Stand Up for Tenants

New Strategy Will Ensure Safe, Clean and More Affordable Homes.

Toronto – Today, mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa releases his Standing Up for Tenants Strategy to strengthen the City’s RentSafe program and make rental homes more affordable.

“Toronto’s tenants have been overlooked for too long. Everyone deserves a safe, clean and healthy home that they can afford,” said Penalosa. “These improvements will provide real teeth to the RentSafe program to protect tenants, and encourage the construction of more rental housing.”

Gil will strengthen the RentSafeTO program and:

  • Introduce colour-coded RentSafe signs, similar to the City’s DineSafe program, to provide landlords with an incentive to make necessary repairs.
  • Establish rent control in all units that receive any City funding, and advocate the Province to bring back rent control for all tenants.
  • Request that the Province allow the City to take over Residential Tenancy Act Officers to investigate fraudulent "renovictions," landlord’s own use evictions and illegal “key money” requests.
  • Enact a maximum temperature by-law of 26°C in apartment units.
  • Encourage construction of purpose-built rental buildings by providing developers with an incentive of an extra storey on such developments.
  • Double the City’s Tenant Defence Fund to provide more legal support for renters to fight unfair Above the Guideline Rent Increases.

“Colour-coded RentSafe signs will give landlords the motivation to fix apartments so renters can live in safe and clean homes,” said Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, chair of ACORN’s East York Chapter. “Landlord lobbyists and others who don’t want to see this program move forward have said this will stigmatize renters. Tenants feel stigmatized by pests and mould – not a sign.” 

Standing Up for Tenants Strategy – Backgrounder

Colour-coded RentSafe signs:

Too many Torontonians live in homes that have mould, pests, appliances that don’t work and inadequate temperature control. That’s why, as part of the RentSafe program, mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa will move forward with an apartment rating system similar to the City's "DineSafe" program. Landlords will be required to post in a prominent, publicly identifiable location a colour-coded sign that displays the City's rating, along with posting that same information to the City's website.

Colour-coded signs act as an incentive for landlords to complete necessary repairs and raise awareness among tenants that they have a right to safe and healthy homes. A sign on the outside of a building provides validation from the City of the conditions inside. Landlord lobbyists and others who don’t want to see this program move forward have said this will “stigmatize” renters. But tenants have loudly spoken up, including via a City survey showing over 90% support, to say that a sign would not make them feel stigmatized, but that pests and mould in their homes do. 

Rent Control in all Buildings Receiving City Support:

Mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa will stand up for renters by ensuring that all developers receiving City support would have to provide rent control for current tenants and vacancy control on all units. Under John Tory’s HousingNow plan, only 50% of units offered will be affordable. Because Doug Ford scrapped rent control on all new builds in 2018, tenants in the remaining 50% of units will not have any protection, as landlords will not be bound by the Guideline Rent Increase.

Council has consistently voted to request the Province bring back rent control, yet Mayor Tory and his allies voted against it when they had the opportunity to protect tenants of HousingNow sites. 

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. Gil Penalosa will request the Province allow RentSafe officers to investigate RTA violations, and he will significantly increase the number of 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:

Mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa will implement a new by-law requiring landlords to keep indoor temperatures below 26°C. The temperature cap was recommended by the City’s Medical Officer of Health due to evidence indicating that exposure to temperatures above 26° is associated with increased premature mortality and emergency medical services calls.

Incentivize Landlords to Construct Purpose-built Rentals:

Gil Penalosa will provide developers of purpose-built rentals an extra storey to encourage construction of this building type. Spiralling rents in Toronto are due, in part, to the majority of new rentals units coming from the secondary market that is made up of individual condo owners renting their properties. These individual owners typically require higher rents than primary Landlords. 

Doubling funding for the Tenant Defence Fund to fight Above the Guideline Rent Increases:

Gil Penalosa will double funding for the Tenant Defence Fund. The City’s Tenant Defence Fund provides legal support to renters who are fighting against unfair Above the Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs). An AGI is a rent increase above the “Guideline” inflationary increase, meant to cover the cost of capital repairs such as replacing elevators or balconies, which a landlord can apply for through the Landlord and Tenant Board. As a result of this provincial law, tenants are being unfairly burdened with the landlord’s cost of doing business. Landlords already receive guideline increases and further rent hikes from vacancy decontrol to deal with their costs. Repairs should be included as part of a landlord’s overall expenses and paid for from the rent they already receive.

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