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Mike Chopowick, President and CEO of FRPO

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[ FRPO ]

Federation of Rentalhousing Providers of Ontario The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) is the largest apartment association in English-speaking Canada. It represents more than 2,200 rental owners and managers with more than 350,000 rental suites. FRPO was established in 1985 when the new provincial government proposed major changes to rent control, including making it permanent. Ontario landlords created FRPO to be the voice for private sector rental owners and property management companies on that vital issue. Advocacy to the Ontario government remains FRPO’s main objective. FRPO continually advocates legislative and regulatory rules that serve landlords’ best interests. Fortunately, the public policies needed to serve those interests very often also serve the interests of tenants and taxpayers, who also benefit from a healthy and competitive rental housing industry. FRPO has taken on numerous other tasks to help fulfill its main objective.

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[ FRPO ]

Membership services To advocate most effectively, an association must represent many of the members of its industry. To attract and retain members, FRPO has evolved into a full-service association that helps landlords and property managers in a variety of ways. FRPO provides legal information to its membership and helps landlords to find the best solutions for resolving disputes with tenants. FRPO offers education and training sessions to help ensure that property owners, managers and staff have a good working knowledge of the Residential Tenancies Act, and what is required to provide top-level customer service and rental housing operations. FRPO runs networking events that enable members to share information with peers and engage in business

development. Members also have access to exclusive services and discounts from trusted industry suppliers. Public image Advocacy is more likely to be successful if the level of public support for an industry is higher rather than lower. In that respect, residential landlords have a challenge, due to public perceptions. The problematic public attitude is largely due to the impact of the pre-1997 rent control regime on building maintenance standards, the ultra-competitive nature of the rental business, and the income challenges faced by tenants. “FRPO’s mandate is to uphold public policies that support the availability of quality housing and protect the rights of private sector landlords and

“FRPO has been able to achieve results due to the support of its members. Landlords understand that positive regulatory results require long-term investment of time and resources.” – Mike Chopowick, Interim President and CEO

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[ FRPO ]

property managers,” said Mike Chopowick, interim President and CEO. “It is our goal to educate elected officials, the general public and the media on the quality of our people and the rental properties they provide.” Dealings between landlords and tenants can occasionally be confrontational, which creates political issues for the sector. Over the past decade, FRPO has made progress in elevating the public image of rental housing providers and changing the public perception of rental housing. One of its key initiatives has been the Certified Rental Building (CRB) program, an accreditation program for apartment buildings that enforces rigorous quality and environmental standards. FRPO’s education and information sessions help enhance customer service in rental housing. Its efforts to promote the value of renting have contributed to making apartment living a preferred lifestyle choice for many households across Ontario. FRPO enhances the industry’s image by highlighting how landlords and property management staff give back to their communities, while also contributing to jobs and economic growth. FRPO has worked diligently to reach out to a wider audience through its aggressive social media presence, creating additional avenues for advocating policy positions and solutions for a stronger rental housing sector. The association uses a variety of tools to communicate on behalf of its landlords, including policy reports and submissions, news releases, a bi-monthly FE magazine, email bulletins and social media. “FRPO places great importance on effective and persuasive communications,” said Mike. “FRPO’s advocacy is strengthened by ensuring dialogue with politicians takes place in easy to understand terms. We emphasize how landlords’ positions can complement politicians’ agendas and improve the quality of constituents’ lives.” Effective advocacy FRPO has focused on proposing solutions to problems in rental housing policy, such as harmful rent control, the broken eviction process, or overreaching enforcement of the fire code and property standard bylaws. FRPO puts in the time to develop thoughtful, alternative solutions to governments, rather than simply pushing a list of grievances and complaints. FRPO has worked diligently to build itself into a credible, believable organization, as well as avoiding extreme arguments. Maintaining a trustworthy relationship with government officials requires ensuring that the information being communicated is accurate, factual and relevant. “The key to FRPO’s advocacy and lobbying efforts is providing a compelling reason to do (or not to do) something that impacts rental housing,” said Mike. “FRPO’s success as a lobby group for landlords is largely due to our efforts to foster good, constructive relationships with elected officials and government staff.”

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FRPO’s advocacy work includes meeting directly with the Minister of Housing and the Premier, and meeting with individual Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) from all major parties. FRPO also consults with government officials at the Landlord and Tenant Board, the Human Rights Commission, the Fire Marshall’s Office and the Ontario Energy Board. “Effective advocacy is always a challenge, and it takes time to get results,” said Mike. “FRPO has been able to achieve results due to the support of its members. Landlords understand that positive regulatory results require a long-term investment of time and resources. FRPO’s members know that springing a request upon the government and expecting immediate results simply doesn’t work.” Industry solidarity Industry solidarity is essential for advocacy and growth. If an industry is fragmented and speaks with many voices, then governments will hear what they want to hear and can either take their desired action or engage in no action at all. FRPO has been effective at reaching out to city-based associations to ensure that they have a voice in the formulation of FRPO’s policies and that they maintain consistent messaging. FRPO is a strong supporter of the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations (CFAA), the sole national voice for the rental housing industry that speaks with the federal government. Over the years, FRPO’s leaders have guided and supported CFAA as it has grown to become a formidable lobbying voice for the rental housing industry on a national level. Conclusion Mike Chopowick is currently the interim President and CEO of FRPO. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in urban geography and planning. Instead of entering into urban planning, his career led him to government relations. Mike worked first as a policy advisor in the Ontario Ministry of Finance, and then as a lobbyist for the Toronto Board of Trade. During his time with those organizations, he learned about the inner workings of the federal, provincial and municipal governments. In 2006, he joined FRPO as manager of policy, where he is responsible for lobbying the government on a wide range of issues that affect Ontario’s rental housing providers. “Everything FRPO does contributes to its central goal of advocating effectively for landlords,” said Mike. “FRPO’s services and programs help landlords provide quality rental housing and enhance professionalism, which in turn leads to more respect for our industry by the government and better advocacy results. RHB Editorial written by Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations.