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Landlords protest after Brampton announces plans to relaunch rental licensing pilot

Protesters shouted slogans of 'No to RRL' outside Brampton city hall after city staff announced to relaunch the contentious Residential Rental Licensing Pilot in five of the city's wards. (Saloni Bhugra/CBC - image credit)
Protesters shouted slogans of 'No to RRL' outside Brampton city hall after city staff announced to relaunch the contentious Residential Rental Licensing Pilot in five of the city's wards. (Saloni Bhugra/CBC - image credit)

Dozens of Brampton landlords who say the city's rental licensing pilot will penalize compliant landlords protested outside city hall on Wednesday, asking council to scrap the two- year pilot.

Protesters shouted, "No to RRL," after the city announced it will relaunch the contentious residential rental licensing pilot, aimed at curbing illegal lodging, as March 28 or as late as April 19.

Landlord Azad Goyat was among those protesting.

Goyat rents out his basement to four people and his first floor to six people, and says he is one of the compliant landlords.

He says instead of providing support with delays in landlord-tenant disputes, the city has decided to fine "helpless landlords" with fines for problem tenants.

"The problem is the lack of enforcement… How will we ensure that that bylaw will be working?" he said.

Initially launched on Jan. 1, the pilot will require landlords to register with the city before renting out four or fewer units. Under the pilot, properties in Ward1, Ward 3, Ward 4, Ward 5, and Ward 7 can be regularly inspected, and property owners who violate city's property standards can be fined or face penalties.

Goyat says under the current bylaw, anyone not following city's property standards can already be fined, and the pilot only subjects property owners to more inspections and fines to worry about.

Since the RRL places the burden on the property owners to keep their licence up to date, he says landlords could be in trouble for problem tenants, who in some cases could be the ones violating city laws such as illegally subletting, not maintaining the property, removing fire alarm, or inviting more people to stay than agreed on a lease.

After the initial launch, the city received complaints from landlords who said their tenants had illegally subletted their properties or hadn't followed city rules, Coun. Dennis Keenan told CBC Toronto.

In a January council meeting, Mayor Patrick Brown said the city has up to 100,000 people living in substandard houses, an estimated 30,000 illegal rental units, including complaints about dozens of students crammed in one basement.

Pilot will help track landlords, those living in a home

According to the city's current bylaw, there is no way for the city to track whether registered property owners are consistently following rules throughout the year, or declare any changes made after registration.

"A registration is different from a licence," Coun. Rowena Santos said, adding that the RRL will help keep track of all the landlords and the number of people living in a house on an annual basis.

The pilot was paused on Jan. 25 because of "redundancy in paperwork," like having to resubmit electrical and HVAC certification, Santos said.

Landlord Azad Goyat says the RRL will penalize property owners when their units are illegally subletted by tenants. He is asking the city to scrap the new pilot. (Saloni Bhugra/CBC)

A Wednesday staff report included recommended changes to "streamline" the process and told councillors to make the changes no later than next week's council meeting.

But Goyat says he will return with other landlords to protest over the weekend and do everything to make the council scrap the pilot.

Santos says a lot of the worries around the pilot stem from misinformation "being spread by some landlords" about whom the pilot targets. Landlords saying they will have to pay for a licence before June 30 or for inspections is incorrect, she says.

"If you're a compliant landlord, you have nothing to worry about. We are going after slumlords," Santos said, adding that the enforcement will be complaint-based.

LTB delays still a concern, landlords say 

Due to delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board, landlords like Goyat say complaints haven't been heard and some fear they will be penalized if they enroll in the program.

"Landlords are totally helpless," he said.

The LTB might have received complaints regarding the RRL, but it does not track them because it is not under their jurisdiction, the board told CBC Toronto in a statement.

"The LTB does not have oversight of or hear matters about municipal initiatives."

Coun. Rowena Santos, who is also part of the RRL Task Force says the relaunch will help the city to 'crack down on these illegal units and hold landlords accountable.'
Coun. Rowena Santos, who is also part of the RRL Task Force says the relaunch will help the city to 'crack down on these illegal units and hold landlords accountable.'

Coun. Rowena Santos, who is also part of the RRL Task Force says the relaunch will help the city to 'crack down on illegal units and hold landlords accountable.' (Submitted by Rowena Santos)

Since the initial launch of the pilot, there have been protests, online petitions to scrap the pilot signed by over 7,000 people and dozens of people delegating against the pilot at various council meetings.

The RRL task force staff and councillors, aside from Santos, refused to speak with CBC Toronto about the report.

Here's what's required for property owners or landlords to apply:

  • Application form providing property owner information, including: declarations of adherence to the pilot program and consent to inspections.

  • Completion of a PDF form with details of the rental unit such as the number of sleeping areas, kitchens and  bathrooms.

  • Copy of insurance certificate.

  • Property owner authorization for applicants submitting on behalf of the property owner.

No longer required are proof of ownership, floor plans, electrical and gas inspections and a criminal record check, among other things.

The city says it will waive $300 application fees and 2025 renewal fees for applications made before June 30.

The city has not yet revealed the fines and penalties for illegal or unlicensed landlords.