A chat with Kimberly Sears of Menkes Developments
Kimberly Sears is director of condo rentals for Menkes Developments and oversees the company’s Rental Suite Management division.
Kimberly has a background in hospitality and more than a decade of experience in real estate investment management.
Condo Life: Menkes offers condo owners rental management services… What does that entail?
Kimberly Sears: Menkes Rental Suite Management offers a full range of landlord services to owners renting out their suites. We want to be there for our purchasers, rather than just walk away after delivery, and we noticed a real demand for landlord assistance from our purchasers.
CL: What are some of the services you offer?
KS: We offer condo owners a wide range of services, including assistance with leasing, tenant screening, accounting, insurance claims, sourcing affordable repairs and HST rebates. We also help coordinate moves. We have an online 24-hour portal with access to each unit’s accounting and statements. In some circumstances, we also help mediate difficult situations between owners and tenants, helping determine each side’s responsibility to the other.
CL: What’s the benefit to using these services over dealing directly with the tenant?
KS: Owners get the benefit of a professional and knowledgeable team overseeing their investment, like a financial planner does with an investment portfolio. We also extend full privacy so owners can remain anonymous should they choose. Owners can feel more relaxed about their investment. We’re also familiar with the trades, warranties and have access to some of the best service pricing.
CL: What are some of the biggest challenges that homeowners face when renting out their suites?
KS: Inexperience, lack of resources and time. Most people already work full time, and being a landlord is a huge commitment, so this allows condo owners to be more hands-off and enjoy what little free time they have.
Finding the right tenant can also be challenging, so we provide some guidance in that area and alert our owners of possible red flags to look out for. The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) in Ontario is very pro tenant and rather strict on the landlord’s rights and responsibilities, so you really want to ensure you choose the right tenant.
CL: What are some of the ways to avoid or overcome these challenges?
KS: Hire a professional service. You hire an accountant to do your taxes, a hairdresser to do your hair and a mechanic to fix your car, and purchasing a home is one of life’s biggest financial investments, so it’s definitely a good idea to work with a professional. Do you really want to take a risk on such a large asset?
CL: What’s something you think people often forget to consider when renting out their suite?
KS: It’s important to be aware that your tenant is not responsible for everything, so you need to assume general wear and tear to the unit. I suggest budgeting some of your rental income for maintenance and repairs – five per cent for units less than two years old, and 10 per cent for units that are three to 10 years old.
Try not to be short-sighted or stubborn when it comes to setting rental fees. Remember that vacancy can cost you more than a lower rent.
It’s also important to note that the rental rate is not established based on your monthly payments, but off the market, which changes monthly.
CL: What’s the biggest misconception about condo investors?
KS : People assume that condo investors are foreign investors, when more often than not, this isn’t the case. In our experience, 80 per cent of our management properties are owned by Ontarians. Quite often, these individuals are the average person; someone who saved up to make their first investment purchase, teachers planning a retirement or parents investing in a place for their children.
We are so grateful that people trust us with their biggest asset and we want to make it successful for them.
Visit Menkes Rental Suite Management for more information or call 416.775.7500.