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FMTA Response to Proposed Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act

In April 2016, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released a consultation paper which discussed Proposals to Encourage Small Landlords to Provide Rental Housing.

FMTA was a core stakeholder in the process and provided feedback about proposals.  Although feedback on the proposals was originally due in late April, the government extended deadlines to June 30th in order to provide more time for feedback from tenants.

The FMTA Board is concerned that these proposals constitute the greatest attack on tenant rights since the Mike Harris government.  More importantly, there’s no evidence that these proposals will encourage small landlords to provide a single unit of housing.

Major Proposals:

1)      Require tenants to provide legal disclosure for any issues that they intend to raise at rental arrears eviction hearings to the landlord prior to the hearing.

2)      Explore whether any changes should be made to the process for tenants appealing decisions of the Landlord and Tenant Board to the Divisional Court

3)      Explore whether to allow landlords to terminate a tenancy based on violation of no-smoking provisions in tenancy agreements

4)      Explore whether to allow landlords to prohibit pets in tenancy agreements in small buildings where the landlord also resides

Concerns:

1)      There is no evidence that these proposals will create a single unit.  The FMTA asked for any quantitative evidence (a study/survey) that showed that these proposals would “encourage small landlords to provide rental housing”.  The Ministry didn’t have any.  In fact the Ministry provided no estimate of the number of units they expect to be created by these proposals.

2)      These proposals will encourage eviction of tenants. Three of the most concerning proposals (pre-disclosure of evidence, allowing landlords to prohibit pets, allowing eviction due to breeching a lease) can already lead to an eviction.  These proposals simply make it easier for landlords to evict.

3)      Lack of Fairness. Applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board are already dominated by landlords – 91% of all applications.  These proposals will make it harder for tenants to bring up counter applications and appeal to Divisional Court.

Better Options:

1)      Zoning.  Provincial changes to the Planning Act for second units came into effect on January 1, 2012.  Did these changes encourage small landlords to provide rental housing?  Evidence-based analysis would provide an answer.

2)      Licensing.  Many small landlords receive no training on the requirements and difficulties for running a rental housing business.  Licensing could help better prepare them.

3)      Standardized leases.  Many new, small landlords are shocked to find they cannot ban pets or smoking outright or that some fees included in their leases are illegal.  Standardized leases would help train landlords to understand and follow the law.

4)      Better law enforcement.  While good landlords follow the law in terms of repairs, charges and tenant rights, they face similar difficulties and penalties to landlords that flagrantly break the law.  Providing appropriate punishments for landlords who break the law and incentives for those who follow it could help spur rental housing growth.

Contact the Ministry!
Concerned about these proposals? The full list of changes can be found on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website. Public feedback can be sent to residential.tenancies@ontario.ca.

SOURCE:  Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association
http://www.torontotenants.org

Important note
FMTA Annual General Meeting –  Join the FMTA for the 42nd Annual General Meeting on Saturday June 18th, 2016 at 1pm.
Location: 120 Carlton St – Party Room. Corner of Jarvis and Carlton St. Closest station is College Subway.
Refer to this link for more details on the 2016 FMTA Annual General Meeting:  http://www.torontotenants.org/news/fmta-annual-general-meeting-2016

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In recognition of International Tenants Day this year a public forum will be held to put the spotlight on repairs and maintenance standards.

The forum is being organized by several agencies including the FMTA, Toronto Acorn & University of Toronto.

While this forum will bring to the forefront the challenges tenants face in getting landlords to address repairs and maintenance issues it is also an opportunity to address other pressing rental issues that impact tenants.  Tenant participation in forums such as these is instrumental in ensuring that affordable and quality housing remain a basic human right.

Here are the details of this event:

Date: Thursday October 22nd, 2015
Time: 6:30pm
Location: Innis Town Hall – 2 Sussex Av (1 block south of St. George Subway)

Refer to this link for full details:  Tenant Fall 2015 (E)

NOTE – International Tenants Day is an annual event coordinated by the Swedish-based International Union of Tenants. It aims to promote tenant rights around the world while creating awareness of tenant issues.

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We will have a federal election on October 19, 2015. The political leaders have aired their views and had debates on a variety of issues of concern to Canadians. Many families struggle to meet their monthly rent due to rising rental cost. Community housing is not an option for them as there is a huge backlog of applicants on waiting lists.  Moreover, most of the community housing buildings are in need of massive repairs and renovations. In light of the ongoing housing crisis, the lack of affordable housing and increase in homelessness should be more of a priority for all political parties and included in their platform.

The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) and the Right to Housing Coalition are joining groups and individuals across Canada in a national week of action to address the issue of affordable housing and homelessness. The Right to Housing Forum is part of a national week of action taking place September 23rd-30th.

The Federation of Metro Toronto Tenants Association (FMTA) has extended an invitation to attend the Right To Housing Forum that will take place in Toronto on September 30, 2015. The FMTA recognizes that there is an affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Canada and the government is doing little to fix it.  Affordable housing should be an election issue. You are invited to this Right to Housing Forum to talk about the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in the context of housing as a right.
This event will be held at Ryerson University Library Building, Room 72, 350 Victoria St., Toronto. TIME: 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Refer to this link to view the flyer for full details: https://righttohousing.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/votehousing4all_actoforum_flyer.pdf

For more information: http://righttohousing.wordpress.com/take-action
Use the hashtag #votehousing4all

NOTE:
Wheelchair accessible and ASL interpretation provided.
The forum will also be broadcast live online at http://acto.ca and http://righttohousing.wordpress.com
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/522951371188832

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The FMTA 41st Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday, June 6th, 2015 at 1:00 pm. The venue is the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) located at 252 Bloor St. West, Room 2212, Toronto ON M5S 1V6. (near St. George Subway)

All FMTA AGM’s include:
• Board and Staff Reports
• Presentation of the Audited Financial Statements
• Appointment of the Auditor
• Member motions
• Board Elections

2014/15 has seen the FMTA undertake a number of campaigns related to Above Guideline Rent Increases, rent control, landlord licensing, tenant representation and affordable housing. A Mayor’s debate was also held in October 2014.

Tenant Association Assembly
After the wrap-up of Annual General Meeting there will be a Tenant Association Assembly at 2:00 pm. The assembly will be a discussion dealing with issues that affect tenants in all of Ontario, including issues unique to FMTA’s tenant association members. FMTA members are encouraged to bring tenant issues to the discussion so that our position is strengthened when dealing with the politicians who make decisions on our behalf. The FMTA is exploring various plans of action to get the rights that tenants deserve. City Councillors have also been invited.

NOTE: All active members of the FMTA are welcome to attend the AGM, while all tenant advocates are able to attend the Tenant Association Assembly.

See attached flyers for full details of this event:
FTMA-AGM1
FTMA-AGM2

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