Sept 18th, 2010 by Antenela Artuso -Toronto Sun
Landlord licencing would ensure property owners evict bedbugs from units before renting them out to unsuspecting tenants, NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo says.
Under a private member’s bill to be introduced by DiNovo next week, landlords who fail to respond to such infestations would be ineligible for renewal of their licence.
“This is working in a number of other jurisdictions across Canada and the United States,” DiNovo said Thursday.
Carolyn Peters, who worked as a rental agent at a Toronto building complex, said she was ordered to show infested units to potential tenants.
“I almost quit my job the very first week I was there, and I almost quit it because of bedbugs,” Peters said. “I was terrified of getting them when I found out the extent of the problem. The building was infested.”
Peters resolved to only show vacant units that had been steamed and then sprayed.
After almost six months, she was told to begin showing infested occupied units and a short time later she and the employer went their separate ways.
Despite losing her job, Peters said she had been relieved not to have to go to work every day worried about bedbugs, and she remains concerned for the tenants and their pets that live in those units.
Edward Lantz, chair of the St. Jamestown chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada (ACORN Canada), said bedbugs are an ugly reality for low and medium income communities across the province.
“The number of people living with bedbugs is overwhelming in this city alone,” he said. “The deplorable living conditions that many tenants have to endure have been ignored by the City of Toronto and the province of Ontario for far too long.”
Lantz called for stronger rent controls and landlord licencing to hold the property owners accountable for poorly-managed buildings.
Landlord associations have long resisted licencing, arguing it would drive up rents for all tenants in a possibly futile effort to target the few bad apples.
Liberal MPP Mike Colle is hosting a bedbug summit at Queen’s Park on Sept. 29 to help develop a provincial plan of action to eradicate the tiny, death-defying bloodsuckers.
Colle also introduced a private member’s bill that would obligate landlords to disclose to potential tenants if bedbugs are in the building.
DiNovo said she’s concerned this information could be used by other landlords to discriminate against tenants coming from infested buildings.