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Archive for the ‘Repairs and maintenance’ Category

Many high-rise apartment buildings around the GTA are currently undergoing major renovations and repairs of balconies. Most balconies tend to be made of metal with concrete slabs and are subject to wear and tear and rusting. Landlords and property owners deem these renovations and repairs are necessary to maintain the infrastructure and revitalize the appearance of the buildings. Hence these renovations are deemed ‘capital expenditure work’ under the Residential Tenancies Act.

Refer to: http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb-december-19-2016-new-approach-applications-rent-increase-guideline/

Given that the Above Guideline Increase regulations of the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) deem renovation of balconies as ‘capital expenditure work’, the landlord has rights to renovate their property. The landlord will incur substantial costs from these renovations and the upshot is that the landlord can apply for an Above Guideline Increase and pass these costs on to their tenants.

Although elegant and attractive balconies improve the overall appearance of the building there are some downsides to the balcony renovation project:

  • Tenants have to endure excessive noise and disruption as workers dismantle the existing balcony railings. It is a noisy, dusty and disruptive process, therefore a great inconvenience for tenants, especially those who have night jobs as well as families with young children. Further, balcony-facing window curtains must be closed during the day for months at a time, to ensure privacy when workers pass by on scaffolding.
  • Balconies are barricaded and access to certain locations of their building is limited. Of course, the safety of tenants during the renovation work is a priority. Yet that lack of access to the balcony, including removal of window air conditioners during the hot summer months, certainly interferes with the tenants’ enjoyment of their unit. This can be seen as a ‘loss of service’ and tenants may be able to file an application for an abatement of rent at the Landlord and Tenant Board.
  • Renovating balconies is a major construction project that can take a much longer time to complete as predicted as the work can be prolonged well beyond the targeted completion date. Tenants can be inconvenienced for an extended period of time.
  • As part of the preparation for the balcony renovations tenants are instructed to remove any items stored on their balcony. Lockers are no longer made available in many high-rise buildings so tenants tend to store valued or bulky items on their balcony. Tenants are not always told that any items not removed are permanently ‘disposed of’ by the workers which is a lack of clear communication by the landlord. Since there is no recourse to recover those missing items removed from balconies it would benefit tenants if landlords make arrangements/agreements with the workers on how to dispose of items, i.e. leave those items in a designated area for tenant to retrieve them.

Despite many inconveniences, the most important and troubling concern of tenants is what the Above Guideline Increase will be after the renovations have been completed. All rent increases are permanent and compounded for the remainder of the tenancy.

In recent years there has been a crisis of affordable rental housing due to low vacancy rate. It has mostly to do with ‘supply and demand’. Developers are more focussed on building condos as the condo market is thriving. That has diminished the availability of a much needed supply of affordable rental housing and also contributed to a very low vacancy rate in rental housing. The outcome has been huge increases in rental costs for tenants. Renovating apartment buildings and being able to claim those costs as ‘capital expenditures’ is of significant financial benefit to landlords as those costs are covered by the Above Guideline Increase regulations. Are those balcony renovations necessary or essential?

Tenants are encouraged to become more informed about the Above Guideline Increase rules by the Landlord and Tenant Board. Moreover, it could be in the best interest of tenants to get organized and engage in activism to address attempts by landlords to inflate rents as a result of balcony renovations.

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NOTE – Refer to these links for rules and regulation of the Above Guideline increases outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act:

Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17:
https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/06r17

July 1, 2019 e-Laws currency date
https://www.ontario.ca/laws/about-e-laws#ccl

In the absence of tenant associations tenants should check out the Federation of Metro Tenants Association (FMTA) organization.  FMTA has produced a Guide to Renovations publication that contains extensive information on regulations related to renovations.

Refer to this link for details:
Federation of Metro Tenants Association (FMTA) document https://torontotenants.org/sites/torontotenants.org/files/publications/Guide_to_Renovations.pdf

 

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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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Landlords provide a variety of services to tenants in residential apartment buildings. One of the major services provided is ‘repairs and maintenance’. This particular service is defined in the lease document, which is a contractual agreement between the landlord and the tenant and is covered by the regulations of the Landlord and Tenant Board.

While a variety services are provided by landlords, the one most frequently used by tenants tends to be ‘repairs and maintenance’. These services are provided by onsite staff except in unusual situations where major repairs would have to be done by licensed tradespeople. Other necessary services such as lawn care and snow removal are provided in compliance with municipal standards and bylaws whereas services such as ‘laundry facilities’ are outsourced by the landlord.

The inclusion of ‘laundry facilities’ is an essential service for most tenants. Tenants in residential apartment buildings expect to have laundry equipment available on site. For several years there has been a trend for laundromat services to be outsourced to outside contractors, not managed by the landlord. The outsourcer/contractor is allocated a space to set up the laundry equipment and is responsible for collection of monies and maintenance of the equipment. This is where some bothersome issues have surfaced for tenants using the laundry facilities. The laundry facility is not free as the machines are equipped for coin collection.  Alas, these washers and dryers malfunction fairly frequently and tenants are unable to receive the services for which they have paid.

