Policy, Research, Public Consultation and Events

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Licensing Rental Apartment Buildings

The City is consulting with the public on a framework for licensing rental apartment buildings.


Have your say

Thank you to everyone that took our recent survey on Licensing Rental Apartment Buildings. The results of this survey will be summarized and considered as part of the City's report to the Licensing and Standards Committee in the fall. 

About the program

ExpandAbout the consultation

Overview

The City is seeking input from the public on a licensing framework to improve living conditions in rental apartment buildings.

 The goals of the framework are to:

  • Improve access to information
  • Increase tenant engagement
  • Promote best practices in building maintenance
  • Strengthen enforcement

The proposed framework includes the current building audit program, new requirements for landlords as well as website improvements to provide more information to the public on rental housing in Toronto.

Phases of the review

Phase 1 - Research & Analysis - June to August 2016

Phase 2 - Public & Stakeholder Consultations - August to September 2016

Phase 3 - Present report to:

  • Tenant Issues Committee - November 2016
  • Licensing and Standards Committee - November 30, 2016
  • City Council - December 13-15, 2016

Phase 4 - Communication & Implementation of New Program - 2017 (pending City Council decision)

Consultation details 

Public consultations are now complete.  

 

At these consultations, the public was invited to discuss the goals and new requirements of the proposed licence for rental apartment buildings. The feedback from the consultations will be used to improve the design of the program. 

An online survey to gather public input on the proposed licence for rental apartment buildings is now open, and information will be collected until October 4, 2016.

In addition to the consultations and survey, staff will continue to accept input through email and voice messages.

Related legislation and decisions

Jurisdictional Scan and Alternatives to Licensing Landlords, July 7, 2015

Proposed Multi-Residential Rental Building Licence, April 14, 2016

Multi-Residential Apartment Buildings (MRAB) Audit and Enforcement Program - 2015 Annual Report, May 3, 2016

Proposed Framework for Multi-Residential Rental Property Licence, June 7, 2016

ExpandQ & A

Which properties are included in the proposed licensing framework?

The licence would include all rental buildings that have three or more storeys and ten or more units.

What are the goals and requirements of the proposed licence? 

 

GOALS NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR LANDLORDS
Improve access to information and tenant engagement
  • Develop notification plan
  • Create service request process
  • Submit property information
Promote best practices in building maintenance

Develop:

  • Waste management plan
  • Maintenance plan
  • Cleaning plan
  • State of good repair capital plan
Strengthen enforcement
  • Submit to regular inspections with MLS
  • Comply with applicable regulations
  • Be subject to a higher range of fines
The proposed licensing framework will also include:
  • A website to provide property information to tenants and landlords
  • The existing proactive building inspection program

 

What are the fees associated with the proposed licensing framework?

The City is exploring a few options, including,

  • Annual licensing fee OR,
  • Annual registration fee and additional fees for inspections/audits, if required.

 

Why is the City exploring these new requirements?

Currently, Municipal Licensing & Standards responds to tenant complaints and carries out building audits in potentially high-risk buildings to ensure tenants have a safe, secure and decent place to live. This approach, however, is not always helpful in finding poorly maintained buildings and making sure they remain in good condition over time. The City also lacks the information to evaluate the present state of rental housing in Toronto.

 

Is the City considering licensing rental apartment buildings?

The City is exploring the strengths and weaknesses associated with developing a licensing bylaw or a regulatory bylaw to impose additional requirements on rental properties. We will present a report on our recommendations at the Tenant Issues Committee and Licensing and Standards Committee in the fall of 2016.

ExpandWhat we heard: August 17

Public Meeting: Licensing of Toronto's Rental Apartment Buildings

Date: August 17, 2016

Location: Metro Hall, Room 308/309

The following notes are a summary of the feedback collected at the consultation.

Q1. What are the issues affecting living conditions for tenants in your apartment building?

 Cleaning

  • Cleaning routines not followed
  • Pests (i.e. cockroaches, bugs)

 

Maintenance                                          

  • Maintenance not kept up to date
  • Poorly maintained laundry rooms- Bad lighting, broken laundry machines. Leads to people getting angry at each other, fights sometimes break out over the remaining working laundry machines. Prices are continually going up to use the laundry machines
  • Elevators breakdown frequently
  • No heat in hall way, especially terrible in winter. Some tenants seal up mail slots to keep cold air out. Reverse problem in the summer, too much heat in hallway.
  • Poor ventilation upon entering building
  • Balconies – worried they are not up to standard, more detailed specific standards within framework

Communication

  • Tenants do not get timely answers from landlords
  • Landlords have attitude of not caring- Tenants are encouraged to "do as told"
  • Landlords do not share information- about elevators/maintenance/extermination etc.
  • Some landlords do not allow tenant associations to meet
  • Landlords is not available overnight or on weekends
  • Tenants don't know where or how to communication with landlord.
  • There needs to be improved communications between tenants and property manager/owner. For example, maintenance orders are not being filled or communicated with tenants
  • Also the high frequency of turnover of property managers add to the problem
  • In all of the above issues there are concerns that property managers don’t communicate about these problems, they aren’t trained to address the problems and there is no peace of mind that the issues will be addressed adequately. Residents are left to inform themselves and complain about the property issues with the City.
  • Water shut down without notice
  • Disrespectful treatment from landlords

Repairs

  • Old appliances not replaced
  • When repairs are not addressed by landlords, this is inconvenient to tenants, but it also makes tenants feel "that we don't matter".
  • Repairs are done inadequately by an untrained person.
  • Landlord does not want to do minor repairs that are not related to health and safety (like paint chipping)
  • Landlord does not make repairs after repeated requests.
  • Rent increases with no repairs
  • Kitchen cabinets dirty- requested them fixed, landlord did nothing

Enforcement

  • Concern with implementation and enforcement timelines for following up with complaints or fixes, it is not consistent
  • If landlords are charged by the City, they do not care; they see this as a cost of doing business.
  • Orders issued by the City do not have strict enough timelines, they can drag on for years
    • Sometimes, officers simply go to property management office, they do not do a thorough walk-through of the building
    • Officers are often competent and professional, but can be too lenient with landlords about timelines

Other

  • tenants do not know that they can call 311
  • lack of security (cameras), especially in stairwells
  • garbage chutes closed
  • excessive heat in the summer
  • Tenants need support for problems between tenants and getting rid of illegal activities.
  • You can be evicted if you don't properly prep your unit for fumigation. City health inspector threatened one tenant about this. Very burdensome of tenant who is unable to clean-up and prepare.

 

Q2. What should the City of Toronto include in the licence to ensure that tenants have a safe, secure, and decent place to live?

 General:

  • Broaden scope to include all types of landlords, rental situations and tenants in this licence
  • Licensing landlords/apartment buildings should be similar to getting a driver's licence
  • People should not be evicted if a landlord does not have a licence.
  • It is essential that tenants should not pay for the licence. There should be instruments and effort into ensuring this is not passed on to tenants.
  • Licence should address existing gaps in legislation, which is currently very limiting
  • No landlords should be grandfathered into the licence, should apply to all
  • When reviewing and considering giving a licence to a landlord, the review panel must meet with tenants and/or tenants association prior to granting the licence
  • Landlord/tenant responsibilities in lease should be included in proposed licensing by-law

 

Inspections

  • Random checks- every 6 months
    • Sometimes, officers seems to be friendly with the landlord; they should remain neutral
    • Building maintenance records kept and available for City staff to review
    • The addition of compliance standards and mandatory inspection for things such as pests, including issues that would require inspections by partners – Toronto Public Health, Toronto Fire, Electrical Standards
    • There should be once a year mandatory pest control inspections for the building
    • There should be regular inspections of buildings based on risk
      • Inspectors should give more information to complainant about the status of a complaint.

