Thursday, August 5, 2010

The legal mambo jambo

So in the midst of yesterday's excitement about all the progress this week, I forgot to talk about the lease software that I picked up.

The first potential tenant who came through, brought a friend with her, who happens to be a residential real estate agent.  He asked me to send all the forms over to him yesterday afternoon - rental application, lease agreement, etc., so that he could review them.  So basically, as soon as they left, I had to make a trip to Staples to pick up some software!   I've had a few people with rental properties offer me the forms they use - but each person also said it might be best to start fresh, as they have all manipulated a number of things in the ones they've used.

Anyway, when I got to Staples,  the rack for the lease software was empty and nearly caused me to have a panic attack.  But luckily I found one lonely version, tucked behind some Will-writing software.  Here's where it gets better - it's not mac compatible!  And yes, I have a mac.   Grrr...  I started to run different possibilities through my head.  My fiance's PC laptop conveniently just died a few weeks ago, never to be revived.  I currently have a work PC laptop at home, but I don't have admin rights to install software.  And then I remembered my old 2002 IBM Thinkpad that has (literally) been collecting dust under my bed.  The Acadia Advantage pays off yet again!  I decided to buy the software, priced at a reasonable $19.95, and hope for the best!  (This is not to say that I didn't stop at Grand & Toy on the way home, just to see if they had anything different... they don't have any lease software as it turns out).



After what felt like a 15-minute boot-up, I managed to install the software on the IBM, and that's when I figured out I wasn't in such a bad place after all.  Once the software is installed, it's just a bunch of folders of different MS Word forms and some links - there is nothing that requires you to continue running on the PC.  The PC is really just required for the installation.  So I copied all the folders and files over to my Mac, and am now a much happier landlord for it!   The IBM, in its senior citizen stage for computer lives, was painfully slow even to copy the files to a flash drive.

Here is what I've noticed about the software so far.

Pros:

  • Has forms for each province

  • Fully editable Word documents

  • Comes with more forms than I would have known I need - credit check release forms, Pet agreements, Bad cheque notice, Notice of arrears, Moving out guidelines, etc., etc. etc.


Cons:

  • Not entirely foolproof.  It is so editable that it is hard to know what must stay and what can be removed

  • It would be nice if it offered different forms for different situations - i.e. the forms all refer to one applicant, and ask for only some details on a spouse.  But I wanted to customize it for the unmarried couple that came yesterday, so that I could collect enough information about each of them.  I had to duplicate and copy and paste quite a bit.

  • The software comes with a link where you can check for updates to the form before you use them.  The link didn't work for me, and unfortunately I suspect one paragraph is out of date (it refers to the Last Month's Rent Deposit, and says the landlord must pay the tenant 6% interest on these funds - but a google search leads me to believe this is out of date).


I would be very interested to hear if anyone has dealt with any other similar software that they would recommend?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crunch time!



So it is crunch time -- closing day on the new house is just 2 days away, and the big move is 3 days away.

After 11 days away in Nova Scotia, we made the insane decision to head straight from the airport up to the family cottage, so that we could enjoy one night there before all the chaos ensues.  All my family was up there, and there was a cousin's birthday dinner to enjoy as well, and since it was the Civic Holiday long weekend, it seemed like the only logical place to be....

...except that now, 3 days before the move, I don't have much to show for as far as packed boxes go.  Thankfully, my Mom is coming over tomorrow to help me out!

But I think it's time for an update on where we stand on various fronts:

Mortgage
I had left for holiday feeling quite pleased that the mortgage was finalized.  Upon arrival back home this Tuesday, I received a note from our banker, telling us that she had tracked the interest rates just in case there was one last chance for another drop before our closing date.  Although there was no further drop, I was happy with our final rate of 3.99% and appreciated her thoroughness and follow-through.

And then -- she surprised me with a call today and told me that the rate dropped again!!!  This time to 3.89%!  It was JUST in the nick of time.  Apparently if your lawyer was moving any quicker, it probably wouldn't have been doable to update the rate in our files.  But she succeeded, even with a broken-down computer - it sounds like she really put the rush on for us, and I don't even know where to begin thanking her.

The condo's rate stays at 3.99%, because it went into effect on August 1st, but we are all set with this incredibly low rate at the new house!

Tenants
So I re-posted all the rental ads last week while we were still away, and dropped the rent by $50.  I had had tons of interest at the previous rate, but not a lot of follow-through.  I had also had one couple offer to lease the place, but only for 4 months.  I decided that that would be less than ideal, since I would then be trying to find new tenants around Christmas time, and in the ugly winter months.  The condo holds much more appeal in the summer, due to the big windows, private patio, and BBQ.  So I declined that offer.

Immediately after re-posting the ads, we got tons more interest, and lots of requests to view the condo over the weekend.... poor planning on my part, since we were still away.  But I was able to defer most of the appointments until today, and a number of potentials were screened out without even having to meet them.  So today I had three separate people through:

  1. The first was a pretty good candidate, with one exception - she has a bulldog, and I was trying to take a no-pets stance.  I don't feel good eliminating her yet, since otherwise, she seems like a suitable fit.

  2. He came in ranting about Toronto traffic, and immediately opened my microwave, fridge, and dishwasher.  Didn't step into the bedroom or bathroom.  Told me the condo was a bit smaller than what he was looking for, but that I look like Jennifer Connolly, and thanked me and left....

  3. A couple, who phoned first and sounded like they'd lost interest before they even got here.  But once they got here I think all 3 of us felt they were a good fit, and they admitted they were pleasantly surprised, as they had expected something different, based on what they've seen already in the area.  I have sent them a rental application and credit check release form, and I am now hoping for the best!!


If we can get this condo rented before Saturday, then we will be able to move all the furniture into the new house and really get ourselves settled.  But we've agreed that if the condo isn't rented by then, then we'll have to leave the furniture here since it really makes it a lot easier for potential tenants to envision themselves here.

So here is hoping for an all-in-one move on Saturday!!!