RHBâ€™s forum for rental housing associations to share news, events and industry information
Hot Topics: LPMA discusses problem solving strategies for dealing with mental health issues in rental housing. pg. 45 WRAMA covers the legal landscape for 2019, supporting veterans and their familes, and technology. pg. 49 EOLO discusses the City of Ottawaâ€™s action to study the regulation of shortterm and long-term rentals. pg. 53 HDAA discusses the problems with the creation of a tenant defence fund and where those funds would be most effective. pg. 57
The Member Associations
President’s message – Mental health awareness According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five people in Canada personally experience a mental health issue. In this issue of RHB Magazine, we focus on mental health challenges and how they affect residents and landlords. We also point to the legal angles landlords can pursue when they have exhausted all other avenues. This delicate topic has become one of the principal issues facing landlords. LPMA invited experts to our March dinner meeting to provide members with practical ideas for resolving problems. April will be busy for LPMA. We have the annual trade show on April 9 at the Greek Hellenic Centre (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM) and the annual Spring Hope Food Drive on April 17 at larger apartment buildings. Hopefully, once this issue is in your hands, we will be looking at spring flowers and clear blue skies! - Lisa Smith, President
Renting and mental health issues: Tips for effective problem solving Landlords are responsible for keeping their buildings and residents safe. But what happens when individuals have mental health issues that adversely affect their tenancy and jeopardize the safety of other residents? London lawyer Joe Hoffer says the question is complex, partly because landlords are expected to play a major role in resolving problems, including hoarding and unsanitary conditions. “The landlord can’t simply say, ‘You’ve either got to clean up your act or get out.’ The landlord has to look at the specific factors and the specific facts for an individual situation,” he says. Manifestations of mental health issues, such as hoarding, constitute a disability and landlords need to devise a practical way of resolving the problem, Hoffer notes. The landlord’s responsibility is based on the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policy and guidelines on disability (www.onhrc.on.ca). Landlords have a duty to accommodate tenants to the point of undue hardship, according to the Commission.
Hoffer cautions that landlords can get into trouble for suggesting a tenant has a mental health issue since it can be perceived as not respecting their dignity. However, if prospective tenants volunteer that they have a support worker or that their rent is paid through a social services agency, the landlord can ask if they would be willing to list that person as their emergency contact. “What landlords can’t do is demand that tenants list the worker or social services agency as an emergency contact,” Hoffer says. In cases of hoarding or unsanitary conditions, the landlord should give the tenant a deadline for cleaning up the unit, followed by a 24-hour notice of entry when the deadline expires. If the tenant hasn’t rectified the problem, the onus falls on the landlord to determine why and to take steps depending on available resources, Hoffer says. Landlords can contact the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), which, in larger municipalities, provides assistance. Other agencies may also help, but operate differently according to the municipality. “Some are very proactive and others say, ‘It’s your problem, landlord,’” Hoffer says. James Hind, a fire inspector/investigator with the London Fire Department, believes the system is a detriment to securing help for someone in need. “Mental health services are voluntary so unless a person is holding a gun to themselves and is at risk to themselves or others, many agencies won’t step in to do anything,” he says. Landlords then rely on the individual to call for assistance and navigate a system that is “traditionally very, very difficult” to navigate on a good day, let alone for someone in crisis. “The system is not set up to be in the best interests of a client,” Hind observes. Hind says he receives four to five calls a week about mental health issues, including hoarding and disconnected smoke alarms. Mental health and fire safety intersect when tenants suspect their smoke alarms are listening devices, which puts the residents around them in jeopardy. Hind recommends that landlords contact social services agencies, including those that are already