 

Enforcement

  • Stronger enforcement needed. When order issued by ML&S not enforced.
  • Stronger penalties/higher fines for landlords
  • there should be deductions or reduced rents for tenants of landlords and buildings that don't meet standards or comply with work orders – reduced rents would be a good way to punish "bad" landlords
  • If notice of order issued- there should be timeline for completion/followed up on by ML&S
  • There should be more concrete timelines associated with orders, the deadlines should be mandatory and inflexible. Not meeting the deadline should have more serious consequences.
  • Information about orders should be shared in the lobby of a building.
  • Tenant to be consulted on how they want to proceed after complaint made against building/landlord
  • Whenever notice is served, provide contact information of the inspector.
  • creation of a fund that owner pay a fee or deposit that pays for this program and/or fixes for buildings
  • Create a reserve fund that landlords must pay into to pay for issues to be rectified

 

Rating System

  • Rating system- # of complaints on buildings/landlords
  • Similar rating system to "Dine-Safe"- Could be called "Live Safe". Include Green for pass, and Red for fail signage on building. Information available online so tenants can research/cross-reference
  • Distinction between individual complaints vs. several from whole building
  • The City could publish a list of buildings and rank them based on their compliance with orders.
  • Post category or ranking of a building. E.g. DineSafe – landlords must sign an agreement to post this ranking in a visible area

Building Requirements/Standards

  • Require security cameras that work. Hidden cameras to catch people who do damage.
  • Stricter rules for elevators so that they are fixed more quickly.
  • Repairs should be done by licensed contractors – this should be a best practice
  • Require that each building have a capital plan and reserve fund
  • Some tenants were concerned about improperly installed air-conditioners. It would be helpful for landlords to circulate material on how to install or to check units with precarious window a/c units.

Tenants

  • Bill of Rights for tenants
  • There should be obligations on tenants too
  • There should be more tenant engagement: workshops, representatives to engage people in buildings.
  • Tenants have responsibilities to keep unit clean- no hoarding
  • If tenant causes damage to their unit or somewhere in the building- they should pay.
  • Tenant associations need more support to do their work
  • Need better screening processes for problem tenants, their behaviour affects other tenants
  • Tenant volunteers can help clean up common areas

Requirements for Landlords/Property Managers

  • Landlords adhere to AODA
  • Property managers/landlords should be trained and knowledgeable about the municipal and provincial regulations Mandated training or education for landlords before giving a licence
  • Landlords and property managers should have criminal background checks. Don't grant licences to landlords with bad records of property management or criminal activity.
  • There should be someone on site to respond to problems which occur overnight or on the weekend. Tenants proposed that property managers/landlords post contact information for tenants to call or email in case of building issue or emergency.
  • Requirement for communicating about building issue, repair work to be completed and timeline for completion.
  • Requirement for work to be completed within a reasonable period of time. The City may identify what is reasonable as it may depend on the work required. For example elevator repairs.
  • Property managers/landlords should have evacuation plans, emergency procedures in place and this should be sent to residents or posted in common areas. This information should include mandatory training for building staff and practice drills.
  • Notices for any pest treatment taking place and whether there are any health concerns for residents or their animals.
  • Requirement for pest treatments to be disclosed to Toronto Public Health.
  • Landlords required to produce safety check logs to ensure that the landlord is regularly checking the building.
  • Require that “state of good repair” audit be completed at the building’s expense.
  • There should be a required annual meeting held by landlord where they publicize any inspection results/address concerns
  • Must clearly post a monthly, yearly work schedule that shows when preventative maintenance will occur, such as elevator inspections
  • Landlords must provide accurate descriptions of building amenities and their condition in listings or ads i.e. there is a pool, but it is not used or always out of service and whirlpool is continually broken

 

Other

  • Landlord and Tenant Board: this process should be improved and streamlined.
  • Encourage manufacturing back to South Ontario so that elevator parts can be produced in Ontario and improve the speed of elevator repairs

Q3.      When looking for a place to live, what information about a rental apartment building would you like to know?

 

General:

  • More data, the better.
  • Transparency is key.
  • there is a shortage of housing, so even with more information, tenants don't always have choice

Information:

  • Tenants should be able to access information about landlords, including board of management information
  • Outstanding work orders/notices against the building
  • History of fines, complaints and orders
  • Record of mold
  • Whether building passed inspections
  • Contact info for landlord/property management- cell phone/email
  • List of other buildings owned by the landlord
  • How often/frequent is a building dealing with pest control
  • Log of major repairs (ex: schedule for balcony repairs)
  • Information on capital plan and reserve fund
  • Cleaning schedule
  • Number of staff employed
  • Security/safety issues for the building
  • If there's been a death/criminal activity in a unit- should be made publicly available
  • Available vacancies in the building in case you want to move in the building
  • Access to inspection and fire reports
  • Track record of management company/landlord. Often superintendents come and go.
  • If building is pet friendly
    • Tenants would like to know how the rent is determined (breakdown of costs included and not included)
    • Cost of parking or visitor parking, if any
    • List how often the owner/landlord meets with tenants/tenants associations
    • List how long it takes for landlords to be in compliance e.g. enforcing timelines for acting and completing work orders

Disclosure:

  • Requirement to disclose building rules before signing agreement/lease. For example, no bikes on balconies, no clothes lines on balconies, satellite dishes, pets rules, a/c rules, history of City violations going back more than 2 years.
  • Requirement to show the actual unit for lease and not another similar unit.
  • Requirement to disclose any complaints or ongoing investigations.
  • Cleaning, repairs and refurbishment expectations for new tenants moving in and long-term tenants
  • Mandate that Landlords give a copy of the Residential Tenants Act to every tenant and sign upon receiving it
  • Develop a "new tenants policy" so that tenants get all the information they need to live in a safe secure place i.e. fire safety plan
  • Give ombudsman more power to enforce a "tenants policy" within COTA
  • Use of a standard lease – one format, provincially approved

 

Rating system:

  • Use a rating system, like DineSafe
  • Review of building and landlord should be public and posted visibly in a building
  • Enhanced website and one-stop info
  • An example is the website Landlord Watch
  • Bed bug registry

 

Q4.          When and how should landlords communicate with tenants?

 

When?

  • Advise tenants of any issues/service disruptions like with elevators
  • Notice when a property manager or landlord changes.
  • Notice of work orders or repairs that impact all tenants in advance and during repairs.
  • Tenants want to know the rules around police and any police investigations in the building.
  • Landlord must provide an accountable response to tenant requests – verbal and written
  • Communication should happen for important items, like alarm testing, major repairs, info about when a tenant is coming to view an apartment, water shutoff
  • Notice of work orders or repairs that impact all tenants in advance and during repairs.
  • Tenants want to know the rules around police and any police investigations in the building.
  • Tenants struggle to understand the property standards requirements and so they suggested that property managers should have a role in communicating these standards to tenants.

How?

  • Info should be accessible to a variety of people (phone, internet and mail)
  • Flyer placed not in an area that does not have a surveillance camera, so tenants can read it over and follow-up without concern of reprisal by landlord.
  • Notices should be placed at all doors in a building, not just the main doors
  • Billboard in common spaces
  • Order papers should be secured – often people tear down notices from landlord or the City
  • Suggestion box only for tenants
  • Regular meetings with tenants
  • Flyer to be dropped off at each tenant door
  • Reach out to tenants using emails. Recognizing not all have access to internet or have email account.
  • Online (email, twitter or facebook)
  • Knock on doors- for major issues landlords should knock on tenant doors
  • Communication should be compliant with AODA standards
  • Communication should be available in writing (email and posted on each floor in common areas like a message board in the elevator)
  • If needed, translations in other languages should be available.
  • Customer service standards (e.g., 24 hour or one business day response time)
  • Landlords should have electronic/written record of communication with tenants which helps with verification and accountability
  • create third party tracking of communication or complaints made between tenants and landlords – for example, creating unique identifiers for rental units and/or communication
  • Give power to tenants associations for communicating with landlords/owners. Will help with representing diverse residents – elderly, newcomers
  • Could landlords have a central websites available to them to host information (run by the City)

General Comments  

  • Impose a cap on rental fees
  • TCHC seniors’ buildings should go back to being for seniors.
  • Noise complaints are difficult to resolve if the noise source is within the building.
  • Need a venue or process for tenants to discuss issues. Group members like the idea of creating an Ombudsman for tenants supported financially by landlord licensing fees.

