Toronto

Licensing and standards committee approves tougher rules for landlords

Toronto's licensing and standards committee has approved tougher rules for landlords, prompting praise from a local tenant advocacy group.

Committee gave green light to punish apartment building owners who don’t meet city standards

The city’s licensing and standards committee has approved tougher rules for landlords to protect Toronto tenants. (CBC)

Toronto's licensing and standards committee has approved tougher rules for landlords, prompting praise from a local tenant advocacy group.

The committee gave the green light Wednesday to punish owners of apartment buildings who don't meet city standards.

They also approved hiring six enforcement officers, who would go through apartment buildings and would be able to levy higher fines than under the current structure.

A spokesperson for ACORN Canada advocacy group said the organization is "extremely happy" with this development, which still has to be passed by city council.

"We know of the terrible conditions most of our members face ... these tougher rules ensure landlords will uphold their end of the lease," said Kemba Robinson, chairperson for ACORN's Jane and Finch West York chapter.

Coun. Janet Davis said she feels the proposed changes could make a real difference — and cut down on landlords repeating bad behaviour.

"They take being prosecuted and going to court just as a cost of doing business, because most of the time the fines that come out the other end are minimal," Davis told CBC's Metro Morning.

If the new rules are passed by council, building landlords would also have to pay a registration fee — $8 a year for every unit they own.

These kinds of changes are ones ACORN has been advocating for more than a decade.

"[Tenants] can't wait forever for cockroaches to be eliminated, for bedbugs to be eliminated, to have heat in the winter ... landlords are refusing to address these issues," said Robinson.

With files from Lorenda Reddenkopp