As Chair of the Tenants Issues Committee, I am very pleased to report that my colleagues supported our new Tenant Protection by-law to provide much needed protection for Toronto renters. The provisions in the by-law will be in force by July of this year.
This success was the result of years of hard work with local tenant advocates and city-wide organizations, including the Federation of Metro Toronto Tenants’ Associations, ACORN, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, and community legal clinics.
At present, far too many renters live in sub-standard housing. The City’s Multi Residential Audit Building (MRAB) program has found over 58,000 deficiencies in approximately 1000 buildings since Building Audits began. Leaking roofs, stained carpets, non-functioning elevators, and pest infestations are far too common. And these violations are mostly from just the shared areas in buildings and don’t capture the serious problems tenants face inside their units.
Some landlords have ignored City orders to fix their properties for years with little consequence; they treat the small fines as the cost of doing business, drag out performing the repairs through court appeals, and are even granted time extensions.
The system certainly doesn’t give tenants the same leniency when their rent is due.
This comprehensive new by-law includes several motions I moved to address some of these concerns, including:
- A “Rentsafe” rating program for buildings modelled off of the “Dinesafe” program for restaurants that requires 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
These measures, and many others contained in the program, were the result of extensive consultation with tenants across the city.
For more information on this ground-breaking legislation, please see this article.