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Next city council should address differences in rooming house rules across Toronto: committee

Councillors on Toronto’s executive committee have agreed to handle an explosive issue next year ‚Äì the possible legalizing of illegal rooming houses in their wards.

The committee on Wednesday, Aug. 20, approved a plan promising extensive consultation, including “tailored and localized” meetings, “in areas identified by local councillors and city staff as having rooming house-related complaints, such as neighbourhoods near post-secondary institutions.

Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, said illegal rooming houses are one of the few affordable options for many in the city, though tenants often live in “very, very poor conditions,” and cannot report violations to the city. “In cases such as Kensington Market, people can end up dead,” said Dent, referring to a fire which killed two men in St. Andrew Street rooming house in March.

But illegal rooming houses aren’t going to disappear, he argued, and a crackdown will only add to the “housing nightmare” lower-income tenants face.

There should be a general amnesty for existing rooming houses, legal or otherwise, and a moratorium on kicking tenants out during the consultation, said Dent.

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September 15, 2014

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