Tips to Prepare your Rental Property for Winter

As the cold season approaches, it’s a good idea for landlords and property owners to start preparing their rental properties for the months ahead. These 4 simple tips will get you started and can help keep your home intact, energy bills low, and your tenants warm!


1. Protect Water Pipes

To prevent your water pipes from freezing, remind your tenants to always keep the heat on, even if they are away from home. The water can freeze, cause the pipes to burst, and cause flooding in your home – all of which can be a costly repair. Be the most aware of uninsulated indoor pipes found in basements or garages. The best way to prevent this from happening is to remind your tenants to never let the thermostat reach lower than 55F or 12C.


2. Snow Removal Plan

Is the landlord or the tenant responsible for ensuring that the driveway, walkway or sidewalk is clear from snow and ice? While it’s usually dependent on the type of rental property (ie. condo or single family home), make sure snow removal plans are clear to tenants. If tenants are responsible for keeping the snow cleared, providing a shovel or some sidewalk salt is a simple and friendly way to help them through a cold winter.


3. Drain Outside Faucets

Now that gardening season is over, be sure to prepare the outdoor faucets for the cold. Just like indoor water pipes, they can burst from the added pressure caused by the freezing water. Start by turning off the water supply valve which is normally found in the basement. Then, disconnect all garden hoses to drain out the remaining water in the faucets. This is relatively simple to do and can be given as instructions to your tenants to complete.


4. Assess windows and doors

You’ll want to make sure that the heat stays in and cold stays out! By assessing your doors and windows for any air leaks, this can help keep your heating costs down. Whether the heating bill is included in the rent or not, this extra step will be appreciated by either the tenant or landlord’s wallet. There are many inexpensive and simple ways to ensure the cold stays out such as installing front door sweeps or indoor window insulator tape.


Winter always seems to come before we know it, and it’s important for landlords to prepare their properties and tenants to avoid any potential headaches or damage. Need a team to help with any maintenance and repairs with your rental? The Cornerstone team is well-equipped to get your property winter ready! Get in touch today!

Pros and Cons of Pet-Friendly Rental Properties

Is it pet friendly? Whether your prospective renters are current or future pet owners, this is often their first criteria when searching for a new rental. As a landlord or property owner, you are going to need to decide if furry family members are allowed as part of the lease. Under the Landlord-Tenant Act, you cannot discriminate against service and assistance animals, but for any other pets – such as cats, dogs, bunnies, and reptiles, you as a landlord, are allowed to set the restrictions. Here are the 3 top pros and cons of having a pet-friendly rental property!


3 Pros

1. More Available Tenants
You open up the doors to many more applicants when you list your property as pet-friendly, which includes current, future, and non-pet owners. This can create more demand for your property, thus giving you more options to choose the most suitable and qualified rental tenants.

2. Charge Pet Fee or Higher Rent
Earn more money from your investment property because you are giving tenants the option to have a pet in their home! In general, you can choose to charge higher rent compared to other similar listings or you could charge an additional monthly or annual fee depending on the type of pet.

3. Long Term Tenants
It can be difficult for pet owners to find a property that is suitable for them and their pets. Because of this, it’s likely that they will become long term tenants, especially if your property offers a backyard, a dog run, or parks nearby.


3 Cons

1. Damage
Your property will naturally have wear and tear over time, but with the addition of pets, there is a chance that more damage can occur. This can include things such as odours, excessive fur, and carpet or grass stains. To protect yourself as a landlord, you can implement a higher security deposit and clearly outline the terms and conditions of what is considered ‘damage’ beforehand.

2. Noise
Constant barking or even chirping birds can become an issue for other homeowners or tenants in a shared building. This can be a headache for landlords, especially when you don’t know beforehand if the tenant’s pets are noisemakers.

3. Liability
Any harm caused to other tenants or neighbours, such as dog biting, is a risk that should be considered. To best protect yourself, you can screen the pets beforehand, and carefully review your liability insurance terms to ensure there aren’t any exclusions for specific breeds/pets.


Choosing to list as a pet-friendly rental property is an important decision for property owners to make. If you still want the benefits of allowing pets, but the cons are causing some hesitations, there are ways to meet in the middle. Need help understanding, navigating, and managing this part of your rental property? Our team is here to help! Get in touch today!

