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Published on Friday, November 10, 2017

Council puts brakes on licensing rental housing

Mayor rejects plan as burdening all to get at a few bad properties

Council puts brakes on licensing rental housing
Sample Student Housing Advertisement
Councillor Nick Hutchins declared a conflict and did not vote because he operates student rental housing
By David Lea, Oakville Beaver

Oakville’s Planning and Development Council has put the brakes on a proposed new licensing bylaw that many claim would have significantly hiked costs for low-rise rental housing in town.

Council had been examining the possibility of a residential rental housing bylaw as a means to impose standards on residences illegally being rented to groups of students.

Council members regularly receive complaints from neighbours of such residences.

The proposed bylaw brought forward by Town staff at Monday’s meeting of the Planning and Development Council, however, would have applied to all low-rise residential buildings (three storeys or less) — meaning every landlord of such a facility would have been required to get a licence.

Exceptions would include sublets, apartment buildings, group homes, hotels, inns, student residences and any program requiring a custodial declaration issued by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The proposed licensing program included several classes to capture the entire low-rise spectrum.

These classes covered the rental of an entire house (maximum five rental bedrooms), a rental where the owner also lives in the house (max. four rental bedrooms), a rental where the owner does not live in the house (max. four rental bedrooms), and lodging house rentals.

The proposed bylaw also listed requirements for landlords who wished to offer these rentals.

These requirements included providing the Town with floor plans for the property, having liability insurance of no less than $2 million, undergoing a criminal records check, having an electrical safety inspection, having a heating ventilation and air conditioning inspection and more.

Landlords would have also faced licensing fees in 2018, ranging from $372-$1,222 for the rental of a whole home, $253-$407 for an owner occupied home, $372-$882 for a non-owner occupied home and $1,068-$1,241 for a lodging house.

There would have also been renewal fees in 2019.

This information was not well-received by many local landlords who would have been impacted.

Council heard from more than a dozen delegations most of whom condemned the proposal.

Landlord William Leung said the bylaw would hike rents in Oakville as landlords pass licensing costs on to tenants.

Arun Pathak, president of the Hamilton and District Apartment Association, noted licensing would not help issues of tenant behaviour.

“Landlords have little control over tenant behavior. If a tenant is noisy or parks incorrectly, a landlord can attempt an eviction, which will take three to six months with suitable documentation. Even then adjudicators often give tenants a second chance,” said Pathak.

“Police and bylaw officials can ticket and fine for those types of issues.”

Pathak said the bylaw would significantly raise rents and decrease the overall number of rental units in Oakville.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton agreed this is not what council had in mind.

“Council was, and I think still remains, very concerned about places around town that are evading the Building Code and the Fire Code and degrading their neighbourhoods. Council sought from staff a program to try and deal with that,” he said.

“I don’t think council ever intended to add costs to every one of thousands of rental units to get at a couple of hundred problems.”

The statement provoked a wave of applause from the audience.

Jim Barry, the Town’s director of municipal enforcement, said the bylaw could not be applied to problem residences and not all low-rise residences.

Such narrow legislation would run afoul of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, he said.

Ward 2 Councillor Cathy Duddeck noted the bylaw could take Oakville in the wrong direction in terms of affordable housing creation.

Council ultimately voted to accept the information provided by Town staff, but took the proposed bylaw no further.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News




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