Monday, 24 February 2014

Vitamin D, Seasonal Affective Disorder and renting a new Apartment.

How important is the location of your apartment to your mental health, enjoyment of life, vitamin D production, or even to treating seasonal affective disorder?  When renting an apartment (or buying a house for that matter) I suggest that there is one very specific thing that everyone should do, but which no one really does, to ensure that the precise location of your apartment and its orientation contribute to making you happy. 

The Sun
My statement in this regard makes an assumption that human beings, when exposed to the sun are more likely to be happy.  Vitamin D, seasonal affective disorder, and generally one's mood, is affected by exposure to daylight and to the length of our day (measured by light).  As regular readers of this blog know, I haven't recently run off and become a medical doctor or researcher and hence my statements about the importance of exposure to the sun are anecdotal.  That means I presume it to be true, from my own experience in liking access to sit in the sun, the impact on my mindset at sunrise, and from the same affirmation by many people about how much better the sun makes them feel.

So why this article?  Recently, I had the great pleasure of chatting with a good friend of mine who works for a very large property management company.   He works with the residential rental portfolio that consists of several thousands of rental units and great number of apartment buildings.  His job involves analyzing the portfolio and the buildings within the portfolio.  In his work he is looking for indicators that impact profitability and that includes apartment turnover, the amount of revenue generated by buildings, the costs of maintaining, upgrading of units etc..  How utterly boring you might think?  At least I thought so until he told me about a fascinating little fact about the turnover of apartments within apartment buildings.

Because he has all of the data in relation to an apartment building and the individual units, my friend was able to review a number of data sets--which included the date of rental, the length of a tenancy, the amount of rent charged, the costs of maintenance to a unit, legal costs in relation to a tenancy.  He took this data and then correlated those data sets to the exposure (North, East, South, West) of the rental units within the apartment buildings.  The results of this analysis are quite fascinating.  For the buildings to which he applied the analysis he found that the "sun" side of the building--where the windows and balconies of individual apartments got morning sun to early early afternoon sun--the rents were higher, the tenancies longer, and the costs to maintain the units was lower.  Complaints from the sunny side of the building were lower and the time to rent a vacant unit was lower.  These findings were apparent in the numbers over several years and over many buildings.

My friend's analysis of tenant turnover based on a unit's exposure to sun was quite fascinating to me as I immediately thought what an incredibly useful fact this is in the course of deciding what apartment to rent.  How many people when renting an apartment or house consider the exposure to the sun in deciding which unit to rent?  If, when renting, there are choices amongst vacant units then it would be worthwhile to consider how the sun tracks over the rental unit and the rental unit's windows.

Does considering how the sun moves mean you have to hang out at the building all day long?  Of course not! In the days when there is an app for everything there is a handy website at that allows you to enter a specific address and then it maps the track of the sun over that address.    This is a handy tool to use.  What you need to do though, to make use of what it shows, is orient the vacant rental unit that you are considering renting within the building so that the sun tracking data is useful to you.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has done this or who has moved based on sun exposure to hear of your anecdotal stories and experiences.

Michael K. E. Thiele

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Any answers provided are intended to reflect the Law of Ontario, Canada. The answers are not legal advice and no one should rely on the answers provided as legal advice. The answers are intended to be general information about Ontario Law and are the personal view of the author based on the limited facts provided to the author. The answers may not be legally accurate and may indeed be contrary to the law of Ontario. Answers and conclusions drawn may have been different if facts had been shared that have not been disclosed in the comment/question. This blog is intended to assist people in learning about Ontario Landlord and Tenant Law. However, if you have actual legal problems this blog should under no circumstances replace proper legal advice obtained by retaining a lawyer or licensed paralegal to advise you. Nothing in this blog, comments submitted or answers provided, gives rise to a solicitor and client relationship. Comments are published as submitted and commenters should be aware that if they identify themselves in a comment that their identity will become public upon the comment being published. Comments that have been published may be deleted upon request to the author.

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About Michael Thiele

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Ottawa lawyer and partner at Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP.  Graduate of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.  Called to the bar in Ontario in 1997.  Undergraduate degree at Colby College, Waterville Maine, U.S.A.