Posted June 22, 2022
At a rally outside city hall, members of tenant advocacy group Acorn London called for an apartment inspection system similar to RentSafeTO to crackdown on bad landlords.
“Ensuring people have safe and healthy homes, especially renters, should honestly be one of the foremost concerns of our city council,” said Nawton Chiles.
RentSafeTO is a municipal program that inspects apartment buildings every three years in Toronto to ensure proper maintenance.
Buildings that score low during the inspection can be subject to greater scrutiny and penalties for not completing essential repairs in a timely manner.
However, council members on the Community and Protective Services (CAPS) Committee were told by city staff that they recommend against implementing a local version of RentSafeTO.
Civic administration estimates a local version of RentSafeTO would require hiring 37 new municipal by-law enforcement officers and a similar number of fire prevention officers.
But Coun. Jesse Helmer pushed back on the conclusions drawn by city staff in their report.
Helmer said the program in Toronto is improving the quality of residential buildings because the average evaluation score has risen from 65 per cent to the mid-70s.
Complaints to Toronto city hall about apartment maintenance have grown, but he believes that’s because an increasing number of tenants have confidence the program results in timely repairs.
“Our staff don’t want to do it [but] I want to do it. That’s fine,” Helmer told colleagues on the committee. “What I think the next step should be from us is to direct the development of a [budget] business case.”
Coun. Maureen Cassidy agreed, “Come back to us with a made-in-London solution and a business case to bring to the next multi-year budget.”
Mayor Ed Holder argued against a local RentSafeTO model until a list of alternatives suggested by the new Tenant Landlord Taskforce (TLT) are given a chance.
“To immediately just throw money at the situation and throw all landlords into this mix, it doesn’t make practical sense to me,” explained the mayor.
The TLT recommendations have the backing of city staff and include streamlining the complaint system on the city website and conducting building blitzes of the worst properties.
Helmer’s motion seeking a budget business case for a RentSafeTO model in London lost on a tie vote 3-3.
Acorn London said it will push to have the motion approved by city council at its meeting on July 5.
“The RentSafe program I am convinced has value to all Londoners and we are going to keep pushing for this until it’s implemented,” explained Chiles.
London has more than 47,000 rental units.
Source: CTV News London