Toronto to consider proposal for landlord licensing

The Licensing and Standards Committee is set to consider the item later this week.

Tracey Cook, the executive director, municipal licensing and standards is recommending City Council approve new by-laws for rental apartments that would require all buildings be registered with the city.

They would also require a process for tracking tenant repair requests, installing a notification board, implanting a state of good repair capital plan, and a fee program for landlords, among others.

The full agenda – including all recommendations – can be viewed here.

The proposal comes on the heels of a recent study done about the lax standards of many rentals in Canada’s largest city.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), an independent national organization of low- and moderate-income families, published late October, entitled State of Repair: The Tenants’ Case for Landlord Licensing in Toronto.

“Late this fall the mayor and city council will decide the fate of the proposed landlord licensing program.

This report acts as a reminder to Mayor Tory and city council that they represent all of Toronto, not just homeowners,” ACORN said in the report. “A licensing regime would increase the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of residents while being revenue neutral and costing tax payers nothing.”

According to the report, which is based on a survey sent to low and moderate income ACORN members, the majority of Torontonian tenants struggle to pay rent while also struggling to have home deficiencies address by landlords.

It found that 69.5% of respondents claim repairs were needed in their unit on the day they moved in and that 95% claim to be living in conditions that violate municipal property standards.

“Landlord licensing would make it so that there are annual inspections of all buildings in the City of Toronto with 3 or more floors and 10 or more units, and would make it so that landlords that fail these inspections would face large financial punishments from the city,” ACORN said. “Landlord licensing would create a system similar to the licensing of restaurants. Buildings will have an annual inspection of common areas, boilers, elevators, and electrical systems.

“The inspections will also check if landlords are keeping up with cleaning, maintenance and pest control requirements,” it continued. “The landlord would pay a small fee for every unit in their building to the city and city inspectors would ensure that healthy standards are upheld without undue burden on the city’s budget.”

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