ExpandWhat We Heard: August 20

Public Meeting: Licensing of Toronto's Rental Apartment Buildings

Date: August 20, 2016

Location: Broadlands Community Centre, 19 Castlegrove Blvd.


The following notes are a summary of the feedback collected at the consultation.

Q1. What are the issues affecting living conditions for tenants in your apartment building?

 

  • Rents are increasing, and seniors are particularly impacted Waiting lists are too long.
  • Cost of living is high but quality of life is low
  • At the same time a rents are increasing, quality of housing is not improving.
  • Bed bugs
  • The buildings are old and so are the appliances, floors,
  • Lack of responsiveness from landlords to repair requests
  • Elevators break down, long wait times.
  • People getting stuck in an elevator
  • When someone is stuck inside an elevator, it is not just "inconvenient", it can be a health risk – for example, if someone has medication they need to take, they may not be able to take it because they're stuck in the elevator for long periods.
  • People being trapped in elevators should be a reportable/enforcement incident in the elevator industry. The elevator standards industry should take getting stuck in elevators more seriously. In general tenants do not have a lot of power to change this. If they call the 911, they may be charged by the landlord for doing so. The elevator standards organizations do not consider getting trapped in an elevator a high risk incident. Tenants were concerned about this.
  • There are concerns about reprisals from landlords
  • Landlord and Tenant Board is inconvenient
  • Elevator repair industry is struggling

Q2. What should the City of Toronto include in the licence to ensure that tenants have a safe, secure, and decent place to live?

 

  • More subsidized units. People (seniors) should get subsidized units in the building they live in
  • Need more mid-rise buildings because they are more accessible to seniors
  • Greater Toronto Apartment Association can inform the city on how to improve enforcement
  • Landlord should not be allowed to rent if they have outstanding orders
  • Create a "know your rights" package for tenants
  • Require an evacuation plan, which would account for everyone. The plan would include a designated meeting place, should be accessible to tenants and provide a 24 hour contact information for Fire or Emergency Medical Services.
  • Require that the landlord develop an evacuation plan that would account for everyone with a designated meeting place and 24 hour contact information for Toronto Fire or Emergency Medical Services.
  • Mandatory bed bug registry
  • Create service standards for orders
  • Require landlords to adopt best practices for how to conduct repairs to reduce dust and not inconvenience tenants
  • If a landlord is receiving a lot of complaints, it should trigger the City to look closely at the property and interview the landlord to inquire why and to potentially revoke the licence

Q3.  When looking for a place to live, what information about a rental apartment building would you like to know?

 

  • What type of amenities are available in the building
  • Are there any add on costs to the rent? (parking, utilities, locker)
  • Outstanding work orders
  • Cleaning plan
  • Record of complaints
  • If there is security or cameras in the building

Q4. When and how should landlords communicate with tenants?

When?

  • Tenants want to know when repairs are being made so that they know when it would be dusty

How?

  • Note under the door
  • Text
  • Electronic means if possible
  • Billboard
  • Landlords should organize meetings with tenants - makes the landlord more accessible
  • Tenant associations can make communication with landlords easier

ExpandWhat We Heard: August 23

Public Meeting: Licensing of Toronto's Rental Apartment Buildings

Date: August 23, 2016

Location: Jenner Jean-Marie Community Centre, 48 Thorncliffe Drive

The following notes are a summary of the feedback collected at the consultation.

Q1. What are the issues affecting living conditions for tenants in your apartment building?

 

General comments:

  • High rent increases but no improvement in the buildings
  • Rent is too high
  • Hidden indirect cost – the family and children are affected by the conditions in these apartment buildings
  • Buildings marketed as luxury rentals but they are not

Cleanliness

  • Garbage being dumped everywhere
  • Use bad quality detergent in the hallway
  • Ventilation fans are not being cleaned, this leads to bad smells and health risks
  • Superintendent not experienced
  • Volume of tenants makes it difficult to keep the buildings clean

Pest Management

  • Animal infestations, including: mice, bed bugs, rats and raccoons
  • Roach infestation in common areas
  • Landlord hires cheapest contractors who aren't skilled to fix the problem

Maintenance

  • Problems with elevators, they are not in service. Waiting extreme times for elevator service (example: 45 to an hour)
  • Congestion of people because elevators are broken
  • No maintenance in staircases
  • Worn out plugs (cannot hold things in plug anymore)
  • Hot/cold water not working regularly
  • Air conditioner malfunctioning, AC is extra cost
  • Landlord takes care of public areas only
  • Maintenance issues: carpet, common areas, heat, windows, vents, pests, bugs
  • Rewire apartments so they are up to code (electrical issues)
  • Carpets need to be replaced (not at the cost of the tenant)
  • More ventilation needed – air ducts need to be vacuumed

Garbage

  • Garbage needs to be collected more frequently
  • Not enough bins to contain garbage
  • Garbage collection of large bulky items is an issue
  • Super threatening to close garbage chutes
  • Garbage not being collected
  • Tenants don't take care of garbage

Common Areas & Amenities

  • Lobby used to be comfortable until the seats were removed to discourage loitering. This is a problem for elderly residents
  • Amenities are not accessible i.e. one party room between 38 buildings and is not easy to rent / book
  • Amenities taken away such as visitor parking
  • Laundry room has limited hours, not enough for all residents.
  • Landlord charges extra to use hot water in laundry

 

Enforcement:

  • Problem with 311 complaint process: City staff contact the manager first about a complaint and as a result, the landlord harasses the tenants.
  • Property standard response times have decreased over the past 10 – 15 years
  • Need to focus on smaller buildings – some of the worst landlords live in duplexes. These landlords are not experienced and should be more frequently inspected.

 

Security and Safety

  • Tenants do not feel safe in our building
  • Anyone can access building, people stand outside till someone lets them in
  • Fire alarms are set off for no reason
  • There is a drug dealer in the building and tenants don't know where to turn to. They fear if that they complain, they will be targeted.
  • People taking out child lock because they want better ventilation – the city needs to find new solutions to this
  • Overcrowded units

 

Unit Conditions and Repairs

  • Superintendent is not trained. They do not have the experience and cannot communicate with tenants because of language barriers
  • Superintendents are not hiring licensed or certified professionals to do repairs
  • Repairs are not being made in the units; heating and stove is broken
  • AC is restricted by capacity of fuse. Insufficient cooling during heat waves, but cannot turn the AC up
  • Leaking fridge since April, with no attention or follow-up
  • Repairs need to be addressed faster
  • No standards exist for when cabinets have to be replaced
  • Mold in the units

 

Tenant

  • I have been renting there for 20 years, so I am not paying as much as tenants. However, I am therefore not given the same attention as new tenants who pay more rent. Feel like landlord is trying to push me out via harassment, so that they can increase the rent and make more money
  • Supers have been harassing tenants who raise complaints. One complaint arose because the tenant was using legal medical cannabis and the tenant felt personally targeted by the superintendent.

Other:

  • Tenants cannot purchase the bulbs in the common market, they can only buy it from the landlord's convenience store, imported from somewhere, very expensive
  • 2nd hand smoke
    •  there is a serious issue from apartment below
    • This is a major problem because my children have asthma (3 kids)
    • Also concerns about fire hazard and tenants, can't breathe
    • I have been told that the tenant has a right to smoke
    • As a solution I bought 3 air purifiers, but it doesn't fix the problem
    • Asked MPP to fix the issue but got no action
    • Have also called 311.

 

Q2. What should the City of Toronto include in the licence to ensure that tenants have a safe, secure, and decent place to live?

