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The London Free Press: Here’s how city hall is proposing to protect London renters from ‘renovictions’ - ACORN Canada

The London Free Press: Here’s how city hall is proposing to protect London renters from ‘renovictions’

Posted June 10, 2024

City politicians are set to debate proposed new rules protecting renters from so-called renovictions, including requiring a professional’s approval that repairs are so extensive the existing tenant must be turfed.

Council’s community and protective services committee on Monday will debate staff’s proposed changes on N13 eviction notices – used when a landlord requires a rental to be vacant to allow for renovations. Tenants have the right to return at the original rent when the work is done.

But critics argue landlords acting in bad faith can use an N13 notice in order to kick out long-term tenants with no other living arrangements and terminate their leases to charge a much higher rate to new renters, a practice known as renoviction.

City staff propose the following, which will require city council approval:

  • Landlords must get a $400 licence within seven days of the work
  • An affidavit is required from the person who gave the tenant the N13
  • Approval from an engineer or architect that the repairs or renovations are so extensive, they require a vacancy

On the latter point, city staff note they already require a building permit, complete with designs and reviews, for renovations, so getting an additional sign-off from the same professionals won’t be onerous.

The plan will cost city hall $581,000 to hire six new staff members. No penalty for rule-breaking N13s has been proposed and a public meeting on the proposal is set for September.

Builders, however, believe it may be too sweeping. Mike Wallace of the London Development Institute says they understand the need to “capture improper evictions” but added: “We want to make sure that any bylaw is balanced, so (local developers are) not captured or penalized by the bad behaviour of others.”

He notes the $400 licence fee, like most such expenses, would likely be passed on to renters.

Ward 6 Coun. Sam Trosow has been among the most prominent voices in city council’s campaign to crack down on renovictions. He sees the proposed rules as a good step.

“Once tenants understand that (landlords) are going to have to get that certification before they can even take the notice seriously – it’s going to totally change the power dynamic,” Trosow said.

The campaign was spurred in January, largely in response to the N13 eviction notices issued to tenants at 1270 and 1280 Webster St., who alleged a renoviction. They were backed by the local chapter of ACORN, a national tenants’ advocacy group.

Felix Krasnov of the London ACORN chapter said the proposals are good, but lack protections for displaced tenants.

“It doesn’t seem to require landlords to accommodate tenants in another unit for the same rent, or provide a rental top-up,” he said, “and without this, tenants aren’t protected from being displaced, which is the biggest source of harm that these renovictions cause.”

He also argues a new tenant paying two to three times the original rent could cover the $400 licensing fee in less than a month.

Article by Jack Moulton for The London Free Press