Licensing of Rental Housing in Hamilton
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What is Licencing, and is it the same as a registry?
From a landlords point they are similar in that the municipality is requesting information from the owners and operators of rental units. Examples of the information gathered are (but not limited to); ownership, insurance, capital budget plan, cleaning schedule, pest control, maintenance records & tenant communication. The details of fees associated varies depending on the municipality, with additional cost such bylaw, ESA & fire inspections. Typically, the fees are per unit per year with annual renewals. It does not change bylaws or enforce new regulations to the landlord.
Brief history of Licensing in Hamilton
2006 – 2012
The Hamilton City Council approved the establishment of a Residential Rental Housing Community Liaison Committee to investigate the potential to regulate rental housing. The HDAA’s involvement in this resulted in the recommendation that the City proactively enforce the existing by-laws. As a result, the city implemented a pilot program called “Project compliance”. The pilot project was extended multiple times to allow the staff additional time to investigate, analyze and consult on the potential models of licensing. The HDAA began its campaign to inform the public of the City’s intentions to bring in Licensing.
The HDAA rallied its members to attend the Planning committee meeting. At that meeting the Report on Regulation of Rental Housing (PED10049(h)) was presented. This Report included the recommendation to regulate rental housing through Licensing and proactive by-law enforcement. Due to the opposition of HDAA members and others at that meeting, the Planning committee requested staff to report back at a special public meeting. The Report at the special meeting was to include a draft by-law & provide further details on the results of the project compliance program. The HDAA actively fought the City’s idea of Licensing by starting an anti Licensing campaign based on a report created by HDAA. This Campaign included, radio & newspaper ads and interviews, as well as hiring Cohen Highley LLP to consult and speak at the December 11th meeting. As a direct result of HDAA’s anti licensing campaign, an overwhelming turnout of Landlords, tenants and concerned citizens spoke against Licensing. The planning committee took pause and passed a motion that the Hamilton Real Estate Board and the Hamilton Apartment Association be requested to provide a solution to illegal apartments and student residences, to respect neighbourhood concerns and tenants’ safety. The “Joint Rental Housing task force” met and worked together to create an alternate solution to Licensing, they also met with City Staff. The submission was created and presented to the Planning Committee on June 18th, 2013. Read the task force Submission to Planning Committee or you can view the Committee meeting here: June 18th meeting (our submission starts around the 2:37)
2013 to today
On September 25, 2013, the City Council voted NOT to license rental housing providers and instead adopted a proactive property standards enforcement program. We would also like to thank FRPO (Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario) for their efforts and submission (FRPO Submission ). The Council also voted to establish a Rental Housing Sub-Committee with a mandate to work with interested stakeholders to assist with the implementation of an approach to enforcement and legalization of appropriate rental housing including, but not limited to, process, fees, and by-law regulations.
Currently the HDAA President (Arun Pathak) sits on the Rental Housing sub-committee and has been actively participating in dissuading the committee to recommend licencing to the planning committee. While working on a solution, our president has noticed a strong push for licencing from Councillors on the committee as well as some tenant activist groups like ACORN. Read on to see how we continue to do things differently in Hamilton.
Why is it important to stop?
The trend in Ontario cities has been to licence the Residential Rental Industry in an attempt to improve the tenant living conditions. Many Associations have fought and failed to stop this additional charge to landlords in their municipalities. The more Cities that accept licencing, the easier it will become for all Cities across Ontario to adopt a licensing model. The standard will be a belief that landlords should pay the City for each rental unit they have. Once licencing is in place it will never be taken away, and the yearly fee per unit will continue to increase over time. There will be additional fees associated with inspections and property improvements that you may be forced to do.
What are we doing differently in Hamilton?
To date we have been successful in preventing any form of registration or licencing for landlords in our municipality. The HDAA is working hard to be a new standard answer to the question of licencing. Our objective is to find an alternate solution to the various issues within the rental housing industry that have provoked the municipalities into choosing to licence as the only solution. We currently sit on the City’s Rental Housing Sub committee who will be reporting to the Planning committee with the implementation of an approach to enforcement and legalization of appropriate rental housing. We have retained the help of Brad Clark from Maple Leaf Strategies to meet with City staff, Senior Staff, Councillors and the Mayor to find out the real housing issues they have and dissuade them form having licencing as a solution to their problems. We will be doing a media campaign to raise awareness and gather more Landlords into the fight against licencing. We plan on creating a grassroots campaign that may include print, radio, social media & physical events to create a positive Rental Housing culture that wants safe housing for tenants without Licencing. We have created a round table group that includes members from various stakeholder groups in order to present a unified solution that works for everyone.
Why we need your help:
HDAA is a non-profit, Landlord Association. This large of a campaign is difficult to undertake without the help of the Apartment Rental Industry. We want to provide a solution that can be used in other Cities instead of Licencing. This process takes time, money and extra resources that a small association like ours needs outside funding for.
We are looking for donations to help us in our fight. We believe the more Cities that fall to licencing the more chance that ALL rental units in Ontario will become licenced. We need to stop it in Hamilton before it gains any political traction.
Contact us today to donate:
You can also help us by joining the HDAA:
The more members we have in our association, the stronger our voice is when we want to ensure policy changes in rental housing. There are many tenant advocacy groups that rally together, HDAA can influence our local politicians just as strongly, but only with your help.
We can provide resources and keep you updated on Landlord issues. Membership comes with the following:
• Dinner meetings with guest speakers, typically 4-5 times a year
• Morning educations seminars, typically 4-5 times a year
• Newsletters mailed to your staff with valuable articles and tips, typically 4-5 times a year
• Monthly HDAA Happenings emails with links to news in the industry
• Social and Charity events like; Golf tournaments, trade shows, Night and the Races, Boat Cruises, Spring Hope food drive, Walk so kids can talk fund raising.
• Member discounts with Rent Check and Group home & Auto insurance with A.P. Reid
• A standard lease package with tenant application forms
• Access to our Supplier members who offer discounted prices to HDAA members.