 

General

  • Law enforcement should just enforce rules, with no cost to tenants
  • Prohibit rent increases if there are no improvements
  • Hold landlords accountable to work orders
  • Need to ensure the cost of the licence or enforcement does not get passed onto the tenants
  • Our [tenant] solution to a problem should not be to move somewhere else
  • Tenants need respect, especially seniors and disabled.  The term "Tenant" (as opposed to Resident) is very polarizing.

 

Tenants

  • Should be able to speak freely to the property manager (property manager is never around, tenants don’t have the option to speak to PM)
  • Tenants should have more interaction with property manager
  • If the landlord doesn't make the repair in the specified wait / response time, and the tenant subsequently makes the repair themselves, the landlord should repay the tenant
  • If building repairs are scheduled by the landlord which require furniture in an apartment to be moved, tenants shouldn't be charged to have someone move it
  • There needs to be more funding for tenant associations and tenant rights groups

Building requirements/standards

  • Set occupancy limits
  • Landlords taking away amenities to build units but rent stays the same à lockers turned into units à mandate common areas in buildings
  • ducts should be cleaned 1/year to improve ventilation
  • Post license / legislation / contract in a visible place in all buildings
  • Regular painting in the units (refresher)
  • Install security cameras in parking lots, exits and entrances, laundry, and stairwells
  • Need to define acceptable wait times for repairs i.e. what is a reasonable time to wait to have my fridge fixed?
  • Need to establish minimum standards for liveability i.e. lights should work, regulation of temperature, heating in common areas and corridors
  • Communication about 311 hotline in every building
  • Education about not smoking with signs at entrance to apartment building is needed

Landlord/ Property Manager Requirements

  • Landlord must develop cooling plan
  • Landlords have to use licensed contractors i.e. electricians
  • Landlords should report repairs requests to the city
  • Landlords needs to be professional and respectful of tenants

Enforcement

  • Tenants should be fined who destroy property or throw garbage out of their balconies
  • People don't have time to follow up with enforcement activities – procedures need to be simple
  • Tenants should not bear the burden of fines given to landlords
  • Create alternative process to enforce fines (give more power to officers to collect fines) other than going to Landlord and Tenant Board
  • City staff should visit the buildings or neighborhood, perhaps once a year and educate tenants on rights and responsibilities, as well as answer questions.
  • Big fine to landlords if they are not complying with orders or laws

Inspections

  • Conduct inspections every season. Do not inform landlord of the inspection as they fix everything right before the inspectors come in
  • Conduct inspections once a month
  • Need to ensure that inspectors come for frequent visits
  • Staff that inspect buildings should be identified, so there is more accountability.
  • City staff should survey the tenants to hear concerns

Pest control

  • Buildings need to improve tracking system for pest control as well as follow up
  • Consider pest control for public transportation (i.e. there are bed bugs on the TTC)

Other

  • Concern about concentration of cell towers being located on apartment buildings, and the impact of this on human health
  • Superintendents need to be licensed - they need to be trained, including sensitivity training.
  • Tenants cannot access Bell Fibe TV in the building, Rogers has a monopoly on the building. This restricts our freedom and our rights
  • Need a visible, posted, ranking system for buildings

Q3.  When looking for a place to live, what information about a rental apartment building would you like to know?

 

  • Need a centralized website to access info about apartments
  • history of any infestation
  • if there is a history of mold
  • Maintenance records
  • If they have AC or heating and if it is included in the rent price or if it is extra
  • Online forum, accessible for tenants that shows all complaints from tenants
    • Written records too at building (not everyone has access to internet). Keep these in the main building and accessible to all
    • Maintain confidentiality, tenants do not need to leave personal information
    • Number of superintendents per building
    • Ventilations systems conditions
    • Cost of rent
    • If superintendent is approachable / accommodating / helpful
    • How long does it take to deal with a complaint
    • "Smoke free building" – a certification is needed
    • Frequency of pest control treatment
    • Laundry room: how many people use it? Hours of operation? How often is it cleaned?
    • Is the building friendly towards couples and/or families? Couples are discouraged/not welcome in many cases because they might have babies, which can be noisy, and result in other residents complaining
    • There needs to be some accountability if the landlord is not honest about the information provided i.e. my landlord said that the building was smoke-free, but this turned out not to be true

 

 

 

 

 

Q4. When and how should landlords communicate with tenants?

 

When?

  • Outstanding work orders
  • Planned construction because some tenants work from home
  • Tenants should be notified of changes in ownership and their plans for improvements
  • When common areas / other things are being fixed (should be communicated)
  • Rent increases (maintenance that will affect rent)
  • We need a communication about expenditure because tenants will have to pay for it.
  • Notice in advance for major interruptions
    • Beginning of month post schedule for maintenance for that month
    • Use of speaker units for maintenance updates

How?

  • Notices of any disruptions posted on every floor, in every unit
  • Should have a visible notice / bulletin board – be able to see what is happening
  • Verbal communication
  • Email communication is mandatory
  • Writing, when things are said verbally sometimes the super denies the conversation
  • Notices should be slid under the door – some tenants don't leave their homes and don't know the updates because notices aren't sent properly
  • Letters under the door with date and time.
  • TCH sets good examples for communication
  • Technology may not be as effective (language barriers, access to email/phones)
  • Emergency phone line, not just available Monday to Friday (having an emergency line for specific problems)

Other:

  • Need to consider that some  tenants have language barriers and/or are vulnerable
  • Residents are afraid and intimidated by the 311 complaint process
  • Landlords are not respecting the 24 hour notice before entering unit
  • Landlord and Tenant Board:
    • Landlords aren't scared of the Board
    • It provides tenants with very bad experiences
    • My experience was that it is only accessible in English, which creates a major barrier 

ExpandWhat We Heard: August 24

Public Meeting: Licensing of Toronto's Rental Apartment Buildings

Date: August 24, 2016

Location: Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall


The following notes are a summary of the feedback collected at the consultation.

Q1. What are the issues affecting living conditions for tenants in your apartment building?

 

Tenants

  • Landlords with a lot of financial resources are able to fight against tenants
  • Tenants do not have the supports (legal) to fight unfairness and lack the proper knowledge to defend themselves.
  • Tenants do not speak out due to intimidation and do not trust the system.
  • Tenants are afraid of retaliation from landlords i.e. rent increase, eviction
  • There is a rental crisis, people can't simply move from bad buildings
  • Tenants do not have access to information about the quality of the landlord (i.e. if they have outstanding violations, fire code issues)
  • Tenants do not know they can call 311
  • Landlords are breaking rules. For example, they are entering units without proper notice
  • Sometimes it is hard for landlords to address "bad tenants"
  • Landlord and Tenant Board is long, opaque and difficult to navigate for tenants

 

Enforcement

  • MLS sometimes takes the "word" of the landlord without issuing an order. This puts tenants in a predicament.
  • 311 does sometimes connect to correct people but seem to not have power to act in most cases
  • City understaffed – not enough staff to move quickly on problem buildings. If the city moves ahead with licence, need to ensure city has the staff to follow through and enforce – especially in first three years to bring up standards expectations
  • The city does not have adequate tools i.e. higher fines. Needs "better teeth"
  • Tenants do not have the ability to make anonymous complaints about landlords, only for common element issues.

 

 

Building Requirements/Standards

  • Some superintendents receive bonuses for keeping maintenance costs down, cutting corners,
  • Bedbug and cockroaches
  • Air conditioning is malfunctioning in the units, which creates mold. You can see it on the vents.
  • Elevators break down
  • Landlords are converting common elements into private units
  • Hallways are filthy – should have standards on cleaning common areas
  • Residents are doing some of the cleaning in the hallways due to poor conditions
  • Laundry room is unusable due to smell and mice droppings. Superintendent claims that there is no issue, had to get a petition signed by the tenants.  
  • Issues – heating systems, lighting, hallway cleanliness, paint, garbage areas (cleanliness, and access to outdoors, too high, etc) water damage, smoking on balconies, cigarette butts all over property and on cars, ventilation systems need to be cleaned

Other:

  • Accessibility is becoming a big issue with more seniors moving into apartments
  • Landlord / super and tenants leaving grocery buggies, cleaning supplies, in such a way that it blocks the stairs and doorways
  • Smoking in the buildings impacts residents due to poor ventilation system

Q2. What should the City of Toronto include in the licence to ensure that tenants have a safe, secure, and decent place to live?

