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Global News: Tenant rights advocates want city to establish ‘Rent Safe’ program - ACORN Canada

Global News: Tenant rights advocates want city to establish ‘Rent Safe’ program

Posted June 26, 2015

Posted June 26, 2015

Tenant advocacy group ACORN wants Toronto’s private rental properties to be inspected and the results publicly displayed in the same way the city’s restaurants are.
The group’s “Rent Safe” proposal would work much like the Dine Safe program, where green “pass,” yellow “conditional,” or red “fail” cards are displayed in the front entrance ways of apartments owned and run by private landlords.
“If I were coming into a building, and there was a red sign in there, automatically I would know … I’m not going to rent here,” explains Toronto ACORN member Edward Lantz.
The hope is that those publicized inspection results would force landlords to fix issues faster.
But first, private landlords would have to be licensed by the city. ACORN suggests a fee of about $5 per year, per unit to start; with higher fees for landlords who fail inspections.
ACORN has been pushing the Rent Safe idea for years now; it was even a plank in Olivia Chow’s Mayoral platform during last year’s election campaign and it is receiving strong support from City Councillors Josh Matlow and Glenn De Baeremaeker.
Professional property manager Rachelle Berube, however, says most landlords are fair and already deal with several levels of checks, balances and ratings systems. She says additional steps are not necessary.
“The city does … already have a program in place for thorough building audits and anybody who wants information about a particular property they’re considering renting can just go to the city website,” she said.
She also points out that there green, white and black signs often displayed in front of apartment buildings that read “Certified Rental Building.” She says it’s a certification program run by the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario; in other words, by landlords themselves.
Geordie Dent, the Executive Director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, says he doesn’t trust the program.
“One of the buildings that’s ‘certified’ got inspected by [City of Toronto] Municipal Licensing and Standards and was found to have hundreds of deficiencies,” he said.
“So, if that’s their best case scenario, I don’t think it works very well.”
The proposed Rent Safe program may be getting renewed attention, but it’s by no means a sure thing.
ACORN representatives discussed the idea with city officials at a Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee meeting Thursday morning, but no commitment was made toward adopting it.
Article by Mark Carcasole for Global News