Skirting the Rules with Accessory Apartments

Lodging Houses in Guelph - Skirting the RulesSome months ago, I took investor buyer clients out to look at some homes for sale in Guelph. They were keen to buy their first investment property (which they later did, by the way) and we looked at a few properties. One in particular stood out… for all the wrong reasons. 

As we toured the property, it became very clear that there had been a lot of different tenants residing in the home. A dining room was being used as a bedroom and that was just the start of it. The seller was home and he was all too pleased to inform us that he, “didn’t exactly do things by the book” when it came to renting out the property. I’ll say. In fact, it was pretty obvious that the property was being rented out as a lodging house – an unregistered one. A permit search yielded a whole host of registered complaints with property standards. In short: a hot mess.

Here’s the thing. Maybe you’re like me and you tend to do things “by the book” because you’re hard-wired that way. Or maybe you’re a rebel. I like rebels. But when it comes to buying a rental property in Guelph, going out of your way to circumvent the system and scoffing at registered, permitted apartments… well that’s just plain foolish.

If you’ve been paying any attention, the City of Guelph is immersed in the subject of rental apartments – illegal, legal… all of it. There is increasing scrutiny on non-registered apartments and talk of a rental licensing program. People can claim that the City is difficult to work with. I won’t bother arguing that point; I’ve had far too many contractors, landlords, and home owners confirm that to be the case. Regardless, it’s not an excuse for circumventing the system.

The City is cracking down on illegal rental properties and (at least partially) for good reason. The one we toured was a mess. Would I have wanted my child living there? No, thanks. It looked unsafe and I’ve seen worse – some downright appalling.

Violating the City’s regulations for landlords hardly gives you bragging rights. It sets you up for a lot of potential liability, and if (really, more like when) the City cracks down further, properties like this will be at the top of our friendly bylaw enforcement officers’ lists of places to visit.

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