Saturday, 29 June 2013

Landlord Licensing

One of the topics being discussed in the Ontario Landlord Association forums right now is licensing landlords.... some of the so-called tenant activists in the forum are celebrating their "big victory" in Mississauga this week.

I haven't really had to deal with licensing at all - at least not yet - neither of our properties are in places that require it ... but did wander off through Google to have a look at what's involved.

I'm not clear, from my reading, and from what I know about affordable housing in Ontario and landlording in general - who actually benefits from the whole licensing thing.

Tenants in Ontario already have the Legalized Theft Board, Sheriff's Office, free legal services, by-law officers, and police firmly on their side.

If there are problems, tenants seem to have no end of ways to force landlords to solve them - and it costs them a LOT less money than it does the landlords. Plus, bad tenants get to steal hand over fist with the full support of every government agency for months or even years ...and once they finally lose, they can go on to the next place and do the exact same thing all over again because there are no mechanisms for finding out about them.... Good tenants, on the other hand, are already feeling the impacts of this and finding it hard to find affordable places to rent ... but that's another post.

What tenants don't have, or so it seems to me, in most areas, is enough affordable housing options. So I'm not quite sure how cutting the number of units by up to 30% as projected in Hamilton, for example, is going to help.  It seems pretty clear, from looking at  proposed licensing requirements such as these for the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area, that there is no possible way that licensing is going to create an increase in units available for rent.

And look at the potential costs associated with all of those licensing requirements!
Licensing fees themselves (annual of course)... annual criminal record check for landlords (ridiculous! Based, no doubt, on the never ending but eternally aggravating notion that tenants are all vulnerable, incapable & incompetent infants - I SO do not understand why people don't object to this depiction; I most certainly would). .... compliance certificates from every by-law, building, licensing department in the area, and from a HVAC company as well.... parking for every unit ....etc etc etc...

Contrary to popular belief, many landlords are not making huge profits on their units...  so all of these added costs are going to add to the cost of your rent.... if not immediately, then soon. I know, I know.... you all think that we all are independently wealthy and should provide you with low cost housing, all necessary accommodations for whatever you need, and pay your bills besides.... oh, and loan you money whenever you're short, too... love that one. 

But the reality is that even those of us who do manage to make a profit on landlording are not going to keep doing it if/when we can no longer do so, or if/when it becomes too annoying to bother jumping through ridiculous hoops.  And hey ... less available units, more need ... guess what that does to prices? It ain't good. At least not for tenants. 

So ... tenants aren't likely to benefit from licensing.

Not bluddy likely....  increased aggravation, increased costs, increased idiots uh people to deal with, The only group of landlords that are going to benefit from this scheme are the ones in buildings with more than 6 units (or however many they decide the cut-off should be) who do not have to do the licensing thing. Hmmm....  big landlords using government to put little landlords out of business? Naw... they would never do that, right?  Neoliberalism ...gotta love it.

None of the schemes I've seen have been revenue neutral - not even close, actually. To implement this licensing thing costs more than they are going to recoup from fees. So no financial benefit.... although there will be some people who get jobs out of the whole thing... 17 in Hamilton, apparently.

So why are they doing it then? Beats the hell out of me... my guess would be that somewhere along the line, the only people who stand to benefit from the whole thing are pushing some buttons... manipulating some tenant-activist-wanna-be-types  into thinking this would be a good plan, maybe?  And or convincing politicians to go along with it?

It strikes me as very, very odd that a tenant activist group like Acorn would be advocating for something that is so clearly NOT going to benefit tenants.

It sickens me that one of the images that was posted in the forum showed Andrea Horvath there apparently supporting the whole thing.  Seriously?

How/why would the NDP want to do something that so clearly is going to result in higher housing costs for renters and less affordable units? I do not understand what the hell is going on with housing in Ontario. I really, really don't.  And I most certainly do not understand what the NDP are doing re: housing. I am NDP .... and can't conceive of voting any other way - but I am becoming increasingly concerned about their (lack of?) handle on the entire issue of affordable housing in Ontario. Anyway ... that's another blog post too...  perhaps someday either Ms. Horwath or Ms. Forster will respond to my emails about the topic and I'll be better able to explain it - to myself, if not to you.

In any case, I am more than a little baffled, you may note, by the whole licensing landlords thing... your thoughts would be most welcome. Am I missing something? What am I missing? I must be missing something right?


  1. Just found your site.
    I'm a small landlord in down town T.O... one house with three apts.
    Please continue with your experiences!

    1. I hope you've also found the Ontario Landlord Association site? Even though the forum is, of late, irking me no end, and I'm probably going to stop visiting it altogether, the membership is well worth it - $99 gives you the ability to do credit checks, and also access to a lot of very useful resources.


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