Landlord licence proposal coming to City Council

Londoners split over bylaw provisions

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

New landlord licensing approved Tuesday by London’s planning committee is raising questions among some landlords whether it is really necessary.

The committee has approved a recommendation that landlords who own properties with six units or less be required to have a municipal licence, meaning city officials could inspect rented properties owned by landlords managing six units or less.

During the planning committee’s public meeting earlier this week, city staff heard from tenants and landlords alike.

Under a new bylaw, city staff would contact tenants and property owners to inform them of an upcoming inspection of the rental unit and property, Orest Katolyk, London’s bylaw enforcement manager, explained. The resulting inspection would determine if a landlord needs to repair or change anything to bring the property up to code.

The plan will go before London City Council for final approval next Monday. But some landlords are continuing their efforts to get rid of the proposed bylaw altogether.

Joe Hoffer, legal advisor for the London Property Management Association, believes getting rid of the plans for small landlord licensing would be in tenants’ best interests.

“The reason we are opposed to the bylaw is basically because in our view it won’t have any impact on the safety of housing and it won’t have any impact on property standards,” Hoffer said.

“We have said from day one that the bylaw is about extracting money from the tenant population and that’s all it is going to do.”

London city councillor Nancy Branscombe, chairperson of London’s planning committee, believed the plans are a move in the right direction despite some Londoners’ objections.

“If [the bylaw] passes on Monday I think it is going to be a win-win for everybody,” Branscombe said.

The price tag of landlord licences will be insignificant, at $30 a year per unit, Branscombe added.

According to Hoffer, the bylaw could be a move by the city to gain power.

“They’ve acknowledged that the only power they do not have and the only reason they need this licensing bylaw in relation to property standards issues is so that they can proactively inspect. And that is a euphemism for forced entry against a tenant’s consent.”

Both Katolyk and Branscombe disagreed with Hoffer’s view.

“There is a myth out there that we are going to be engaged in forced entry without tenants’ consent and that is absolutely false,” Katolyk said.

“There would be proper procedures to do the inspection,” Branscombe added. “[Inspectors] can’t just go barging in on people.”

The city will give tenants and landlords a month’s notice before conducting an inspection. However, if someone refused an inspector entry into his or her unit the city would get a court order to enter the individual’s home anyway, Hoffer said.

According to Katolyk, Western’s administration is in support of the bylaw.

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