Politicians mull licensing of apartments and townhouses amid setback

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From a mouse infestation to an apartment without heating, Londoners shared their housing lawsuits as city politicians debated three new or strengthened regulations to crack down on unfit housing in a marathon meeting on Tuesday night .

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The rules have been dubbed “Orwellian” by a homeowners association which has accused City Hall of wading into an “overbearing regulatory regime” by considering broader rental licensing rules.

Despite the backlash, the council’s Community and Protective Services Committee recommended that staff report on apartment and townhouse rental licenses. The committee also approved updates to Vacant Buildings Bylaws and London Property Standards to better tackle substandard housing – both would give Bylaws Officers the ability to impose fines of $400 for every violation – as well as a new task force to bring together landlords, tenants and lawyers.

“The current burden is on tenants to identify issues, talk to their landlords, resolve them,” the committee chair and Ward 4 Coun said. said Jesse Helmer.

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“We have a lot of tenants in the City of London, 40% of Londoners rent.”

London is home to both great and problematic landlords, Helmer said.

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A slew of tenants, many of whom work with tenant advocacy group ACORN, told politicians about problems in their homes, including bed bugs, cockroaches and rodents, flooding and troublesome heating systems.

“This does not apply to all landlords in the city,” Ward 13 Coun said. Arielle Kayabaga spoke of the need for stricter rules, adding “we can’t pretend the problem isn’t there”.

Kayabaga and County. Mo Salih pushed for extending rental licenses to all units regardless of type, proactively inspecting rentals, and designing a system for tenants to report housing complaints without facing retaliation.

Orest Katolyk, the town hall’s bylaws boss, said an anonymous tip line is unrealistic because when bylaws officers follow up with a landlord, it will be clear that complaints have been filed by the tenant in a particular unit.

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The London Property Management Association rebuffed the advisers’ proposals through its solicitor Joseph Hoffer.

“The Orwellian strategies they have proposed to respond to the allegations should not form the basis of an overhaul of the Owners Licensing Regulations,” he wrote in a letter to the board.

“Creating massive bureaucracy with extra costs passed on to tenants amounts to unnecessary over-regulation in a bid to find a few ‘bad apples’, assuming they exist.”

Com. Shawn Lewis, who suggested the idea of ​​the tenant-landlord task force, said politicians should be wary of the price. Inspecting all units that are currently exempt from rental licenses would require 37 new bylaw officers at a cost of $3 million, Katolyk said.

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And all the protections politicians seek won’t mean much unless they’re reinforced by city hall, LifeSpin, an Old East Village poverty agency that serves low-income people, said Tuesday.

“They have the idea that you’re not going to enforce the rules that are on the books,” said a tenant named Jody.

Katolyk confirmed that inspectors and bylaws officers are not entering units amid the pandemic except for the most extreme ‘life safety’ issues, but urged speakers on Tuesday to file complaints with from the application desktop.

Changes to the Vacant Buildings and Property Standards Bylaw, and the push for a broader licensing bylaw, will go to council for final approval later this month.

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