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assisting the tenant if prior consent was given, and document their progress to protect themselves and the company they work for. “Insurance companies can deny or pull a policy based on the fact that there is a hoarder in the building and the landlord didn’t do anything about it,” he says. The London-Middlesex branch of the CMHA offers a family support program, dropin centres and community support teams that act as intermediaries, connect clients with community resources, access financial resources and teach life skills, including how to keep an apartment clean. David Small, a public educator with CMHA, encourages clients to take their community support worker with them to sign a rental application since it shows a desire to be upfront. It also puts a landlord’s mind at ease knowing there is a worker they can contact for assistance. “For landlords, there’s some level of comfort going forward that if there happens to be a problem, they’ve got resources in the community,” Small says. “Sometimes there needs to be a well-meaning, considerate third party who can assist, provided that consent is given during the process of negotiating a potential tenancy.” Small says one in five Canadians has a serious persistent mental health issue, which translates into four tenants in a building of 20. Although CMHA is committed to keeping tenants housed, when CMHA has arranged the tenancy, the agency will relocate a tenant rather than jeopardize a good landlord. Small believes it’s in the best interests of building superintendents to build trust by greeting tenants by name and conversing with them. If they notice that a tenant who was once sociable is now surly, they could ask how they can help. Tenants may be more apt to admit they’re struggling and landlords could help to connect them to resources. “The more landlords build a relationship with the tenant, the more likely they are to be able to utilize that relationship when things go poorly,” Small says. “It’s difficult to start to engage with somebody if there hasn’t been anything done in order to develop that dynamic.” Andrea David, Regional Manager, Community Support Programs for VHA Home HealthCare (VHA), a non-profit charitable organization, also believes that landlords should reach out to tenants, as well as conduct regular maintenance inspections to identify concerns before problems escalate. “It is important for landlords to be approachable and non-judgmental so that tenants are not reluctant to reach out for support when needed,” she adds. VHA operates an Extreme Cleaning program that is free for low-income clients who are at risk of eviction due to conditions in their unit. Referrals come from community agencies, Legal Aid, landlords, family members and self-referring clients. (The referral line is 1-888-314-6622.) VHA conducts an initial assessment for each referral and determines the type and level of service appropriate for each client. Depending on the outcome of the assessment, VHA can provide cleaning, clutter coaching and counselling services to clients who meet the program criteria and consent to the service. David says landlords aren’t always involved in the service unless clients have consented to it. Landlords aren’t required to contribute on the day of the cleaning, although it’s helpful if they are supportive so clients can sustain their progress. The purpose of the service is to allow clients to continue to live independently in their current homes.
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“The program has experienced success by achieving that,” David says. “We have helped clients stay in their homes and avoid imminent eviction.” Nevertheless, proceeding with an eviction notice in chronic situations is a valuable tool for landlords, Hoffer says. “When that occurs, if they’ve done everything they should do, then there’s a high likelihood that the Landlord and Tenant Board will issue an order to terminate the tenancy.” Landlords should never shrug off the problem as only a mental health issue, which occurred with Toronto Public Housing, Hoffer says. A fire erupted in a hoarder’s unit, causing serious damage to the building and resulting in many tenants being displaced. The residents launched a class action lawsuit against the landlord for failing to take action against the tenant who was hoarding. “Landlords are caught in a bind if they see a situation where there is a risk, not just to property, but where there’s a risk to other tenants’ health and safety,” Hoffer says. “Then there really is, in my view, a duty of care to other tenants and to the tenant who’s in that unit to take steps to mitigate the health and safety risks.”
Small recommends that landlords consider other options first to avoid damaging the tenuous link with the individual. As a precaution, landlords should identify community agencies that can help them, including the police. “At the very least, the police can call the crisis service (519-433-2023) that CMHA owns and operates and then a mobile crisis team can come out to meet and engage with that individual,” Small says. Landlords can also contact the London Fire Department to arrange an inspection by calling Hind at (519) 661-2489 ext. 2612 or by emailing jhind@London.ca. Hind stresses that the department is an enforcement agency that can take individuals to court when the need arises. With the proper supports and funding, “the vast majority” of the people the department sees are very good tenants, Hind says. “But because they’re not properly supported and the supports are so under-funded, they’re set up to fail by the system that is supposed to help them,” he notes.
