Move to better protect renters considered by Mississauga officials

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Published December 11, 2023 at 3:03 pm

Protecting renters in Mississauga

Mississauga council will consider a motion on Wednesday to beef up a city-wide program launched last year to ensure apartments and other rental units are properly maintained by landlords and that tenants are adequately protected.

While the notice of motion tabled by Ward 7 Coun. Dipika Damerla notes that the Mississauga Apartment Rental Compliance (MARC) pilot program has done much good already, it also identifies several areas in which it could improve.

Advocacy group Peel ACORN, which describes itself as an independent social/economic justice group that helps renters in Mississauga and Brampton push rental management groups to provide acceptable and appropriate living conditions, said recently that the pilot study is not working as it should.

The group also contends that a number of landlords in Mississauga aren’t complying with the new program and that it’s in need of an overhaul as it is “failing to protect tenants.”

The five-year pilot program was introduced in July 2022 and will cost the city $3.7 million over the half-decade. Members of Peel ACORN had been calling for such a “proactive” initiative for years.

Under the MARC program, which is similar to Toronto’s Rent Safe program, landlords/owners who don’t comply can be fined as much as $100,000.

The motion to be discussed at the Dec. 13 council meeting calls for, among other things:

  • that the “passing score” of inspections by city staff of rental units/buildings be increased from the current 51 per cent mark to 61 per cent in early 2024 ” in order to encourage building owners to consistently improve maintenance standards”
  • that city staff enhance the city’s MARC web page in order to improve tenants’ access to important information and provide them more transparency (by April 2024)
  • that city staff consider improving the evaluation process to include the annual building evaluations and unit inspection results as part of the overall scoring in order to improve service delivery and increase compliance rates
  • that city staff consider changing the program name so it’s more “easily identifiable and reflective of the program purpose”

One of Peel ACORN’s core complaints is its contention that “many buildings got scores above 50 per cent (passing score) despite having significant issues.”

Damerla’s motion notes that with 27 per cent of Mississauga residents being renters, it’s crucial to recognize that all of them “deserve to live with dignity and have their homes in a state of good repair.”

In the motion preamble, the councillor notes that the MARC program has “demonstrated real progress” on several fronts:

  • 355 of 356 eligible buildings have registered with the MARC program (99 per cent registration rate)
  • compliance and licensing staff have inspected 99 per cent of the buildings, with evaluations for 314 out of 315 buildings complete
  • staff have proactively addressed approximately 1,500 bylaw violations during evaluations
  • staff have investigated approximately 1,700 service requests at apartment buildings within the program in 2022 and 2023 combined
  • staff have attended 17 community events to promote
    education and awareness of the program

Peel ACORN members say a recent city-wide survey of 125 tenants, the results of which were released several weeks ago, shows that, among other things, “serious repair and maintenance issues” remain widespread and that there is “limited or no awareness” of the MARC program among renters in the city.

ACORN officials say survey results “underscore the issues tenants are facing and the immediate changes tenants would like to see to access healthy, safe and accessible homes.”

Results also indicate, according to Peel ACORN, that “many tenants are struggling with a whole host of basic repair and maintenance issues and many are not aware of the MARC program.”

A City of Mississauga spokesperson said earlier that officials there received results of the survey and are reviewing the findings with an eye toward “addressing any identified concerns collaboratively.”

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