CREW spoke with their Manager of Policy Mike Chopowick to discuss five things the government should be doing to protect investors.
1. Reform the rent dispute process between landlords and tenants. Think chasing up missed rent is straightforward? Think again. The process in Ontario currently takes over 90 days, and can potentially cost landlords upwards of $5,000 to resolve issues via the landlord tenant board.
“We’ve been asking the government to introduce legislation to reduce the amount of time it takes for these cases to be resolved,” says Chopowick. “It causes a big backlog in the system and results in a lot of instances of landlords losing rents.”
2. Revise the rent control policy. In Ontario, rent increases are capped at 2.5%, which FRPO argues fails to take into account inflation or any renovations/upgrades to the property that may change over the tenant’s term. It is lobbying the government to adopt a rent control formula that reflects those factors, says Chopowick.
“Quite simply, we want a model similar to what they have in B.C.,” he said, “where landlords are allowed to increase rents by the consumer price index plus 2% for reinvestment.”
3. Lift restrictive rental housing licensing. As it stands, municipalities are able to licence rental housing, but according to Chopowick, these policies don’t do much to improve the quality of housing.
“What they do, is increase the cost of housing for tenants, and in some communities it simply restricts the availability of rental housing,” he says. The FRPO wants the government to repeal these provisions.
4. Level the property-tax playing field. In most municipalities in Ontario, multi-residential housing is taxed at almost three times the rate of owner-occupied housing. Chopowick wants the government to implement a policy to equalize that out.
5. Introduce energy conservation programs that target rental housing.
“We have an aging housing stock in Ontario,” says Chopowick, and “50% of the housing stock was built before 1970.” As a result, systems such as plumbing, electricity, heating and cooling need updating. The organization wants the government to introduce incentives to help investors update their units to optimal energy efficiency.