Metro Toronto: DineSafe-like rating program for Toronto landlords could be on its way

Posted November 4, 2016

What if you could walk into the lobby of an apartment building and see the landlord’s rating — green, yellow or red — just like you do for restaurants?

That’s the recommendation from the city’s tenant issues committee as part of an ongoing discussion about developing a landlord licensing system.

Coun. Josh Matlow, who sits on the committee, said stories he hears from tenants across the city make it clear that “far too many live in states of disrepair that none of us would wish on our family or friends.”

Many buildings can have nice lobbies, but the apartments are another story, he said, and naming and shaming landlords through city inspections would provide an incentive for them to clean up their act.

“It’s so important that tenants have information before they sign so they know what they’re walking into,” he said.

Under the committee’s proposal, the DineSafe-like rating system would apply to all multi-residential buildings with three or more storeys and 10 units or more. The results would also be posted online along with in buildings.

The recommendations, which also include fines for landlords who break the licensing bylaw, have to clear the licensing and standards committee before heading to city council for approval.

Kenneth Hale, a legal director of the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, said he’s not sold on the rating system idea just yet since it could unfairly stigmatize lower-income tenants who live in buildings flagged as “bad.”

The overall goal with landlord licensing, he said, is to make the system more transparent and open.

“I think this is a small piece of a big puzzle,” he said.

Earlier this week, tenant advocacy group ACORN released a survey that pointed to problems with bedbugs, cockroaches and broken elevators in many rental units.

Marva Burnett, president of ACORN Canada, said she’s happy the recommendations “have some teeth,” to combat chronic issues like that.

“If it works for the restaurant, why not the home?” she said of the colour coded system.

Organizations like ACORN have been pushing towards landlord licensing for a dozen years, she said.“It’s about time the city stands up and takes notice to protect tenants.”

 

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Article by May Warren for Metro News Toronto