Olivia Chow says she would create an easily understandable grading system for apartment buildings, similar to the DineSafe system used for restaurants.
“You can go into a restaurant and see a red or a green sign and you know that restaurant is safe. Right now we do not have such a system for these buildings,” Chow said Monday outside an apartment building in East York. “What we should have is good transparency, so people know whether their buildings are full of deficiencies or in good repair.”
The mayoral candidate said she would introduce a smartphone application that would allow tenants to quickly search for information about a particular building, plus require landlords to post signs on buildings themselves. She called the current system “very, very opaque”: the information is available, but only to people who can find and search a complicated page on the city website.
Chow made the proposal while discussing a package of policies aimed at improving privately owned rental housing, which has been largely ignored during the 10-month campaign. She appeared with local councillor Janet Davis (open Janet Davis’s policard), whom she said “knows everything” about rental issues.
Chow also pledged to increase the frequency of building inspections, take landlords to court if they refuse to meet repair deadlines, and sometimes have the government do the repairs and put the tab on the landlords’ property tax bills. The city has the legal authority to take action, Davis said, but rarely does.
Problems in government-owned Toronto Community Housing have been discussed sporadically during the 10-month campaign, but almost no time has been spent discussing issues in other buildings. Chow, campaigning as a “progressive,” is the only contender with proposals directly aimed at private tenants.
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