The City is currently considering whether and how to license landlords and rental units in an effort to improve living conditions for the half of Torontonians who live in rental housing. This is not only an opportunity to improve living conditions, but also to address some important environmental issues.
Have your say: The City held 7 in-person consultations in August to hear from the public on the issue of licensing Toronto landlords. An online survey is open until October 4th, and staff are also accepting comments by phone and email. Staff will present a final licensing plan to Council in December 2016. Read more here.
Why landlord licensing?
A Licensing system for landlords and rental units is long overdue, something that tenants’ rights groups have been advocating for over a decade. While restaurants, taxis and tattoo parlours are licensed by the City, landlords aren’t. Many other North American cities use landlord licensing systems to collect information, require maintenance and other plans, and raise revenue for inspections and enforcement.
What does landlord licensing look like?
In the spring, staff proposed that the rental property license would apply to buildings with more than 10 units and 3 or more storeys. It would require that landlords provide basic information on the building owner, property details, and proof of insurance to the City. Landlords would also need to create a process for tenants to make service requests and create cleaning, maintenance, capital and waste management plans. They are seeking public input on these requirements and others.
Some landlord groups have been pushing back against the licensing option, saying that it will increase rents. However, City staff expect that the estimated annual fee of only $12-15 per unit will not impact rent.
TEA supports landlord licensing
TEA’s Waste Campaigner spoke to the Tenant Sub-Committee in May to urge them to use the opportunity to also addresses environmental issues, specifically, equal access to clean and safe recycling and waste services for all residents.
Other environmental issues that could be considered include requiring an emergency plan, extreme weather plans (including cooling rooms during heat waves), reporting on toxic releases on site (e.g. research has shown that dry cleaners in residential buildings release toxic perc chemicals to surrounding units) and creating plans to limit exposure to toxic releases.