Benefits of moving during low rental season

Much like how people’s lives slow down in the winter, so does the rental market. October to April is considered the low season in the rental property industry, meaning fewer people are actively looking to rent during this time. So why should you consider renting a new property in the winter? Let us tell you why the low rental season is a great time to sign a new lease. Here are the top 4 reasons to consider moving during the low rental season:


1. Save money

With less demand during this season, rental prices are known to be lower compared to the busy months of May-September. Property owners and landlords want to ensure their units don’t go vacant and will often lower their rental rates as an incentive, which is a huge benefit to renters like you!


2. Less competition

Do you have your eyes on a particular property? Well, if you are applying to rent during the low season, you have a greater chance of getting approved! Fewer applications mean less competition for the home you are hoping to rent.


3. Negotiating room with landlords 

Rental property owners are in need of potential tenants in the winter. Since there are fewer applicants and less demand for properties overall, you have more space to negotiate with your landlord. Whether it’s extra amenities or reduced rental rates, use your negotiating power to your advantage.


4. More flexibility

You should have more flexibility with your landlord given that it’s not the busy rental season. Asking for an early move-in date or finding available moving trucks, should be easier during this time and will help make your move feel less rushed and hectic.


There are plenty of benefits to choosing to sign a lease during the low season as a potential renter. Moving boxes in chillier weather is a worthy trade-off considering all the extra savings and added flexibility that comes with signing a lease in the low rental season! Looking to rent in the Hamilton, Ontario area? Browse our wide variety of unique listings on Hamilton Homes for Rent today!

4 ways landlords can prepare for low rental season

Warm summer months tend to be the busiest for the rental market. With many people going through life changes from May-September, such as returning from university or moving out of their parent’s homes, the demand for rental properties tends to be higher. But how can landlords prepare for the winter season that usually has less interest or demand? Here are 4 tips to attract interest and keep your property rented if you are transitioning between tenants during the low season.

4 tips to attract tenants during low rental season

1. Retain current tenants

Tenant turnover is one of the highest costs as a property owner, so if you are able to retain your current renters, you aren’t just saving time, you are also saving money! To avoid having current tenants end their lease during low demand season, do what you can to keep them longer. Consider offering a month-to-month deal, or a 3-month contract extension. Be sure to approach them at least a few months before their lease ends so they have time to make a decision.

2. Offer short term leases

It’s pretty standard for lease agreements to be 12 months long, but consider offering a shorter lease such as a 3-6 month long. These options are great for people who might be moving temporarily for a job or want to test out a new area of the city, without committing to a full year. Plus, when it’s time for renewal in 3-6 months, it’ll be peak season for tenants and you’ll have tons of demand for your property once again.

3. Offer incentives 

Anything extra offered to help your tenants save money or make their stay more enjoyable can be what sets your unit apart from the others on the market. Incentives such as reduced rent, discounted or included utilities, or additional parking spaces are all ways to entice prospective tenants to rent your property during these less busy renting months. 

4. Upgrade your unit

What better time to make those unit upgrades you’ve wanted to do than during the low season! If you have the time and money for it, use this time to renovate or upgrade your rental unit so that can attract more tenants and potentially charge higher rent in the future. Need help getting this project started? Reach out to our Cornerstone Renovations team!

Low rental season doesn’t mean that you can’t still make money on your investment property. With the right preparation and tactics, there are plenty of ways to ensure that your property stays rented during the winter months. Looking for a team to support your property? Get in touch with us today! 

How tenants and landlords can make the most out of small spaces

Rental properties come in all shapes and sizes – some more limited in space than others. There are various tricks to maximize a living space so that tenants can live more comfortably. To help, we put together some space-saving tips for property owners and tenants in the 4 most common areas of a home! 


1. Closets

Whether it be storage closets or bedroom closets, everyone could use extra space to store away their belongings. 

Property Owners 

Shelving or rods  – Make use of the vertical space above or below the current shelves. Don’t want to make any permanent changes? Consider tension rods for simple installations.


Stackable storage baskets – Keep your things sorted with stackable storage baskets for out of season clothing or spare house materials. These work great for top shelves in closets that often don’t get fully used.

