Have you purchased (or are you considering venturing into) residential rental real estate? Investing successfully in this very stable asset class can depend heavily on good professional property management. And this holds true for purpose-built, multi-family buildings as well as for a single condominium unit or detached family home.
Residential rental properties are governed by a dazzling array of federal, provincial and municipal pieces of legislation – the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), WorkSafeBC, the Privacy Act, Human Rights Code, the Real Estate Services Act (RESA), the Personal Information Protection Act and the Strata Property Act – along with a multitude of municipal building codes and bylaws.
The Residential Tenancy Act assigns very specific rights and responsibilities to both landlords and tenants. Property managers are all licensed under the Real Estate Services Act, and earning their license involves comprehensive study in many fields of law, construction, human resources and contract management. A licensed property manager works to protect the landlord’s interests in ensuring that all Residential Tenancy Act rules and regulations are followed, and that the covenants in the Residential Tenancy Agreement are strictly adhered to. The terms and conditions of the Tenancy Agreement are specifically dictated by the Act, down to the wording and clauses that may or may not be used.
A landlord and tenant are always encouraged to resolve any disagreements before they become bigger issues and before the matter is ever brought before a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator. Professional property management is essential in mediating onsite issues between building staff and tenants by helping to resolve any disagreements or misunderstandings. Excellent rental property managers can quickly resolve issues to the satisfaction of both parties.
Disputes that cannot be resolved must be directed through dispute resolution at the Residential Tenancy Branch. An application for dispute resolution initiates a formal legal process with the Residential Tenancy Branch. Generally, this legal process doesn’t require legal counsel or involve courts or the police.
Being one of the largest and most professional residential property management companies in British Columbia, FirstService Residential represents thousands of landlords. To represent our clients properly, our management team must fully understand the rights and obligations of both parties - landlord and tenant.
To prevent disputes from arising, the landlord and tenant should have an in-depth understanding of the Residential Tenancy Act. Property managers work with the building staff to ensure the Tenancy Agreement is enforced, and landlords’ rights and assets as well as tenants’ rights are protected. The property manager will often call the tenants’ attention to government resources to help them understand their rights and obligations. In simplified terms, some of the basic obligations of the tenant are:
- Pay rent and all other fees on time;
- Maintain reasonable health and sanitary standards within the rental unit and the residential property as a whole;
- Ensure that the tenant and/ or guests do not damage the property, or disturb neighbours within the building or neighbouring property, or endanger the life and safety of others;
- Adhere to all covenants in the Residential Tenancy Agreement including any reasonable additional terms and addenda that may be included;
- Be available for the move-in condition and move-out condition inspection process.
Most tenancy agreements require the tenant to carry tenant’s insurance. Even though tenants may not think they have a lot of possessions, if a catastrophic loss occurs, landlords have no responsibility for tenants’ belongings or for providing alternative housing.
In turn for fulfilling the obligations above, tenants have a multitude of rights bestowed upon them by The Residential Tenancy Act:
- The tenant expects that the landlord will protect all personal information collected regarding the tenancy, and that the landlord will comply with the Personal Information Protection Act;
- The tenant cannot be discriminated against based on race, place of origin, religion, marital or family status, physical or mental disability, age or legal source of income. The landlord must comply with Section 10 of The Human Rights Code;
- If the landlord decides to sell the individual unit or wishes him/herself or family member to occupy the unit, the tenant has the right to receive at least a full two calendar month notice of the intent along with one full month of rent as compensation for the termination of tenancy. If the tenant vacates under the above terms and the landlord does not, at the end of the day, sell or move into the premises, there can be financial penalties to the landlord for non-compliance;
- A landlord must respond to emergencies as defined in the Residential Tenancy Act, or alternatively allow the tenant to make and pay for emergency repairs and withhold that portion of the rent as a reimbursement; and
- The landlord must provide quiet enjoyment to tenants maintaining reasonable privacy, freedom from disturbance and exclusive possession of the rental unit.
Under the Real Estate Services Act, anyone who performs any of the following services for your rental property must either be licensed under the Act, or a family member or an employee of the ownership of the property (caretaker exemption):
- Collecting rents or security deposits from tenants;
- Making payments to third parties;
- Negotiating or entering into contracts;
- Supervising employees or contractors;
- Managing landlord and tenant matters;
- Showing and renting real estate to prospective tenants.
A professional property manager can mitigate operating and capital costs by managing contracts and projects with care and diligence.
In summary, it can be most rewarding for an investor to own residential rental real estate. The details and tasks are many, but when managed daily by a professional property manager, a stable and safe asset can be ensured for years to come.
FirstService Residential has the operational experience of more than 35 years in property management. Our vast resources and strong complement of highly trained and experienced managers can solve virtually any issues that arise in residential rental and investment properties.
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