This is completely wrong and should be rejected by Council. Licensing of residential rental properties is unnecessary and adds another layer of redundant bureaucracy and cost, to the City, landlords, and ultimately tenants.
There are already a number of different regulations at the Provincial and Municipal levels that cover all of the areas of concern.
The number one goal is “to protect the health and safety of the persons residing in rental units”. The good news is we already have laws and bylaws on the books to do just that. Health and safety issues are largely addressed by Provincial law, including the building code, fire code, and the residential tenancies act. Municipally, we also have a property standards bylaw and yards bylaw that outline specific requirements pertaining to the condition and maintenance of buildings and land.
In Oshawa, one of the Cities used as an example, they use their residential rental licensing program to do, among other things:
-address property standards
-compliance with the zoning by-law, Fire and Building Codes
These are all issues that our bylaw officers and building inspectors address every day, and not just with rental properties. While there are a number of property standards issues that seem to be ongoing, adding bureaucracy won’t help solve the problem. We need to instead work with our bylaw department to figure out where things are falling through the cracks. Do we need more officers to handle the volume of complaints received? Do our officers have the resources they need to do their job? Do we have enough staff to follow up on complaints and ensure that corrective action is taken?
Protection of tenants is another perceived benefit of licensing, but the Residential Tenancies Act already provides protection for most tenants in Ontario. The RTA governs the relationship between landlord and tenant, and outlines specific processes that must be followed for evictions, compensation for damages, landlords accessing tenant space. The Act also stipulates that units must be maintained in a good state of repair. Penalties for violations by a landlord can be severe.
We’re facing a housing crisis in Kingston, with a vacancy rate of less than 1% and the average rent nearing $1000 per month for a one bedroom unit. We should be working to encourage investment and encourage the construction of purpose built rental housing, not throwing up more roadblocks.
Being a landlord is a tough business, and one of the most highly regulated in the Province. Particularly with residential properties, margins can be very low and any additional cost places an unfair burden on landlords and especially small landlords. Property tax seems to be going nowhere but up, the cost of utilities has dramatically increased over the past number of years, insurance premiums have increased, maintenance costs increase the older a building gets… Ultimately, these costs end up getting passed on to tenants, and the skyrocketing expenses faced by landlords is one reason we’re seeing rents increase the way they have. Landlords, like all small businesses, need a break.