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Coburn Burns City for Slow Apartment Licensing


On Tuesday night, former Municipal Licensing & Standards head Pam Coburn spoke as a public citizen at the Parkdale Tenants Association meeting, nearly a year to the day she was fired by the city for a sultry scandal.

Coburn gave the crowd of 30 her advice on dealing with slumlords and pushed for steadfast apartment licensing.

She said licensing was a more proactive way of getting repairs done on time and gave slumlords less clout, but why hasn't been on councillors' and for that matter, the mayoral candidates' minds?

"What's of real concern isn't that the licensing hasn't been introduced yet, but no one on the political landscape is even talking about it as we come into a municipal election."

She said the main thing for tenants is to keep speaking out, loudly and never stop. And to form tenant-lobby groups to be a driving force against harassment and intimidation in some buildings.

"Landlords often complain to the city that the inherent problem with Property Standards is that it is used by the tenants to invite the inspector in," says Coburn, "write up a big order and you never let the inspector back in that way, you'll prevent them from ever clearing the order. Landlords tell inspectors this all the time."

The city came out with an Apartment Standards Web site last December, but it gives very minimal details on work orders at specific properties. Licensing would ensure landlords either put up or shut up -- consequences range from fines to a suspension of licence.

But the slumlords will keep laughing until at least the new year. The city is waiting for the new City of Toronto Act to officially kick in Jan. 1, before the licensing can go on. Sadly, that means another two-and-a-half months of broken elevators, roaches and no heat for some apartment dwellers.


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