Saturday, July 12, 2008

Landlord Tenant Comment Toronto Sun

Small landlords will pay the price
Re "Not right at home" (July 9):

The release of the long-awaited report on human rights in housing was remarkable but predictable given the author, the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The commission's report was based primarily on anecdotal evidence provided by poverty groups, legal clinics, and tenant advocacy groups along with input from landlords, government agencies, etc. In their recommendations the commission ignored all input by the landlord groups that would not advance its cause.

Those interested in the future of housing should read the report fully and in particular the recommendations in part 6. A main objective of the consultation seems to have been to produce a report that has Ontario declare housing as a universal human right. In the secondary housing market, small landlords can look forward to a regime that includes no right to do criminal background, credit or tenancy checks, no right to take rent deposits, mandatory expensive modification to rental units, no limit to the number of guests or occupants who can live in the unit, mandatory certification programs, and a requirement that every landlord, big and small, accommodate a tenant's disability to the point of undue hardship prior to attempting to evict a tenant.

While the words sound noble, in the area of human rights in an employment context, the courts have held that the point of undue hardship was that point just shy of insolvency. The commission report also recommends that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing re-examine the issue of vacancy de-control with an eye to scrapping it and bringing in rent control which would be extended to vacant units to replace the system now in place where landlords and tenants can freely negotiate rent for a new tenancy. This approach has been rejected by both the Conservative and Liberal governments to this point.

How this new world of housing, where small landlords renting out their basements are turned into social workers and become funding partners, can bring about positive change is beyond most in the industry.

The real issue here is that the government, using the Human Rights Commission as its shill, is being disingenuous. If the government wished to make housing a universal human right and pay the cost of providing low-income and affordable housing to achieve that goal, then that should be a ballot question.

Instead, the government, through the commission, has found a way to make landlords responsible for providing this proposed universal right. If it comes to pass, this will surely decimate the industry and result in fewer units for tenants in need.

Harry Fine President Landlord Solutions Harry Fine, a former adjudicator with the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal up until November 2004, Landlord Solutions can provide you with the edge that only a former adjudicator can provide.

Respected as one of the Tribunal's top Members, Harry knows the law as well as the process, and is committed to providingyour company with the best in paralegal representation both
at the Tribunal and in Small Claims Court.

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