SO frustrated!!!!

Read yet another report about poverty and housing issues… this one by the Wellesley Institute. The report is called Poverty is a Health Issue: What to look for in the next Poverty Reduction Strategy and is available online – or you can read the blog series about it.

I did start with the blog, but since it is housing that I am most interested in, I downloaded and read the housing section of the report and once again – much as when I read Brighter Prospects, and when I heard Gail Nyberg on CBC Radio today – I was left spitting mad.

HOW is it possible that so many smart people can’t seem to get past their biases against big bad evil landlords to LISTEN!?

Yes, I am a big bad evil landlord.

But I also happen to be a leftie, (card-carrying NDP, even) and worked many many years with marginalized populations. I worked at a camp for children with disabilities, group homes for adults with developmental delays, in a program with self injurious women, with the Ontario Association of Food Banks, and with FAME  (Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere) … oh, and I worked as a Rights Advisor with the Ontario Advocacy Commission back when Ontarians with mental illnesses actually had rights … you know, before Harris.

And oh yeah…I’ve been there, too…I was a single mom for 17 years, give or take… I had PLENTY of my own housing challenges. I’ve dealt with both physical disability and other issues…. I KNOW how freaking hard it can be.

And it makes me crazy that just because I happen to be a landlord, it seems like everything I know is crap …and my input is no longer welcome to contribute to the conversation.

Yeah, yeah, I know… big bad evil greedy landlord… I must know NOTHING. Understand NOTHING. And none of my ideas are worth listening to.

Except you know what?  I actually do know why – in spite of all the ~fair & balanced~ (ha!) legislation the Province of Ontario throws at us, many landlords (even card-carrying lefties like me)  continue to discriminate against Ontarians on OW or ODSP.  I learned it the hard way.

And I know how we could go a long way toward fixing it, too.

One memo, and a new section on a form … done and done.

It wouldn’t fix everything of course….  but honestly, people, it will go a hell of a lot further than the proposed housing benefit people keep spouting on about. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than dumping more money into public housing, also.

A memo and a form change.  That’s it.

Hey, I’ll even volunteer to write the memo and update the form for you… no charge.

You know what is going to happen if you DO manage to get your housing benefit and you do NOT fix the no garnish-able income problem? Ontario landlords will raise the rents again. Oh, it’ll take a while to trickle down …. we won’t be able to do it until we’re re-renting our units … but we WILL raise the rents again… to just past whatever the new shelter allowance is. And we still won’t rent to anyone who does not have a good credit rating and a garnish-able income. As long as the LTB = the Legalized Theft Board and the Sheriff’s Office = we take your money and do NOTHING  small landlords in Ontario cannot AFFORD to rent to people on OW or ODSP.

So housing benefit will – eventually – lead to higher rental costs for everyone …. is that the plan?

Sounds like a terrible plan to me!!!

But hey, what do I know …I’m just a big, bad, evil greedy landlord.

 

Tell me what’s wrong with my suggestions right here. Please!

 

 

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Making Plans

Just talking about our Peterborough house situation today has made my eye all twitchy.

Been trying not to think about it too much because it stresses me out, but hubby’s right in that we can’t just ignore it and hope she’s not further demolishing our house. If you missed the story, you can catch up here – but the condensed version is that – before we learned that in Ontario LTB = Legalized Theft Board, the Sheriff’s Office just takes your money and doesn’t do their job, and that OW & ODSP will reward tenants for bad behaviour by continuing to give them their shelter allowance even when they’re not paying rent (and that once you DO get them out and get an order for your damages, that order isn’t worth the price of the piece of paper, never mind the stamp they use to mail it) ….

Anyway, before we learned all that (the hard way), we had decided that rather than continuing to run our Peterborough house as a rooming house we would simplify things by renting to a family. Simplify – ha!  In theory, rooming house tenants are a pain in the butt, and tend to be dirty, and we were constantly having to go there to show rooms, solve issues between them, and so on….. renting to a family would cost us $$ – wouldn’t be able to charge as much …. BUT – in theory – wouldn’t have the turnover, and the parent(s) would be responsible for the home and be motivated to take better care of the place and all that good stuff.

