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Ottawa homebuilders pivoting to rentals, tapping into growing tenant demand

Cardel Homes hires Sleepwell to manage and market Blackstone townhome development in Kanata South

Sleepwell Poperty Management
Sleepwell Poperty Management

Best known locally as a builder of houses and condos for sale, Cardel Homes recently tapped into the growing demand for high-quality rental properties with its new 76-unit Blackstone townhouse development in Kanata South.

“There’s a demographic that’s struggling to get into the home ownership market,” says Tanya Buckley, vice-president of sales and marketing at Cardel Homes. “Others are choosing to rent for lifestyle reasons.

“When we looked at the market, it was very clear that there was a demand for rental (properties).” 

But having long specialized in selling new homes, the Cardel team was somewhat new to the rental industry, and soon found itself in need of a little help when it came to the leasing and management of these Blackstone units.

After carefully considering several firms in the region, Cardel sought the aid of Sleepwell Property Management, one of Ottawa’s largest third-party property managers. 

“Cardel approached us in the winter of 2017,” recounts Adam Pearce, vice-president of sales at Sleepwell. “Projects of this nature require a lot of attention at the beginning phase of the development – then of course thereafter is managing the day-to-day operations.

“It’s not the first time we’ve done this,” he adds. “We’ve got a process. It’s not like we’re learning as we go. We know what we’re doing.” 

Overcoming challenges

Buckley says Sleepwell’s experience was a major factor in Cardel’s choice to manage both the Blackstone townhouse community as well as the homebuilder’s 36-unit Kol condo development, adding that this wealth of experience has been on full display as the firm stickhandled the inevitable issues that pop up throughout the process. 

One common difficulty that often occurs on large projects of this type is filling finished rental units while the larger site is still under construction.

“They were going to have to work with us during the construction period, which was going to be challenging,” Buckley says. “(The issue was) keeping those tenants serviced and happy.

“I think both parties knew it would be challenging and they’ve worked with us through that.”

Moving tenants into an unfinished development is not always easy, but failure to do simply equates to lost revenue — something Pearce and Sleepwell are always determined to avoid. 

“If you can fill those units from day one, that’s revenue in your pocket,” he continues. “If you can’t (and) you lose that revenue … it’s going to affect your profit margins.”

Pearce says the key is developing relationships with tenants, managing their expectations and concerns as well as staying focused on the long-term outcome.

“Once the project has finished, then you can do all the landscaping, the asphalt for the driveways. Then it’s a beautiful project,” he says.

A successful partnership 

Despite the challenges typical of a project of this scale, Buckley and Cardel have been very happy with Sleepwell’s efforts. The company seamlessly managed the 76 units as a team, drawing upon experienced specialists to handle all aspects of the project.

“Our working relationship with Sleepwell has been very, very good,” Buckley says. “They’ve been consummate professionals, and they’ve added a lot of value.” 

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