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President’s message WRAMA was grateful to be included as a credible voice and welcomed the opportunity to participate in an input session as part of the Streamlining Approvals Initiative put on by the Municipal Services Division, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The session included developers who spoke to the challenges in starting, executing and completing housing projects. I spoke to the parallels that exist between development projects, purpose-built rental housing and secondary suites construction. Common themes included challenges that rental housing providers experience with different expectations from individual municipalities around the province, including rental licensing, water billing and parking enforcement. These issues all negatively impact adding supply to housing stock. Despite terrible weather, we had a great turnout to our WRAMA event this past February at The Tannery Event Centre in Kitchener! WRAMA members and guests were introduced to efforts by Bill Ridley, Veteran Services, Seniors and Homelessness Chair, and the Royal Canadian Legion, to help veterans with rental housing. For more information on this program, please contact Bill via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brittany Lee from Naborly shared how her company provides a different approach to tenant screening. If you would like to learn more about Naborly, visit www.naborly.com. WRAMA thanks Joe Hoffer and Cohen Highley for sponsoring appetizers at each table and making the night a special one for all those who attended! Joe spoke to the many issues that continue to create challenges in Ontario with regard to rental housing. WRAMA presented to the Region of Waterloo Budget Committee on February 6, 2019, speaking to the multi-residential property tax burden imposed by a 1.95 tax ratio applied to properties of more than six rental units. Special thanks to John MacDonald for spearheading this campaign, raising awareness among community leaders and asking the question, “Why is it in the public interest to tax certain types of residential properties at 195% the rate of other properties?” If you would like more information about this issue, contact John via email at john@ johnmacdonaldarchitect.ca. WRAMA continues to be the leader on issues confronting residential rental housing in the
Region of Waterloo. Be sure to check out WRAMA’s Facebook page page, www. facebook.com/ WRAMAORG/, for the latest media interviews and happenings! On February 26, 2019, WRAMA was grateful to be included at an event titled No Vacancy: Tackling Ontario’s Rental Housing Supply Crisis, held by The Empire Club of Canada in downtown Toronto. The keynote speaker was Tony Irwin, President & CEO, Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario. Irwin will be presenting at our WRAMA event on May 8, 2019. MARK YOUR CALENDAR! And don’t miss the WRAMA Annual Trade Fair on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 – also a new location! More info on all WRAMA events can be found at http://wrama.com/wrama-events/. - Andrew Macallum, President
WRAMA February meeting
WRAMA had a fantastic crowd for its meeting on February 13, 2019, as three experienced speakers joined us to discuss a number of highly relevant topics, including rental housing supports for Canadian veterans, technology options, such as artificial intelligence, for finding efficiencies in rental housing and what’s coming up in the legal landscape for landlords in 2019.
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As WRAMA’s mission is to actively and positively develop and sustain the integrity of its members’ business in the Golden Triangle - the provision of private residential rental accommodation this essential presentation of information will help rental housing providers to plan for and address the many challenges that will inevitably surface.
