Toronto is contemplating a licensing system for apartment buildings ‚Äî similar to the city’s Dine Safe restaurant program ‚Äî to give inspectors more teeth when landlords fail to meet minimum property standards.
The proposed Rent Safe program would apply to about 3,300 rental buildings with 10 units or more that are three storeys or higher, according to a city staff report. Condos and co-ops would be excluded.
If approved by council next fall, it could be in place as early as January 2017.
Aspects of the proposal, including the possibility of prohibiting landlords with outstanding work orders from applying for rent increases or leasing vacant units, were on the city’s licensing and standards committee agenda. The proposed “Rent Safe” name is also up for discussion.
The broader background report, presented to the city’s tenant issues subcommittee in February, suggests the program could be funded through a licensing fee of $12 to $15 per unit annually. Although city-owned Toronto Community Housing buildings would not be subject to the fee, they would still need to comply with licensing requirements, according to the report.
This step would build on previous efforts, such as the city’s building audit program. Since 2008, more than 1,000 apartment towers have been audited as part of the city’s existing apartment audit and enforcement program. More than 58,000 deficiencies were found and over 4,500 work orders were issued.
A recent city audit of 103 and 105 West Lodge Ave. in the city’s Parkdale area, revealed more than 100 deficiencies in common areas including graffiti and feces on the walls, cracked ceilings and floor tiles and smelly garbage.
“If (Rent Safe) is approved, it could be the biggest change to tenant rights in Toronto in years,” said Geordie Dent, Executive Director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations.
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