 

General

  • Enforcement is key; ensure that the licence has teeth
  • Need to ensure all health & safety & fire regulations are followed
  • Make sure the new program addresses gaps in regulation
  • Consider including low rise rentals – afraid that poor landlords will invest in these with the proper oversight
  • Ensure superintendents understand and follow applicable laws
  • Make sure tenants are not affected by the licence fees
  • Costs of any new program should not be passed onto the tenants
  • Concerned about how the city will manage this program; additional fee and work is burdensome for landlords. It feels like there's duplication of efforts – there's already rules to protect tenants out there. Need clear guidelines for the operational plans.
  • City should require that all landlords have to post their applications for increasing rent
  • Don’t need blanket system that targets good landlords
  • The licensing fee should be sliding scale based on the number of work orders
  • Develop ranking system for buildings that takes into consideration the entire history of the building and share information about non-compliance with the public. Bad buildings would be shamed through this system.
  • Smoking should only be allowed at outside of building – with a butt dispenser provided

Tenant Education and Rights

  • Need to better define and educate on role of tenant associations
  • Any building over 30 people should have a tenant association
  • Dedicate funding for legal clinics to represent tenants

Enforcement

  • Need penalties and possibly media attention for bad landlords
  • Put a lean or note on the building so they can't refinance
  • Do not permit a building to rent units if it has outstanding orders
  • Apply higher escalating fines, ensure it has an impact
  • Times frames for complying with orders should be set, not extended
  • More remedial action!
  • City should have the take the landlord out of business if they're not complying with orders. Could the city take over the buildings? Perhaps take them to licensing tribunal for action
  • Allow for anonymous complaints

Landlord / Property Managers Requirements

  • Ensure every landlord has reserve funds to encourage preventative maintenance, similar to condos
  • Property managers and superintendents should be licensed, educated and tested

Inspections

  • MLS should consult with tenant rep when doing audits to get their perspective.
  • Could use co-op students to help with inspections
  • Make findings of inspections public
  • Inspections should be surprises

Q3.  When looking for a place to live, what information about a rental apartment building would you like to know?

 

  • Outstanding orders (i.e. fire, garbage, health, electrical)
  • Accessibility features
  • How responsive is the landlord to complaints
  • Turnover rate of tenants. Higher tenant turnover could be used as an indicator for building quality
  • Vacancy rate in the building
  • "Award" landlords the Golden Cockroach Award
  • History of pest control
  • Indicate if it’s a corporate landlord
  • More information about whether recycling is available
  • Is there AC in the unit?
  • Is there a tenants association?
  • Need a rating system; indicating good and bad buildings, similar to Dine Safe at Public Health
  • MLS building inspection reports (declined)
  • How long it takes the building to fix a problem
  • Focus on issues that are severe
    • Don't care about light bulbs not working
    • Interested in police activity
    • Landlord and Tenant Board decisions related to rent increases and evictions

 

Q4. When and how should landlords communicate with tenants?

When?

  • fire alarm testing and water shut off

How?

  • Some tenants do not leave apartment for a few days – emails and flyers under door if possible – solutions

ExpandWhat We Heard: August 25

Public Meeting: Licensing of Toronto's Rental Apartment Buildings

Date: August 25, 2016

Location: East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenue

The following notes are a summary of the feedback collected at the consultation.

Q1. What are the issues affecting living conditions for tenants in your apartment building?

 

Garbage:

  • Closed garbage chutes (due to abuse – or so "they" say)
  • No lids on large garbage cans
  • Superintendent said chutes would be temporarily closed (4 years ago), never reopened
  • Pests (racoons, mice, etc.) in garbage, also the noise from the pests are keeping tenants up at night

Safety and Security

  • Corridor security needed
  • one building had fire, no one on PA to communicate with entire building
  • need more cameras / on site security

Elevators

  • Old elevators / occasionally both out of service
    • Dangerous in case of emergency
    • Seniors in apartment trapped for days
    • Elevators – both used for moving at once
    • Sometimes people get into physical alternations because of extreme wait times (2 elevators down out of 3 most of the time)
    • Elevator down for two weeks
    • People with accessibility needs who cannot use stairs, have to wait around for hours or cannot leave the building

Cleanliness

  • Not proper janitor / house keeping
  • Garbage dumpsters being opened / not taken care of
  • Cleaning routines not being followed
  • Staff not caring, not checking if cleaning is being done Hallways are unclean / unmaintained
  • Hallways are unclean / unmaintained
  • Ineffective pest control (i.e. bed bugs, cockroaches)
  • Do not use preventative treatments for pest issues, don't block

Maintenance

  • Heat issues – rods don’t always work
  • Exterior is maintained but not interior
  • Old buildings (1964) – old floors that landlord does not want to upgrade but wants tenants to sign a new lease
    • Inadequate heat due to outdated systems (need to be upgraded)
    • Lay asphalt that doesn't stick and try to pass cost to tenants
    • Ventilation issue, vents not working
    • Repairs from burst pipe took two months for them to fix

 

Unit Repairs

  • Refusal to fix issues in units
  • Lack of accountability for repairs, system in place is not effective
  • Not following up on work orders that were submitted
  • Leaking sinks that have not been addressed
  • Landlords try to pass on expenses that are their responsibility, tenants paying for repairs/renovations
  • Renovations being done by landlord are as cheap as possible
  • Not adequate heating, using outside sources to get heating, cost out of own pocket
  • Covering up issues (example: insulation, covering, not fixing)
  • Appliance change / cabinets (added to rent)
  • Mold issues

Tenant and Landlord Relationship

  • Personality conflicts between tenant and landlords (aggressive landlords). Landlords should be required to take training.
  • Communication issues between tenants and landlords:
    • Supers are not accommodating of language barriers
    • Communication is wordy and indirect
    • Landlords/supers intimidate tenants
    • Not professional
    • Commitments in agreements not met (painting/cleaning before move in)
    • Retaliation for complaining
    • Many people are too scared to report anything
    • No penalties for landlords when elevators are out for a week, yet rent still needs to be paid
    • Tenants not taken seriously, especially in buildings with immigrants
    • Landlords are rude and dismissive to tenants

 

Private non-profit housing

  • Verbal threats from superintendents
  • Vomit, urine, feces in common areas
  • Bedbugs – they aren’t really being eradicated, just chased from one room to the next
  • General lack of cleaning
  • No fire maps
  • Difficult to connect with anyone to get anything done or problems addressed – multiple entities keep saying that it’s the other group's responsibility (owner, management, superintendent)
  • Multiple different governments involved – feel that financial supports could be held against people if they complain
  • Tenants powerless to deal with the system
  • non-profit are misusing taxpayers money on unnecessary things and not providing tenants with the necessities
  • No A/C
  • Closed door policy
  • Mismanagement of funds
  • City checks non-profit buildings books, they balance so they move on, and don't look at the actual issues

 

Other:

  • Affordability - rents are too expensive
  • Landlords don't disclose information about their building
  • Above guideline rent increases
  • Feeling pressured by management to leave – assume so they can raise rent – has been told "if you don’t like what's happening, take it to the courts!"

 

 

 

Q2. What should the City of Toronto include in the licence to ensure that tenants have a safe, secure, and decent place to live?

