Feb 13 17

Help Preserve your Investment

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Help-Preserve-your-Investment

What can you do as a landlord to keep your rental property in good condition? While there can be large maintenance requirements such as replacing the roof or upgrading the energy-efficient windows, there are also small, inexpensive things that make a big difference. Help preserve your investment by equipping tenants with everything you can to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the unit. Here are a few examples:

Use Cutting Boards to Avoid Scratching the Countertops

Something as simple as using cutting boards anytime you need to chop up some ingredients for dinner is an effective and important way to preserve the condition of your kitchen countertops and preserve the overall look and condition of your kitchen. A cutting board can also be used to prevent hot pots and pans from burning or staining countertops.

Provide your tenants with basic cutting boards to prevent scratches and knife cuts on your counters. Wood, plastic, granite, and glass cutting boards retail for $10 to $50 each. Replacement counter tops, meanwhile, cost at least $30 per square foot, not to mention installation costs.

Place Pads on the Bottom of Furniture

Hardwood flooring is a feature that can really enhance a living space. But it must also be taken care of. If your apartment has hardwood flooring, be sure to preserve it and avoid scratches and gouges by supplying tenants with felt furniture pads which can be affixed to the bottom of table legs, chair legs, and couch legs. These retail for practically nothing ($5 for 16 adhesive felt pads) and can save hundreds in floor scratch repair and refinishing.

Use Drains Screens and Supply a Plunger

Clogged sinks and drains are a nuisance, and can lead to a costly plumbing bill. Supply tenants with drain screens for the kitchen sink and bathtub. The kitchen drain screen (also called a drain strainer) will prevent oversized food particles from clogging the drain, while a drain in the bathtub will prevent hair from causing a clog. Also supply tenants with a plunger for each bathroom. This will save you the headache of an emergency call in the middle of the night to deal with a bathroom disaster!

Supply Command Strips for Wall Hangings

You don’t want tenants to damage walls by using nails on the drywall. Supply tenants with removable picturing hanging strips and hooks such as Command Strips. These adhesive, removable strips will help tenants decorate without leaving holes in the wall when they move out. These strips retail for $5-15, which is as much as it would cost for spackling compound – without the work.

When it comes to owning an investment property, preventative measures are just as important as big maintenance projects. Preserve the condition of the kitchen, hardwood floors, and plumbing system with these simple, but effective investments.

Oct 24 16

Maximizing Space in a Small Bathroom

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organizing small bathroom

Bathrooms and an abundance of space are two things that don’t often go hand-in-hand. For many of us, especially urbanites, we’re well versed in the aggravations of having a cramped bathroom space. And that’s why utilizing every inch of it efficiently is crucial. It’s a delicate balance between having all your essential toiletries close at hand, and making sure your bathroom doesn’t look messy and cluttered. If you’re struggling with your humble bathroom size, use these tips to help maximize the space in your Toronto apartment.

Shelves

Shelves are your best friends when it comes to small spaces. For your bathroom, use the area in between your sink and mirror, as well as any free wall that can accommodate a temporary shelf. If you have a cabinet beneath the sink, you can install temporary shelves there as well. They’re a perfect, simple way to add in some extra storage space for all those bits and bobs. Of course, the toilet tank cover is a storage spot of its own. Just place a nice wicker basket on top and you can store hair accessories or bath products for easy access.

Mason Jars

Speaking of toiletries and shelves, the last thing you want is to have loose cotton balls and Q-Tips lying around on your newly installed shelves. That’s where Mason jars come in handy. You can use these to contain and organize your items, and simply place them on the shelf, or get creative by embedding the lids to the bottom of the shelf and having the jars attached underneath. It’s creative and organized – a win-win!

Towel Racks

If your bathroom is really tight on space, and the idea of a towel rack just won’t work, then go to your local home décor store and buy a removable rack that can hang on the back of the door. You can hang up your bathrobe and towels without taking up any extra room.

Shelf Rack Beneath Sink

If your bathroom doesn’t have any cabinets and your sink is mounted to the wall with nothing beneath it, then go bold! These days you can find just about anything for apartment living, including cabinet shelves made to fit around the plumbing of your sink.