So … we advertised it and found a tenant – a single mom with four kids, one of whom had a live in boyfriend – between the 2 of them they had enough shelter allowance to cover the rent and the mom PROMISED, cross her heart hope to die, PROMISED repeatedly, that she would take good care of our house. There was a problem with last month’s rent – as in they didn’t actually have the whole amount (surprise!) … but they really, really needed a place and she PROMISED and… yeah….

For awhile things went okay – we thought. The rent was paid, and aside from issues with the furnace and the hot water heater – both of which we were able to have dealt with by phone – all was fine. But then the boyfriend disappeared and along with him, half the rent…   and every time I tried to arrange a visit to go see what was going on there were excuses and it was not convenient and blah blah blah…

I won’t rewrite the whole thing re: when I finally overrode the excuses and showed up – posted that on my other blog – but if a picture is worth a thousand words, here ya go:

disgusting sink

This one picture represents the whole thing pretty well (but there are others if you want to see them).

Not only did she not take care of my house in ANY way, they have pretty much demolished it.  A fridge and dishwasher are gone…. most of the walls, gone; windows, doors & fixtures, broken/damaged beyond repair. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of damage …. probably more than they’ve paid in rent the entire time they’ve been there.

Legally, we could have called the police and had them evicted immediately. We retained the use of the attic, with access through the house, and the use of the kitchen – and if you share the kitchen you’re not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act – but she is a single mom with 4 kids …. I would feel really bad forever if we had done that.

We gave her some time to try to get some help to fix some of the damages – at least to clean up the mess of clothes in the basement (I bought her garbage bags and gloves, even) …. they did not.

Gave her some time to find a way to pay the rent – they’re still $400/month short which means that they are not even covering the expenses of the house at this point. She did not.

If they had made any sort of real effort to solve the issues, we were willing to work with them to try to retain their tenancy. But there have been NO efforts whatsoever that we can see. None. Stories & excuses, that’s all.

So now the deal is that she needs to be out by 31-Oct, and we have a signed N11 to that effect.

AT that point, if she’s not out, I WILL call the police and have them removed – and I won’t feel bad about it either…we have, I think, been more than reasonable given how much they’ve stolen from us, and the thousands more it’s going to cost us to repair everything.

In the meantime the plan was that we would get there every week – either hubby & I, or my daughter – to make sure things aren’t getting worse (they are, actually *sigh*) and to start getting some of the work done and so on….

Week before last, we met with a couple of real estate agents … really discouraging… took this past week off…

This morning, we talked and decided that we need to go down this week….  going to book appointments to get quotes re: replacing the windows, and probably replace the sinks and vanities in both of their bathrooms…. I need to get measurements re: replacing the shower stall doors, as well (smashed to bits).

Still aren’t 100% sure whether we’re going to be able to sell it, or if we’ll have to go back to renting it (God forbid!) but definitely need to get things cleaned, fixed, painted, repaired, replaced. None of which we can afford right now, of course… but what the hell can you do?

Sure hope lots of people in this area get bedbugs this year!!!!  We need a major epidemic 🙁   And I need to get 4 courses to teach for next semester for sure…. preferably at 2 colleges, not just one.  Unlikely though.

Basically, we need a miracle.

 

 

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Frustrated with OLA Eviction

So … I talk to a lot of people in the course of my travels… I do a lot of the phones & business management stuff for my husband’s pest control company … we deal with a lot of landlords, property managers and realtors.

And I know several people who are thinking about getting into – or in one case, already have jumped in – to  the landlording gig.

Normally I would happily recommend they purchase a membership in the Ontario Landlord’s Association … have done so regularly both in the forums and elsewhere ever since I joined.

but seeing as how I’ve been evicted from the OLA forums without so much as the decency of an email as to why – and for NOT doing a single blessed thing against any of their published rules, terms & conditions, or anything else I can find…..   not feeling very charitable about recommending them to anyone.  There’s a pretty big gap between what they claim to offer and what they do. …and it irks me that they’re still using my story and my pictures on their site and on twitter even after having evicted me for no good reason.