 

General:

  • Making sure charges/fines are a decent amount to make landlords do something
  • Treat landlords same as businesses
  • Rules needed for landlords to behave or oversight
  • What will happen if landlord loses its license? What will happen to all the tenants? Will TCH just take over? Feeling that ultimately the license will be toothless- that landlord will just hold on to the building because City doesn’t have way to punish them without making the tenants homeless
  • Tax rates need to change – multi-unit residential buildings pay way too much in tax compared to single family homes, costs which are passed along to tenants. Average tenant paying $85/yr more than they should be if tax burden was shared equitably
  • Need standardized leases for everyone

 

Complaints and Repairs

  • Standardized forms for repair requests and tenants should receive a copy like a receipt
  • City needs to regulate trades people who work on buildings
  • Superintendent should be required to sign all complaint/repair requests, so that there are no disputes later
  • City should design and mandate one standard complaint form
  • Copies of tenant complaints should be provided to the super, property management company, tenant and the City. The City should store it in a database. This maintains a third party record of complaints, allows the City to see which properties are getting lots of complaints and therefore can investigate. Similarly work orders should be stored and shown online so there is a data tracking process, can flag "bad buildings"

 

Building Requirements/Standards

  • Buildings should be required to have 24/7 security
  • Require landlords to provide tenants with access to lobby cameras on own TVs
  • Proper lighting managed and maintained
  • Have landlords be proactive instead of reactive
  • Having better training for staff

 

Inspections

  • Multiple visits should be made throughout year to appraise unit (biannual and triannual) to assess quality of interior and damage and should be corrected for new tenants
  • Need proactive inspections by City of Toronto

Enforcement

  • Current inspectors aren’t working hard enough and could do way more
  • Feeling that three new staff for MLS isn’t enough to make any improvement. If they can't do it now, how will this change things – in fact, it will just make staff be spread thinner, since now will need to do proactive work with buildings that don’t have any issues
  • More communication / cohesion between different city departments
  • Tenants need to be given copy of work orders
  • Forbid landlords from renting vacant apartments unless work orders have been fulfilled
  • Landlords cannot apply for grants / loans from City if non-compliant
  • Much HIGHER FINES (Landlords are currently paying fines and not fixing issues)
  • If landlords do not the fix issue and just pay fine, have the city take cost from landlord in other means
  • When problem arises, City of Toronto should do independent consultation with residents (without landlord present)

 

Landlord/Property Manager Requirements:

  • Create landlord superintendent training program
  • Create customer service standards for landlords – TESS has a program for live-in superintendents
  • Superintendent works Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, should have a system for 24 hours access for tenants when emergencies arise
  • Having weekly or regular walk around of the building (lights out, stairway clear)
  • After certain amount of complaints / work orders there should be something like demerit points on a license for the landlords – license be more expensive (like insurance is) for landlords with more demerit points
  • Have landlords required to report incidents that happen in building
  • Landlords must have staff trained for best practices to improve the living standards of tenants
  • Require landlords to have reserve funds to address large projects / issues
  • To get the license landlords have to have system for evacuations and repairs system in place
  • Landlords must have clear plans for pest management that residents can access
  • Landlords conduct yearly unit inspections–inspect for pest, as well as damage. This way they can catch issues early.

 

Tenant Education

  • For those with subsidies, clearly explain the rules around subsidies vis-à-vis the landlords – currently many threaten them with removal of subsidies if they complain
  • Every time MLS goes to a building they should leave flyers
  • Results of inspections/ fines/orders for every building should be posted in lobby and on the city website
  • Public display of tenant rights too (in an area without cameras so landlord can't see and harass those that are asserting their rights)
  • Require landlords to provide new tenants with a move-in package, which includes information about garbage, tenant rights, contact information for landlord/super, (partner with FMTA which has the guides)

 

Other:

  • Councillors need to be more proactive about problem buildings and bring them to MLS
  • If assisted living, non-profit landlord needs to prepare tenants so they can live in a safe way
  • Create certification requirements and standards for contractors (maybe should be licensed by City)
  • Online "Dine Safe" style rating for properties
  • Pass/fail system (example: restaurant system)
  • Landlords must alert everyone in the building when bedbugs are found, (keep name and specific unit confidential)

 

Q3.  When looking for a place to live, what information about a rental apartment building would you like to know?

 

  • All building information should be online / easily accessible – need transparency
  • Tenant providing personal information about themselves, the landlord should provide similar information to tenants for transparency
  • Basic building info - # of units, date built, etc.
  • The names, contact info of all different players – superintendent, property management firm, owner, etc.
  • Appraisal of the state of repair
  • How often things are replaced i.e. appliances, cabinetry
  • Approximate cost of the hydro bill
  • Personality of the landlord/superintendent
  • Fire / Health / Pest violations
  • Maintenance records; how long it takes landlord/property manager to respond to repair requests
  • List of available amenities
  • Disclosure of any restrictions (no pets)
  • Building accessibility
  • Current information about the rent
  • Crime in area
  • Outstanding orders
  • Pest history
  • Landlord contact information
  • What languages does the property manager/superintendent speak
  • Accessibility
  • Rating system similar to restaurants
    • Annual inspections
    • Pass / fail similar to restaurants
    • Rating scale on quality of living / standard of living
    • Ability to check what landlord has done with other buildings
    • Having 3rd party take photos of real units in building (instead landlord paints1 or 2 units to pretend entire building looks nice)
    • Additional charges to the rent (i.e. paid parking)
    • Summary of unit repairs undertaken

 

Q4. When and how should landlords communicate with tenants?

 

When?

  • Having service disruptions visually posted!!
  • Water shutoff
  • Contractor in building
  • Fire testing
  • Making sure date / time / length of service disruption for buildings is posted
  • Having people check on vulnerable people regularly, accommodate
  • When there is a reason to do so & when affects more than one unit
  • Example: bed bug infestations and information about other units that are being treated. There should be disclosure rules.

How?

  • TCH is very good at engaging tenants – meet in person in common spaces to discuss issues, provide updates, solicit feedback
  • Suggestion box for tenants to give landlords suggestions without tenants feeling uncomfortable
  • Bulletin board (mandatory for all buildings) on the first floor / in lobby
  • City could provide whiteboards for posting notices
  • Email notifications – have a record of what is being said
  • Notice to each apartment individually on paper
  • Monthly newsletter – consistent, standardized
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Email)
  • Facebook page set up in some buildings – have to ensure alternative channels for those that cannot access Facebook
  • Building meetings on specific/different topics (monthly)
  • Many private buildings may not have space for these sorts of building wide meetings
  • experience in some buildings is that when meetings are organized, no one comes
  • Channel 59 – digital board with updates (on TV which is accessible inside every individual's apartment). TV screens in the lobby could share information
  • Use photos to help language barriers
  • Having PA system to make announcements
  • More than one means to communicate with tenants
  • Having letters put under door, knocking door to door
  • Accommodate those who do not go out, have language barriers, accessibility needs
  • Have people volunteer to translate for others
  • City assist in translating service notices for tenants
  • Politely!

 

Other:

-          Rental laws must be met  (told by landlord that 3 days late on rent; will serve legal notice which is not allowed)

ExpandWhat We Heard: August 30

Public Meeting: Licensing of Toronto's Rental Apartment Buildings

Date: August 30, 2016

Location: Domenico Di Luca Community Recreation Centre, 25 Stanley Road


The following notes are a summary of the feedback collected at the consultation.

Q1. What are the issues affecting living conditions for tenants in your apartment building?

 

General comments:

  • The system currently designed in favour of those in power. It is difficult for tenants to advocate or be heard.
  • Higher rents, but tenants don't see improvements in the building
  • Smoking in the hallways
  • Landlord is closing amenities but tenants are not being compensated. This year the laundry room was closed for 6 months.
  • Rental buildings are getting old and unaffordable.

Unit repairs

  • Appliances are not working or old
  • Some units are in bad shape / misused
  • "Band-Aid" fixes
  • They will come in and do half the job and not finish (example, will cut a hole in the way, do the repair, put a new a piece of drywall and then not re paint it)
  • Landlords driving out tenants so they can raise rents. Not doing repairs.
  • Units are overcrowded (some have lots of refugees)
  • Repairs are either delayed or do not happen.

