Landlord licensing program ‘incomplete’ and ‘inadequate’ for excluding larger properties in Brampton, housing advocates say

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Published September 29, 2023 at 10:58 am

Brampton is moving ahead with new rules requiring landlords to register with the city, but housing advocates say the plan is both “incomplete’ and ‘inadequate” as it doesn’t include large corporate landlords and properties with five or more units.

The city is launching a landlord registration pilot program in 2024 in Wards 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 with a goal of cutting down on the number of illegal suites in Brampton while giving the city more enforcement options when dealing with problem landlords.

But the program doesn’t go far enough, according to Peel ACORN, who say larger rental properties and corporate landlords should be held to the same licensing standard as those renting individual units.

“Many tenants living in multi-residential apartment buildings are struggling with lack of basic repair and maintenance,” says Peel ACORN, an independent group advocating social and economic justice for low- and moderate-income residents in the Region. “Despite filing complaints, repairs are not done.”

The group says it frequently deals with rental companies and property managers accused of performing “renovictions” to oust tenants from older units due to “a massive financial incentive for landlords to neglect repairs and evict the tenants.”

Tanya Burkart, leader of Peel ACORN, spoke to Brampton City Council about the pilot program earlier this month and called on council to extend the licensing framework to residential buildings with more than five units, raising concerns about a lack of accountability with large property management companies.

But the current proposal would see exemptions for properties containing five or more units, hotels and motels, lodging houses and supportive residential housing.

ACORN has proposed a list of changes it would like the city to adopt with the pilot program, including:

  • Adding landlord licensing to cover properties with five or more units
  • Proactive inspections for common areas and in-suite inspections
  • A publicly accessible database of all landlords who have registered with the city
  • Have inspection scores made easily available
  • Establish a “tenant hotline” specifically for filing repair and maintenance related complaints
  • Additional dedicated bylaw inspectors to perform evaluations

Coun. Rowena Santos said the city is limited by provisions in the province’s Residential Tenancies Act, and while the current program framework doesn’t include any provisions for corporate landlords she said the city is looking to add more safeguards against “unaccountable or irresponsible” corporate landlords.

The program is expected to cost the city $625,000 when it rolls out in 2024 and another $750,000 in 2025 for a total of $1,375,000 over the two-year pilot. With a projected revenue of $450,000, the total expected budget shortfall from the program is an expected $925,000.

The program will also require the hiring of new staff at the city, including two property standards officers, a business analyst, two full-time contract positions at the City Clerk’s office and a building division plan examiner.

City staff have been directed to use licensing and renewal fees to help offset enforcement costs.

To learn more about Peel ACORN visit www.acorncanada.org/locations/peel-acorn.

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