“Licensing landlords will create disincentives to people becoming landlords – bad idea. Toronto needs rental housing and policies to encourage it. Every cost to a landlord is passed on to the tenants. Apartment buildings with more than 7 units are forced to pay higher property taxes. http://www.toronto.ca/taxes/property_tax/tax_rates.htm”
Toronto Ward 29 Candidate John Richardson commenting on:
As you know the Municipal Elections are on October 25, 2010. It appears that the issue of “Landlord Licensing” in Toronto is becoming an election issue. Although this has been an issue for some time, the emergence of bedbugs in Toronto has brought this issue back to the forefront.
Indeed, the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA) which describes itself as having been:
“committed to working tirelessly with and for tenants, and advocating for better rights for all tenants in Toronto”,
sent all Municipal Candidates a survey which was composed of the following questions:
Q1. Municipal Licensing and Standards has audited more than 300 buildings since 2009 and they have found an average of more than 60 deficiencies per building – yet the tenants in those buildings continue to pay more rent. How would you work with MLS, the FMTA and tenants to help achieve rent abatements and/or rent freezes where buildings have been found to be in violation of the property standards by-law?
Q2. Do you favour landlord licensing? (please circle) Yes No
Q3. More than 130,000 Toronto residents are on the waiting list for rent geared to income housing, more than 100,000 households pay more than 50% of their income on housing, and many of these tenants are living in sub-standard conditions. What would you do to address and solve these issues?
Q4. More tenants are passionate and concerned about the environment in relation to their apartment buildings. How would you help tenants live cleaner and greener?
Q5. Bed bugs have become an epidemic in Toronto. Due to unclear laws about landlord responsibilities to treat the issue and the landlord having no requirement to inform prospective tenants if the building has bed bugs, tenants are left in a very vulnerable position. New York City has recently set aside funds to specifically deal with their bed bug issues. Toronto is rated the third worst city for bed bugs in North America. What would you do to support tenants to deal with and eliminate bed bugs?
The questions leave little doubt that this organization views tenants as being in a permanent state of war with landlords. The survey does not seem to contemplate the reality that “some tenants” bring bedbugs into “some buildings”. It is doubtful that a landlord would knowingly infest his building with bedbugs.
Landlord licensing is a bad idea for a number of reasons which include:
– it will increase the cost to landlords. This cost will be passed on to tenants;
– it will discourage people from becoming landlords, thus reducing the stock of rental housing which will put upward pressure on rents;
– the reduction in the stock of rental housing will put further demands on Toronto Community Housing;
– there is no connection between licensing landlords and keeping tenants from bringing bedbugs into housing
If licensing is contemplated because of bedbugs in Toronto rental housing, and tenants are responsible for bringing bedbugs into buildings, shouldn’t it be the tenants who should be licensed? At the very least, if landlords are to be licensed, then shouldn’t tenants be licensed?
This evening I watched the Toronto Ward 32 debate on Goldhawk Live. There were five candidates interviewed. Four of the five candidates (including the incumbent Janet Davis) favored the licensing of landlords. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.