Posted June 18, 2022
Tenants hoping London city hall would crackdown on slumlords who fail to maintain their apartments are expressing dismay.
A new report by city staff recommends against implementing a local version of Toronto’s RentSafeTO apartment maintenance and inspection program.
“I’m a little bit flabbergasted,” admits Jordan Smith of tenant advocacy group ACORN London. “It’s been effective in Toronto and they’ve managed to make it economically viable. It’s managed to pay for itself. There’s no excuse for that not to happen in London.”
In Toronto, landlords pay $11.24 per rental unit as a registration fee, and $1,917 for an annual audit to ensure that basic building maintenance standards are met.
Failing to meet those standards could result in financial penalties.
There are more than 47,000 rental units here in London.
According to the staff report, a local inspection program modelled after RentSafeTO would require hiring about 37 additional municipal by-law enforcement officers plus a similar number of fire prevention officers.
Currently, London only licenses rental houses, duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes.
A license requires initial building code and fire code inspections plus payment of an annual renewal fee.
ACORN London argues municipal licensing of rental units and enforcement of the property standards by-law has left many tenants living in poorly maintained and unsafe apartments.
Instead of RentSafe, the staff report highlights the recommendations of a new Tenant Landlord Taskforce to streamline the complaint system on the city website, offer more inclusive communication between landlords/tenants/municipality, and conduct ‘building blitzes’ of the worst properties.
However, Smith sits on that taskforce and warns those solutions fail to ensure landlords actually make the necessary repairs.
“It’s important to streamline our complaint process, but that’s cutting around the edges, it doesn’t come close to tackling the heart of the issue.”
The Community and Protective Services Committee will consider the report on Tuesday.
Article by Daryl Newcombe for CTV News London