In ‘99 my wife & I arrived in Barrie having just spent ten years as tenants, living somewhere different each year. We were thrilled to settle down and buy our first home. In fact, we liked Barrie so much, we bought two houses – one to live in, one to rent out. (Okay, really it was the bank that bought the other house, but we get to look after it until it’s paid off.)
In one giant leap we went from tenants to landlords. Overall it’s been a good experience, although not a lucrative one. Taxes, hydro, gas, water, insurance, maintenance and two mortgages eat up pretty much all the rent. Some years it’s profitable, some years it actually loses money. But after 25 long years of looking after it and paying the bills, we’ll have that second house to finance our retirement.
Something I’ve learned from being a landlord is the extreme rental shortage in
. As a provider of affordable rents, I always have
several good applicants for a vacancy, but can only rent to one, which leaves
the others still looking for affordable and appropriate housing. Barrie
Public or non-profit housing can never address all the needs in our community. Private landlords must be part of the solution, too. Yet too often conflicts between landlord and tenant lead to grief, causing landlords to stop renting, or scaring potential landlords from starting out. But it need not be that way; conflicts can often be prevented or solved with better understanding.
That’s why the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness (Barrie chapter) will host some landlord & tenant information sessions in the new year. Guest speakers can share expertise on various topics like legal issues, dealing with tenant mental health problems, or bedbug prevention and removal. Experts will help dispel myths, provide updates on new landlord-tenant regulations, or answer your other questions.
But we need to know what landlords, or prospective landlords, most want to learn. What kind of questions are you hoping to have answered? What are problems you’ve faced and need advice with, what worries might be preventing you from renting? What supports do you need? There exist community resources for landlords to access; we’d love to help connect you to them.
So if you are a landlord, or are thinking about renting out a spare room, apartment, condo or house, please tell us what you’d like to learn from these sessions. Contact Kelly Bell at 705-739-9909 or firstname.lastname@example.org with your wish list. We’ll try to get you the information you need, and tell you when and where the sessions will be.
Good landlord-tenant relationships are key to improving the affordable housing situation.
p.s. There will also be information sessions specifically for tenants as part of this series. More on that as plans firm up.
A version of this Root Issues was published in the Barrie Examiner under the title "Good landlord-tenant relationships are key"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.