Was going to wait on signing up with the Federation of Rental Housing Providers (FRPO) – which seems an altogether more professional organization, but now I’m thinking I should do that sooner, rather than later. If they provide members with access to credit checks, that is. Will have to look into that.

Do you have experience with the FRPO? Any information as to the benefits of their membership would be most welcome. Why not leave a comment here, or better yet, come on by the forums and join the discussion?

 

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And another article possibly related to landlord licensing?

Next up on my twitterfeed – The Recession & Homelessness in the Waterloo Region. This blog post by  Isaac Coplan suggests that significant increases in Waterloo Region may be “due to the lingering effects of the 2008 economic recession” …. a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, given that the same article notes that homelessness has, in many other regions in Canada, decreased, not increased.

It seems far more likely to me that what makes the situation – and the stats – different in Waterloo region is the addition of landlord licensing, which has added significant costs for landlords – an average of $1,100 per unit for the landlord quoted in this article, for example.  That’s a pretty big chunk that most landlords will have no choice but to pass on to their tenants – if they even bother to stay in the business.

To suggest that landlords should just eat the cost, as some tenant activist groups suggest, is unreasonable  … given the lack of support for landlords in Ontario, all it takes right now is one bad tenant to wipe out a year or more of so-called-profit. We are not your social safety net, y’know – and it is unreasonable to expect that we should be.

So …added costs, added aggravation … and you still want me to rent to people without garnish-able sources of income and excellent credit ratings? Uh… yeah…. no.

What do you think about landlord licensing? Join the discussion at the ON Landlording forum.

 

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Hamilton tables Landlord Licensing

Was very happy to see this article on theSpec.com posted to my twitter feed this morning: Apartment-licensing plan on back burner.

The City of Hamilton voted to shelve the landlord licensing bylaws that had been proposed in favour of instead focusing on enforcement of existing bylaws. They intend, that is, to put their efforts (and money) toward dealing with the ‘bad’ landlords rather than punishing all.

This is exciting – in no small part because it recognizes that not all landlords are ‘bad’. Honestly, after participating in the online forum at the OLA site prior to my eviction, I was beginning to feel that that was the prevailing sentiment from all non-landlords. Surely the so-called tenant advocates and activists who participate there seem 100% convinced that every landlord in Ontario is evil…bad…greedy… out to take advantage of tenants.

I’ve done a fair amount of reading about landlord licensing lately. Some of the plans that have been proposed (and in some cases, implemented) in various municipalities seem highly problematic to me…. in no small part because the people who are most likely to bear the brunt of extra costs and aggravations – and potentially reduced numbers of available affordable housing units – are not, in fact, the landlords, but rather tenants who can least manage those added challenges. As I’ve written elsewhere, the only people who seem likely to benefit from licensing schemes are corporate landlords who are exempted from them.

The decision can always, as noted in the article, be revisited later … but for now the City of Hamilton is going to put their energy into fixing the actual problems, not creating more.

Well done!

 What do you think about landlord licensing? Join the discussion at the ON Landlording forum.

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ON Landlording in ON(tario)

Given my eviction from the Ontario Landlord’s Association I thought it was time to get serious about working towards actual change for landlords and tenants in Ontario. Still hoping I won’t BE a landlord in Ontario all that much longer – but there are serious issues which negatively impact on Ontarians and I hope that my experience – as an advocate for marginalized people, as a tenant, and as a landlord – will allow me to contribute in some small way.

If I can engage others – tenants, landlords, and policy makers in that – so much the better!

Blogger is fine – but having my own domain is better. So … here I am…..

There will be a forum as well…. well, there IS a forum already, actually – but still lots of work to do on that. Still, all are welcome – and if you have input as to what forums/threads you’d like to see in there, please do let me know.

ljp

 

 

 

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