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CTV News London : London poised to combat ‘renovictions’ that target low-income tenants - ACORN Canada

CTV News London : London poised to combat ‘renovictions’ that target low-income tenants

Posted March 18, 2024

A licensing by-law recently approved in a nearby municipality might hold the key to ending so-called ‘renovictions’ here in London, Ont.

In January, council directed civic administration to prepare a report about limiting or preventing the unethical use of N13 notices by landlords to pressure low-income tenants from their apartments so that the rent can be hiked.

A provincial N13 notice informs a tenant that significant renovations are planned for their apartment that require them to relocate.

However, some landlords have been accused of abusing the use of N13 notices to pressure tenants to leave apartments so that the rent can be substantially increased for the next tenant.

An initial report by city staff investigating the scope of the problem offers a potential solution.

The report states, “The City of London may consider exploring a renoviction and relocation style by-law similar to Hamilton’s proposal.”

In Hamilton, landlords issuing an N13 notice will have to obtain a renovation license from the municipality for $715 (per unit).

The eviction and renovation will only be permitted to proceed if the landlord proves that the unit must be vacant for the renovation to be done safely.

Tenants can opt to return to their apartment after the work is complete.

If so, the landlord must arrange for a comparable unit for the duration of the renovation.

“I think that the City of London can look at the Hamilton by-law and not have to redraft it. We do not have to start from scratch,” explained Coun. Sam Trosow.

The report suggests staff bring forward a draft by-law for council’s consideration in Q2 of this year.

“I would like to see this expedited given the urgency of the problem,“ urged Trosow.

Sharon Hodgson was served an N13 notice by her landlord and has participated in several rallies at the Webster Street Apartments organized by tenants‘ advocacy group London ACORN.

Hodgson considers the report to be a big step in the right direction.

“It’s really working!” she said. “The municipalities are stepping up, our councillors are stepping up, [as well as] our mayor and deputy mayor.”

Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis supports much of the Hamilton by-law, “There are things in there that I think are really easy for us to say those are good steps to move forward on. There’s some other things that I think need to be fine-tuned a little bit for London.”

Lewis believes requiring landlords to obtain a renovation license from city hall won’t discourage necessary improvements.

“I don’t want to punish the good actors,” he explained. “I want to catch the bad faith actors who are using these to evict tenants unfairly.”

The deputy mayor added that he strongly supports the severe penalties for violating the licensing by-law in Hamilton.

Upon first conviction, an individual faces a fine up to $10,000.

The penalty jumps to as much as $25,000 for subsequent offences.

Corporations could face fines up to $50,000 and $100,000.

On Monday, the Community and Protective Services Committee will consider the initial research report

Article by Daryl Newcombe for CTV News London