Hello everyone investing in Hamilton real estate!!
When news broke that city council will debate rental licensing (article here) my first thoughts were:
- This better make sense and not be a cash grab like Waterloo
- Cracking down on absentee landlords and slums is a good thing
- How are our properties in terms of Fire Code compliance?
- Fingers crossed some good will come of this.
We’ve personally been inside numerous properties we would never wish upon our enemies let alone friends or family.Â That should change, yes but we and our clients are far from absentee landlords the article is referring too.Â Every property we’ve transacted on or own is a top 20% property, we receive top of market rents because our properties are the nicest.Â Not only are they nice but they are either fire code compliant or can easily be made fire code compliant.Â Why?Â What else would a professional real estate investor do?Â We’ve researched Ontario Building Code, Fire Code, Electrical Safety Authority for both the safety of our investments, clients, and tenants and I’ve trust that you’ve done the same.
For example, did you know as soon as you have a separate unit on the 3rd storey of a house you are grouped into a much more restrictive sandbox than a duplex?Â The 3rd storey unit must now have two exits e.g. a rear fire escape and an internal staircase that does NOT enter another unit.Â The staircase may be for common use but that’s it.Â Triplexes and up are what fire inspectors spend the majority of their time on so keep that in mind and not just the cashflow figures when you choose to purchase small multifamily houses.
Just two weeks ago we went through and analyzed a “triplex” however, it was not a triplex in terms of Fire Code as there was no 2nd escape and oddly enough, the kitchen had been completely removed from the 3rd floor.Â To me this was a duplex as the city likely had a work order on the property to remove the kitchen hence we advised our client to value the property as a duplex.Â Unfortunately another investor valued at it as a triplex offering way more than we would pay and purchased the property.Â We wish the new owner well in that they do all their due diligence, understand what is required to make the 3rd floor safe for the tenant, conform to code let alone conform to zoning…. FYI – changing the layout of the 2nd unit to create an internal stair case is not a cheap thing to do.
Thankfully for our client the week after we were able to acquire a duplex on the neighbouring street in much better condition, more living space and parking for less $$$.Â WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN 😀
What good can come from this?Â Well the city could finally open their eyes to the lack of affordable housing in the city and actuall strategize what they going to do about it?Â Will they legalize the properties that conform to Fire Code but not zoning?Â Will they allow us professional investors invest our own dollars to fix up properties, improve neighbourhoods and provide safe, secure housing?Â Does the city realize that their licensing charges can and will be passed on to the tenant?Â Time will tell.Â And if you care like I do, you’ll make the time to attend the debate Sept 18th.
For today’s takeaways:
- If you haven’t already, make an appointment and meet with a Fire Safety Inspector from the Hamilton Fire Department.Â It is the local FD who enforces Fire Code so why near hear it directly from the horse’s mouth.Â Plus there is no charge.Â Funny enough the inspector said to me “I wish more Realtors would come here and get educated, almost no one does!”
Fire PreventionÂ Division
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
55 king William Street – 2nd Floor (905) 546-2424 ext.1380
- If you’re an absentee landlord, you better clean up your act as your neighbours are ratting on you.
- Call or email your Ward councillor and let them know how you feel: http://www.hamilton.ca/YourElectedOfficials/WardCouncillors/
- Let your tenants know rental licensing increases their rent!Â Licensing is a charge from the city which you can pass onto your tenants.Â Why is the city taxing our tenants???
- Examine your own property, how is the curb appeal? Do you have enough parking? Have you met your neighbours? Do the neighbours know how to reach you if there’s a problem? I remember who my client and I were chatting with a neighbour and how she was telling us she loved how we bought the house and were renovating.Â She now plans to rent her house out when she moves to a bigger home because she knows we’re raising the property values.
Hope that helps! Till next blog post – happy Hamilton investing everyone!!
Erwin |Â MrHamilton.ca
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Thanks for the reminder Irwin. I just fired off an email. I intended to for the last couple of weeks but it slipped my mind.
I used to work in the public sector. The emails people send do count. I advise people not to worry so much about the content, as they sometimes get tallied as so many emails for or against an issue by the administrative staff. So just write something.
Great tip and message to all investors! Would you mind posting what you wrote so others may use it as a template?
please and thanks
Just a note there does not need to be an internal staircase to make it fire legal.
As for the rest value is subjective.
Correct. There was a well publicized story early this year where an owner constructed a fire escape in the front of the house instead of an internal staircase. Not exactly an improvement in curb appeal… internal shared stairs/hallways plus fire escape is the most common setup I’ve seen.
Great tips, thanks so much for the post! As a mortgage broker I deal with many investors that are dealing with these same issues. And when I heard of what could be going on in Hamilton, it also reminded me of Waterloo. I hope your post gets a lot of attention. It’s an important issue with so many tentacles, it’s hard for people to keep straight sometimes.