Hang Up Clunky Items

For any of your clunky items, such as your hair dryer, flat iron, curling iron, or brushes, get these out of the way by installing hanging devices on the inside of your cabinet doors. They keep those items out of sight and neatly tucked away for ultimate convenience.

So stop struggling with your tight bathroom space. There are a variety of ways that you can optimize what you’ve got. With the popularity of apartment and condo-based living, you can find just about anything you need to maximize space in your bathroom.

Looking for more apartment living and condo living tips? The Simplified Rentals team is always happy to help! Get in touch with us or give us a call at (647) 495-6892.

Aug 29 16

3 Important Exterior Maintenance Tasks for Landlords

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A well-groomed front door of a house

As more baby boomers trade in the maintenance of their house for an all-in-one easy packaged apartment, and as more young professionals fall out of the affordable reach for buying property, rentals and apartments are becoming more favourable than ever. But with that popularity also comes more potential competition. If you’re a landlord, an increase of competition means you’ve got to keep your rental property in tiptop shape. Sure, there are the run-of-the-mill obvious things, like making sure everything works properly, but sometimes you’ve got to look with a fresh set of eyes at the finer details. After all, it’s often these details that can make or break how easily you can get tenants at your desired rental rate.

Here are three exterior maintenance tasks that are important if you want to beat out that competition and get the tenants rolling in.

The Landscape

The first impressions of your property are crucial. And that’s why you need to start at the front of your property before even stepping inside. Your landscape – whether it’s a simple lawn, paved interlock, or garden – is what prospective tenants see first, and therefore, judge first. So depending on the state of it, they’ve already developed either a positive or negative impression before entering the apartment.

So no matter what you have in the front of your home, keep it clean, trimmed, pruned, weeded and shovelled. If it’s a concrete slab, try adding some potted flowers near your entranceway and stairs to give a touch of aesthetic appeal.

The Exterior

For the exterior of your property, porch and front door – if you have peeling paint, or dirt and grim lingering on them, get yourself a good power hose or a few cans of paint. Giving the exterior of your property a thorough wash, or even a few coats of fresh paint to your porch and front door can work absolute wonders for revamping the exterior of your property.

Hide Garbage Bins

If there’s one thing you can do to remove an almost guaranteed negative first impression, it’s removing any garbage bins that are located in the front of your property. Sure, they may be oversized and awkward to really fit anywhere else, but try to keep them to the side and out of view, at least during showings. You may even consider constructing an inexpensive enclosure so that you can keep them hidden. Garbage bins are never an item you want to have laying around for any prospective tenants to get a waft of.

Competition can be fierce for many landlords looking to keep their properties occupied. First impressions are vital for tenants, so follow these tips to get the exterior of your property in tiptop shape to ensure that the first impression is a great one.

If you prefer the hands-off approach, Simplified Rentals can handle it all. As a leading Toronto property management company, we take care of maintenance and other essential tasks to help attract desirable tenants.

Aug 8 16

Renting Furnished vs. Unfurnished

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A furnished apartment with bright red accent pieces

If you’re a landlord ready to place a home, condo, or apartment on the market, chances are you might be experiencing that internal debate that tends to go along with it:  “Do I keep it furnished or unfurnished?” It can be a tough decision to make, especially if you’ve already got some furniture to spare. Well, put your mind at ease. Here are a few pointers on the pros and cons of furnished versus unfurnished properties to help you figure out what’s best for you.

Furnished

Pros

Depending on the location of your property, furnished apartments or homes can be an optimal and preferred choice for the general demographic of the area. For example, if you’re living in an area that is home to colleges or universities, chances are that they attract out-of-towners such visiting professors, grduate students, or international students who require apartments to stay in for a while. For the neighbouring financial area, furnished apartments are appealing to travelling businesspeople. These kinds of neighbourhoods can yield the type of clients where having a furnished apartment is most convenient and preferable. The same applies if you own a vacation property, such as a cottage in the Muskokas or a beach-front retreat in Collingwood. Often, it will make sense to offer a furnished option for these types of properties.

In addition, furnished apartments generally yield a slight premium in rent in comparison to unfurnished ones, so if you’re looking for a higher price, it could help to keep the furniture.

Cons

On the other hand, furnished properties do tend to attract tenants that are generally interested in renting for a short period of time. That means more frequent time and effort needed from you to search for other potential tenants.