2. Kitchens

It’s said that the kitchen is the heart of the home and all the extra appliances, supplies, and food can take up quite a bit of space. 

Property Owners

Rolling pantry – For units that don’t have a proper pantry, a rolling pantry shelf beside the fridge is a great extra feature so tenants have somewhere they can store their food. They are relatively inexpensive and don’t require any installation. 


Cabinet door mounts – Make use of the inside of kitchen cabinet doors with holders for spices or small kitchen gadgets. Plus, removing them at the end of your lease is hassle-free as they are often secured with easy adhesive stickers.

3. Bathrooms

When tenants share bathrooms, there often isn’t enough storage space for everyone’s toiletries and washroom supplies. Extra storage can keep things off the bathroom counter and tucked away from any guests. 

Property Owners

Bathroom mirror medicine cabinet -Consider swapping the mirror or adding a medicine cabinet style mirror so that tenants have another spot to keep the washroom essentials. 


Over the toilet cabinet – These don’t require any permanent installation and can provide tons of extra space for you and your roommates.

4. Bedrooms 

Bedrooms are where people keep most of their personal belongings, and you can often run out of space without the proper storage. 

Property Owners

Built in-wall cabinets or shelving space – Any extra shelving space is always appreciated by tenants. For bedrooms that may have any nooks in the wall, consider some built-in shelves to add functionality to a room. 


Platform bed – Make use of the space underneath your bed by purchasing a bed frame that has space underneath. This way you can store bins or boxes with any spare clothes or belongings you don’t need everyday access to. 


Going the extra mile to make use of small spaces can make the world of a difference for tenants living in a smaller property. Thinking of making more permanent upgrades to maximize space in your home? Get in touch with our Cornerstone Select Renovations team today! 

Factors to consider when furnishing your rental property

Should you furnish your rental property or not? There are benefits to each of these routes, but you’ll want to properly assess all factors before you make the decision. If you are a new real estate investor or if you are thinking about upgrading your current properties, here are some things to consider before you decide to furnish it.


Benefits to furnishing a rental property

Ultimately, if you can make significantly more profit on a furnished rental property, you should consider it. Here are the three main benefits of choosing this option:

1. Charge More Rent 

Since you are providing extra value and convenience for your tenants, you can charge more for rent. On average, most charge 20-30% more than if the property was unfurnished. Over time, this extra collected rent means more money in your pocket.

2. Fill Vacancies Quicker

When your property is ‘move-in’ or ‘suitcase’ ready, tenants will need less time to prepare for their move. They save time and energy, meaning you can potentially have a tenant signed and paying rent much quicker than an unfurnished home.

3. Tax Deductions

In Canada, furniture and equipment are considered capital expenses in rental properties. This means a portion of these costs can be claimed on your taxes. Be sure to check with your federal and provincial tax rules to know exactly what applies to you and your property.


Questions to ask before you furnish your rental property

While there are financial benefits to furnishing, you want to make sure that this option attracts the right tenants and makes sense for the market. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when getting started.

1. Who is your ideal tenant? 

With location and price point in mind, who will likely rent out your property? University student? Family with young kids? Retired senior couple? Consider your target audience and the likelihood of them having furniture they will use. For example, an exchange student might require that they rent a furnished home vs. a senior couple that has accumulated furniture over the years.

2. What is your budget?

Do you plan on buying everything brand new? Or are you going to use some personal furniture or buy second hand? Either way, make sure you create a reasonable budget. If you decide to use personal items in the rental property, don’t use anything with sentimental value. Remember, anything in the home could be damaged or stolen, so keep that in mind when furnishing.

3. What design style are you going for?

Modern and trendy? Classic and traditional? Regardless, neutral is always best so that you can attract a variety of tenants while allowing space for them to add their personal style. The furnishing choices should also be suitable for the ideal tenant that you previously identified as well.


Furnishing your rental property is a big decision but it could lead to long term financial success. Need help managing your investment property? Get in touch with us at Cornerstone today!

Common amenities renters want in their property


As future renters search for their next home, there’s a number of amenities that they look for. Location and staying within a budget are usually the two main factors, but there are other features that can be non-negotiables for some tenants. To help, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 additional amenities renters want in their property. 


