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  • Writer's pictureWinston Adrian Small

When a Landlord puts himself in his Tenant's shoes

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

As property investors, my partner and I had a mission: Provide a safe, decent and comfortable space in which our Tenants can live and enjoy like we would ourselves.

We actually made good on that mission – we spent a big chunk of our time living in these units before we bought that forever home.

One of these units was a bachelor in the basement of a house located in Scarborough. It was a unique space; it had a walk out to the backyard, lots of natural lighting and a fireplace.

There was an existing bathroom that was problematic and dilapidated (unfortunate that I don’t have the before pictures). To make this space livable, we needed to overhaul and renovate everything.

The remodel included: a new kitchen complete with new appliances, new bathroom (vanity, tub, toilet), new flooring and upgraded ceiling (soundproofing) and walls. We even painted the fireplace from the red brick to a faux lighter finish.

The end result was a cozy, welcoming and very functional bachelor. After living in it myself for a number of years I handed over the keys to a tenant who fell in love with the space immediately. This unit showed very well.

This may be obvious to many, but it’s still worth noting, living in your own ‘rental space’ allows the landlord to fully appreciate the unit. For example, I got to understand any climate issues within the apartment over the four seasons, potential noise from other tenants within the building and or neighbourhood disturbances and generally the day to day issues that normally come up when living in your home.

On a more positive note, I also appreciated the benefits of living in that space. For instance, I had the whole backyard to myself. As mentioned, the unit had a walkout to the backyard. I was the only tenant who had direct access to it. It felt like it was an extension to this unit. The upstairs tenant had no use for it because their outdoor space was the front balcony. The backyard was very quiet and inviting. The neighbours (internal and external) were quiet and everyone was friendly and more importantly minded their own business. The shared laundry facilities within the building worked well and it was a safe area to live in.

So, when the existing tenant for this unit would call to express concern, I got it. That knowledge of once living on the premise was great because it helped me address these concerns quickly and effectively – like I would when I lived there.

Living in one of your rental units really forces you as a landlord to put yourself (literally) in your tenant’s position. It was a great experience and it really did help to fulfill our promise to provide our tenants with a safe and comfortable place to live in.

If you are a landlord reading this and are thinking of living in your own rental space, I do have one piece of crucial advice, don’t tell your neighbouring tenants that you own the building! This would be your best kept secret as you will have full transparency of a relationship with your tenants without any unnecessary complications.

Does your rental unit need a refresh or a complete remodel? Let Radian help you with your reno solutions!

On to the next project …


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