Ask MoneySense: Income property - MoneySense

Ask MoneySense: Income property

Maternity leave has its benefits but claiming rental income for your spouse isn’t one of them.


Can I claim rental income on maternity leave rather than my spouse? And how much should we set aside for house maintenance each year? I’ve heard 3% to 5%, but that seems excessive.

—Céline Doré, Toronto

Maternity leave has its benefits—bonding with your baby and taking a mental break from work—but claiming rental income for your spouse isn’t one of them. “You can’t decide one year to the next who’s going to claim the income,” says Adam Scherer, a partner with Soberman LLP. But your husband may be able to pay you a salary to offset that rental income. The catch: you have to do something, say bookkeeping or paying bills, and be able to justify that salary. Plus, you’ll need the invoices to back it up. As for maintenance, unless you own a money pit, budgeting 3% to 5% of your home’s value is pretty steep—that’s upwards of $18,000 a year for the average home. Robert Koci, editor of Canadian Contractor, suggests that if you have a $1-million house that’s 100 years old you might assume $10,000 annually, whereas a new house might cost no more than $2,000. That’s in line with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s recommendation of between 1% and 3% of the home’s value.

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