There’s also the factor of maintenance. If you’ve provided all the furnishings and kitchenware, you’ll be responsible for maintaining them and replacing these items as necessary. You also have to be conscious of investing in furniture that is universally appealing and timeless – modern renters may not appreciate a brown and yellow overstuffed chesterfield.

Another important consideration is that generally speaking, the market for people looking for furnished apartments is much smaller than those looking for unfurnished. So the quality of the tenant and the price they are paying may be great, but it might take a little longer to find them.

Unfurnished

Pros

Rentals that require tenants to provide their own furnishings and belongings means there’s more effort and commitment involved. This means you can attract tenants with the intent to stay long-term. So it’s less effort on your part to go through the hassle of frequently searching for tenants.

This also means that what they bring, they are responsible for. So less stress, maintenance and cost for you. And since the apartment is furnished with what they own, they’ll be more inclined to be respectful towards the property.

Cons

Though the vast majority of homes and apartments are rented out unfurnished, there are a couple of cons to consider. Mainly, unfurnished apartments are generally listed at slightly lower prices than furnished ones on the market.

Also, if you have furniture in the rental unit that you don’t need for personal use, you will have to take the time to try and sell it, or find a place to store it.

So before you decide how to list your property, go through these pros and cons and give your situation some thought. Consider your location, the type of tenants you desire, along with the commitment involved. This will help you narrow down your scope and choose whether furnished or unfurnished is the right way to go for you. If you like the idea of a furnished apartment but don’t want to deal with frequent searches for renters, a property management company in Toronto can handle it all on your behalf.

Jun 20 16

How to Maximize Space in Your Toronto Studio Apartment

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A hip studio apartment

A studio apartment (also known as a bachelor apartment) is an apartment rental that combines the living room, kitchen, and bedroom into one multi-use space. Despite the size limitations, studio apartments can be quite cozy and functional with a bit of organization and foresight. Here are some great tips to help you get the most out of your studio apartment in Toronto:

Tip 1: Buying Smaller Furniture

You would be surprised to know that although furniture stores typically have huge pieces on display, they also have smaller sized versions of the pieces in their back room. Typically referred to as apartment-sized or condo-sized furniture, these pieces are perfect for smaller spaces. These pieces usually shave a few inches off the depth and width to recapture floor space. You’ll get the right amount of furniture that you need for entertaining without having to compromise on your floor space.

Tip 2: Buying Versatile Furniture

Other ways that you can save on space by having a sufficient amount of furniture is to buy pieces that have more than one purpose. It’s easy to find beds that have under-the-bed storage or ottomans that have lids that give you storage space as well. You can keep extra linens, pillows, magazines, and other items put away so it doesn’t clutter your space.

Tip 3: Using Dividers

If you know that you’re going to be entertaining guests on a regular basis you might want to consider sectioning parts of your studio apartment off to the naked eye, such as your bedroom. You can use dividers but make sure that you use them sparingly as you won’t want to create too many rooms as it can take away from common areas. Consider using a thin glass or a curtain with a modern rod to close off areas to wandering eyes.

Tip 4: Emphasizing Light

The number one advantage that you have with a studio apartment is the fact that you can use natural lighting to improve the appearance of space. If you use too many drapes and heavy fabrics to cut off your main source of light, it can turn a relatively spacious apartment into a claustrophobic dungeon. Make sure that you not only avoid blocking the light, but that you promote it to move around the room by adding mirrors and other reflective surfaces.

Tip 5: Choosing Lighter Colours

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a 1000 sq. ft. studio apartment, it’s important that you choose light colours when it comes to painting your walls. Much like the idea of promoting light, brighter colours are essential for making spaces look larger. Pull paint chips that relate to blue, pastel pink, yellow, greys, or white.

As a leading property management company in Toronto, Simplified Rentals is proud to provide expert advice to landlords and tenants – get in touch if you have any questions.

May 23 16

Apartment Living: Little Changes That Make a Big Difference

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A bed with storage built-in

Apartments can have the tendency to all look the same regardless of where you live. From the Financial District to Richmond Hill, Mississauga to Scarborough, a small space is a small space, right? Wrong. By making a few small changes you can completely transform the inside of your apartment and for a limited cost as well. Whether you need more storage space or if you want updated furnishings, these tips can help you make small changes that offer a whole world of difference.

