So you’ve just got a raise and want to invest in your first home or want to upsize from your current home? This is the time to consider buying a Home Suite Home. A lot of Buyers say they “don’t want to have anyone else living with them.” But how is that any different than the apartment or condo they were living in? What are they going to do with that unfinished basement? Normally it ends up been a storage space. Why not turn that space into a Suite and then you can always reclaim the basement once the children have grown up and you need the extra space. A Home Suite Home can help with those extra bills. It can also provide you with mortgage helper income should your wife go on maternity leave or should you lose your job unexpectedly. And later in life the suite could work well for your in-laws or parents.
Suites are also becoming more popular for multi-generation housing when the parents have retired and want to sell their home and move into a suite to help with the mortgage for their sons and daughters. Or an in-law is single now and wants to sell and again move into a suite. In these situations of blended families it is always easier and more comfortable for some landlords to have their own family occupying the suite than perhaps a stranger.
Once you have determined that you want to have a Home Suite Home, you need to begin searching for a house preferably with a ground level separate entrance. Make sure that you do your research about your City to ensure that homes with suites are permitted. You also need to be concerned about legal suites versus illegal suites. Some cities aggressively police this issue and others tend to “turn a blind eye” mainly because of the limited housing available.
HomeSuiteHomes.ca allows you to complete a Home Finder search where you can specify what type of suites interest you – for instance legal suites and/or illegal suites. You can also specify 1 or 2 bedroom suites. It is recommended you also specify “separate laundry” as that will make it easier to rent your suite when the laundry is provided and not shared.
As house prices increase in Vancouver, more Buyers are asking for homes with basement apartments or separate entrances. Basement apartments or Basement Suites are very commonplace in the Vancouver housing market given the high price of homes. The income that you bring from the suite could be anywhere between $750-$1200 per month ($9,000 to $14,400/year) which would go a long way to helping you pay your monthly bills.
It almost provides a second or third income to your household. Once you meet with your Financial Advisor to discuss the additional tax write-offs that you can receive, a Home Suite Home makes solid financial sense. Imagine writing off one-third of your utilities or any other renovations you do to improve your basement suite?
Once you have committed to having a tenant make sure you do everything you can to ensure a good person moves in.
Here are some tips for finding & keeping a good tenant:
1. Post an attractive write-up including pictures on Craigslist & Kijiji
2. Pay the additional dollars to have front page placement on Kijiji
3. When prospective tenants start to email you, Google them to make sure they are who they say they are
4. Hold a rental open house for 90 minutes to allow prospective tenants to tour the space. This will give you time to have a quick conversation to determine if they are the right fit for you.
5. Give prospective tenants a rental application granting you permission to do a credit check on them. You can use services like tenantverification.com who will do the credit check for you for a small fee in the area of $25.00. A small price to pay to get a qualified tenant.
6. Make sure you call their current and previous landlord for references. The reason you are calling the previous landlord is to make sure the current landlord isn’t just trying to get rid of the tenants by saying nice things about them.
7. Make sure you call their employer.
8. Ensure sure you can cash their first month’s rent cheque as well as their damage deposit.
9. When your tenant moves in, give them a welcome bottle of some bubbly and card. You want to make sure your relationship is off to a good start.
10. At Christmas time, make sure you buy a small gift. Something from the LCBO or the Indigo gift section always works nicely.
Always keep in mind that the tenant is helping you to pay down your mortgage so if you treat them in a respectful way, they will hopefully do the same and treat your home well. It is all about spreading good will & positive karma throughout the universe. And if things aren’t working out and your tenant wants to leave before the lease is up, let them move out and move on to the next tenant. Yes there are some people who like to spread horror stories about tenants but they are not all bad. Having a tenant in your basement will help provide you with a financial cushion.