As property values in Calgary increase, so too does the need for having mortgage helpers. The main mortgage helper that springs to mind in Calgary is a secondary suite, usually a basement suite. As you may have read in our blog, we've renovated our basement to provide extra room for the kids, and also as a selling feature in the future. However, many homes have suites already built in, or at least the necessary plumbing and electrical has already been roughed in, to make it easier to renovate. When all that work is done, you'll probably want to recoup your funds by renting it out, which opens up a whole kettle of fish. If you're thinking about getting a renter, here are some pros and cons:
Pro: It's relatively easy once you get going. The legalities are laid out online; you can print out a residential tenancy agreement right from your computer and find out what your rights are without leaving the house. After the preliminary kinks are worked out and the papers are signed, getting a tenant is a pretty straightforward way to pay down the mortgage faster. It's also a fairly labour-free way to make money.
Con: Noise. No matter how respectful your tenant is, you'll have to put up with some amount of extra noise. That could just be quiet talking at reasonable hours, or hearing the water in the morning when they shower, but if you like your peace and quiet, you may want to rethink getting a tenant. That, or beefing up your insulation.
Pro: Added security. With a tenant around, you can worry less about going away for the weekend. Break-ins occur more often to houses that look like nobody's there, so the more people living there, the less likely someone will be to commit a B & E.
Con: It requires communication. As a landlord/lady, you're responsible for laying the ground rules of your rental. If you notice your tenant doing something you don't like, you need to have the skills necessary to open up a dialogue with them in a respectful way, so as not to hurt your relationship, because they're still helping you pay your mortgage! If you're not good at bringing up issues in an open and upfront way, renting your home might not be for you.
Pro: Networking. This may sound trite, but it really is true: renting out part of your home opens you up to new connections. I know people who have made great lasting friendships with their renters/landlords, and still keep in touch after the tenant moves out. Renting out part of your home is a great way to build community in your neighbourhood, even if you're not the super-friendly type. Besides, who couldn't use another neighbour to borrow a cup of sugar from now and again?
I've heard many a rental horror story, but I'm happy to report that these represent the minority. In fact, most landlords I've spoken to have said very neutral things about their tenants: "they were fine: quiet, clean, paid rent on time", which is what everyone hopes for. After all, nobody ever writes a review because they've had a merely satisfying experience; it's always one extreme or another. We all hope for the best tenants, but if you end up with someone who is respectful, smells nice, and knows how to recycle, you're doing well. Good luck finding your tenant(s) and if you need pointers on what to add (and avoid) in your basement to increase resale value (or just want my advice on paint colours), drop me a line!
The Vanderveen Team
Maxwell South Star Realty
Phone: 403.253.5678 Fax: 403.592.6736