Under-the-Bed Storage

If you have a bed frame that rests relatively high off of the ground, you can easily find under-the-bed storage containers to put to good use. If you have limited closet space, you can change your clothes out for each season and put last season’s clothes in the storage. You can also store all of your personal mementos and trinkets in the event that you don’t have room to display them. The best part is that you’ll be getting rid of clutter in your apartment and keeping it all in a contained and accessible area.

Changing Lamp Shades

Whether you have bedside table lamps or lamps on the coffee tables in your living room, you would be surprised at how simple it can be to completely change their appearance just by updating the shades. You can make a room more modern by finding a glass shade or more traditional by finding a material shade. It’s also a great way to brighten up a room that has looked the same since you moved in. Lamp shades are incredibly affordable as you can find them in department stores and even dollar stores.

Adding Wall Art

There’s nothing that transforms a regular apartment into a home better than decorating your walls. Depending on the agreement that you have with your landlord, you may not be able to paint, but you should be able to add wall art. Find a few prints of your favorite cities or landmarks, have them framed, and display them in common areas. You can also take photographs of your friends and family and display them on the walls in your bedroom. It will really help to add a personal touch to the property and make it feel more comfortable.

Adding Area Rugs

Area rugs are designed to add dimension to a room, particularly if your apartment is filled with hardwood. You can find them in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours to compliment the decorative design that you have inside of your apartment. It can help to minimize echoes, protect the floor from your furniture, and help to make the space feel more like home.

Want to learn more about little apartment changes that make a big difference? The Simplified Rentals team is happy to help and offer practical advice so you can get the most out of your Toronto rental apartment!

Mar 28 16

Making the Most Out of a Small Space

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A small, modern apartment

For many of us, starting out on our own can be pretty tough. After years of being dependent on parents and relying on others for our daily needs, suddenly falling into the world of independence can feel very threatening. From groceries, to utility bills, and rent – there are a plethora of different expenses that could easily sap the life of our incomes. This is why young professionals in Toronto often opt to rent or buy smaller spaces at the start.

Just because your rental apartment in Toronto only has a small amount of space doesn’t mean you have to settle with an uncomfortable set-up. Find out how to make the most of your small space with these smart interior decorating tips.

Use Light Colours

Unless you want to feel like you’re trapped in a tiny box, you should consider using light colours for all your interior décor. Even painting the room a lighter colour could make a world of difference in your small space. Light colours are known for their ability to make rooms look more spacious. Go with a neutral beige, light cream, or off-white when painting your walls to make your space look less like a dungeon. By the same token, mirrors can be quite handy by reflecting light and making the space appear larger.

Floor-Length Curtains

This is one of the things that many small space dwellers fail to realize. Just because floor-length curtains are bigger and lengthier than their half-wall length counterparts, doesn’t mean they’re too big for a small space. In fact, longer, floor-length curtains just might make your ceilings look higher, allowing the illusion that your Toronto apartment has more space. Don’t forget, though – the theory of light colours applies here too, so don’t choose heavy, dark drapes. As an added bonus, thinner/lighter drapes will let in more natural light, which makes your apartment feel larger and more airy.

Make Use of Vertical Space

The hardest struggle when it comes to small spaces is storage. Where exactly will you be able to keep all your stuff when there’s barely any room for yourself? The answer is simple – maximize your vertical space. Install clothes hooks, horizontal rods across the ceiling, and other features that you can hang stuff off. This will eliminate the need to store items in closets by allowing you to simply hang your possessions up instead. You can do this for shirts and bags that have no more room in your jam-packed wardrobe. Bonus interior design points if you’re able to use stylish pieces on hanging instalments to add a little personality to your small space.

If you’d like more tips about maximize your small space, get in touch with the Simplified Rentals team – we’re always happy to help!

