Thursday, June 3, 2010

Liberal Bed Bug Bill is Batty

Here's what the Toronto Star reported this morning, another wacky idea by the provincial Liberals making landlords into the villains. 

Tenants have a right to sleep tight and not let the bedbugs bite, says Liberal MPP Mike Colle.  Inspired by Star columnist Joe Fiorito’s crusade against bedbugs in public housing, low-income rental units, and seniors’ homes, Colle on Thursday will introduce private member’s legislation to protect tenants against the nasty parasites.  The Renters’ Right to Know Act would shield people from having to endure the unpleasantness of bedbug bites in their rented houses and apartments.

That would entail a “bedbug information report” to be presented by a landlord to a prospective tenant prior to the signing of any lease.

“The landlord shall provide to the tenant a report specifying any information that has come to the landlord’s attention with respect to bedbugs in the rental unit or in any other rental unit in the residential complex for the previous five-year period,” the bill states.

Any landlord that fails to provide full disclosure of the bedbug history of a unit “or gives false information in the report” would face fines.

So let's get this straight.  We have the City of Toronto's Streets to Homes program, taking people off the street, forcing social housing landlords to accept them, bringing bed bugs into the units, and where is the City when the bed bug problem occurs?

Then you have the Landlord and Tenant Board which routinely gets it wrong and blames landlords for the bed bugs, even when tenants bring them in, don't allow landlords into the units, don't cooperate by preparing the units for spraying or changing their living habits, but again, blame the landlords.

Then you have Legal Aid Ontario, supposedly looking for ways to spend money more prudently, funded by our tax dollars through Mr. Colle's government, working hard to keep people housed, preventing evictions, and defeating landlord's attempts to be compensated for the damage caused and costs incurred by the invasion of the bed bugs.  They do this through 75 tenant-side legal clinics across the province, and a separate (and redundant) organization, ACTO, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants, Ontario.

And then we have the Ontario Human Rights Commission which under the Liberal watch, specifically in October of 2009, introduced a Policy Guideline on Human Rights and Rental Housing, which makes it all but impossible to evict any tenant who claims to be member of one of 14 Code protected groups (usually disability) and refuses to engage in acceptable hygiene and cooperate with the landlord in keeping the rental unit free from bed bugs.

Waste of LAO dollars through the Legal Clinics and ACTO is rampant.  As we speak I have a case at the Landlord and Tenant Board where one of the 75 community legal clinics, Neighbourhood Legal Services, is defending a tenant in a private, for-profit building, who has let his unit get to such a horrid state of infestation that 6 other tenants have moved out.  He has refused to cooperate in the remediation process, and to date, the landlord has spent over $10,000 doing unit and building treatments, all related to this one unit.  Instead of encouraging the tenant to take some personal responsibility while living in a communal setting, the legal clinic is fighting not only the eviction application, but any attempts by the landlord to recover compensation for the damage, or to have the tenant improve his standard of cleanliness.

So Mr. Colle, before you decide that the panacea for this problem which I agree is a plague on this city is to have landlords fill out reports, perhaps you'd better consult with people who actually work in the industry. Maybe you should come up with solutions to get rid of bed bugs, instead of harass landlords who are also victims.


Anonymous said...

How about we propose an amendment to the bill which states that tenants must also provide a statement indicating if they have lived in a place infested with bed bugs in the previous 5 years. Because they may very well be toting the little pests around with them. As if that would fly.

Bed bugs can happen to good people. It's possible to bring them home from the subway. In fact, it's people who transport them, not buildings.

This proposed legislation is further proof that it's dangerous to be an Ontario landlord in these times.

Anonymous said...

See my K9 bed bug detector “Lillie “at work, on YouTube