London

'Broken system' favours tenants, says CEO of Ontario Landlords Watch

CEO of Ontario Landlords Watch, Kayla Andrade is lobbying the province's housing minister to make changes to the Residential Tenancies Act and the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Kayla Andrade met with Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark late last month

Kayla Andrade, left, is the founder and CEO of Ontario Landlords Watch. Gail Ryder owns three properties in London. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

Most landlords aren't getting rich on the backs of tenants. In fact sometimes, those landlords are barely covering their own expenses.

That's what Kayla Andrade, the CEO and founder of the advocacy group, Ontario Landlords Watch will tell you.

She owns two triplexes, a fiveplex and is currently buying a sixplex. She calls it her retirement plan, but it's not easy.

"Even for the price that we bought the sixplex at, it barely covers itself. And that's what the reality is for real estate in Ontario now. Sometimes these properties are not even covering themselves."

Andrade is quick to suggest the Residential Tenancies Act and the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) favour tenants.

She said the set of rules that govern the landlord-tenant relationship in Ontairo are part of a "broken system."

Kayla Andrade owns two triplexes, a fiveplex and sixplex in Cambridge, Ont. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

Late last month, Andrade met with a representative of Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark and after combing through the statistics from the LTB tribunal, outlined her concerns. Andrade said landlords are filing the bulk of the applications and usually because a tenant hasn't paid their rent.

"It's all favoured toward protecting the tenants. A lot of it comes down to giving tenants lots and lots of time and allowing them to appeal judgments and also apply for a stay. It ends up prolonging the eviction process," said Andrade.

On average, Andrade said it takes about five months to resolve an LTB case, which often means five months in unpaid rent.

Rents on the rise

Andrade said with costs going up, some mom and pop landlords are struggling to break even. Increases to taxes, insurance and utilities can often outpace what a landlord is legally able to increase the rent by each year.

"Every time you put your property taxes up or you're waiving development charges for a developer ... our property taxes go up," said Andrade. "So keep putting property taxes up and we have to re-evaluate our rental unit and the price that it's costing us to run that building and that's why you're going to see more rents increasing."

"But if you keep the cost low to the landlord, then we can keep it low to the tenants," Andrade explained.

Gail Ryder has been renting units in London for 20 years. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

Gail Ryder owns three properties in London and told London Morning's Rebecca Zandbergen she's also frustrated by the restrictions in the legislation. "We're not allowed to ask for damage deposits and I think that's probably been the biggest challenge for me. Recouping those losses in between tenants. Yes, I understand it is the cost of doing business but to a degree."

Ryder admitted it can be challenging choosing a tenant who receives funds through the Ontario Disability Supports Program or through Ontario Works, "because there's no recourse for landlords to get their money. So if there's a default in payment, we have to take people to the board to get your money back."

That's one of the changes Andrade wants the Ontario government to consider. In a document prepared for Housing Minister Steve Clark, she writes, "Tenants should not be allowed to receive rent money directly instead, the government funded rent program should stipulate that it must be paid to the landlord directly."

After recent stories of London landlords using dubious methods to control tenants, London Morning gathered two landlords to hear their perspective. Rebecca Zandbergen sat down with Ontario Landlords Watch founder and CEO Kayla Andrade and Gail Ryder, a long time London landlord. 14:17

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