Toronto landlords will soon be forced to disclose their ratings to tenants
When looking for a new place to call home — which many tenants may be doing in Toronto at the moment given that rent prices are more affordable than ever — it can be tough to discern what actually living in a given apartment will be like.
Are there hidden issues with the heating or plumbing? Leaks? Pests? Is the building generally well-maintained? Is the landlord responsive to concerns? All of the types of things that are hard to suss out from simply viewing a unit.
To help with this issue, the city developed a program to rate landlords and their properties based on a slew of factors, and City Council has now been considering mandating that these compliance ratings be shared via colour-coded signage placed in a publically viewable spot on the premises.
But, there was pushback to that idea from landlords for obvious self-concerned reasons, and also on the grounds that it could stigmatize tenants living in certain buildings.
So, in its latest meeting late last week, council approved a different way to go about sharing these ratings with current and future renters.
“I don’t think posting a sign on a building changes the power dynamic between people who own property and people who rent a place to live,” says Perks. He wants to see council increase $$$ for the tenant defence fund that gives tenants more ability to push back against landlords.— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) December 18, 2020
Ward 4 Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks led the new motion, which will require landlords to disclose their rating directly to all existing and prospective tenants, and clarify what that rating means, in lieu of posting a sign.
"Effectively, we keep the ability to score buildings, we keep the commitment to inspections, we keep the rating... we simply don't post it on the building," Perks said at the council meeting on Friday.
"What is the purpose of telling everybody else? There's no purpose. In fact, there are potentially harms there... The people we are trying to protect are tenants who live in the building and prospective tenants who are considering moving in the building. They need to be informed."
Some councillors in favour of the signage idea — designed after he DineSafe rating system in place for Toronto's restaurants —bemoaned the fact that landlords won't be "shamed into action" to fix various issues through a highly visible city poster. Still, the motion passed 16-4.
Hopefully, it means that property managers will feel more accountable to a certain standard, and that apartment hunters get the full story of a building directly from the person running the building before they commit to any sort of lease (and can negotiate accordingly).
The details of how exactly landlords will have to notify residents and how the city will ensure that they are in fact abiding by the rule are yet to be determined.
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