Akelius Canada has moved quickly since entering the apartment business in Toronto and Montreal in 2011 with two more major acquisitions in the past month.
Akelius Canada is a subsidiary of Sweden’s Akelius Residential Property AB, which was founded in 1994 and owns more than 51,000 properties valued at around $9 billion in Sweden, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.
105 employees and 3,885 units
Akelius Canada employs 105 people out of its Toronto and Montreal offices, and is interested in acquiring existing rental properties with 10 or more units. While the company is evaluating new markets, its current focus remains on Toronto (where it owns 3,114 suites) and Montreal (where it owns 771).
“Both markets provide sustained, strong demand for rental housing and will continue to attract investment for the foreseeable future,” said Scott. “With very few rental buildings built over the last 40 to 50 years, landlords will need a strong capital plan to ensure their aging buildings are properly maintained and can continue to safely meet the needs of tenants.
“Also, as demand for rental housing increases, so too does the demand for higher-quality ‘condo’ finishes and a higher level of customer service. Successful landlords will be able to ensure old buildings meet today’s building code, while providing high-end finishes and first-class service to all of their residents.”
Akelius Canada recently acquired six properties with a combined 260 units and a swimming pool in the Montreal suburb of Saint Lambert for $25.7 million. They were built in 1970 in a neighbourhood that includes plenty of green space.
The company also acquired 427 units in two different Toronto neighbourhoods for $70 million.
One has 152 suites at 111 Lawton Blvd. in the Deer Park area near Yonge Street and Davisville Avenue.
“The building is in good condition and offers tenants the feeling of living in a residential neighbourhood while providing all the urban amenities that Yonge Street has to offer,” said Scott.
There’s also a 275-unit apartment building at 730 St. Clarens Ave., near Lansdowne Avenue and Dupont Street.
“The building is in need of significant upgrades and we intend to spend $5 million over the next three years, including $1 million on common-area improvements,” said Scott.
In-house property management
All of Akelius Canada’s properties are managed in-house.
“We have a team of property, finance, construction and maintenance professionals managing the day-to-day operations of our portfolio and addressing all tenant concerns,” said Scott. “An in-house call centre has been established to log work-orders in our web-based management system, allowing progress and completion to be tracked in real time.
“With this model we’ve demonstrated we can provide a superior level of service by deploying the right people for the right job. General maintenance personnel and cleaners ensure proper building upkeep, while a dedicated group of trades ensure specific tenant work-orders are addressed quickly and effectively.”
Tenant settlement payment
Akelius Canada recently agreed to pay $50,000 to a group of tenants in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood who accused the company of neglecting their apartments, according to a July 27 report in the Toronto Star. The company has been the subject of other similar complaints, including an accusation that it’s trying to push out tenants. When asked about the payment and criticism, Scott responded:
“When Akelius took over the management of our portfolio in May 2014, we rolled out a model aimed at providing the best possible service to our tenants through the implementation of a call centre and the creation of our facilities management team. Unfortunately, after the rollout, there was a calibration period where some work-orders were missed and a few tenants experienced a reduction in service.
“The settlement was necessary to address the concerns relating to that transition. Since the rollout, however, we have increased our staff and improved our processes, allowing us to maintain a median work-order completion time of two days. The response we’ve since received from our tenants has been overwhelmingly positive. Our team is committed to ensuring all tenants are comfortable, safe and proud to live in their Akelius home.”