Maintenance

  • Pests (raccoons, mice, roaches, bed bugs, etc)
  • Roaches > fumigation > not effective, time consuming, expensive
  • Bed bugs – problem – block treatment is expensive & sometimes tenants (complainant) don’t have unit ready
  • No preventive maintenance, waiting to do repairs till everything is in BAD shape
  • My building has black mold
  • Balconies – haven't been cleaned / maintained
  • Wiring not done by professionals
  • Old plumbing system causing issues
    • Sometimes up to 1 week before it gets fixed
    • Response from landlord is delayed
    • Not using a professional plumber. Plumber cuts corners. Results in bad workmanship
    • Need to clean hallways
    • Need to replace carpets (Roaches breed under them)
    • Parking lot needs to be repainted
    • Elevators need to be maintained & serviced
    • No air conditioning > too hot for vulnerable tenants

Tenant-Landlord Communication

  • Weak communication between the tenant and landlord.
  • Landlords don't respond to emails. Voicemail is always full.
  • Landlord needs to be reachable at all times (not at case at the moment)
  • Need better communication/notices about repairs or other things happening in the building
  • Need documentation of service upgrades, repairs
  • In my building, landlords send "letters of fear" especially to new Canadians

Tenants

  • There are social problems with some tenants
  • Tenants are smoking in the hallways
  • Tenants throw garbage over balconies
  • Difficult behaviour from tenants in the building i.e. mental illness, threatening other tenants

Enforcement

  • Penalties not strong enough
  • Heat by laws are not enforced, tenants are cold
  • MRAB Audit was successful. Tenants made complaints, some things changed but building went back to usual after some time.

Security

  • tenants are concerned about safety and security due to drugs, alcohol, criminal behaviour
  • Security issues – need working cameras, tenants should have access to lobby camera
  • Vulnerable groups are affected, especially in TCH
  • Slow response from landlords / police

Other:

  • Fraudulent evidence being proposed to Landlord and Tenant Board
  • Landlord and Tenant Board is not accessible to tenants. Difficult to navigate.
  • People don’t have places to live. Need better support to find housing, community and care
  • Landlord is raising rent above guidelines
  • Landlord and Tenant Board usually benefits the landlords
  • AGI are spent on side, not units with serious concerns
  • "Double dipping" for rent (sometimes taking out rent twice from tenants)

Q2. What should the City of Toronto include in the licence to ensure that tenants have a safe, secure, and decent place to live?

 

General

  • Available rental units are so far gone that over-penalizing landlords could worsen rental market (closures)
  • Red sticker (in a rating system) means nothing unless there are more affordable units
  • City and province need to talk to ensure costs of licence are not being passed on
  • Need to incentivize good landlords
  • There should be a committee / licensing tribunal to evaluate the landlord before it goes to the landlord tenant board
  • Have people with expertise / experience sitting at the table advising what should be done with rental apartment buildings. Have people from tenant advocacy groups on board when these programs are developed and decisions made
  • No need for more bureaucracy, just better understanding and interpretation of provincial legislation
  • CMHC has lots of info available that the city could use – don’t duplicate
  • There's already a system to improve living conditions for tenants – fix it with more funding
  • The program (licence) would be time consuming and take forever to roll out and outcomes would not be all that improved, why not better use resources
  • I am in favor of inspections but need to see resources to believe it
  • Strengthen hand of tenants and landlords at Landlord and Tenant Board – maybe better solutions than create bureaucracy
  • Strategy for improving living conditions needs social investments. It will be helpful to work with other levels of government on this.
  • See opportunities through other programs to address social concerns in a multifaceted way. Learn best practices & break down silos (i.e. Tower Renewal Program)
  • If tenant reports an issue, they shouldn't feel threatened / pressured to move out
  • We need transparency about the quality of the building and its units
  • Tenants and landlords need to be accountable for their actions
  • Create an ombudsman for tenants

 

Rating system

  • Rental apartment buildings are not the same as restaurants – green paper does not say whether the restaurant is good or bad, it's just the lowest bar (i.e. safety)
  • Green pass / Yellow pass / Red pass to show tenants / possible tenants the state of building

Landlord/Property Managers Requirements

  • Landlords should be required to set money aside for capital repairs
  • Landlords should be required to be transparent about  deficiencies with the unit before it rents it out
  • Landlords must produce a licence when required
  • Checklist to get the license / renewal, which looks at the following components/issues:
    • Structural
    • Maintenance
    • Mold
    • Pest management
    • Maintenance staff should be licensed / certified. They should have to attend programs similar to "safe serve" because they are dealing with people's lives.

Inspections

  • Conduct proactive structural inspections
  • Tenant should have access to inspection checklist
  • Staff during inspections should engage the tenant community to have a better sense of the issues in the building which might not be immediately visible i.e. mold, infestations
  • Define time lines for repairs

 

 

Enforcement

  • Something is wrong with the math, how would the amount of money collected cover this new program with no additional staff. Current staff have only audited 1000 buildings in 8 years.
  • Need more inspectors
  • MLS Inspectors should be trained
  • City needs more teeth when a landlord has been non-compliant
  • When landlords break the law, they should pay a serious fine > should not be passed on to the tenants
  • If repairs are not being made, someone should withhold rent
  • Create escrow account
  • Landlord license should be removed when landlord breaks law, City could take over building or interim landlord could take over

Rating System

  • Green pass / Yellow pass / Red pass to show tenants / possible tenants the state of the building
  • Need a centralized rating system – like yelp – for tenants that is independent from government to ensure no bias

Building Requirements/Standards

  • Landlords should have backup generator to support heating (ice storm) and elevators
  • Need rules for heat! Seniors and babies are affected
  • Mandatory fumigation of all apartment buildings that are vacated
  • Security cameras should be operable particularly if it was offered as part of the lease

Tenant Education

  • Need an information booklet for tenants that informs them about their rights, and provides concise explanation of what to do in situations of non-compliance
  • Tenant education on smoking, rights & responsibilities in buildings
  • Need a website where tenants can access information about the buildings, including previous orders
  • Certain information should be available in the lease (proper disclosure):
    • Last time there was a fire
    • Age of appliance
    • Pest infestation
    • When the elevator was last time repaired
    • Response time to repair request
    • Why did the tenant leave?
    • Describe orders and dates it was issued
    • History of the unit / floor

Other:

  • Last month's rent should be used when you don’t have enough money to pay that month

Q3.  When looking for a place to live, what information about a rental apartment building would you like to know?

 

  • Name of owner or contact person
  • Date of last inspection and results
  • Turnover of tenants
  • Rent charged in the unit
  • Maybe the rating system needs to be more independent from government to ensure no bias
  • Age of the appliances to assess if they will be near replacement or what kind of maintenance required
  • History of pest infestations
  • Hydro costs
  • Outstanding work orders
  • Availability of amenities and what is there state?
  • Access to blueprints or info to substantiate arguments with Landlord and Tenant Board (you can access but $80 – inaccessible)
  • Appropriate contact information in the case of an emergency i.e. gas leak
  • Annual rent increases
  • Are pets allowed? (I have an asthma issue)
  • Age of building
  • Vent
  • Record of violations (property standards, fire code)
  • Information should be online
  • City shouldn't shame those who comply
  • Smoking / non smoking
  • History of crime
  • Are buildings accessible  > are disabled people allowed (illegal to discriminate)
  • Is there a tenant association? What is their contact information?
  • What is the rent used for? How much of the rent goes to property taxes?
  • What are the recurring issues?
  • It might be difficult to ensure that this information is accurate

Q4. When and how should landlords communicate with tenants?

 

How?

  • In writing is best – letter or email.
  • Need accurate contact info from tenants for better communication
  • Landline or cell phone
  • Mandatory bill boards, which the tenant associations can also use
  • Notice on apartment doors
  • PA announcements for emergency situations
  • Need notifications in multiple languages

 

ExpandWhat We Heard: August 31

Public Meeting: Licensing of Toronto's Rental Apartment Buildings

Date: August 31, 2016

Location: Scarborough Village Community Centre, 3600 Kingston Road

The following notes are a summary of the feedback collected at the consultation.

