manager will maintain records and how he will disclose them to the owner. Provisions of the contract include the management fee, additional fees for such tasks as supervising tradespeople, the length of the agreement – usually a minimum of one year – and how it can be terminated. Hoffer says as long as the manager hasn't violated the terms of the agreement by committing an illegal act or being negligent, for example, the manager is entitled to be indemnified by the owner against liabilities, expenses, costs, damages or claims for personal injury or property damage. For example, if the manager is ordered to pay a tenant $1,000, then the landlord has to reimburse the manager for the same amount. Hoffer says he prefers landlords to have their property manager lease the units, as opposed to hiring a rental agent since the manager has a strong incentive to rent to good tenants. “If they get bad ones, they're going to spend a lot of their own resources as managers trying to evict those tenants and deal with the lost rental income,” he adds. The landlord also doesn't want to manage several people he's hired to look after jobs that could be handled by one property manager. Hoffer advises landlords to review the financial statements the manager is providing, visit their property, make sure that the work that should be done is being done, and interview tenants. It's a vote of confidence if managers are LPMA members and have experience. Even so, Hoffer says landlords should obtain references from other landlords whose properties the company has managed. Page 10 LPMAnews December 2012 Social Media – A Valuable Communication Tool for Landlords Many landlords have been slow to embrace social media, but those who are participating in Facebook and Twitter are discovering it's an ideal medium for quickly communicating news to residents and even building a stronger sense of community. Bonnie Hoy, a multi-unit residential marketing and leasing consultant, encourages landlords to participate in social media. “We find that it helps to create a greater sense of community overall. The more ways you can engage people, the better your community is,” she says. A property manager is limited in the number of people he or she can talk to in the course of a day. However, Facebook and Twitter make it faster and easier to communicate news about upcoming events and the progress of renovations in an apartment building. Facebook and Twitter make it faster and easier to “It's such a dynamic way to communicate,” says Hoy, who communicate news about upcoming events. uses Facebook personally and professionally. Facebook use among landlords is still fairly new mainly because many landlords have been reluctant to try it for fear of receiving negative comments from tenants. However, even a negative can be turned into a positive, Hoy says. For example, a tenant could post a message about not receiving good service. The landlord could then reply, telling the tenant he was sorry to hear about the situation and that he has arranged for the superintendent to deal with it in the next few minutes. “Any negative can be turned into a positive with a proactive response,” she says. Jason Leonard, president and co-founder of Landlord Web Solutions in Thorold, agrees. He recalls a Toronto resident who posted a photo on his landlord's Facebook page of the bike racks at his building that were completely filled, with no room for his. Interestingly, there were empty spaces for cars near the rack. “The owner jumped on it and saw a brilliant opportunity,” Leonard says. The owner didn't realize there was such a demand for the bike racks and, the next day, he arranged for his continued next page LPMAnews December 2012 Page 8 Page 8 Page LPMAnews June 2006 11 LPMAnews June 2005 Social Media (Continued) staff to remove some of the parking spaces so they could install more racks. They even added an air pump so residents could pump up the tires on their bikes. “Within days, people were going back on the Facebook page and saying, 'Wow, that was awesome. That's why I love living here,'” Leonard says. Those comments also showed up on the tenants' own Facebook pages where their friends and family could read them. While Twitter helps landlords communicate events in a building or a rental complex, Hoy and Leonard believe Facebook shows the most potential for creating a sense of community. Leonard recommends that landlords create a Facebook page for each of their properties and not necessarily for their companies since residents want to connect with the community where they live and not with the management company. They should also monitor their pages once or twice daily so they can respond quickly if residents post any negative comments. The owner didn’t realize Landlords can easily create a Facebook page, free of charge, and add users as there was such a “friends.” They can post photos or information about a community, events, initiatives and demand for the bike promotions; in the process, they create “fans” within their own rental complexes. They can racks. also mention an apartment that will be available