Legal landscape for 2019 Joe Hoffer, lawyer and partner with Cohen Highley, discussed a number of legal issues that could have a significant impact on landlords in 2019. Ongoing problems at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), including the backlog of the application and hearing process and lack of adjudicator training, will continue to create difficulties for landlords. Hoffer believes that tenants will continue to abuse the process, and with the lack of respect for the rule of law, cases and hearings will take even longer than they have in the past. “The biggest problem at present is the lack of appointed Board Members and LTB staff,” said Hoffer. “At the Board level, it means longer wait times to hearings, which means more tenants are at risk of losing housing because of the higher arrears owed. At the staff level, it means that it takes days before an application is processed, further delaying the time to hearing.” Human rights issues could also become a greater concern for landlords and property managers. Cannabis will likely be at the centre of many legal complaints from tenants. Some tenants might have a federal license to grow a set number of cannabis plants for medical purposes, which can exceed the allowed number of plants grown for recreational purposes. However, this license does not mean that plants can be grown in the rental unit. Landlords can implement and enforce rules prohibiting the cultivation of cannabis. Hoffer stated that a person with a medical cannabis license can designate another person to grow the necessary plants for a person’s prescription. “In my view, there would be a rare and unique set of facts which would cause the Human Rights Tribunal to conclude that a landlord must allow a tenant to operate a grow op in a rental unit in order to comply with ‘accommodation’ requirements under the Human Rights Code,” added Hoffer. Harassment is another significant concern for landlords, and requires great care to avoid. Hoffer related a recent case where the Human Rights Tribunal awarded $60,000 to tenants because the landlord blatantly discriminated against them in an effort to force the tenants to vacate. Hoffer also touched on landlord licensing. He explained how, in Waterloo, the licensing fees exceeded $1000 per lowrise (townhouse) rental unit, although the fees collected were not used to address housing units. Apparently, the City bought new cars for by-law officers, new mobile devices, etc. The landlord applied for and received an above guideline rent increase (AGI) of about 7 per cent. The City’s “greed” negatively impacted tenants. Based on what happened in Waterloo, Toronto set its by-law fee low enough such that the threshold to trigger an AGI would not be reached. “Then, each year after, the City is free to incrementally increase the fee without triggering an AGI,” stated Hoffer. “Ultimately the tenants still pay and the fees disappear into City revenues the same as any tax but the City is not blamed for the tax.”
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Supporting Canadian veterans in rental housing provision Bill Ridley, Veteran Services, Seniors and Homelessness Chair and Indigenous Veterans Outreach with the Royal Canadian Legion, gave a presentation on what the organization can do for veterans, as well as their widow(er)s, who run into financial difficulty and are either facing eviction or are being evicted. The Legion advocates for the care and benefits of Canadian veterans, including those who currently serve in the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, as well as their families. Ridley stated that the Legion assists veterans to apply for benevolence funds, which can help stabilize a veteran’s tenancy and take them out of arrears. The veteran or their widow(er) must pass a needs test analysis to qualify for benevolence funds to cover back rents, utility re-connection, food and medicine, and other necessities. He explained that landlords can assist the Legion in these efforts by introducing two questions on their application form: • Did you ever serve in the military? • Are you a spouse or widow(er) of a veteran? “The Royal Canadian Legion’s primary goal is to advocate for and on behalf of veterans and their dependents,” said Ridley. “Specifically in the Waterloo Region, we have helped a number of veterans and widows access funds to stay. We have assisted veterans from the age of 17 all the way up to 92, along with widows of veterans. Our efforts, through Operation Leave the Streets Behind, are around keeping veterans off the streets.” Ridley wanted to speak at the WRAMA event to address the challenge that the Legion has in getting the message out to veterans and their families. The organization wants to make it widely known that there are funds available to assist veterans and widow(er)s who are at risk or who are being evicted for rent being past due. Providing landlords with this information will enable the Legion to intercede before veterans and their families face eviction, and to get involved before
their financial situation gets worse. By being proactive in helping veteran tenants, landlords can help to ensure that they and their families stay in their homes.
Tech in rental housing Brittany Lee, Business Development at Naborly, spoke about how her firm helps rental housing providers to screen tenants more effectively. This includes providing free tenant screening and credit reports to landlords and property managers in the U.S. and Canada, as well as optional criminal background checks. The company also sells rental and security deposit insurance. As part of her presentation, Lee showed the Naborly dashboard and an example of a Naborly report, which was generated using risk analysis powered by artificial intelligence (AI). The report included a score based on analyzing hundreds of tenant variables, as well as financial analysis, credit summary, debt summary, rental history, employment information and other data. Lee discussed the importance of properly collecting and analyzing rental data in the tenant screening process. Since rental data is not reported as thoroughly as homeowner data, it can be difficult to interpret credit data, which is why context and expertise are required to effectively evaluate prospective tenants. She stated that there is no correlation between credit score and tenancy, and that proper analysis of publicly available tenant data can help landlords make better informed decisions. “According to our data, 62 per cent of people under 35 have subprime credit scores, and yet 97 per cent of people under 35 are considered ‘good’ renters,” said Lee. Lee fielded a number of questions on the company and its services, including one on how the AI works. She explained that it analyzes and cross references more than 500 data points to enhance the validity of the score. She also gave examples of the types of information that is collected, such as the types of pets a tenant owns and how far they travel to work.
