|Will Council Stand up to Protect Toronto’s Tenants?
RentSafe program and Rent Controls to be debated at Council tomorrow
Toronto – Councillors will have an opportunity to protect tenants tomorrow through approving a strengthened RentSafe program and enforcing rent control on properties that have received City funding. Both of these measures are vital to support renters in Toronto’s increasingly difficult rental market.
“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 appeals, and are even granted time extensions.
The system certainly doesn’t give tenants the same leniency when their rent is due,” said Josh Matlow, City Councillor for Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul’s. “A strengthened RentSafe program is necessary to improve the quality of life for tenants across Toronto.”
Leaking roofs, stained carpets, non-functioning elevators, and pest infestations are far too common for renters in Toronto. The RentSafe initiative approved by Council in 2017 is one of the most comprehensive, progressive, and rigorous municipal tenant protection initiatives in North America. However, the City has yet to deliver on many crucial measures that Council promised to the 50% of our residents that rent their homes.
“RentSafe is an important program that has the potential to protect tenants but it must actually be implemented and enforced, said Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, Chair of East York ACORN. “City Council must vote to support tenants with a public rating system and tougher penalties for bad landlords”
The following RentSafe initiatives to protect tenants have not been implemented:
- Apartment rating system similar to the City’s “Dinesafe” program requiring landlords to post a colour-coded sign that displays the City’s rating in a prominent, publicly identifiable location
- Standard operating procedure to provide tenants and Municipal Standards Officers with codified, transparent timelines for how long landlords have to remedy specific property standards violations. eg. Pest infestation needs to be addressed in 5 days, graffiti removed in 10 days, etc.
- Limit time extensions at Property Standards Committee as the Committee has far too frequently granted extensions for landlords to complete necessary repairs or to remedy other property standards violations.
- Administrative Monetary Penalties allowing Municipal Standards Officers to levy increased set fines
Also being debated tomorrow is rent controls on developments that have received City funding. Earlier this year, Council approved 11 City-owned sites for development as part of the Housing Now program. At the time of the debate, the provincial government’s changes to the Residential Tenancies Act were poorly understood. In particular, the effects of the exemptions from rent control for new builds were not presented to Council.
“Already wealthy property owners are laughing all the way to the bank as they gouge tenants because of Doug Ford’s rent exemptions,” said Matlow. “The City should not be subjecting tenants to the constant threat of economic eviction on its own land.”
Last week, residents of a Weston development that received over $7 million in public funding were notified of an over 20% rent increase for month-to-month tenancies and 6% for year-long lease holders. Through the efforts of the local Councillor and community members, the property manager has reversed its decision on the 20% increase, but the 6% increase still threatens to push already high rents into the unaffordable range for too many residents.
“It’s ridiculous that developers are getting City money to build affordable housing while be allowed to jack the rents way above the guideline on the rest of their tenants,” Said Marva Burnett, President of ACORN Canada. “ACORN is demanding City Council require rent control on any building receiving public money”