There’s no question that 2020 was a rocky year for landlords and property managers in Vancouver. While signs are looking promising in 2021, we still aren’t out of the woods yet. The pandemic fuelled an uncertain market, creating a new set of problems, from long-term vacancies to payment arrears, for those who are trying to rent out their property investments. The good news is that there are ways landlords can weather the storm. We sat down with Josh Rosenberg, HostGenius’s Vancouver Property Management Broker, and got his expert advice on how to navigate property management during these challenging times. Here are some of his recommendations:
HG: Tell us a bit about your background in the industry.
JR: I first got licensed in 2005. I’ve been focusing on sales since then and on property management since 2010.
HG: Renting a property can be an overwhelming experience for many first-time landlords, especially in the Vancouver market. What advice do you have for people just starting out?
JR: Be aggressive with your pricing. Don’t shoot for the moon and expect to have people lining up to see your rental. Also, be very selective with the type of tenants you are interviewing.
HG: Do you view the Vancouver residential and condo rental market as competitive? If so, how do properties stand out in our current climate?
JR: This is a very competitive market. You need to be very sharp in your pricing, have great photos and be open to allowing pets.
HG: The pandemic has definitely had an impact on housing, rentals and landlords—what advice do you have for landlords in terms of weathering the storm?
JR: This too will pass. Stay calm, don’t lose your shirt and keep your cool.
HG: Can you take us through the preparation process that good landlords go through when trying to list, show and market their rental?
JR: Clean the unit, make all repairs required, take professional photos—do not use a cell phone camera. Be available to show the unit in the evenings and on weekends when most tenants are not working.
HG: What are some of the most common mistakes that landlords make when renting out their property?
JR: They price too high, have too many restrictions and limit their units to select demographics rather than looking at each tenant’s history.
HG: What are your predictions for the short-term and long-term property rental market? What districts or neighbourhoods should people pay attention to in the GRVD?
JR: Locals are still travelling within the province and corporates are also still moving their staff around, so there is a market. You just have to change your expectations of what types of renters are looking for right now.
HG: Tenant rights in Vancouver are famously strong. How do first-time landlords navigate this territory so they can ensure they abide by the laws yet still remain protected?
JR: Get very familiar with the RTA (Residential Tenancy Act) rules and regulations. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the RTB (Residential Tenancy Branch).
HG: What should prospective landlords think about before deciding to rent out their property?
JR: Costs, licensing requirements, rental downtime and hiring a manager.
HG: What if they want to rent out a portion of their property—say a basement suite, detached suite or laneway house?
JR: Those same rules apply as if it was a separate standalone unit. The licensing requirements for the principal resident will vary from each municipality.
HG: Why do so many landlords prefer to hire professional property management companies? What is the difference between doing it yourself and hiring a company to do it for you?
JR: As a professional manager with many years of experience, I have access to more information, the ability to reach a wider audience and better tenant screening abilities. Basically, I know the rules to make sure you stay out of trouble and will often find you better quality tenants. Our company also helps take the stress out of owning a rental unit, so all you need to do is collect your rental income and we handle the rest.
HG: Any final parting thoughts?
JR: Unless you have a lot of experience, the small cost of hiring a manager is well worth it. You will avoid immense stress and headaches by not doing it on your own. As a realtor with over 15 years of experience, I know how much time a single property can take. For those who work a full-time job, it’s extremely difficult to just leave at a moment’s notice for property management-related issues. It’s so much easier to have someone handle it for you—and if you factor in what it costs you in time—it can actually save you money in the long run.