As Chair of the City’s Tenant Issues Committee, I advocate for renters across Toronto. Please feel welcome to attend our next meeting on Friday February 9th at 1:30pm in Committee Room 2 at City Hall where we will be looking at critical issues affecting housing in our city. I have provided the Agenda items below for your review. If you would like to make a deputation on any of these items please contact the Clerk – firstname.lastname@example.org.
For your information, here are the priority items that will be on the agenda:
Toronto Fire Services – High Rise Residential Inspection Portal
In the wake of last year’s Grenfell Tower Fire tragedy in London, I requested Toronto Fire Services to undertake a more transparent fire inspection process for tenants throughout our city. I was impressed with how quickly they delivered an online portal that allows tenants to review fire inspection results on currently 1541 high-rise apartment buildings. Toronto Fire Services will give a demonstration of their High Rise Residential Inspection Portal. Please read this article for more information.
Municipal Licensing and Standards – Update on Heat in Apartments
Last fall, many Midtown tenants suffered during a late September heatwave. Some residents reported temperature readings of over 30 degrees Celsius in their units as a result of their landlords turning on heat and/or not turning on air conditioning.
Landlords are currently required to ensure that the temperature in a rental unit not be lower than 21 degree Celsius, but that rue does not require a building’s heating system to be on. Unfortunately, some landlords misinterpreted the City by-law and turned on the heat in their buildings. Others reported being concerned that if they turned off their heat and/or turned on their air conditioning that they could be fined should the temperature suddenly drop.
I asked landlords to use common sense when making these decisions and assured them that our by-law officers would do the same. A request was unfortunately the only tool I had available during this fall’s heatwave. It is unacceptable that members of our community were baking in their apartments this past fall – everyone has the right to a comfortable and healthy home. That’s why I’m eager to receive an update from City Staff on their response to my motion on better regulating room temperatures in apartment buildings.
For more information, please see this article.
City Planning – 2018 Rental Housing Market Conditions in Toronto
As many of you know, there is a rental housing crisis in Toronto. Vacancy rates have been hovering around 1% in the past year and very few of the limited apartments available are affordable.
City Planning will provide an overview of current conditions in Toronto’s rental housing market. The presentation will review key data and trends in rents, vacancy rates, the stock of rental housing, proposed and under construction rental units, and other metrics to better understand the rental housing context in the City.
For more information on my work to improve affordability for renters, please see this article on ending unlimited rent increases in apartments built after 1991, and this information pamphlet on eliminating rent increases above the provincially mandated guideline.
Update on RentSafe TO –Apartment Building By-law
The new Tenant Protection by-law was passed by Council last spring to provide much needed protection for Toronto renters. The provisions of the by-law have been in force by July of this year.
This comprehensive new by-law includes several motions I moved to support tenants, including:
- A “Rentsafe” rating program for buildings modelled off of the “Dinesafe” program for restaurants. This would require landlords to post a colour-coded sign that displays the City’s rating in a prominent, publicly identifiable location, along with posting the same information on the City’s website
- Requesting that the Province grant the City the power to fine landlords for property standards violations
- Establishing guidelines for when the Property Standards Committee can grant time extensions on work orders for violations and to limit those criteria to situations that are only extraordinary circumstances
- Developing standard operating procedures for City enforcement officers which provide targeted timelines by violation category to bring landlords into compliance with City by-laws from the date an order is issued, and make the standards available to the public on the City website
- Ensuring that landlords will not be able to rent vacant units if they have outstanding property orders in the building for vital services such as heat or water
Municipal Licensing and Standards Staff have audited every large apartment building in Toronto over the past year and will be providing an update to the Committee on their initial findings.
For more information on this ground-breaking legislation, please see this article.