Feb 29 16

Planning a Desirable Income Suite

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A renovated basement apartment

Having an income suite located in your home comes with many benefits. The space may be used to help out extended family that needs a place to stay. It can be used to generate rental income which can help you pay the mortgage and other bills. It can also be used to add resale value to your home when you decide to put it up for sale. Of course, the income suite only really provides value if it is a desirable place to live that can generate the highest rent possible. Here is how to create a desirable income suite in your home:

Start from scratch

Most income suites don’t come with a lot of square footage, so it’s important to make use of all the space available. It’s a good idea to start from scratch so you can plan an efficient and functional layout. This also gives you the ability to install energy-efficient appliances and fixtures. Ideally, an income suite should have at least one bedroom. A one bedroom apartment will generate on average 25% more in monthly rent than a bachelor apartment. We can help you plan and design a desirable income suite from the ground up to maximize rental income, value, and attractiveness to potential tenants.

Make sure it is up to code

It’s very important to take the municipal building codes seriously. Your income suite needs to be fully compliant with all regulations for safety and livability. In general, you will need to provide a separate entrance, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and provide the tenant with sufficient natural light (see the next paragraph for info). These things are also important to your insurance company, who will not insure your suite if it does not meet certain standards.

Provide access to natural light

There is a requirement to allow for a sufficient ratio of natural light in an income suite. It’s one of the requirements we mention above that will allow your suite to pass municipal code. Besides that, most tenants would prefer to live in a bright and airy space, and not feel like they are living in a dungeon. This is especially true here in the Toronto area, where the winters are long and dark.

Prevent the noise

It’s inevitable that some sound from downstairs will leak upstairs, and vice versa, but it’s important that you make an effort to prevent this kind of disturbance as much as possible. The two units should be considered separate, so there should be insulation in the walls and floor to prevent as much sound as possible from leaking through. Your tenants will appreciate it, and so will you.

Simplified Rentals can help you with your income suite. We will work with you every step of the way, from advising on the rental rate your income suite can generate and getting you in contact with the best contractors in the business, to managing your rental to get you the best return-on-investment possible with no effort on your part. Get in touch to get started.

Jan 25 16

Growing an Indoor Herb Garden This Winter

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Fresh herbs and a watering can on an indoor table

On a cold winter night in Toronto, nothing can compare with eating a fresh, warm, home-cooked meal. Whether you’re serving spaghetti and meatballs garnished with fresh parsley, simmering a leek and potato soup infused with fresh dill, or trying your hand at homemade pesto crostini, anything is possible when you maintain your very own indoor herb garden. No matter the size of your home, apartment, or condo, surely you have room on a window sill for a herb garden! If you want to grow your own herb garden and enjoy fresh oregano, mint, and rosemary whenever you want, here’s what you need to know to get started:

Window-Side Garden

Location, location, location doesn’t just apply to real estate – it also matters in gardening. Herbs need sunlight to grow, which makes placing your herb garden close to a window the best option. Without sufficient light, your herbs will not grow very well and may even die. Any window will do, however if you have access to a window that faces south or southwest, this is ideal. Since Toronto winters have such short periods of sunlight, placement matters a lot. Some of the easiest herbs to grow indoors include rosemary, bay leaf, savoury, and oregano.

Work with the Right Potting Mix

As a beginner gardener, one of the most overlooked factors is choosing the right growing medium. Most herbs are hardy and will thrive in a multi-purpose potting mix with compost, peat, and perlite. Regular garden soil is not recommended. Visit your favourite garden centre or local florist to ask for recommendations, because the right potting mix depends on the plant, light, air quality, temperature of your home or apartment, and even the humidity levels.

A Quick Guide to Watering

The air gets so dry in the winter months in Toronto. We take lots of different approaches to increase human comfort, by wearing lip balm, moisturizing our skin, using humidifiers, and so on. Well, your plants need the same attention and care. Just like dry air sucks moisture from our skin, it also harms plants. Hydrate your plants deeply when needed. Once you see water seeping out the drainage holes, there is sufficient water. Only water again when the soil feels dry to the touch. In one home this might be daily, in another it might be once a week. Your finger is a free water meter.

Maximize Growth with Fertilizer

Growing herbs indoors requires a bit more extra care than herbs grown outdoors. The only nutrients your indoor herbs can receive come directly from you. Apply a fertilizer like nitrogen-rich liquid fish emulsion or a general purpose fertilizer with a 20-20-20 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

 

Now you’re ready to add fresh and fragrant herbs to any meal you cook, without even leaving your home. For more tips about Toronto living, Simplified Rentals is here to help. Get in touch if you have any other questions.