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New apartment bylaws: What you need to know

Last Updated Mar 7, 2017 at 10:24 am EDT

New recommendations aiming to crack down on bad landlords and apartment buildings in the city were voted on Monday afternoon.

Toronto’s Licensing and Standards committee unanimously voted in favour of the bylaw draft, which covers recommendations about pest management, tenant service requests, cleaning and even violation fines. If passed by Council, the bylaw will come into effect on July 1 and the City will work to conduct inspections on every rental building by the end of year.

An important distinction is that the bylaw only applies to owners, building operators and tenants of a residential property with three or more storeys, and ten or more dwelling units available for rent. Long-term care facilities or retirement homes are not included in this definition.

So whether you are a tenant or a landlord, here’s what you need to know about the proposed rules:

How quickly does my landlord have to respond to my service requests?

City Council require owners or operators to respond to urgent requests within 24 hours and non-urgent requests within 7 days. Requests are urgent if they are related to the discontinuance of the following vital services: Fuel, electricity, gas, heat, or hot or cold water.

All owners and operators must also have a process for receiving and tracking tenant request details, provide tenants with a copy of the submission upon receipt and be able to demonstrate compliance with the process they create.

 

What about treating cockroaches, mice or bed bug infestations? 

Owners or operators must inspect any area within 72 hours of being notified of the presence of pests. Indoor and outdoor common areas in buildings much be inspected at least once every 30 days for the presence of pests.

Once pests are found, owners or operators are required to take adequate measures to prevent them from spreading into other portions of the property and eliminate or exterminate the pests in all areas where their presence was detected.

No person is allowed to hide the presence of pests in any portion of the property or obstruct extermination.

 

Do tenants have the right to know about infestations? 

Yes. It is against the law to knowingly rent an infested unit to a new tenant.

Owners or operators are required to post information about any pest treatment activities, including the date of the treatment, the name of the licensed pest management company, and the nature of the treatment on a central communication board in the building to notify all residents. The notice, however, cannot include the specific location of the treatment. However, treatment records that pertain to common areas must be available to tenants and prospective tenants upon request.


What about repairs in the building?

Building operators and owners need to have a good repair capital plan that consists of a list of building elements and dates upon which they are scheduled to be replaced or updated. Capital elements include but not be limited to: Roof, elevators, façade, windows, mechanical systems, underground garage, interior flooring, interior wall finish, balcony guards, and handrails.

Information regarding planned or unplanned service disruptions, including disruption to heat, water, security, electricity and elevators (shall include nature of disruption, duration of disruption, units affected) must be posted on a central notification board.

 

What else must tenants be notified about?

Owners and operators must provide tenants with the following information using at least a notification board:

  • Information regarding major capital projects (shall include nature of project, duration of project, units affected)
  • Cleaning plan
  • Emergency contact information as described in Municipal Code Chapter 629-5.1 B, C and D.
  • Information regarding the nearest cool location, including: (1) The location of an air-conditioned place in the building, if accessible to tenants; and (2) the name, address and map to location of a publicly accessible air-conditioned location.
  •  All confirmed orders pursuant to Chapter 629, notices pursuant to pursuant to Chapter 485, Graffiti; and notices of non-compliance pursuant to Chapter 844, Waste, issued by the Municipal Licensing & Standards division that apply to common areas, if any.
  • Property standards appeals relating to common areas, if any.
  • Date of any ML&S audit, if any, upon receipt of notice from ML&S.
  • Any other documents as required by the Executive Director, ML&S.

How often do buildings have to be cleaned?

Owners or operators have to inspect all common areas at least once a day for cleanliness.

18. City Council direct that the owner or operator shall have a cleaning plan. A cleaning plan consists of:. A list of all areas accessible to tenants and the public and the frequency with which these areas will be cleaned. This list shall include but not be limited to the following areas: garbage storage area; walls; floors; laundry room and equipment, if present.

 

How much will implementing this bylaw cost?

There is no financial impact beyond what has already been approved in the 2017 operating budget.

The report also proposes new and increased fees for audits and re-inspections in apartment buildings that form part of the cost recovery model approved in December 2016. The revenue from these fees, in addition to that of the registration fee, will cover 65% of the costs of enforcing City bylaws in apartment buildings. The remaining costs will be funded by tax revenues.

 

Are buildings allowed to rent a unit while someone is pursuing a property standards order?

No, a unit cannot be rented to a new tenant if there is a confirmed property standards order pursuant to Municipal Code Chapter 629 related to the unit.

 

How much can my landlord be fined for violating this bylaw?

Landlords and building operators are subject to fines of up to $100,000 from the City, if found guilty of violating any of these regulations. The Municipal Licensing & Standards committee will also draft up a system of extended fines for repeat offenders and special fines for anyone in contempt of the bylaws for the sake of economic gain.

 

What about basement apartments?

Property standards continue to apply for all buildings, including single family homes, homes with basement apartments, homes with multiple apartments, and condominium buildings. This bylaw just gives extra teeth for licencing officers during inspections.

 

I own a house and rent out my basement. Do these rules apply to me?

No. If passed, this bylaw would only apply to residential properties with three or more storeys and ten or more dwelling units available for rent. But Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards says this doesn’t make other landlords exempt from city standards.

“The other buildings, they are still subject to the property standards bylaw,” says Tracey Cook. “So if there are property standards issues in any buildings or houses or other facilities that aren’t captured under this [proposed bylaw] there’s still that opportunity for someone to call us through 311.”