Mayoral Candidate will Strengthen Protections for Millions of Toronto renters
April 13, 2023 – Today, mayoral candidate Josh Matlow announced his Tenant Support program, which will improve apartment affordability and strengthen protections for the nearly 50 per cent of Toronto residents who are renters across the city. By cracking down on bad landlords who fraudulently evict renters and don’t maintain buildings to City standards, we can ensure safe, healthy homes for residents. The program will create a new “Fraud Squad” to go after illegal renovictions and landlord own-use evictions, while finally giving teeth to the RentSafeTO program, which has not been implemented to its full capacity.
To improve apartment affordability, as Mayor, Josh will:
Establish Public Build Toronto with $300 million in seed money to build affordable homes at cost
Increase funding to the City’s Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition program (MURA) by $50 million to support the purchase of affordable apartment buildings under threat, so they can be run by non-profit or co-op operators
Establish rent control in all units that receive any City funding and advocate for the Province to bring back rent control for all tenants
Increase funding for paralegals to fight unfair above-guideline rent increases and advocate to the Province for their removal
“Bad landlords have been let off the hook for too long. It’s past time the City used its resources to crack down on fraudulent evictions and property standards violations, such as pests and mould,” said Matlow. “I will fight to ensure that every renter has a safe, clean and healthy home.”
Over the past decade, renovictions and landlord own-use evictions have increased the threat to renters of being fraudulently evicted. These actions have unfairly forced residents out of their homes – and because of skyrocketing rents, often right out of their communities. As Mayor, Josh will take immediate action to protect tenants from threat of illegal eviction by establishing a Fraud Squad, which will:
Enforce the Residential Tenancies Act at the City level (the Province only has three inspectors in all of the GTA)
Request police investigations of incidents of landlord fraud
Form a building permits team to investigate if an application for eviction at the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) has been filed prior to issuing any permits for building work or renovations
Increase funding for Toronto Tenant Support Program fund to support outreach workers who will hire paralegals and organize tenants to fight fraudulent evictions
As chair of the Tenant Issues Committee, Josh led the establishment of the RentSafe program through City Council in 2017, working in partnership with the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, ACORN, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, community legal clinics and local tenants. While enforcement of property standards violations was improved through additional Municipal Standards Officers, the previous administration didn’t allow RentSafe to be fully realized. As Mayor, Josh will stand up for improving tenants’ quality of life and will:
Introduce colour-coded RentSafe signs, similar to the City’s DineSafe program, to provide landlords with an incentive to make necessary repairs
Enact a maximum temperature by-law of 26 Celsius in apartment units and allow windows in high-rises to open more than 10 cm
Increase allowable fines on landlords to ensure effective penalties for property standards violations (such as lack of pest control, appliance repair or adequate temperature) through adopting Administrative Monetary Penalties and Part 1 tickets
Hire contractors to fix boilers or pest infestations if a landlord refuses to comply with City work orders
Implement standards for how much time can pass before landlords comply with work orders before fines are levied, such as two days to fix or replace a broken fridge, 10 days to repair a railing
Increase funding for the Toronto Tenant Support Program to inform tenants of their rights and provide them with tools to advocate for themselves via community outreach
To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit VoteMatlow.ca.
Tenant Support Program – Backgrounder
Colour-coded RentSafe signs
Too many Torontonians live in homes that have mould, pests, appliances that don’t work and inadequate heat. That’s why, as part of the RentSafe program, Josh Matlow will move forward with an apartment rating system, similar to the City's DineSafe program, which issues simple green, yellow or red signs that signal level of compliance with rules to the public. This will require landlords to post a colour-coded sign that displays the City's rating in a prominent, publicly visible location, along with posting the same information in a publicly accessible directory on the City's website.
Colour-coded signs raise awareness among tenants that they have a right to a safe and healthy home and act as an incentive for landlords to do necessary repairs. A sign on the outside of a building provides validation from the City on the state of conditions inside. Landlord lobbyists and others who don’t want to see this program move forward have said this will “stigmatize” renters. Tenants have loudly spoken up – including via a City survey that showed over 90% support for such a program – to say they feel stigmatized by cockroaches and mould, not a sign.
RentSafe Officers Investigating Residential Tenancy Act Violations
The provincial Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) governs most aspects of a lease between a tenant and landlord, including rent increases and evictions. Currently, the Province has only three RTA officers servicing the entirety of the GTA. Josh Matlow will request the Province allow RentSafe officers to investigate RTA violations, and he will significantly increase the number of these officers. These new powers will allow City RentSafe Officers to investigate renovictions, landlord’s own-use evictions and illegal “key money” requests.
This request has important precedent as City inspectors already enforce provincial legislation, including the Building Code, Planning Act and the Public Health Act. RentSafe Officers will also be requested to turn over instances of fraud to the Toronto Police Service.
Maximum Temperatures in Apartment Buildings
Josh Matlow will implement a new by-law requiring landlords to keep indoor temperatures below 26 Celsius. The temperature cap was recommended several years ago by the City’s Medical Officer of Health, due to evidence indicating that exposure to elevated temperatures associated with increased premature mortality and emergency medical services calls.
It is unrealistic to expect that landlords will be able to meet this by-law immediately. In the short term, the City will supply air conditioners to seniors in TCHC facilities, require a “cold respite” room in every apartment building, and that all tenants can open their windows more than 10 cm.
Many Torontonians take for granted the ability to open their windows to get fresh air and to cool down, especially during hot summer months. Residents in high-rise rental apartment buildings, however, are not afforded this basic comfort. Under 629-19(4) of the City’s Property Standards by-law, tenants in buildings with more than three storeys must have a guard installed that does not allow for a window to open more than 10cm (~4 inches).
While 629-19(4) was enacted as a reaction to a tragedy, the by-law has had unintended and harmful consequences. Restricting the opening of windows eliminates the only available avenue of relief for the many tenants who do not have air conditioning. In light of increasingly common extreme heat events, a lack of fresh air poses significant risks to seniors and others with health conditions that cause vulnerability to high temperatures.
Josh will mandate landlords to install heavy-duty screens that still provide protection from falls but allow for windows to be fully opened.