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Hamilton's Rental Housing Licensing Pilot By-Law

Wards 1 and 8 Councillors call for the pilot to proceed

[PRESS RELEASE Hamilton, Ontario August 6th, 2021]

On Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 the Planning Committee of Hamilton City Council will discuss a rental housing licensing by-law pilot for Wards 1, 8 and part of Ward 14.

The conversion of family homes to illegal, overcrowded rentals is an existing and growing issue in these areas of Hamilton.

If adopted, the proposed by-law would require rental business owners (landlords) to licence their rental units. Licenses would only be granted if the rental units fully comply with the Ontario building code, fire code, electrical code, parking requirements, room size and layout and all other regulations.

In order to be licensed, landlords would be required to submit their properties to interior and exterior inspections by the City (currently, the City cannot enforce violations unless inspectors are invited into a unit).

The scope of the by-law would include “buildings identified under the zoning verification as having a recognized use of single-family dwelling, two-family dwelling, three-family dwelling, semi-detached dwelling and multiple dwellings containing four dwelling units. All secondary dwelling units existing or created in the pilot project area that are for rental purposes will also be included.”

The staff recommendation is to delay further discussion on this by-law until 2023. A copy of the staff report is available here:

Ward 1 Councillor Maureen Wilson and Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko are jointly committed to immediately implement this by-law with a full cost recovery fee so that all expenses are paid by landlords and not City taxpayers.

On August 10th, 2021, Councillor Wilson and Councillor Danko will request that Planning Committee approve the alternative direction presented in the staff report to implement the draft by-law “Rental Housing Units” (Schedule 31) by the Planning Committee meeting on September 21st, 2021 and that the program fees be set on a full cost recovery basis with no net levy cost to Hamilton taxpayers.

“These properties have been carved up to maximize revenues for their investor owners.  They are businesses and need to be treated as such.  The city licenses and inspects restaurants and hair salons for reasons of health and safety.  Why not these rental properties?  A cost recovery licensing model ensures that owners/operators, and not taxpayers, are funding a program that will go a long way in creating healthy and safe places for tenants to live. It also offers neighbourhoods a standard on how these businesses are to be operated. 

Councillor Maureen Wilson, Ward 1

“There are neighbourhoods in Ward 8 where nearly every home has been purchased by absentee landlords and real estate investors. These former family homes are then converted to illegal rental units with eight, ten or more adult tenants with little regard to the impact on the neighbourhood. This by-law provides the City the leverage necessary to hold investor property owners accountable for the rental units they own and make sure that tenants are living in a space that is safe, legal and meeting all regulations.”

Councillor John-Paul Danko, Ward 8