Toronto landlords denying tenants air conditioning: councillor
Mary Fragedakis believes some landlords are trying to save money on their electrical bills at the expense of their tenant’s health.
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Toronto’s latest temperature alert may have been lifted, but Coun. Mary Fragedakis wants to keep the heat on landlords – and off tenants.
The Ward 29 councillor has heard from constituents that some property owners are asking tenants to remove air conditioners, telling them it’s because city inspectors have demanded it.
“That’s just not true,” she said, noting municipal inspectors cannot issue removal orders for air conditioners.
Earlier this month, Torstar News Service reported tenants in a building on Finch Avenue West were asked to remove air-conditioning units during a recent heat wave.
Fragedakis believes some landlords are trying to save money on their electrical bills at the expense of their tenant’s health.
“Telling tenants they can’t have air conditioning is like telling them they can’t have a refrigerator,” said Geordie Dent with the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association. “There’s no basis for it in law or reality.”
The city is exploring creating a maximum temperature bylaw, something both Fragedakis and Dent say is necessary. Newer buildings with central air conditioning are required to stay at or below 26 C, but no such law applies to older apartments.
“Right now nothing’s going to happen to these landlords because there’s no law,” Dent said. “If you set a maximum temperature, it creates an enforcement mechanism.”
Fragedakis said the city should also offer better incentives for landlords to retrofit older buildings with fans or heat-resistant roof and window coatings. Such programs have been successful in other jurisdictions – including France and Italy – but “the pick-up isn’t there” in Toronto, she said.
A city report tabled in June estimated that heat waves in the city will increase five-fold by 2050 due to climate change. According to the report, the increased temperatures could double the number of deaths in the city due to extreme heat.
“We need to do more,” Fragedakis said. “Climate change is a reality and we’re likely to see more extreme weather. It’s our responsibility as a city council to act.”