Archive for February, 2012


now what to do on this special day…..

Use this day to do something daring, extraordinary and unlike yourself. Take a chance and shape a different pattern in your personal cloud of probability!” – Vera Nazarian, author


Happy Leap Day !!


Just a word on grow ops……….

…”prevention”.  But we will come back to this word a bit later.

You read about them every once in a while……some raid on some downtown home that contained hundreds of marijuana plants, an old warehouse that was shuttered and yet people were still seen driving to…and while we used to read that these operations were mostly in the larger cities (for distribution purposes), more and more grow ops are being found in smaller towns.  Over 2 million plants were found last year in BC, Ontario, and Quebec, and the police estimate that there more than 50,000 grow houses Canada-wide, with some estimates as high as 100,000.  Plants can sell for $1000 each, so it’s a lucrative industry, and one that is gradually growing.

More alarming is the fact that almost all grow ops are found in rental units.  Why?  Well, a lot of landlords don’t do proper screening, so anyone can move in, and secondly, the damage that a grow op can do to a home is incredible, so you certainly would not want to own one.

A recent grow op found in Newmarket showed that the tenants had filled the basement and main floor with 2′ of soil and were growing the plants without the planters that we always see in the news clips.  Surely, someone had to notice a few dump trucks worth of soil being delivered to the home and put INSIDE the house!!!  Evidently not.

So what do grow houses look like?  Like any other house or rental unit out there.

These were ones that were found recently….

As mentioned, the damage that can be caused by a grow op is substantial.  The “renovations” necessary to convert your nice rental unit into a farm can be extensive..walls being knocked down, holes drilled in foundations, and the obvious mould and moisture issues that come from the growth process.  I won’t get into the details (you can Google it) but if you have a grow op in one of your places, it will cost you thousands in mould remediation costs, repairs, and environmental inspections…not to mention that you legally have to disclose the fact that it was a grow op if you ever want to sell it….good luck!!  And I won’t even mention that your rental property could be condemned.  (oops, just did..)

So how do you know if you have one?  Watch your property for the following (from the RCMP) :

  • All windows are covered, often with dark plastic or newspaper
  • Condensation forms on windows due to high humidity levels inside.
  • Residents may only be in the home occasionally and for short periods of time.
  • Unusual visitor behavior – no visitors or frequent visitors for short periods of time.
  • People access the home only through the garage.
  • Strange skunk-like odours.
  • Unusual garbage – little or no garbage or unusual items such as pots, soil and wiring.
  • Sounds of electrical humming or fans.
  • Unusual wiring on the outside or signs the hydro meter has been tampered with.
  • Little snow (or steam) on the roof in winter.
  • “Beware of Dog” or “Guard Dog On Duty” signs and excessive security.
  • Localized power surges or brown-outs.
  • Bright interior lights left on all day and night.

And in a roundabout way we are back to that first word…Prevention.

The first thing you need to do (or ensure your Property Management company is doing) is adequate screening of potential tenants.  This will mitigate the risk that you will have a criminal moving in.

Secondly (and this is obvious), regular inspections of the property inside and out can alert you to problems as quickly as possible, but more importantly,  tell the prospective tenants that you will do this.  And don’t tell them at lease-signing time.  If you have a prospective  interested at the showing, tell them that you will do an inspection 2-3 times a year to look for maintenance issues and to check smoke detectors etc.  This sometimes is enough to discourage a potential problem.  If they give you a hard time about inspections, time to keep looking for a tenant…


An open invitation…..

When thinking about real estate investing and property management, there are lots of interesting things we can talk about, but this blog should be more than just my topics and my thoughts.

This is an open invitation to anyone to add their two cents (or more!) to this blog.

If you would like to know about any particular topic, or would like to write a blog entry, shoot me an email at

Would love to hear from you..the more contributors we have the better!  This blog should be about collaboration, as I’m sure we can all benefit from the knowledge of others.

Looking forward to hearing from you…….




Upcoming Landlord Seminar……

Here’s the info for an upcoming seminar  that you might want to catch….


April Stewart is a strong advocate for Landlord rights, and if you have ever had the chance to see her in action at the Tribunal, then you know that she is lethal!  They don’t call her the Terminator for nothing.  I also hear that you can submit a question prior to attending and she will definitely address it during the presentation.

Looking forward to seeing you there….





another nice property to start managing next month……


one more comment on the importance of location…

Here’s a neat site that rates your location based on how “walkable” it is.


This is from the site:

Walkable neighborhoods offer surprising benefits to the environment, our health, our finances, and our communities.

Environment: Cars are a leading cause of climate change. Your feet are zero-pollution transportation machines.

Health: The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs 6-10 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighbourhood.

Finances: One point of Walk Score is worth up to $3,000 of value for your property.

Communities: Studies show that for every 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10%


Just put in the address and see what the ‘walk score’ is.  It will also tell you what restaurants, parks, shopping, entertainment (and more) are around the property.  By knowing this, you can see what amenities the property offers prospective tenants, and from this, you can gauge how ‘rentable’ your potential property will be.


Another nice property to start being managed this month…..


Location, location, location…


I know, you’re thinking cliché, cliché, cliché…yes, it’s a well-coined phrase, but it’s key.

We all know that one of the most important decisions regarding which property to buy is the location of the property.  Your realtor will be able to show you the comparables for the area (similar houses and what they sold for), but you should also do your own research.

Check out the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC):

Lots of great info here, especially if you are planning on investing in an area that you are not familiar with.    You can find out the vacancy rates of various areas, and what typical rents are for the various kinds of units.

I’ll let you know of other great sources of info in future posts, but this is a great place to start.




Another nice property to be managed starting this month……


About to be listed…


24 unit building in Bradford that we currently manage. If interested, let me know.


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