May 01, 2021

The cost of moving away from mom and dad

Does your life seem like the movie Failure to Launch when your adult child is still living with you at home?

In the 2006 comedy, the reason for the 35-year-old main character's failure to leave home is that he's just too comfortable living with mom and dad where everything is looked after for him.

But today, in reality, it just may be the cost of moving out that's holding junior back.

Continue reading »

April 23, 2021

Can you deduct travel expenses when visiting your Florida condo?

Renting out your Florida condo can be a good way to offset some of your costs. But be wary when it comes to writing off expenses, experts warn.

Don't expect to rent out it out for a month or two during the winter and deduct a year's worth of interest and other expenses, for instance. The CRA expects to see such expenses be pro-rated, allowing you to deduct them only for those months when income was actually being earned.

If you've advertised that the property is available for rent but it still remains empty, you may be able to write off the expenses for this open time period. The time spent trying to find a tenant may be considered a deductible expense,providing you can document your efforts.

Forget about deducting the cost of your flight down there, however. And the same rules apply if you're driving.

Continue reading »

April 11, 2021

What to do when adult kids come home again

According to a recent Pew Research Center report on what it labels the boomerang generation, roughly 30 per cent of young adults between the ages of 25-34 have moved back home in recent years.

Just what to with them was the subject of a recent MSN Money column that generated a flurry of responses from readers, including this one. 

"Parents of children who move back home may have good intentions but it almost always backfires," writes a disgruntled Anna Marie.

"One big reason is that one or more of the parents feel they have to be parents like they were when the kids depended on them -- let's face it most parents don't want to acknowledge that their kids are adults -- and when the kids come home with no place else to go."

Continue reading »

April 01, 2021

Can student housing really be a good investment?

While rising tuition costs grab the headlines, the bulk of the cost for sending kids off to university is actually four or five years of food and lodging.

At the University of Toronto, residence fees vary and increase every year; throw in a meal plan and an approximate average is $10,000 per year.

Instead of forking over even more cash to the university or nearby landlords, some enterprising parents prefer to buy a nearby property for their children to live in during their university years.

That's what one Kleinburg couple did the year before their oldest daughter started her second year of studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. 

"Over all, it was a very profitable experience,” they told the Globe and Mail. "We had enough rental income coming in to offset the monthly costs of the house, and at the same time we were building equity."

Continue reading »

December 03, 2021

Have you used Airbnb to rent out rooms in your home?

Would you rent out rooms in your home? Toronto's Lisa Marion has. She's been using Airbnb, a popular site that streamlines the process of renting out extra bedrooms for short-term home and apartment stays.

What's not to like? Avoid high hotel rates, get to stay in neighborhoods where there probably aren’t hotels at all and connect with plugged-in local hosts as well. Plus, the best listings will have plenty of photos and reviews from other users.

Ask someone who lives in a condo building how happy they'd be if their neighbour was using Airbnb a few days a week though.

At the best of times, the landlord-tenant relationship can be tricky. But when you're then subletting the  same space, it becomes even more complex -- particularly when you find you're actually breaking the law

Continue reading »

September 20, 2021

Thinking of renting out your basement for extra cash?

It seems that everybody wants to be a landlord these days. Some are thinking duplexes or doubles, but  others are actually looking to split up the house somehow or convert the basement with a separate entrance. 

While reactions to the latter type of rental can vary widely by community, it's certainly not the "you're kidding, right?" decision it once was. And being a part-time landlord may have more appeal as boomers age and look for ways to supplement their incomes.

Easy money? Well, that's what many people, including Scott McGillivray, the host of Income Property, would have you believe. 

In case you haven't seen it, Income Property is an HGTV home-improvement show in which McGillivray  rescues cash-strapped homeowners and teaches them how to supplement their mortgage payments by adding a rental unit to their house.

Seemingly in the blink of an eye and for little money, he creates beautiful income suites which usually end with dazzled homeowners pocketing an extra $1300 a month in rent.

But that's where it stops (it is TV, after all).

Continue reading »

August 08, 2021

Tenants association calls for 'standardized' lease to protect renters

Ah, one more reason not to be a small landlord.

In an effort to ensure that both landlords and tenants are up to date with Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA) has come up with a new wrinkle.

It wants Ontario landlords to adopt a standardized lease agreement, one that would outline the rights and responsibilities of each party as stipulated by the tenancies act, as well as clarifying clauses that are often misused since they are, in fact, void in Ontario. 

Like the "no pets allowed" clause, for instance.

Continue reading »

June 28, 2021

Despite landlords' objections, Ontario caps rent increases at 2.5%

To ease the squeeze on tenants facing big rent hikes, residential rent increases are now capped at 2.5 per cent starting in 2013 under legislation passed last week by the Ontario government.

Click here for a historical view of previous rent increase guidelines. The average from 2004 to 2012 was 2 per cent whereas it was 3.1 per cent from 1993 to 2003.

Landlords started to howl about this ceiling months ago, of course: “The government is unilaterally imposing a cap without any discussion with an entire industry and is initiating a policy that will be particularly devastating for small landlords," according to Vince Brescia, president of the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario.

Landlords are concerned that such price caps could replicate the devastating housing market conditions seen in Ontario 25 years ago, when fixed rent controls were out of whack when compared with rising housing costs. 

Continue reading »


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...