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Proposed Waterloo

"Not Good For Anyone" by Gweneth Minaker Rental Licensing Revision

“Not Good
For Anyone”
How Waterloo’s New Proposed By-Law Will
Reduce Rental Opportunities for All Renters

Written by: Gweneth Minaker


http://homesonregina.tripod.com/

BENJAMIN BACH
KW Commercial, a division of Keller Williams Golden Triangle Realty Inc., Brokerage | 9-871 Victoria Street North, Kitchener Ontario N2B 3S4 | 519-570-4447
Independently owned & operated. This information is for research purposes only, is not legal advice and is solely Gweneth Minaker’s opinion. This information is not
warranted by Benjamin Bach or the Brokerage, & is subject to errors, omissions, corrections, or changes without notice. Consult an attorney for legal advice.
Proposed Waterloo
2 "Not Good For Anyone" by Gweneth Minaker Rental Licensing Revision

HOW

Few of the current lodging houses could meet the bar for the Class C licence which permits
4+ because they are either too close to other rental units, do not have dining rooms or suffi-
ciently sized rooms, or have minor variances from current codes which make them legal non-
conforming.

Three-bedroom lodging houses are not commercially attractive, since it is difficult to make
sufficient profit with the added costs of mortgaging, insuring, and running a licensed lodging
house.

Currently legal, quality lodging houses with no record of infractions and in every part of the
city will lose their new Class D Licence which will allow them to operate when the current
landlord sells or dies.

The higher fees and costs associated with the new regulations would put landlords into the
position of having to raise rents, and this will make houses less economical for renters and
less competitive.

The By-Law give powers to the Director of By-Law Enforcement and the City to arbitrarily re-
voke licences for many reasons, and this power could easily be used to close Lodging Houses
in favour of apartments.

Homeowners cannot rent their homes unless they obtain a rental unit licence at a cost of
$732.21 for 18 months. Homeowners with 4 or more bedrooms must have no more than 2
bathrooms to qualify for licensing, be inspected, and create and file with the City separate
leases for each tenant, even infants.

WHY

The stated aim is to improve the health, safety, and welfare of residents in low-rise residen-
tial rental units and to minimize the impact on property standards, lot maintenance, and scale
of rental units on residential neighbourhoods.

The Student Accommodation Study encouraged apartment development in the nodes and
corridors near the university. The City has demonstrated this support by issuing building per-
mits to create 3023 apartment units (with an unspecified number of bedrooms, but probably
approaching 15,000) in the last decade, even though they have no idea what the current va-
cancy rate is. In fact, they conclude an increase in vacancy is positive because, as a result,
low-quality, low density rental units will remain vacant and potentially be closed.

BENJAMIN BACH
KW Commercial, a division of Keller Williams Golden Triangle Realty Inc., Brokerage | 9-871 Victoria Street North, Kitchener Ontario N2B 3S4 | 519-570-4447
Independently owned & operated. This information is for research purposes only, is not legal advice and is solely Gweneth Minaker’s opinion. This information is not
warranted by Benjamin Bach or the Brokerage, & is subject to errors, omissions, corrections, or changes without notice. Consult an attorney for legal advice.
Proposed Waterloo
3 "Not Good For Anyone" by Gweneth Minaker Rental Licensing Revision

NOT GOOD FOR NEIGHBOURHOODS

Most licensed student homes are well-maintained and most students’ behaviours do not interfere with
the quality of life of neighbours. Everyone is being punished for the crimes of the few.

Forcing students to live in apartments will not prevent student drunkenness, parking offenses, brawls,
and vandalism. In fact, it could be easily argued that living en mass creates a certain amount of ten-
sion and acts of bravado. For instance, malicious fire alarms are a continuing problem in all apart-
ments. These create a public nuisance, danger as firefighters respond to false alarms, and expense to
the City. Student offenses could be eliminated through vigilant by-law enforcement.

