Grant allows landlords to charge less rent

Brian McLeod is a landlord who found a way to make it affordable for him to offer cheaper rents to low income tenants. He explains how a grant allowed him to renovate his building and still keep his costs low, while putting a roof over the head’s of families in need.
Rooftops of houses and the downtown core are seen in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada January 7, 2017. (REUTERS/Chris Helgren)

Landlords who want to make back their money on a property may feel there is no alternative but to charge high rental fees. But Brian McLeod found a way to renovate his units as well as keep the price low. He tells Cross Country Checkup's Duncan McCue about a program that loans money to landlords who promise to rent to low income families and individuals.

A landlord from Kingston, Ontario talks about subsidies he got that afforded him to renovate his rental property. 2:42

Duncan McCue: When it comes to housing and this new promise in the 2017 budget what do you think?

Brian McLeod: I'm the landlord so I have a different perspective than a tenant, but I think that the government should take some of that money and help the landlord. Houses are very expensive to purchase now because of the housing market and the supply and demand. So for a person to go out and invest money into a house is very expensive. You have to ask high rents to cover your mortgage payment, your utilities, taxes and insurance.

Years ago though, I don't know if the government would get back into this again, but what helped me was that I had an opportunity to buy a four unit building and CMHC had a program back then that would give you a loan to renovate the property so that the tenants had better living conditions - new windows and high efficiency furnaces.  It was a forgivable grant if you rented to low income people for an eight year period. So I took advantage of that program and the government gave me the money I fixed the place up. The renovation money that I didn't have to spend allowed me to be able to charge less rent to low income people. It worked out great. I still own the building. It's been ten years. I went the eight years and the government forgave the loan. The place was beautiful - nice house, tenants seemed to look after it better. They're still there. It's been really good so I think landlords need to be helped. That's why landlords need to charge so much money. It's because houses are so expensive.

You've got to police it though. There are unscrupulous people out there. You can't just be handing money out freely. What they did with me was they gave me the loan and I did the renovations. But I had to submit my receipts and then they paid me after the fact. They then policed it by calling me every single year, and I had to give the names of the tenants and I had to tell them how much I was charging the tenants.

I was renting one bedroom apartments all inclusive for $500. I could afford to do that because I didn't have to spend $100,000 on renovations to get the place up to what it needed to be to rent it out.

Brian MacLeod's comments have been edited and condensed. This online segment was prepared by Ieva Lucs.

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