Q1. What are the issues affecting living conditions for tenants in your apartment building?

 

Safety and Security

  • Need for emergency planning & preparedness – generator back up for vulnerable people
  • Superintendents are not vetted i.e. criminal checks
  • Superintendent not trained / aware of fire safety procedures
  • Security issues such as unsecured front doors

Rentals in Condominiums

  • Tenants in condos don't know where to make complaints or complaints are ignored.
  • Owners of the condo are not engaged with the condo board (or are on the board but they don’t live there)
  • The Condo Act does not protect tenant rights. 
  • City must be forward thinking. There are a lot of condos and this is a growing problem.
  • There are rats, cockroaches and bed bugs in the condo building but the condo board is not responsive.
  • Heat and elevators don't work, condo board doesn't take action
  • Tenants do not know about how to make complaints or they are afraid of repercussions from landlord or condo board

Cleanliness

  • Garbage smells in hallway
  • Staircases are dirty
  • Dirty carpets, not enough cleaners in the building
  • Tenants not notified of bed bugs- when exterminators call, they don't spray nearby apartments.

 

Waste

  • Issues with waste management in older buildings
  • Garbage/compost builds up. No regular pickup. Sometimes they close the chutes on Friday over the weekend only to have the garbage chutes pile up and attract vermin
  • No recycling bins
  • Garbage bins no longer outside of buildings, so people throw out garbage on the grass/front of building
  • Lids of bins are heavy and inaccessible
  •  Closed garbage chutes

Building Maintenance

  • Building temperature is hot/cold, not consistent
  • Maintenance requests are not transparent
  • Elevators are not working frequently
  • Poor lighting
    • Crumbling walls, paint flakes
    • High turnover of property managers makes it difficult for tenants to get a response to concerns

 

Unit repairs

  • Cupboards deteriorating
  • Hot apartments and sometimes too cold. Landlord locks windows for "child proof" reasons
  • Leaks in units for couple of months- only temporary fixes
  • Landlord conducts inspection of units without notice or information about why
  • Tenants don't get notice about upcoming repairs, or it happens at inconvenient times
    • Poor quality of workmanship i.e. tiles in bathroom are left unfinished
    • Tenant make complaint but landlord doesn't take action
    • In TCH buildings, there are a lot of complaints, but no action.

Other:

  • Smoking in common areas
  • Old buildings have water issues and electrical issues (blowing fuses)
  • Bad insulation
  • Untreated mold
  • Some tenants are intimidated by their landlords
  • Some tenants exhibit bad behaviour (smoking, peeing)
  • Buildings don't allow tenants to organize. Tenants should be allowed to host meetings.  
  • Disabled access button
  • Pest control practices example blocking as best practices
  • Dripping water from balconies – AC
  • Not enough city inspectors

Q2. What should the City of Toronto include in the licence to ensure that tenants have a safe, secure, and decent place to live?

 

Other

  • Good landlords should not be punished for bad landlords
  • All landlords must have a licence including those renting in homes and condos
  • Licence should apply to TCH buildings
  • Need ability to remove licence. If licence is removed, put in interim landlord
  • Need better coordination between City and elevator authority
  • Should be able to remove license for non-compliance
  • Buildings should be AODA compliant
  • Tenants want safe, good places to live and raise kids
  • Repair request system must be transparent - tenants should get some kind of receipt when they make a complaint
  • Need full disclosure about the buildings

 

Building Requirements/Standards

  • Require 24 hr access to all amenities i.e.  laundry/garbage
  • Create standards for the upkeep of security cameras
  • Establish a minimum number of cleaners required based on the number of floors
  • Common areas should be treated for pests once a month

 

Landlord/Property Managers Requirements

  • Training for landlords, superintendents or property manages. Training on fire prevention, customer service, people skills. Test the landlords after training.
  • Licence or certify superintendents
  • Awareness campaign for landlords about tenant's rights
  • Landlords/property managers should be required to hire professionals to make repairs
  • Superintendents should have communication skills (i.e. speak English)
  • Landlords/superintendents should have a comprehensive list of the tenants in the building when there is a fire emergency

Inspections

  • More frequent inspections, yearly
  • Mandatory inspections
  • Posted inspection reports and results
  • Pass/Conditional/Fail post outside the building
  • Unit inspections annually
  • Random inspections (so can't clean up before hand)
  • Buildings should have a safety audit completed by the Police. Take a look at how safe a building is, making sure doors are locked.
  • Audits should have the ability for tenants to voice concerns

 

Enforcement

  • Higher/stiffer penalties and more enforcement
  • Setup a demerit points system for landlords whereby they lose points for infractions and it escalates, eventually you lose your license
  • City needs more resources (i.e. staff) to conduct inspections
  • By-law officers should be changed frequently – they get too "friendly" with the property owners
  • Toronto Community Housing should be audited. MLS is too lenient with Toronto Community Housing
  • Need more transparency around who gets an audit
  • Fines should be higher than they are, look at AMPS tickets
  • City should develop a work order tracking system that is open to the public

Operational Plans

  • Require maintenance plan
  • Require development of communication plans for tenants
  • Require emergency preparedness plan

Tenant Education/Organizing

  • Private buildings should have tenant representatives
  • City should dedicate resources to help organize tenants
  • City should fund office that supports tenant associations so that they can train representatives (1-3 staff)
  • Tenants should be allowed to host meetings

 

 

Q3.  When looking for a place to live, what information about a rental apartment building would you like to know?

 

  • Green, yellow, or red signage for buildings and units - similar to restaurants.
  • Tenant rating similar to yelp
  • If the building is secure, well lit and cameras working
  • AC restrictions, if any
  • Maintenance record
  • Building history of bed bugs/cockroaches and treatment practices
  • Cleanliness of building
  • Contact details on landlord, property managers
  • Vacancy rate for building
  •  Rate of turnover for building
  • # of units and number of elevators
  • How many laundry machines/age of machines in laundry mat
  • Cameras in building and where they are located
  • If the building has well maintained garbage/recycling facilities
  • Age of building
  • Age of appliances
  • property tax paid by the landlord per unit
  • previous rent for unit
  • management history of building
  • Pest control history and treatment history
  • Budget & turn-around times for maintenance per unit
  • Availability of amenities and common areas such as parking (conditions of usage/cleaning & maintenance)
  • Pet restrictions (especially on # of animals)
  • Number of working elevators
  • Inspection results by other authorities (fire)
  • Safety reports / incidences
  • Does it meet all the by-laws
  • History of fines and charges
  • Accessibility features: ramps?
  • Information about electrical, heating and ventilation systems, AC, water conditions, plumbing, age of boiler, structural information
  • Monthly statement about what repairs have happened or quarterly
    • Map of violations in all buildings

Q4. When and how should landlords communicate with tenants?

 

When?

  • Service disruptions
  • Fire alarm tests
  • Power outages
  • Inspection results
  • When unit is being inspected
  • Post repair work being done on a bulletin board in a common area, without specifying a particular unit
  • Laundry room closed
  • Underground work

 

How?

  • each buildings should have a phone app that delivers mass text messages regarding important events
  • telephone
  • mail boxes
  • door knocks
  • email/social media
  • Circulate a newsletter
  • post on a bulletin board
  • notices from landlords should be delivered to each tenant door – not everyone uses the same entrances to the building and might not see bulletin board notices
  • communication needs to be multilingual
  • notices need to be in writing and timely
  • notices should be posted in elevators
  • notices posted on the lobby of every floor
  • organize regular building meetings (monthly, once a year etc.) for tenant engagement
  • organize community BBQ where you share the information

 

 Other concerns

  • There is a lack of affordable rental housing in Toronto
  • Work needs to be done to control rent increase, rents are too high
  • 1% of every building should be affordable
  • There is no rent control in condominiums, the maintenance fees are increasing
  • There should be a maximum limit for condo fees
  • The use of rent increases should be made public and signed like an affidavit