Posters in laundry rooms display contact information in the event a tenant encounters problems with the machines. Tenants can also report that loss of service to their property manager or superintendent to obtain refunds for the money lost. It should be a simple matter to obtain a refund. Yet some tenants are finding it challenging to be reimbursed for the money lost on malfunctioning washers and dryers when they follow up with the property management. Tenants’ requests for reimbursement of lost money are not always dealt with promptly.

There appears to be an issue related to accountability and oversight. The laundry equipment should be approved for continuous use in residential apartment buildings. It is not for occasional use hence there is more wear and tear to the equipment due to the large number of users. Tenants have to pay for the use of the washers and dryers. The laundry equipment provided to tenants should meet a required level of performance and not be faulty and sub-standard.

Dissatisfaction with the faulty laundry machines, loss of money, overcrowding and wait times has driven some tenants to purchase their own laundry equipment without the knowledge or approval of the landlord. As a result some landlords have notified tenants who wish to install laundry appliances that their rental cost will increase due to increased hydro/utility costs for the entire building. Landlords have also attempted to apply similar rules to those who install air conditioning appliances.

Ultimately those tenants who install laundry appliances or air conditioners without approval are being subsidized by the other tenants in the building who have not installed that type of equipment in their units. For those tenants dependent on the laundry facilities and have lost money the outstanding issue would be for the landlord to address the lack of accountability and oversight for the services provided by the outsourcer/contractor.

We would very much like to hear about experiences you have had with the laundry facilities in your building.

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The  City’s Licensing Committee will be discussing the City of Toronto MRAB (Multi-Residential Apartment Buildings) program at its meeting on Friday November 16th, 2012.

This meeting is an opportunity for tenants and tenant groups to participate in the discussion about the effectiveness of the property standards by-law and whether or not the by-law is properly enforced.  Tenants need know whether the current system works and if it has been meeting the regulations of the property standards by-law. Outstanding repairs and maintenance issues have a negative impact on the quality of life of tenants and also violate the property standards by-law. Is the property standards by-law being enforced in a way that ensures ‘proper repairs and maintenance’ in their buildings?  How is the MRAB program being monitored? Have there been changes to the MRAB program and have these changes been made public? Tenants need to know whether or not this MRAB program is working well and if property standards are being enforced.

Tenants can participate in the discussion to take place on Friday November 16th, 2012.

For more information on the meeting refer to this communique from Janet Davis (Beaches-East York Councillor):  Multi-Residential Apartment Buildings Audit Program

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NOTE – In an earlier post “MLS AUDITING PROGRAM FOR 2011 – Update” we  raised a number of concerns related to how MRAB conducted audits.  Refer to this link:   https://eastyorktenantsgroup.com/2011/04/04/upcoming-federal-election-2011/.

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UPDATE – Please note that the Federation of Metro Tenants Association (FMTA) has launched the “Connecting Communities Tenant School”. The purpose of the tenant school is for ’empowering tenants through education and information of their legal rights as tenants’.  The schools will be be held over a period of 2 years.

Check these links for more details:
www.torontotenants.org/news/fmta-launches-connecting-communities-tenant-school
http://www.torontotenants.org/news/connecting-communities-tenant-school-now-accepting-participants

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You are invited to participate in the upcoming Taylor Massey Tenant School.

This event will take place September 11- October 16, 2012 at 10 Gower Street, Toronto, ON

The purpose of this event is to provide training and valuable information to tenants on how to deal effectively with various rental housing issues.  You need to register to participate in the ‘tenant school’.

Please refer to this document for more details:  TaylorMassey_Tenant School

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For the current year and commencing January 2011, the Municipal Licencing and Standards department (MLS) has provided updated information on the resumption of the audit program in multi-residential apartment buildings (MRAB). MLS has included a list of buildings scheduled for auditing as well as specific items to be targeted in their audits. For example, the audits will include ‘common areas, mechanical systems and grounds of the building’ for property standard violations. Refer to this link for details: http://www.toronto.ca/licensing/mrab/audit_activity_by_ward.htm

According to the article “Inspectors to probe city’s 5,000 rental buildings” published in April 2010, Jim Hart (Executive Director of MLS) stated:  ” We’re actually going to get our own staff to go out there effectively with a checklist and do every single (rental) building in the city and kind of rate them,” and that “he’s determined to send out about 100 inspectors to give nearly 5,000 buildings a once-over, so his 12-member audit team can better focus its efforts on the buildings most in need of improvements”. Refer to this link for the full article: (more…)

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In recent months there has been a noticeable increase of renovation and retrofitting activities in apartment buildings in the GTA. Most of these renovations are related to upgrades to promote energy conservation. Renovations include fixes to faulty plumbing and heating systems, installing smart sub-meters, and replacement of ageing balcony doors and windows for more energy efficient ones. While general repairs and renovations are long overdue in older buildings there are other newer buildings  undergoing (more…)

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(Check for update on the audit program here: MLS Auditing Program for 2011 )

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The first annual report released by the City of Toronto’s first Ombudsman contained a troubling statement about the “lack of effective communication between bureaucrats and public”. Check  here  to access the Ombudsman’s report.  This lack of communication identified in the report has clearly been a source of great frustration for the public. In particular, it is a serious impediment to resolving landlord violations of property standards in multi-residential apartment buildings (MRAB). Hence this (more…)

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