1. Parking

A secure place for people to park their vehicles is often a common request for tenants. This could be an attached garage on a single-family home or an assigned parkade spot in an apartment building. Not only do people want a place for their own cars, but space for any visitor vehicles is an additional bonus. 


2. Storage Space 

When browsing through properties, people will ask themselves if they would ‘fit’ in the space. Will all their belongings fit in this home? Ample space in bedroom closets and cabinet space in kitchens and bathrooms are always sought after. For small apartments or condos with limited square footage, on-site storage units/lockers make a good compromise. 


3. Dishwasher

Some tenants can’t live without them! Dishwashers tend to be standard in brand new units, but some older properties don’t have them or they have outdated appliances. These kitchen appliances make day to day life easier and make the kitchen even more functional for tenants. 


4. Outdoor Space 

No matter how beautiful the inside of the rental unit is, tenants love having an outdoor area they can enjoy. From balconies to private backyards or shared patios, an area where they can soak in some sunshine or fresh air is a common ‘must’ in a property search.  


5. Air Conditioning 

Long hot summers or units with tons of sunlight can naturally raise the indoor temperature higher than what’s comfortable. Allowing tenants to adjust the temperature can be a true differentiating factor from other units on the market.

 As a real estate investor or landlord, you want your units to be some of the most desired properties that attract tons of future tenants. Are you looking to make some renovations or upgrades to your units? Cornerstone Renovations can help. Or does your unit already have all these amenities and you’re looking for someone to manage the property? We can help with that too! Learn more about Cornerstone Select Properties here.

Ways to diversify a real estate investment portfolio

Building an investment portfolio that includes real estate assets is a great way to build wealth. Here are four options to consider and the benefits of including long term rentals as part of your strategy.

Real estate investment options

Here are four examples of real estate investment avenues that range in risk, commitment, and cost.

1. Short Term Rentals

These are vacation homes or condos that you put on the market for short term stays. As investments, these properties have huge profit potential, especially in high tourist areas and during busy travel seasons such as Christmas. However, that income isn’t consistent and more management is needed with the quick guest turnaround times.


2. House Flipping

Giving a home a complete renovation seems like the glamorous way to make money. You’re able to redesign a home that was outdated and sold for a good price, to be highly profitable and desired among homebuyers.  However, they can be time-consuming projects and often more expensive than expected if not pre-planned correctly. Find out how we can help with your renovation.


3. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)

Basically, these are shares in real estate investment companies and are relatively hands-off in terms of managing. The benefit of investing in trusts is that you don’t need tons of capital to get started, however, there is limited upside or potential for leverage when compared to other real estate assets.


4. Long Term Rentals

This type of real estate investment is quite popular and these properties are rented out to long-term tenants. While finding the right tenants, collecting monthly rent, and managing maintenance calls can be overwhelming, there are a number of benefits to investing in a property as a long term rental. All associated costs, such as the mortgage and utilities, are covered by the tenant and your property will increase in value over time. This means you can sell and rent out for a higher price than you paid all while generating that extra wealth for yourself.  Plus, you can hire a tax-deductible property manager to handle the day to day operations to keep your property and tenants in check. Find out how we can help here. 


Choosing how to invest in real estate can be a tricky area to navigate. From big commitment projects like flipping a house to real estate investment trusts, there are a number of pros and cons when considering what is best for you. What type of asset are you going to invest in next?

7 low maintenance houseplants to add to your rental space

They boost your mood, clean the air, promote happiness, and are a great way to style up any living space! So whether you are looking to spruce up your furnished rental property, or searching for a gift for your tenant, houseplants are an excellent addition to any home. Here are seven low maintenance houseplants perfect for green thumbs and plant newbies alike!


1. Snake Plant

Snake plants are one of the most trendy and easy-to-care plants today. They are nearly foolproof and thrive when they are neglected. Among the 70 variations of this plant, they are one of the rare plants that release oxygen at night, making it the perfect addition to your bedroom.

2. Chinese Evergreen

This popular lush houseplant can tolerate almost any indoor condition. It’s a slow-growing plant so whether you buy it small to live on a desk, or fully grown to accent a corner of the home, you can expect it’s appearance to stay consistent with little maintenance.

