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Rent Spot makes renting easy. We connect landlords to renters every day, all day. Our industry leading website serves 1000s of renters and landlords across Canada. Now we are writing about it. We want to hear from you so please visit us and post your comments.

11 October 2010 ~ 2 Comments

Bigger pictures for your rental property

Calgary skyline view from Union Condos

One of the upgrades we did on Rent Spot recently was enlarging the picture view on the property listing page. The pictures are now larger on the page and when you click on the pictures, a photo gallery pops up to scroll through all the pictures.

Having pictures make a big difference for renters when they are looking for condos for rent in Vancouver or houses for rent in Edmonton. We find they are viewed two to three times more than listings without pictures. Landlords, you can now upload as many pictures as you want and you’ll be glad to know renters can view them on the page or in photo gallery mode.

09 October 2010 ~ 1 Comment

Landlord rental property real-time stats

When you create a listing on Rent Spot, the stats are tracked for you on a monthly basis. You can view this on your dashboard when you are logged into the system. Landlords can see how well their listings are doing on a monthly basis. What is showing above are the stats for October. So what does it all mean?

Impressions: 62671 – This is how many times your listing has been viewed either on the homepage or on the list pages when users are scrolling through listings.

Views: 112 – This is how many times your listing has been clicked on to view the detailed property page with the description and photos.

Phone: 9 – This is how many times your property has been called. We have a link on the phone number so we know how many times this has been clicked on.

Email: 1 – This is how many times the contact email has been used by potential renters.

Website: 7 – This is how many times your website link has been clicked on by potential renters.

If you have Kelowna rentals, apartments for rent in Edmonton or downtown Vancouver apartments you’ll know in real-time how well your rental properties are performing 24/7 on Rent Spot.

07 October 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Raising Rent

Raising rent. When, how, why? Raising rent was a big deal a couple of years ago in Calgary and other markets when the economy was booming. Rents were going up like crazy and it was definitely a landlords market with rents doubling in some cases. That’s not the case these days. Average rent have come down and a lot of places are offering incentives to move in like free internet for a year. Looking at our data in October here is the average rent for some key markets (Rent Spot Data, Oct 2010, 2 bedroom apartment for rent):

  • Calgary – $1,065
  • Vancouver – $947
  • Edmonton – $910
  • Saskatoon – $863

When we pulled Rent Spot data in 2008, the average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in Calgary was $1,409. So we’ve come down $344 (24%) in rent! That’s a lot! Whether you are looking for Edmonton rentals or Vancouver apartment rentals, now is a good time for renters!

On the flip side, when can a landlord raise rent?

It is all over the map depending on what province you live in, here are some:

Alberta

There are no rent controls in Alberta. Rent can only be increased if there has not been a rent increase within the previous 365 days or since the start of the tenancy, whichever is later. Before the rent can be increased the landlord must give written notice, check with Residential Tenancy Act for more details.

British Columbia

British Columbia has rent control. Landlords must use the approved form “Notice of Rent Increase” and give the tenant 3 month’s notice to increase rent. Tenants cannot dispute the rent increase unless the increase is more than the allowable amount.

For manufactured home park tenancies, landlords can also recover costs due to increased utility fees and property taxes as long as increases are distributed proportionately among tenants. In this situation, landlords must provide tenants with copies of the receipts and tax notices that justify the rent increase.

Saskatchewan

Landlords must give six months written notice of a rent increase for a periodic tenancy. Rent may not be increased during a term lease except increases specified in the agreement. Tenants may apply to the Office of Residential Tenancies to enforce their rights if proper notice was not given.

Other provinces vary, you can check with CMHC, they have good detail on what applies to your province. So whether you are looking for Saskatoon apartments, houses for rent in Vancouver or condos for rent in Edmonton it is good to know when your rent might be increasing and the laws that govern them.

06 October 2010 ~ 2 Comments

Rental Leases

A rental lease is key in any tenancy and this was confirmed by Chris Souster when I attended a session called “Ask the lawyer: Hot topics for landlords.” During the session there was a lot of questions about what happens when a fixed term lease ends, here are some possible scenarios:

  1. At the end of the fixed term lease, no notice is required to leave by the tenant and the tenant moves out
  2. The landlord and tenant decide to sign a new fixed term lease
  3. If there is no new lease and the tenant is still occupying the premise then the lease goes month-to-month.