Discover the benefits of being a member of our association The mission of the Waterloo Regional Apartment Association is to actively and positively develop and sustain the integrity of its members’ business – the provision of private residential rental accommodation – in Waterloo , Kitchener, Cambridge, Guelph and surrounding areas. To view the full range of valuable property managment resources we offer to our members, or to apply online go to http://wrama.com/, or contact WRAMA at 519-748-0703.
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City of Ottawa studies regulation of short-term and long-term rentals By John Dickie, EOLO Chair
There is a renewed push among a few City of Ottawa Councillors to bring in landlord licensing. As most reasonable people realize, landlord licensing is a misdirected policy response to a very limited problem. Landlord licensing would impose work and costs on the many landlords who are behaving properly now in an attempt to change the behaviour of a few. Enforcing the property standards by-law would be more effective, and avoid imposing costs on landlords who are behaving properly. The alleged problems are that some landlords do not maintain and repair their rental properties properly, and that some tenants are afraid to enforce their rights. We do not understand how anyone can believe that people who do not follow the current property standards rules would suddenly follow the licensing rules AND the property standards rules. The hammer in licensing is that the City will withdraw the license, and prevent the landlord from renting their property, but that would result in the tenants losing their homes. Why would a tenant be any more comfortable to complain under a new regime? If the City shuts down the rental, the tenant would have no recourse, whereas now if the landlord seeks to evict the tenant, the tenant has plenty of recourse at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Any sensible tenant would rather report a property standards violation than a licensing violation, since the latter could result in the tenant losing their rental home, and the former is unlikely to do so. Besides being badly targeted, landlord licensing would raise the cost of doing business and thus tend to reduce rental supply and increase rents. The same Councillors who advocate landlord licensing also generally want housing to be affordable, but their licensing proposal conflicts with the goal of maintaining rental supply and rental affordability. Fortunately, the current status is that City staff are reviewing the regulations and the regulatory
options. That will lead to a staff report and a public consultation, which EOLO and rental providers can still influence.
City work to date The current plan is for two rounds of public consultation, one in May or June to hear public concerns before the main staff report is issued, and one in the fall to receive input on specific options as recommended by City staff. EOLO will monitor the steps being taken, and provide further information about the consultations. The ongoing push comes from ACORN and other left-wing housing activists. It has received a more welcome reception among a few Councillors than such advocacy has in the past. Another trigger for City staff was last year’s complaints about noisy parties at Airbnb rentals in ground-oriented condo complexes. City staff are studying both short-term rentals and long-term rentals, and will make two sets of recommendations, one set for short-term rentals and one set for long-term rentals. City staff sought a consultant to review regulatory options for both short-term and long-term rentals together. However, they could not find a single consultant to do the work they wanted. As a result, City staff broke down the work into four separate work packages, as follows: 1 – Environmental Scan 2 – Rental Market Analysis 3 – Public Opinion Research 4 – Local Regulatory Review Reports 1 and 2 will be issued shortly “to inform the public consultation” about community concerns this spring. The Environmental Scan includes academic research on the impact of Airbnb and other short-term rental systems on the rental housing supply. We understand that the Rental Market Analysis includes a ten-year forecast of supply and demand for both the purpose-built rental market and the secondary market, including rooming houses and shared accommodation.
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The local regulatory review consultant has just been engaged. That research will review the regulatory systems for both short-term rentals and long-term rentals used in other cities across North America. City staff are also analyzing service requests for by-law enforcement, including the types of calls, the types of buildings for which the calls were made, whether the calls were residents complaining about other residents or tenants complaining about landlords, and any trend lines within those issues. EOLO has met with City staff on several occasions. We presented our objections to the licensing of long-term rentals as set out in the box on page 55. We will meet City staff again as often as needed. EOLO will also engage with the consultants performing the Local Regulatory Review.
