Monday, June 13, 2011

Mayor Ford's Solution to TCHC Housing Crisis May Need Some Work

I've been reading about the Mayor's plan to raise $40 million in order to stem the city's budget crises projected to be about $700 million in this current fiscal year.  He flip-flopped on the intended use of the funds, and now says that they money will go back into TCHC in the form of much needed capital repairs.  But the sale of 900 scattered single family homes may not be the Mayor's answer to the city's financial crisis as he had hoped.

Ninety percent of the 900 houses are rented with tenants.  Under the Residential Tenancies Act  these tenancies will survive any sale. That means once the houses are sold, the tenants can stay, subject to the purchaser deciding that they or a family member wish to move in. 

So will a prospective purchaser take the enormous risk that they will be able to evict the existing tenants once they become the owners?  This will be a highly politically charged issue.  The community legal clinics will be literally knocking down the doors of these houses to represent the tenants in order to save their tenancies and embarrass the Mayor. 

Making it more difficult, the facts as reported suggest that many of the houses are in a state of disrepair. Pursuant to s. 83(3)(a) of the Residential Tenancies Act, the Landlord and Tenant Board lacks the authority to evict tenants if the landlord is in serious breach of its obligation to repair and maintain.

Making it riskier for buyers, the Landlord and Tenant Board  routinely refuses to evict a tenant based on a disability, despite the landlord's good-faith intention to move in. This approach was upheld on appeal to Divisional Court in a case called Caputo v. Newberg, 2009 CanLII 32908 (ON SCDC).

Perhaps the new owners will take a different path and attempt to evict so that they can do substantial repair or renovation and then move in.  But s. 53 of the Residential Tenancies Act  permits an evicted tenant the right of return at the same rent once the work is completed.

And if TCHC was to commit to re-house these tenants elsewhere within their existing stock, they would find that a family of 5 won't fit into a 2 bedroom apartment in a high-rise.  That's why TCHC has scattered housing.

I can only see this happening the way the Mayor envisions it if the province steps in and legislates away the tenant's rights, which is certainly possible.  Maybe the Mayor wants to run this by legal before scheduling a vote in council.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well written. Now I guess the government stumbled upon their own laws that prevent them from selling those housing units. Why don't they think about thousands of small landlords whose rights are so unprotected here?

Anonymous said...

Harry Fine wrote Making it riskier for buyers, the Landlord and Tenant Board routinely refuses to evict a tenant based on a disability, despite the landlord's good-faith intention to move in. This approach was upheld on appeal to Divisional Court in a case called Caputo v. Newberg, 2009 CanLII 32908 (ON SCDC).

How does Toronto North stack up in this regard? Does a landlord have a better or worse chance of getting a personal use eviction there if his tenant is disabled?