We own several rental properties and it time for us to increase the rent. We usually put it up $50 per month, but heard that something has changed with rent increases. Can you fill us in? – Curious Landlord
DEAR LANDLORD: Rent control used to apply to properties rented out before 1991, but on April 20th, 2017, the Rental Fairness Act came into effect, expanding rent control to all rental units in the province. The new legislation stipulates that rent for existing tenants can only be raised 1.5 percent in 2017 and 1.8 percent in 2018. Any increase notices above this amount must be reduced to fit within current guidelines. While landlords can continue to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for above-guideline rent increases, utility costs are no longer an acceptable reason to do so.
The rent increase process is very specific when it comes to forms, timelines and how notices can be delivered to tenants. Because this process must be followed to the letter, I recommend seeking the advice of a professional property manager when it comes time to raise your rent.
Vacant units are an exception to the new rent control rules. If a unit becomes vacant because a tenant leaves of their own accord, you can increase the rent to whatever the market will bear.
I heard that there is money available from the Region for my house down payment. It that true? – Sceptical
DEAR SCEPTICAL: Yes, there are loans available to help with your down payment. The Region of Waterloo’s Affordable Home Ownership Program can provide qualified “low to moderate income” first-time buyers (maximum household income of $90,500/year) with loan assistance for the down payment of a new or resale home.
These loans are valued at 5 percent of the purchase price of the home, are interest-free and forgivable after 20 years. Qualifying homes can be new or resale, must be located within the Region of Waterloo and currently, must have a maximum purchase price of $386,000.
Before applying to the program, you’ll need to talk to a mortgage specialist to see if you qualify for a mortgage. If you do, you’ll also need to be at least 18 years of age, currently renting, and a legal resident of Canada. Qualified applicants can’t own any other real estate and must intend to use the property as their one and only residence.
Those accepted into the loan program will be placed on a waiting list. As funds become available, they will receive a Conditional Letter of Commitment by mail. If you feel you may qualify for the Affordable Home Ownership Program, let me know! I’ll be happy to help you through the application process.