While having a colour coded system clearly displays building health and safety concerns the updated regulations are only for common area spaces in buildings and not people’s individual rental units.
According to Councillor Josh Matlow
, who is the Chair of the City’s Tenant Issues Committee and led the creation of the RentSafe program, under the proposed plan the signage program would be based on annual audits instead of regular work orders. That means, the signage will not be based on the most recent up-t0-date issues on the state of the buildings.
Right now, if a tenant reports a pest infestation for example, it would not be factored into the colour coded rating. Only the results of the city’s RentSafe audit of common areas would be factored into the colour being received for the building, Matlow outlines.
“RentSafe signage has the potential to contribute to Toronto’s renters living in homes that are clean, safe, and healthy,” Matlow, said in a statement on his website. “The new colour-coded rating system is an important first step, but must be more flexible to reflect residents’ actual day-to-day experience and hopefully the progress made by landlords to improve the quality of life of their tenants.”
ACORN is also aligned with Matlow’s views and while the organization sees RentSafe as better than nothing, the organization still has concerns.
“ACORN is pleased the City is finally creating rating signs for buildings, but we also wonder why it is so difficult for them do it right for tenants. We are half the population, and our health needs to be a priority,” Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, Toronto ACORN Leader said. “If the rating system only changes every 1 to 3 years, then the city is not responding to the needs of tenants. ACORN members will be pushing for a system tenants can trust. The city needs to be a good partner and rebuild trust with tenants so we can all have a healthy home.”
Another tenant advocacy group, The Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association (FMTA), has also voiced their disappointment with the plan.
“Tenants have been waiting patiently for this initiative for five years,” Geordie Dent, Executive Director of FMTA said on Matlow’s website. “This proposal falls way short of what tenants expected and deserved.”
The city is hosting a feedback session on a draft for the rating system this Monday, February 24 from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm at City Hall. The meeting will also delve into the implementation details of the rating system.
According to the city, feedback from the drop-in consultation session and the online survey will be used to inform a staff report expected at the March 23 Planning and Housing Committee meeting.