Some possible issues What staff hear from tenant advocates is that some tenants are unaware of their rights or are afraid to enforce their rights, and that some unscrupulous landlords take advantage of vulnerable tenants. City staff have asked EOLO for suggestions about how those concerns can be addressed. Some ideas City staff are asking about include: • Accepting complaints anonymously • Establishing some process to address complaints that is quicker and easier than the Landlord and Tenant Board • Performance-based licensing • Licensing based on the size, age or type of property Performance-based licensing means licensing only for landlords against whom a threshold number of complaints are received or found to be legitimate. EOLO pointed out that the threshold number of complaints would need to be a percentage of the landlord’s suites, not a simple number of complaints. In addition, the complaints would need to be valid complaints (i.e., complaints about common area work or work that the landlord had not done after the tenant has notified the landlord). Further complications of performance-based licensing include the need for an appeal mechanism, and for a process for a landlord to exit from the licensing regime. EOLO is opposed to such a system.
Steps the rental industry will need to take For our views to be heard most effectively, the following steps will be needed by EOLO, by EOLO members and by other rental providers. EOLO will need to: • Participate in the process for producing the Regulatory Review and the staff report • Engage with EOLO members about our key issues and ideas • Decide on what measures we can recommend or live with to avoid full blown licensing (if any) • Report on the process, and on the reports, to EOLO members and other rental providers • Encourage landlord input into the public consultations, both from EOLO members and from other landlords
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ARGUMENTS AGAINST LICENSING
EOLO members will need to: • Engage with the EOLO leadership about key issues, ideas and arguments • Work with the EOLO leadership on what measures we can recommend or live with to avoid full blown licensing (if any) • Provide input into the public consultations Other rental providers will need to: • Engage with the EOLO leadership about key issues, ideas and arguments • Work with the EOLO leadership on what measures rental providers can recommend or live with to avoid full blown licensing (if any) • Provide input into the public consultations EOLO’s leadership is in touch about the issues with the Ottawa Region Landlords Association (ORLA), the Ottawa Real Estate Investors Organization (OREIO) and Ontario Landlord Watch, as well as with the Ottawa Real Estate Board. We will reach out with more details for EOLO members in May. Ultimately, we all may need to address our concerns and objections to all City Councillors. EOLO and members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board did similar outreach in 2009 when ACORN attempted to drive landlord licensing forward with the support of then Councillor Alex Cullen. At that time, we and others opposed to licensing quashed even the idea of a study on licensing. Please stay tuned for more information about the steps needed.
In speaking with City Councillors and other key stakeholders, EOLO and other opponents of landlord licensing make these points: • Landlords are heavily regulated now, with tenants able to call in City property standards officers to issue work orders, and tenants able to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for orders or compensation for persistent maintenance or repair problems. • A licensing regime is not directed at the real problems (which exist in only a few cases), but rather creates new requirements and offences. • The few landlords who ignore their obligations now are probably as likely to ignore licensing requirements, so that a licensing system will primarily impose new requirements and costs on people who are complying with the rules now. • Licensing regimes require landlords to file plans for maintenance and for garbage removal or for parking, when what is required is not a piece of paper in a City file cabinet, but rather the delivery of appropriate services. • Licensing would require a bureaucracy to administer, when the City is trying to contain staffing and operating costs. • Licensing would raise the cost of rental housing, which will tend to make rental housing more expensive. • Licensing would raise the hassle factor in operating rental housing, which will tend to reduce the supply, which will also tend to make rental housing more expensive. • In some cases, licensing smacks of age discrimination because its driving force is often to try to keep student-renters out of neighbourhoods.
BECOME AN EOLO MEMBER NOW! EOLO invites Ottawa area landlords to join the organization. Have your interests and concerns heard, and benefit from EOLO’s support. As an EOLO member, you will be able to: • Receive
prompt emails of relevant City rule changes
two networking receptions a year
two free education events a year
Receive all 6 annual issues of RHB Magazine with current developments, City and provincial funding programs, and landlord-tenant laws.