in a certain month in case residents know of friends or family who might want to move to the building. Landlords should be proactive in creating a Facebook community, Leonard says. If they don't create it first, a tenant association or even a disgruntled tenant could create a page for the building. However, if the landlord is the first to create a page, residents will be more likely to join it instead of joining another page that might not be favourably disposed towards the landlord. “That puts you, as a management company, in a very good position to be a part of the conversation. And that's all you want,” Leonard says. “It's not a bad thing if a resident says something negative, it's how you respond and how you participate that will ultimately determine your success or failure level when it comes to social media.” In larger communities, Facebook helps to bring residents, who might never get to know one another otherwise, closer together, Hoy says. It also helps to retain tenants since they will be less likely to leave when they Continued next page We Install Confidence. Page 12 LPMAnews December 2012 Social Media (Continued) feel they're part of a community. For example, residents could put out a request for handy man services if they needed to have curtain rods hung, or a request for carpooling. “Facebook is about friends and you don't want to have a bunch of strangers living in a building,” Hoy says. “When you connect with somebody on Facebook, you're “friending” them. Even friending somebody is a positive thing.” Landlords can extend that feeling of community to the shops and restaurants near their buildings. A landlord could ask a restaurant owner to offer residents a coupon giving them a 10- per-cent discount. The coupon image could then be posted on the landlord's Facebook page. Because restaurateurs and merchants pay a significant amount of money to place advertisements in newsletters and flyers, they're usually pleased to offer a discount in exchange for having access to the residents on the landlord's Facebook page. “Here the property owner can say, 'Forget about all that. I'll give you access if you Bonnie Hoy is a multi-unit give something of value to my residents,'” Leonard says. “It's a win-win situation. The residential marketing and leasing landlord provides that value to his residents and the local merchant gets some free consultant. marketing for his business.” Informative blogs on websites are another positive tool and many landlords use them instead of newsletters. Leonard says websites should have a blog, as well as news or feature articles that are updated regularly, in order to rank well in the search engines. A blog, which is generally 250 to 350 words, typically contains a single thought or opinion. “It's meant to be your personal thought and it's generally very opinion oriented,” he says. “They are a lot easier to create than well-thought-out articles, which is what makes them popular with people looking to add fresh content on a semi-regular basis to their websites.” Property owners should also be aware of Google Local, which is indexing properties and will allow residents to post reviews about apartment buildings. Yelp, a ratings and review site, is similar and, like Google Local, isn't restricted to apartments. “Owners should be going and 'claiming' their Google Local page and making sure they're part of that conversation and if somebody does write a review about their building that they're posting a response,” Leonard says. “Whether someone writes something positive or negative, take the opportunity to comment. Saying 'thank you' for a positive review shows you're paying attention and are appreciative.” An article published on Feb. 29 in The Globe and Mail indicated that Canada had the most social networking users in the world on a per capita basis in 2011, according to the research firm eMarketer. There were an estimated 16.1 million social networking users in Canada last year, of which 15.4 million were on Facebook. Facebook had signed up 95.2 per cent of Canada's social media users, 59 per cent of Canada's Internet users and 45.1 per cent of the total population. By 2014, eMarketer predicts one in four global citizens will be using social media. Canadians' Internet use “tells you that communicating by the Internet is certainly the way to go,” Hoy says. LPMAnews December 2012 Page 13 LPMAnews June 2006 Page 9 Training Building Managers in a Customer-Service-Driven Industry Some property management companies hire specialists, such as rental agents, cleaners and a maintenance team to fulfill specific roles. Others train building managers to perform multiple tasks in an effort to reduce costs and give residents more personalized attention. That approach puts the onus on companies to provide building managers with ongoing training in everything from how to clean buildings to understanding the legislation that governs the residential housing industry. B.J. Santavy, director of residential operations for Skyline Management Inc., says training building managers to that degree is a challenge. When Skyline offers