Four deaths in illegal suites since 2018, mayor vows crackdown on bad landlords in Brampton


Published February 23, 2024 at 1:03 pm

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown says the city won’t “turn a blind eye” to landlords violating fire and building codes, saying at least four people have died in illegal suites during his time as mayor.

“These phone calls that I receive from the Fire Chief are the ones I dread the most as Mayor,” Brown said in a social media post following Thursday’s town hall meeting about the city’s paused landlord registration program.

Brown said there have been at least four deaths in illegal multi-unit properties in Brampton since he was first elected mayor in 2018, adding some 84 per cent of basement fires since 2016 have occurred in non-registered suites.

He called the deaths avoidable and heart-wrenching tragedies, saying he’s heard loud and clear from residents that the city needs to crack down on illegal units “without delay.”

RELATED: 25 students in one basement just some of 100,000 estimated residents in illegal suites in Brampton

The city invited residents to a telephone town hall on Thursday to discuss the restart of Brampton’s Residential Rental Licensing (RRL) pilot program, which was put on pause due to protests and concerns from landlords. The program is expected to come back online next month with tweaks, including removing a requirement for a landlord criminal record check.

But Brown said there will still be added costs to property owners under the revamped program, but said maintaining safe standards is a must.

“I know there is a cost to meet building codes and fire codes but it is necessary,” Brown said in a statement. “We can’t turn a blind eye to it. We don’t need to see anymore (sic) senseless tragedies.”

Brown said there will be heavy consequences for landlords who rent units “that do not meet fire code, building code and exceed capacity limits.”

“Frankly, I believe it is criminal negligence,” he said.

Over 7,000 people called in and a survey found that 84 per cent of respondents said the city needs to do more to cut down on illegal units, 67 per cent said the city should increase fines and penalties for illegal secondary units, and 77 per cent said a fatal fire in an illegal unit should be referred to Peel Police “for criminal negligence.”

Earlier this month, dozens of Brampton residents came to a committee of Brampton city council meeting to give feedback on the city’s now-frozen RRL pilot project. The program was only running for a few weeks before backlash from landlords led the city to rework the pilot, with plans to restart in March.

The program was introduced as a way to cut down on the estimated 16,000 unregistered rental units in Brampton and go after problem landlords and tenants, with staff saying new measures would add an additional offence of operating without a licence.

Brampton City Council is also calling for changes to the provincial Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), asking for a priority on dealing with a backlog of complaints related to registered Bampton landlords and their tenants.

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