To apply for membership, go to www.eolo.ca, download the membership application form and send it to us at the contact info on that website.
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President’s message We have an exciting month coming up with our annual trade show & keynote speaker event on April 16, 2:00 – 5:00 PM. The Spring Hope Food Drive takes place on April 17 and we will have another Education seminar about mortgage & financing with industry tax tips for housing providers on April 23. The City of Hamilton Planning Committee will be reviewing the City Staff report for the pilot licencing program in wards 1 & 8 that should include: • Education for tenants and landlords • Concrete metrics for success • An analysis of staffing levels • An analysis of the financial offsets for such a project • A review of the affordable housing and potential displacement issues of such a project We have also surveyed our members on what they would do with their properties if licencing comes into effect. Our results indicate that they would raise their rents and possibly even sell their properties. We will be sharing our findings in more detail once the survey officially closes at the end of April. - Arun Pathak, President
Recent events Feb 14 Education seminar: LTB & Rental Discounts Allistair Trent gave an amazing presentation about how to implement the prompt payment discount, explaining the importance of how it will help you down the road. He also talked about the above guideline increase (AGI) process and what items are considered capital expenditures. March 7 Dinner meeting: Tribunal Tribulations! We had a panel of experts talk about their
experience at the LTB. They gave some insightful tips on how to be prepared at tribunal, how to learn from their mistakes and what you can do to help get a favourable outcome. They talked about how the Tribunal has changed over the years and gave examples of what to expect in terms of rulings, timing and decisions.
Coming events: HDAA Trade Show Date: April 16, 2019 Time: 2:00 - 3:00 PM (the Trade Show starts after the speakers are done) Location:1555 Upper Ottawa Street, Hamilton, Ontario Topic: Rental Housing: Supply vs demand The presidents of LPMA, WRAMA & HDAA will speak about the struggles and successes each municipality is facing. The President of FRPO will speak about where Ontario is heading and what policies are important for associations to help make a positive change for all housing providers. This mini-association summit will push to promote how landlord groups are important and can make a real change.
Tenant defence fund The City of Hamilton is considering a $50,000 “tenant defence fund” to help Hamilton renters dispute rent increase applications that landlords sometimes make to the Landlord and Tenant Board. The concept of a tenant defence fund to fight above guideline increases (AGIs) suggests there is something wrong with AGIs. It suggests tenants must “defend” themselves from the unwarranted hardship of a rental increase. In fact, an AGI is a legal, fact-based application and may only be granted for eligible extraordinary increases in property taxes, major repairs or security expenditures. The applicant must show documentary evidence of payment for the expenditures,
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and prove to the adjudicator that the increase is justified. The adjudicators follow strict rules and guidelines and are trained to ensure that they only allow justified increases. Adjudicators are appointed by the government, which recruits individuals through an open, merit-based process. It is essential for Hamilton to preserve its rental housing stock. If we do not encourage companies to improve their buildings, they will deteriorate and will need to be demolished and replaced, probably by condos. Despite constant ongoing maintenance and regular repairs, even major structures like Hamilton City Hall have required substantial major repairs to keep them viable for the future. Investment in rental buildings protects the scarce supply of rental housing in Hamilton. Even if some tenants would prefer to pay a lower rent rather than to occupy a safer, better quality building, the owner must act in compliance with the law and in the interests of all current and future tenants. The Landlord and Tenant Board will not grant an increase for any expenditure that is not necessary or that is primarily cosmetic. Replacing dirty or torn flooring after 20 years of wear is important both for tenant safety and for ensuring a quality place to live. Companies that choose to improve their older buildings need income to pay for major repairs and the only source of income is from rents. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no pool of extra money from rents for large-scale improvements when the cost of providing rental housing is rising at 4 or 5 per cent a year, compared to the guideline increase of 1.8 per cent. We understand that many people in Hamilton have an income issue; that is well recognized and documented and needs to be addressed by all of society. These tenants have insufficient income and are vulnerable to any increases in their living costs, whether for rent, food, utilities, transportation costs or anything else. We also understand that tenants feel powerless against unexpected increases in their monthly expenditures, especially when they are on a fixed income with no ability to increase it. We feel the same way when mortgage rates go up, when gas, electricity, water, heat, hydro and taxes go up, not to mention the threat of licencing adding to our monthly expenditures, with only one source of revenue to work with. We understand that we donâ€™t have the same fear of losing our home because of unexpected expenses. We do, however, have the fear of losing our livelihood. If that happens, it will put an even larger strain on renters. If a tenant canâ€™t pay a $30 rent increase because he or she is on a fixed income, it is far more economical for government to provide that cash support directly to the tenant, rather than stop the landlord from investing in improvements and recovering part of the cost in rent. That will only lead to the deterioration of the building, harming taxpayers who are then called on to provide affordable housing at much greater costs. The truth is that housing providers and tenants depend on each other; creating a fund that encourages disputes only benefits those who benefit from tenants and housing providers being at odds. Professional agitators are paid to go into a building and encourage
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illegal actions like rent strikes and harassing building staff and owners. We are against any public funds that would assist any tenant, paralegal or organization who in any way promotes or organizes any illegal activity such as a rent strike. If it is brought in, we sincerely hope there are steps to ensure the tenant defence fund does not promote or condone this type of behaviour. Rental housing providers are feeling threatened and under attack on many fronts. It seems to be acceptable to compare us to the oil industry and the tobacco industry to prove housing providers only care about the bottom line. We want everyone to have a safe, affordable place to call home â€“ just like all Canadians should have access to healthcare and basic education. The difference from healthcare and education is that society sometimes looks to housing providers to shoulder the cost alone. If we followed that logic, doctors and teachers should be paying for our treatment and education. We do not ask gas stations to supply gas at 50 cents/litre to people with low incomes or the grocery store to drop all their prices because some people canâ€™t afford to pay. However, it seems acceptable to ask rental housing providers to provide housing at below market rents. Creating a tenant defence fund to help tenants fight a rental increase is misdirected. The $50,000 that the City is considering spending could be better spent on a shelter allowance. It could give 40 families (approximately 100 people) a shelter allowance of $100 per month for a year, a real benefit to people in poverty who struggle with their rent. Another alternative the City could consider is putting the money
toward a reduction in the Multi-Res tax rate. The current tax rate is unconscionable; if taxes are reduced by 2.5 per cent or more, that will reduce rents across the City and help all residents of multi-residential properties. Another problem with creating a fund like this is that there will be demands to raise it every year. The return on the money put into this endeavour will be close to zero. Tenants do not face higher AGIs due to not having legal representation, and a fund is highly unlikely to prevent or reduce increases granted. All it will achieve is more delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board. There is a risk that a fund like this will cause some rental housing providers to put off work that needs to be done and will cause a deterioration in the housing stock. As pointed out, the number of AGI applications has increased, which reinforces the fact that Hamilton desperately needs landlords to improve the rental housing stock. We applaud the companies taking the initiative to improve living conditions in Hamilton. In closing, HDAA cautions the City that there could easily be a negative impact from creating this fund, and that it will not achieve the desired results. We implore you to look at alternative ways of spending $50,000 that could help those in need, such as shelter allowances or a reduction of the multi-residential tax rate. The best protection for tenants is healthy competition and choice, which can be promoted by policies that will increase rental housing supply for all levels of affordability and incomes. That is a better solution than creating a program that encourages division and discourages building rehabilitation.
Hamilton and District Landlords Since 1960, the Hamilton and District Apartment Association has grown significantly. Our members manage over of 30,000 units throughout Hamilton, Burlington, Brantford, Guelph, Mississauga, Oakville, St. Catharines and into the Niagara Peninsula. The association is a highly respected organization, sought out regularly by government, industry, media and the public.
Interested? Call us or join online! Ph: 289-208-5445 Web: www.hamiltonapartmentassociation.ca
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