On December 10, 2003, Paula Dill, City of Toronto Commissioner
of Urban Development Services, issued a landmark report recommending a comprehensive
apartment building licensing system, proactive inspection regime, and enforcement
protocol to protect Toronto tenants from substandard conditions.
City Council adopted the framework strategy in principle
at their meeting of January 27-29, 2004.
Among the highlights of the Dill report:
"Examples of jurisdictions which license apartment buildings
include Vancouver, which charges $45 per unit, per year, for additional units
in a single-family home through to multi-unit residential properties but does
not provide a pro-active inspection of the rental unit. In Los Angeles, all
residential properties with over two dwelling units are registered with the
Housing Department and a full inspection (common areas and dwelling units)
is performed every three to five years for a fee of $12 per unit, per year."
"The advantages of a pro-active inspection system include:
addressing the reluctance of tenants to complain for fear of reprisals from
the landlord; thorough inspections whereby deficiencies are identified within
a defined period of time rather than randomly over a period of months or even
years; no reliance on complaints from tenants to initiate action in common
areas and a decrease in the number of en-suite complaints as landlords come
to believe that the City can, and does, act. Nevertheless, a pro-active inspection
system will still need to accommodate tenant complaints.
"Tenants are entitled to receive information about violations
in their own unit. Information on violations in the common areas of their
apartment buildings is also available, upon request. They cannot access information
about violations in other private units unless they proceed with a request
through the Corporate Access and Privacy Office. Similarly, prospective tenants
cannot currently access violations information about apartment buildings they
may be interested in due to a shortage of resources which, of necessity, places
the focus on making information available to existing tenants. A service enhancement
would be to provide this information (without personal identifiers) to prospective
tenants and allow them to become more informed consumers when looking for
a home. Such information could be provided through a phone line, on the city
website and through the use of placards in the common areas of apartment buildings.
This may also provide an additional tool in obtaining compliance on violations
from landlords. Preliminary discussions with the Corporate Access and Privacy
office indicate their support for such an initiative."
"There are concerns that due to constrained resources,
the current inspections system is only able to respond to tenant complaints.
There is also the perception that many tenants do not complain about inadequate
living conditions due to language barriers or fear of retaliation. The introduction
of an apartment licensing system would facilitate a means of providing scheduled
pro-active building inspections in exchange for a yearly licence fee. This
requires that the provincial government remove a regulation, which currently
prohibits this form of a licence. "
"An additional service enhancement would be the provision
of a call centre to accept tenant complaints and provide tenants with information
about scheduled inspections, notices and orders, etc. A protocol on the enforcement
of property standards and other by-laws in private multi-unit rental, residential
buildings also needs to be developed."