Bedbug bill would force inspections on landlords
Published On Thu Sep 16 2010
Rob Ferguson Queen’s Park Bureau
New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo is pushing for a law forcing landlords to be licensed and their premises inspected for bedbugs, saying Ontario is “doing nothing” to stop the growing scourge of pests.
“The landlord simply doesn’t get their license renewed if they don’t have a bug-free unit,” the MPP for Parkdale-High Park said Thursday in proposing a private member’s bill.
“It protects good landlords and calls bad landlords to account.”
Landlords would be charged a small fee for each inspection, making the initiative self-funding, DiNovo said.
Her effort follows another bedbug bill by Liberal MPP Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence) in June that would require landlords to present prospective tenants with a “bedbug information report” before a lease is signed.
DiNovo’s idea got a cool reception from Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Rick Bartolucci in the Legislature, who said he prefers Colle’s plan.
“It is an initiative that we should pay very, very close attention to and I look forward to seeing that private member’s bill work its way through the system.”
Private members’ bills rarely become law.
A group representing landlords who own five units or less—often in the same building where they live themselves—accused DiNovo of “political opportunism” for trying to lump bedbugs in with the larger issue of landlord licensing.
“Let’s focus on the bedbugs first,” said Stuart Henderson of the Ontario Landlords’ Association, which encourages its members to inspect and thoroughly clean units when tenants leave.
Landlords are “heavily regulated” as is and are required to treat any infestations reported, said Mike Chopowick of the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario.
But DiNovo said some landlords fight clean-up orders. She insisted Colle’s bill only requires disclosure of bedbugs and “simply doesn’t cut it.”
Bedbugs, which can live for up to 18 months without eating, are tiny and resilient. They reside in the smallest of spaces such as electrical outlets and vents. Their eggs can even withstand vacuuming.
So getting rid of the pests requires careful steaming and thorough vacuuming of carpets and broadloom, sealing of cracks, and washing of clothes and linens.
Toronto’s Public Health department receives thousands of calls for help each year. The department inspects thousands of apartments and holds dozens of seminars to help tenants.