December 11th, 2012
On Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 Hamilton Landlords Including Members of the Ontario Landlords Association Packed the City Planning Committee Meeting To Say ‘NO’ to Landlord Licensing
What’s Happening in Hamilton?
Today was a meeting of the Hamilton Planning Committee and Councillors discussed a proposed new law to license landlords who own buildings of 1-6 units.
How Would a Hamilton Landlord Obtain a License Under This Proposal?
To apply for a license to have control over how they use their own properties, landlords would be required to provide a lot of documentation.
This would include a ‘property maintenance plan’ (whatever that is), proof of insurance, proof of proper zoning. The list would likely get larger, to include landlord criminal record checks and more legal issues. It’s part of an alarming trend of painting landlords who provide affordable housing as crooks and thieves.
How Would the Government Handle The Demands of Licensing Landlords?
Hamilton city staff stated they would need to hire at least 17 new staff members before 2015.
Were the Landlords United Against This Plan?
Yes. Over 200 hundred people crammed into the Hall seats, including members of the Ontario Landlords Association. 30 people registered to speak and give their views to Council.
What Did the Landlords Say?
The landlords made excellent arguments against this ridiculous plan.
1. Hamilton landlords made it clear there is already enough red-tape and ‘protection’ of tenants with the existing Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, the Landlord and Tenant Board and the Hamilton Fire Code.
2. Hamilton Landlords make it clear the licensing system doesn’t target landlords and properties who are problems. Instead, it targets all landlords.
3. Hamilton landlords illustrated how a problem that is essentially based near McMaster University (student housing) is being used for a program that encompasses the whole city unnecessarily.
4. Hamilton landlords made it clear the real problem is a simple zoning issue and not some huge catastrophe of bad housing.
5. Licensing will cause lots of good landlords to simply leave the industry. This will decrease the number of affordable rental properties and those who stay in the industry will conduct especially thorough tenant screening making it hard for many tenants to find a nice place to live.
Did Anyone Argue In Support of Landlord Licensing?
Yes. These included:
1. Kenneth Sherman owns a home near McMaster University. He rents out to students. He said he’s seen three fires in houses owned by unscrupulous landlords.
2. The vice-president of education for the Students Union at McMaster University said lots of students live in rental properties that require urgent maintenance.
He stated many students are too intimidated to complain to their landlords and need the government to step in to protect them.
How Long Were the Presentations?
There were over 5 hours of arguments from those who against the proposed bylaw and those who support it.
How Much Would this Program Cost If It Became Law?
Councillors heard it would cost over $800.000 for 2013 alone.
That number would increase to over one and a half million dollars in 2014.
How Would Landlord Licensing Affect the Rental Market?
Tenants would suffer. At least 30% of the rentals in Hamilton would be affected leaving thousands of tenants searching for new places to live.
What Happens Next?
City staff will prepare a more detailed report answering questions raised by landlords. These questions include why Aren’t large high rise rental buildings included to be licensed and what type of appeals process would there be.