When the lease is coming up, you want to look at the relationship with the tenant. Common sense applies. If you are on good terms with the tenant, give them a heads up and see if they want to stay and renew. If you don’t want the tenant to stay or the tenant has been unreliable, you will probably want to collect the last months rent before giving any notice.

Ending a fixed term lease

If you or the tenant decide to end the fixed term lease early, do it carefully as this is a binding legal document! You can end the fixed term lease before the end of the lease under the following conditions:

  • Both, you and your landlord agree in writing to terminate the lease early
  • The tenant will continue to pay rent until the end of the term
  • The landlord agrees in writing that the tenant can assign or sublet the unit and an acceptable replacement tenant is found
  • The landlord is able to rent out the premises in a short period of time and mitigate the potential loss
  • If the landlord or tenant has violated the Residential Tenancy Act either party can end the tenancy, be sure to follow the correct steps for your province, you may need an arbitrator to end the agreement

Ending a periodic tenancy

  • One full calendar month’s written notice of intent is required by either the landlord or tenant
  • Notice is due on or before the last day of a rental payment period to be effective on the last day of a subsequent rental payment period (for example if your rent is due on the first day of the month, the tenant must give notice to the landlord no later than April 30th to move out on May 31st)
  • Notice must contain the rental unit address, the move out date, the tenant’s and landlord’s name and dated signature
  • Notice must be legally served by handing the written notice to the landlord/tenant or their agent (e.g. property manager)
  • You can attach the notice to the front door of the landlord’s home or office a minimum 3 days before the deadline (similarly for the tenant)
  • Notice can be mailed a of minimum 5 days before the deadline

When you are providing notice, it’s a good idea to follow up and ensure the other party has received it!

So whether you need to know about fixed term leases, periodic leases or just looking for Edmonton rentals, we have the answers.

29 September 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Edmonton Property Manager Tradeshow

We just got back from the Edmonton Suites and Homes Tradeshow yesterday. It features over 100 Exhibitors showcasing their products and services to well over 700 real estate agents and apartment landlords and property managers who attend.

People who attend are:

  • Rental Housing Executives
  • Rental Housing Investors
  • Independent Rental Owners
  • Edmonton Property Managers
  • Asset Managers
  • Maintenance Managers & Supervisors
  • Commercial Realtors

We were up there talking to Edmonton property managers and individual landlords who need our service to list their Edmonton apartment rentals or houses for rent in Edmonton.

Wow, was it worth our time! We practiced our elevator pitch and went to work talking to hundreds of Edmonton landlords and real estate agents. What’s our elevator pitch? We are a rental website connecting landlords to renters. We get 1000s of visitors a day and are number one for most google terms like Edmonton apartments. We also put our customers first. For larger property managers – we’ll even put your listings up for you, give you a free trial and a free banner.

Craig & Dennis infront of our Rent Spot Booth

Craig & Dennis infront of our Rent Spot Booth

Did I tell you we have a great booth? We got there early for setup and started at 10am talking to our first clients. Craig and Dennis did a great job talking to our clients and potential clients. We got some great feedback from Brian to provide some of our metrics back to landlords like what is the most popular community in Edmonton, most popular rent range or how many renters are searching for Edmonton apartment rentals that allow pets. This kind of information would help property managers decide how to market and position their ads to renters or what neighbourhoods to buy in.

What’s next? Sales! We’re going to follow up with all our leads like Sarah from Ayre & Oxford Inc. or David from Birchwood Equities. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of new rental listings in Edmonton up over the next couple of weeks and break 400 Edmonton rental units. After that we’ll be going to the Calgary Tradeshow.

24 September 2010 ~ 8 Comments

A good property manager website

We’ve been recently working with The Kelson Group helping them advertise their listings in Edmonton. I was really impressed with their own property manager website. It looks nice and professional. The main navigation outlines what cities they have apartment buildings in serving cities in BC and the Edmonton area. Each landing page for the cities have an overview of the apartments, location on Google maps and a link to each apartment for more details.

