Weekend brunch and dinner party talking points aboutlandlord licensing

There are a number of ways residents can go after bad landlords. One is through the provincial landlord tenant board, the other is through the city.

Anyone can call 311 about a building complaint. Inspectors will come out and if there is a violation.

MRAB (Multi-Residential Apartment Buildings) is the bylaw enforcement program.

Signal Toronto did some research on the potential promise of, and controversy over, landlord licensing. The city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards is to report back in the fall of 2016. Here are the talking points on the issue.

SUPPORT for landlord licensing:

–       Just as with the food safety program DineSafe, the system is proactive in the sense that it applies to everyone.

–       The knocking on doors has a public education element, as well as an intention to raise the standard for all, not just those that call and complain.

–       Tenants are afraid to complain – this would take the onus off of the tenant to ensure standards are being met.

–       Landlords of good buildings would receive the benefits, especially of something like a rating system could be in place to evaluate cleaning and maintenance.

–       Landlord licensing (and arguably the proposition of) gives the city new tools, and has a public awareness component.

SKEPTICISM about landlord licensing:

–     The leverage the city has when creating a licence is that it can take it away. But in a climate in which there’s a shortage of affordable housing, the risk of backlash over taking away licences for a lack of availability of affordable units seems unlikely.

–       Shouldn’t the licensing apply to all landlords, not just multi-residential?

SET-AGAINST landlord licensing:

–       MRAB is effective.

–       A landlord licensing regime would create unnecessary paperwork.

–       The cost per unit, despite how small, will still eventually get transferred to the tenant in some way.

–       Anyone with a problem in their building or rental until in a house can call 311 with a complaint about the building standards. Money would be better spent on education and more officers.

STILL UNSURE when it comes to landlord licensing:

–       Would a licensing system provide for special enforcement powers?

–       If I am searching for an apartment, how do I know if the licence for an apartment is up to date? Doesn’t the city have trouble getting things done as it is? There are more than 3000 multi-residential buildings and how many thousands of units.

–       Are complaints generally confined to buildings in certain wards? If so, perhaps that indicates a need for public education campaigns in wards with less civic engagement.

–       Do some wards have many more complaints than others?

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