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Toronto's proposal for landlord regulation doesn't go far enough: tenant advocate

The city is one step closer to regulating landlords for buildings with three or more storeys and ten or more units.

Scarborough tenant Saif Greenidge says his landlord has failed to address his complaints about cockroaches, mold and peeling paint. It's issues like those that led to a call for landlord licensing at the city.

Torstar News Service

Scarborough tenant Saif Greenidge says his landlord has failed to address his complaints about cockroaches, mold and peeling paint. It's issues like those that led to a call for landlord licensing at the city.

The first detailed look at how Toronto plans to regulate landlords doesn’t go far enough for one tenant advocacy group.

Geordie Dent with the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations said the proposal doesn’t reflect many of the issues raised by tenants during summer consultations.

Hundreds of tenants participated both online and in person, suggesting measures such as penalties and fines for bad landlords and a landlord rating system.

“If you actually look at what’s being proposed right now, almost none of that’s on the table,” said Dent.

The first draft of the proposal goes to the tenant issues committee for review on Wednesday and is slated to make its way to city council for approval next month.

The proposal recommends registering, instead of licensing, landlords who own buildings with three or more storeys and ten or more units. They would pay a fee of between $8 and $13 per unit.

It also suggests city staff conduct “pre-audits” to determine if buildings are at risk for problems and requiring landlords to have a plan for things like pest control and waste management.

Council approved consultations on landlord licensing in June in response to tenants’ concerns about problems like broken elevators, bed bugs, cockroaches, mold, dirty common areas and fear of what would happen if they made a complaint to the city.

The city has committed to addressing some of the things left out of the draft “down the road,” said Dent. But, he’s not confident that will happen, especially since the proposal recommends adding only a handful of extra staff to implement the new regulations.

Daryl Chong, president and CEO of the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, said the real solution is to target “bad landlords” specifically.

“They’ll dilute their efforts by going after nearly 3,000 buildings, by spending time on a vast majority of buildings that are good,” he said.

Although the initial proposal, is “a bit light on details,” ACORN Canada is “cautiously optimistic” about the possibilities, president Marva Burnett said in a written statement.

“A safe rental program is desperately needed,” she added.

A new ACORN survey of 174 tenants shows renters are facing serious problems.

— About 95 per cent said conditions in their buildings violate the city’s property standards bylaw.

— 83 per cent of respondents have seen a cockroach in their apartment.

— 31 per cent report daily sightings of cockroaches.

— More than 30 per cent have experienced a bedbug infestation in the past two years.

— About 53 percent reported a lack of heating in their building.

— Almost 25 per cent have been trapped in an elevator in the past two years.

— Almost 70 per cent said they’ve had trouble getting repairs done.

— About 30 per cent said they felt afraid to ask for repairs.

Torstar News Service

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