The details page for each property have large images and lots of them! Pictures are important, very important. We find our own listings with pictures get 120% more phone calls and emails vs. listings without images. The property details page have the suite types with links to the floor plans as well. Renters want as much detail as possible when they are looking for a place to live and we’ve found floor plans go a long way.

The property descriptions are comprehensive outlining the building features, suite details and location with a Google Map view. Another good thing to have on your property details page is a way for the renter to contact you. Their pages have a contact form on each property making it easy for a renter to find vacancies in your units.

If you don’t have the resources to list all your properties on your own corporate website, Rent Spot provides property manager landing pages where property managers can have all their listings viewed. It is part of our service to property managers when you post listings with us. If a renter is looking for condos for rent in Edmonton or Vancouver apartment rentals all your properties can be broken down by city on your own property manager page.

23 September 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Location, location, location

When I moved back in 2008, one of the most important criteria I had was location. Location, location, location. The neighbourhood and location was very important for me. Looking for Edmonton apartment rentals, downtown Edmonton would be ideal.

Edmonton has over 100+ neighbourhoods, looking at downtown I would be focusing on:

MacKay Avenue
The MacKay Avenue Area houses over 4,000 residents living in a variety of walk-up and high-rise apartments. The area is characterized by mature, tree-lined streets and sloping topography.

Warehouse District
The Warehouse District is an urban mix, comprised of old warehouses converted to commercial, residential, and other uses, and some are vacant properties ripe for development. This area is less dense, with most buildings being only one, two, or three storeys high.

Government Buildings – west side
The Government Precinct is home to the Alberta Legislature building and grounds and several high-quality office towers with associated commercial uses. To the west of the Legislature building are numerous high rise apartment buildings for rent where you can find your ideal downtown Edmonton apartment.

23 September 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Questions for a lawyer

I attended a morning seminar last week at the Calgary Residential Rental Association called “Ask the Lawyer: Hot topics for landlords” delivered by Chris Souster. Wow, what a great seminar! There was a lot of great questions and answers presented for property managers. One topic that had a lot of discussion was collecting rent, when is it worthwhile? If your tenant is delinquent on rent or doesn’t pay the last months rent, when do you fight it? Chris’s advice is if it’s greater than $1000, then it is worth a fight. You have several courses of action:

  1. You can take your dispute to RTDRS, you have to complete your application form and they will set a date for the hearing. The matter will be heard before a Tenancy Dispute Officer who is authorized to make binding decisions on claims up to $25,000.
  2. You can file a claim and take the tenant to court. If you go this route, make sure you are prepared. Producing evidence is key when you go to court, make sure you have a good paper trail. Judges can be sympathetic towards tenants since this is their home and tenants have a duty to mitigate as well – having a roof over their head.
  3. You can get a collection agency to follow up on delinquent tenant’s rent.
  4. You can even obtain a writ for rent not paid or damages made to your property. If the former tenant went out and bought a house you could get title on the house for collection. This would be in extreme cases and you would have to weigh the cost vs. benefits of pursuing this avenue.

In all cases, the key message was – is it worth my time? If it is greater than $1,000 or missed opportunity costs are large then the above options are a start.

20 September 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Hello there

Hello there

This is our first post to our blog.  My name is Rob and I will be one of the main bloggers on this site. A little about myself – I am one of the owners of Rent Spot, I do the customer support, advertising and day-to-day operations.

We have started a blog because we have a lot to say and share with our community of landlords and renters. We have a lot of one way communication with our customers and only hear from you via customer support. We want to start having a more two way conversation, hence the blog. So as you see posts that you want to comment on, please do! We want to hear from you so hear’s your invitation.

What will we be writing about? Topics of interests to our business, landlords, renters and the rental market. We could be writing about how to post an effective property description one day and the next day be writing how much rent to ask for. We will refine this as we go and would love to hear from you on topics that you think people would read.

How can you leave feedback? Post comments on our blog, follow us facebook and twitter or send us feedback on our website form.