Submission to Justice Lesage - re: Eviction Prevention
The Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations was founded in 1974 to protect and enhance the rights of tenants. We continue that role today. To us, an eviction is the ultimate penalty and everything possible should be done to prevent evictions. Our Hotline service has helped many tenants, including TCHC tenants, to prevent evictions.
We have advocated for more affordable housing through the non-profit and co-op housing sector. We need more Rent Geared to Income Housing in Ontario and more supportive housing, as well. We want this housing to succeed. We want Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) to be a model for landlord behaviour.
Obviously, we are distressed to see such a tragedy as befell Mr. Gosling. Our Hotline staff has heard many other distressing stories. We know there are many people within TCHC who also feel this distress. All of us want a system that works fairly, and we greatly appreciate you and your staff for taking on this important task.
The City of Toronto has an affordable housing strategy. Preventing evictions is preventing the loss of affordable rental housing for vulnerable people.
We have followed your inquiry with great interest. We have attended the public meetings and listened to the tenants - as have you.
In that spirit, we offer our submissions to you.
- 1. TCHC should have a gatekeeper and a checklist. That senior person needs to be satisfied that every step and every precaution was taken to avoid eviction, and that if it was, the matter is serious enough to warrant an eviction application. These steps must include personal contact.
- 2. Agents who represent TCHC at the Landlord Tenant Board should be evaluated on preventing evictions.
- 3. Building managers - including contracted out management - must be committed to an eviction prevention first policy. Better training and implementation are required.
- 4. TCHC should join with tenant advocates in calling for the repeal of section 203 of the Residential Tenancies Act. TCHC endorsed it during the legislative debates leading to that Act. This section takes away a tenants' ability to question the proper rent that should be charged. The Landlord is not always right.
- 5. Similarly, TCHC must join the call to repeal the Social Housing Reform Act. This Act is punitive to low income people and draconian in its' approach to reporting requirements and subsequent penalties.
- 6. There must be increased sensitivity to seniors and to tenants with mental health issues and other disabilities. Help must be provided to ensure their needs are more important than bureaucratic paperwork.
- 7. Tenants who manage to find work should not need to fear that if the job is lost, that they can not regain their subsidy. This possibility is a disincentive to taking a job.
- 8. A change in income should not necessarily trigger an immediate rent increase. There also needs to be an ability to return to the former RGI if the change is not permanent.
- 9. There should be more elected tenants on the Board of TCHC.
- 10. A TCHC Ombudsperson should be in place to help settle disputes between tenants and management. The Ombudsperson could also ensure that the gatekeeper referred to in our point one is held accountable.
- 11. The Province of Ontario must do more, especially if they are serious about poverty reduction and serving the most vulnerable of our citizens. This can include increasing social supports through staffing and extra funding to make the buildings more livable.
This submission was prepared by our Tenant Action Committee and is respectfully submitted.