For the first time in more than a decade the GTA condo market is showing signs of slowing down. Bad news for those trying to sell their unit perhaps, but great news for renters.
There so many new units coming on stream, prices are softening. Many owners who bought them as investments may have no choice but to rent them out rather than sell. This means plenty of choice, room to bargain and better prices if you want to rent.
In Toronto in June there were 13 per cent fewer condominiums sold than in June 2011. There are rumours that some projects may be put on hold. In many buildings, there are multiple units for sale and they have been unsold for more than 30-60 days, almost unheard of during the first three months of the year. Some blame the slowdown on the double land transfer taxes payable in the city of Toronto. Still, because interest rates should continue to remain at historic lows for the balance of the year, there should not be any major reduction in overall selling prices.
Here are some ways you can get a better deal if you are renting.
Ask if a parking spot is included in your rent. Many downtown condos do not have them.
Make sure that you insert a cap on the maximum a landlord can increase your rent in any year, for example 2 to 3 per cent. Rent review does not apply to condominiums, or any other apartment unit or home built after November 1, 1991.
Do not agree to pay any security or damage deposits except for last month’s rent. These are illegal in Ontario.
Do not pay any deposits for keys or other entry cards unless they are refundable at the end of your lease.
Include a right to renew the lease for an additional year, at your option. This way, landlords cannot take the unit back for their own family use at the end of the first year.
Get contents insurance to protect your contents should something like water damage occur. Otherwise, you will not be compensated for this.
If you are asked to pay for utilities, ask for copies of prior bills to make sure you understand how much this may cost you going forward.
Visit the building during different times of the day. See how long it takes to get an elevator and how many people are using the swimming pool.
Make sure you are familiar with all the condominium rules before you rent. A swimming pool may not be suitable for you if you cannot swim before 7 a.m. If the declaration says no pets, then you can’t bring a pet onto the premises.
Landlords should still not be in too much of a hurry or panic before renting out their units. They still need to conduct the proper credit and background checks to make sure the rent is always paid in a timely manner, and that tenants take proper care of the rental unit.