3. Aloe

Indirect sunlight, little water, and this succulent will thrive! They only need to be watered generously every 3 weeks, and can even be brought outside in warmer months. They make a great decoration for any living room and the aloe gel inside the leaves can be used for any cuts or burns as needed.

4. Jade Plant

This is another popular succulent plant with dark green oval-shaped leaves. It’s also called the money plant and is known as a great housewarming gift for new homeowners (or renters)! It loves lots of sunlight, so it makes the perfect addition to any window sill.

5. Ponytail Palm

With its bulb shaped trunk and wispy leaves, ponytail palm plants can add interest to any room. They do best in semi-dry conditions, so don’t worry if you go weeks without watering. They can grow in low light conditions but moving this plant around the home throughout the year to catch the light is a great tip to help your palm prosper!

6.Dragon Tree

These plants are fantastic indoors and they stand 6 feet tall or less. They feature fork-like stems and stiff green leaves with red trimming. Just be careful, it’s easy to overwater these ones and should be left alone in bright indirect sunlight areas. Just leave them be and they are sure to be an eye-catcher in any room.

7. ZZ Plant

This plant’s technical name is zamioculcas zamiifolia. And while that’s extremely complicated to pronounce, taking care of this plant is as easy as it’s shortened name. These plants have bright green waxy leaves and tend to be 2-3 feet tall when fully grown. These plants are drought resistant and do just fine in low light and direct sunlight conditions, which makes them the perfect accent for any room including basements.


Houseplants seem to be making a trendy comeback when it comes to home decorating, but they have many more benefits than just adding some colour to a living space. As a landlord or property manager, take a look at your property to see which plants would be best for each room and start adding some leafy greens to your space today!

Short Term vs. Long Term Rental Properties

Are you going to invest in long-term or short-term rental properties? This is one of the first decisions you make as a real estate investor. While there are pros and cons to each type, here’s a breakdown to help you decide which is better for your investment goals.

Long Term Rental Properties

Well, the name pretty much gives it away! Places that are leased for months and even years at a time are considered long term rentals. These properties are commonly unfurnished and the Residential Tenancies Act applies.


1. Easy to manage

Once the property is occupied and all the agreements are signed, the property manager’s job is mostly hands-off with the exception of the occasional landlord repair or maintenance duty.

2. Consistent income

As soon as the property lease is signed, you are locked in with consistent income for the duration of the contract. Who doesn’t love a steady paycheck from their investments?



1. Long upfront process

Since the tenant will be living in the property for an extended period of time, you want to make sure you choose the right tenant, which can sometimes take a long time. Not to mention the marketing efforts required to get your property seen and in demand.

2. Contract and price locked 

While being locked in a contract and price has its advantages, it can also be a setback. If you end up having a difficult relationship with the tenant or if surrounding properties are charging higher rent for a similar place, it’s not as flexible as short term rentals.


Short Term Rental Properties

Think vacation homes, like anything listed on AirBnB or VRBO – these are all considered short term rentals. Because they are often used in the same way that hotels are, they are usually furnished and have supplied amenities to make the renters stay as pleasant as possible.


1. Inspected on a weekly basis

As the property is inspected and thoroughly cleaned between each stay, consistent cleaning and inspections ensure that your investment is well-kept and any problems are fixed before they turn into a bigger or more expensive bill.

2. Pricing flexibility

Know that your area is in higher demand over the Christmas holiday or that April is super quiet and you just want to book it out? Well, you are able to increase and decrease nightly or weekly rates to meet the demand!



1. High turnover 

With new guests every few weeks or even days, this high turnover means more work overall. You’ll have more tenants to juggle, more cleaning duties and more responsibilities to make sure your investment property is ready for the next guests.

2. More marketing efforts 

To go along with the high turnover is the stress of making sure that your property is being seen, rented and in demand. This means knowing what has to be done to really sell the place to have guests choose your property over others.


Which one is better for you?

There are pros and cons to each style of rental and you have to decide which one is better for your investment goals and lifestyle. Also, be sure to take a good look at how your property would perform as each type. A lakeside condo in a vacation town might do better as a short term rental and an entire home in the suburbs of the city might do better as a long term rental.

Are you interested in real estate investing but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you already have a few properties and need help with the overall process? We can help! Get in touch with us today!