its one-day training session, the company tries to make it a social event while packing it full of information. “We do this knowing they're only going to retain about 10 or 20 per cent of what we tell them,” Santavy says. “It's the reinforcement that needs to happen from the property managers. It's tough. It's a lot for them to know.” Skyline has a mentorship program where a senior resident manager spends B.J. Santavy is the director of time with a new resident manager and goes over the day-to-day procedures and residential operations for policies. Skyline Management Inc. “The property managers make that information available to them, but the property managers don't have time to spend with them the way we would like them to, so this is where the mentorship program comes in,” Santavy says. “It's also easier for someone to relate to somebody else who is doing the job that they're going to be doing.” The company tries to instill in new building managers a sense of pride in their jobs and basic customer service skills. They also train them in how to rent apartments, retain tenants and deal with difficult residents by using words and phrases that help to defuse a heated situation. Skyline brings building managers together in groups of 20 or 30 and trains them regionally in legislation, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code. The training underlines the importance of dealing with every request that comes in to accommodate a disability, Santavy says. Another common scenario involves dealing with unhappy long-term tenants who must become accustomed to sharing their once adults-only building with children. “That's what makes this job so difficult. There are so many different scenarios and different processes and rules,” she says. Building managers are also trained in liability issues. For example, when a tenant has fallen, it's human nature for a building manager to want to help a resident to his or her feet. However, tenants could claim an injury if a building manager tried to help them, instead of leaving them alone and calling an ambulance. It’s human nature for a building Blair Spencer, director of operations, customer experience, for Minto Properties, manager to want to help a resident who has fallen to his says as building managers' roles have expanded, so has their training. or her feet. “The days of collecting rents and keeping the building clean have grown substantially over the years. We are a customer-service-driven business,” he notes. Spencer says training is conducted at Cherryhill Village, in Toronto and through e- learning. Minto has adopted Disney's customer service standards and has changed them to reflect its business with its “Be Inspired” customer service training model. It helps, for example, to ensure that maintenance requests are dealt with promptly and that residents feel valued. Minto also brings in specialists to train groups at Cherryhill Village on topics that are pertinent to the strategic plan for the upcoming year. For example, specialists teach building managers how to communicate effectively with residents during extensive major improvements and above-guideline increases. “Building managers have the tools they need to effectively deal with questions and have confidence and have the proper information to defuse the situation. They explain that it's not just about increasing rent, it's about providing a community that is up to code, and is safe and secure,” Spencer says. “There is more than bricks and mortar in today's rental industry and we ensure that we go the extra mile by educating residents about the total value and not just the rent amount.” The training also focuses on relevant legislation, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the human rights code, particularly as it pertains to individuals with disabilities, and the privacy of information continued next page Page 14 Page 10 LPMAnews December 2012 LPMAnews June 2006 Training Building Managers (Continued) legislation. It's important for building managers to know to whom they can and can't give out information about residents, Spencer says. “It's another one, just like customer service, where you need to keep bringing it forward to emphasize the importance of protecting the customer's privacy. It can be very easily overlooked but it's very important to us and to our customers.” Minto re-trains building managers regularly on important topics. “What is not measured is not monitored,” Spencer says. “We want to make sure that we arm our teams with all the tools in order for them to effectively perform their roles and be able to answer our customers' questions upfront. We monitor our residents' satisfaction yearly and that gives us another opportunity to train in areas where our residents are telling us there are opportunities for improvement.” Santavy advises small landlords to educate themselves and their staff in how to deal with tenants. LPMA's monthly meetings, where experts discuss various aspects of managing properties, and the annual property management seminar series, help landlords avoid potential problems. She says