On September 27, 2018, the City of Hamilton Rental Licensing Sub-Committee voted in favour to establish a rental licensing pilot project in Wards 1 and 8. This recommendation will go before the next City of Hamilton Council, with anticipated implementation within the first quarter of 2019.

RAHB voted against rental licensing in the City of Hamilton for several reasons, including: a lack of clarification on the process, uneven zoning by-laws throughout the City of Hamilton since amalgamation, a lack of incorporating the Maple Leaf Strategies Report containing 25 recommendations to address the issues (above and beyond), a lack of plan moving forward, etc.

Please see below for information from the City of Hamilton’s for the rental licensing pilot project, as presented to the Rental Housing Sub-Committee:

LICENSING BY-LAW
This option is intended to assist and support in bringing low density rental properties into conformity and compliance with standards and lessen enforcement challenges presently in existence. An owner occupied low density dwelling unit with three or fewer bedrooms rented within the same dwelling will not require a licence to rent individual rooms (three or fewer) as this is allowed under current zoning regulations.

Considerations in developing a Low Density Rental Housing Licensing By-law and Program include:

Potential Requirements under a Licensing By-law:

(a) Owner to provide proof of ownership and contact information (principal residence), company information
(b) Property management plan
(c) Proof of insurance
(d) Local management contact info (for out of town owners)
(e) Self/City inspections for compliance with the City’s Property Standards and Yard Maintenance By-laws
(f) Electrical safety inspection
(h) Floor plan for the building
(i) Property/yard maintenance plan
(j) Parking plan
(k) Licence fee
(l) Consent to Inspection

Pilot Project Summary

FTEs Associated Costs – FTEs By-Law Amendments Required Inspections Exemptions Fee
Rental Licensing 3 $347,463 Yes Yes, consent for inspection provided by building owner. An owner occupied unit with 3 or fewer bedrooms rented within the same dwelling unit. $200 annually

 

ADVANTAGES OF LICENSING

  • Apply specifically to low density rental housing (5 units or less)
  • Apply equally to existing and new low density rental housing (5 units or less)
  • Require regular inspections
  • Require proof of insurance
  • Be funded by rental housing provider
  • Safer legal properties to rent
  • Potential reduction of enforcement costs to tax base
  • Possible elimination of unsafe, non-compliant properties from market
  • Early awareness of requirements allows for collaborative compliance
  • Competition from unsafe, non-compliant properties reduced
  • Housing stock is maintained
  • Inspection enforcement encourages preventative maintenance, which is more cost effective than deferred maintenance, and thereby helps owners maintain their properties
  • Housing inhabited by the most vulnerable populations, which is frequently the worst housing, is inspected annually
  • Poorly maintained, substandard housing can have a negative effect on neighboring property values

 

DISADVANTAGES OF LICENSING

  • Financial costs associated with a licence, passed on to tenants, higher rents
  • Financial costs associated with insurance, passed on to tenants, higher rents
  • Financial costs associated with bringing a property into compliance passed on to tenants, higher rents
  • Potential loss of rental income due to enforcement
  • Potential loss of affordable housing stock
  • May have an impact on affordable housing
  • Licensing rental housing may not be effective in addressing behavioural issues
  • Residential rental licensing should not be considered as an alternative to enforcement of existing by-laws

 

UNKNOWNS OF LICENSING

  • Although consent of entry written into regulation, unknown if tenants/owners will allow inspection
  • Compliance rates – follow-ups could be time consuming
  • Actual rental homes in Pilot Project area – 1,500 to 2,000 units estimated

 

RAHB is in contact with City of Hamilton staff to obtain more specifics on the plan moving forward and will provide those to RAHB members as they are obtained.

If you have any questions, please contact Wendy Stewart in the RAHB office at wendys@rahb.ca or 905.529.8101 x295 for more information.

More information can also be found on the City of Hamilton website at https://www.hamilton.ca/council-committee/council-committee-meetings/rental-housing-sub-committee.

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