when she began working in property Minto re-trains building managers regularly on important management 19 years ago, she heard stories of landlords who topics. shut off their tenants' electricity or changed the locks if they fell behind in the rent. “It's changed. We've become a service industry and we need to operate that way while still being within the guidelines of the Residential Tenancies Act,” Santavy says. LPMAnews December 2012 LPMAnews June 2006 Page 15 Page 11 LPMA Office Closed December 24 to January 1 The LPMA office will be closed from Monday, December 24 to Tuesday, January 1. It will reopen at 8:30 am on Wednesday, January 2. When the LPMA office is closed for meetings or events, the information is posted on the Contact Us page and the homepage of the LPMA website, www.lpma.ca. Happy Holidays! Upcoming Events General Meeting General Meeting January 8, 2013 February 12, 2013 Lamplighter Inn, 591 Wellington Road, London Lamplighter Inn, 591 Wellington Road, London Registration/Networking: 6:45 pm Registration/Networking: 6:45 pm Meeting: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm Meeting: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm Cost: No cost for LPMA members Cost: No cost for LPMA members Topics: Topics: Skip tracing and collections CMHC rental housing market survey results New water rate structure in London Homelessness & the City of London’s housing solutions Hoarding Seminar January 23, 2013 Belfor Meeting Room, 60 Enterprise Drive, London General Meeting March 5, 2013 Breakfast/Registration: 8:30 am to 9:00 am Lamplighter Inn, 591 Wellington Road, London Seminar: 9:00 am to 12:30 pm Registration/Networking: 6:45 pm Cost: $49 LPMA members - $89 non-members Meeting: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm To Register: Registration forms available on the Calendar of Events page of LPMA website, www.lpma.ca, or call 519-672-6999. Trade Show Note: Registration is limited to 45 people. April 9, 2013 Lamplighter Inn, 591 Wellington Road, London Speakers: 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm Kristin Ley, Cohen Highley LLP Free admission. James Hind, London Fire Services Hors d’oeuvres, cash bar. Jacqueline Richards, CCAC Services Door prizes draws at 7:45 pm. Must receive ballot by A representative from Belfor Restoration 6:00 pm to enter the draw. Page 12 Page 16 LPMAnews June 2006 2012 LPMAnews December LPMAnews LPMAnews is a quarterly publication of the London Property Management Association. All advertising enquiries should be directed to the LPMA office at (519) 672-6999. Opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the LPMA board or management. LPMA accepts no liability for information contained herein. Any comments about LPMAnews or requests to submit articles may be made by email to email@example.com. LPMA Contact Information LPMA Sells Legal Forms 460 Berkshire Drive, Unit 102 LPMA has the following forms available London, Ontario N6J 3S1 for sale to our members: Phone (519) 672-6999*Fax (519) 672-6462 Tenancy Agreement (25 sets per pad) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org $20.00 Rental Applications (50 sheets per pad) Office Hours - Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm Administrator - Brenda Davidson $12.00 Incoming/Outgoing Inspection Forms President - B.J. Santavy (25 sets per pad) $10.00 1st Vice President - Emma Sims Guarantor Forms (50 sheets per pad) 2nd Vice President - Jody McKee $10.00 Assignment/Sublet Agreement (25 sets Chair, Communications Committee - Brenda Trineer per pad) $12.00 Chair, Education Committee - Sean McNally Small Landlord Package $20.00 Chair, Finance & Administration - Bill MacGillivray (5 Tenancy Agreements, 5 Guarantor Chair, Municipal Affairs - Emma Sims Chair, Nominations & Elections - Richard Izawa Forms, 5 Incoming/Outgoing Inspection Chair, Social Committee - Shirley Criger Forms, 10 Rental Applications, 1 Chair, Special Projects Committee - Brenda Trineer Assignment/Sublet Agreement, & 2 sheets of legal size carbon paper) Directors at Large: Bonnie Hoy, Jim Lovell, Laura Smith, Legal Size Carbon Paper (5/$1.00) Lisa Smith, Murray Black, Peter Neil, Shannon Kiekens, Tenancy Agreement in PDF Format Tom Field, Walter Ford. $159.00 Rental Application in PDF Format Honorary Directors: Barry Parker, Ray McNally, Steve Cline. $129.00 Tenancy Agreement & Rental Application in PDF $249.00 Only LPMA members may purchase and use LPMA’s forms. To order forms, contact www.lpma.ca Brenda Davidson at the LPMA office. Welcome New Members 1724814 Ontario Inc.-Martha Coto, 4Rent.ca (Associate), Doug Adams, Bluepower (Associate), Carlo Sorrenti-Century 21 First Canadian (Dual), Azhar Choudhry, Elberly Properties Inc., Manuel & Gloria Demelo, Kelly Dugas, Ryan Kunkel, London Property Management Inc., Looby Family Holdings Inc, Jacob Minns & Jocelyn Tapping-Minns, Northumberland Enterprises Ltd., Janice Paterson & Cal Churchill, Jared & Alicia Payne, Fiona & David Roberts, Kristopher Robinson, Terry Lynn & Marc Rochon, Beth Silva, Westany Holdings, Julie Willsie & Sean Melady, Patrick Zeversenuke