In fact, many neighbours object to any changes in their neighbourhoods created by student housing of
any kind. For instance, the Oshawa neighbourhood associations which challenged student houses have
also protested the construction of purpose-built high-rise residences. (http://durhamregion.com/news/
article/137073 )

Many landlords can be expected to go bankrupt as they are unable to renew mortgages or make suffi-
cient profits on the devalued properties with fewer tenants supporting costs. This will have a depress-
ing effect on property values in the City. Worse yet, many homes may not be readily re-saleable, par-
ticularly those with extensive renovations, and will be abandoned, become derelict, and make
neighbourhoods unattractive and unsafe.

NOT GOOD FOR STUDENT RENTERS

Municipalities need to provide safe, affordable, high-quality, and accessible accommodations near the
educational institution for students. Student rentals near the university limit the expense of public
transportation and limit city traffic. In Waterloo, students comprise roughly 25% of the population so a
higher ratio of students within neighbourhoods near the university is inevitable, and not undesirable.

At present, more than 20,000 students are choosing to live in houses, deeming student apartments to
be overcrowded, noisy, inconvenient, costly, and impersonal. The effect of the bylaw would be to pro-
vide fewer housing alternatives to all students.

Students who divide utility cost between themselves in 3-bedroom vs 5-bedroom home would incur ap-
proximately 66% higher costs for electricity, heat, Internet, cable television, water, sewage, and tele-
phone. Together with higher rents, students would no longer be able to afford to rent a house.

Since landlords will be put out of business with these regulations, some will choose to operate outside
the law, making the City less able to regulate rentals in general and thus protect tenant safety.

BENJAMIN BACH
KW Commercial, a division of Keller Williams Golden Triangle Realty Inc., Brokerage | 9-871 Victoria Street North, Kitchener Ontario N2B 3S4 | 519-570-4447
Independently owned & operated. This information is for research purposes only, is not legal advice and is solely Gweneth Minaker’s opinion. This information is not
warranted by Benjamin Bach or the Brokerage, & is subject to errors, omissions, corrections, or changes without notice. Consult an attorney for legal advice.
Proposed Waterloo
4 "Not Good For Anyone" by Gweneth Minaker Rental Licensing Revision

NOT GOOD FOR OTHER RENTERS

The approach of limiting bedrooms per rental unit may be problematic for larger families
seeking rental accommodation. The report states that approximately 25% of family house-
holds looking for Community Housing are seeking 3+ bedrooms. A Zoning By-law that puts
restrictions on number of bedrooms and bathrooms will further reduce the supply of this al-
ready hard to find accommodation.

Class A licences limit rental units to no more than three bedrooms, irrespective of the size of
the house, the number of exits, the proximity of exits, the distance from other rental units,
the zoning of the district, or the size yard. To the best of our knowledge, no other municipal-
ity in Ontario restricts rental units to three bedrooms.

The difficult-to-obtain Class C licence allows four or more bedrooms; however, this licence
also effectively reduces occupancy levels. Only one of the bedrooms can be inhabited by two
people over the age of 15 and even infants living at home must have their own lease. This
effectively means that the maximum occupancy of a four-bedroom rental unit--no matter its
size and amenities-- is five people over the age of 15. Furthermore, multi-generational fami-
lies could not legally have grandparents, parents, and/or teenagers 16 and older share two of
the bedrooms in a residential unit. Many immigrants rent accommodation and live in multi-
generational families which are the norm in their cultural groups. No municipality regulates
the sleeping arrangement of homeowners, and this practice is highly discriminatory when no
safety issues can reasonably be demonstrated.

Landlords would face higher costs through City-imposed regulations. For instance, a Class A
licence for a three-bedroom unit would add $107.92 per tenant to the Landlord’s costs (or
$8.99 per month), although Landlords theoretically cannot pass along these costs. In any
case, with only three tenants, landlords will need to raise rents substantially in order to pay
their mortgage, utilities, insurance, and other fixed costs. Landlords will have no choice but
to pass these costs onto their tenants and will raise rents. Right now, houses provide a more
affordable housing alternative to apartments; however, with the new regulations, they would
not be competitive and would most likely go out of business.

The cumbersome and expensive process of obtaining licences will discourage homeowners
from renting their places, thus decreasing even further rental opportunities in the City, some-
thing which particularly hurts those with lower incomes. Most homes will not even meet the
criteria set out and will be ineligible for a licence.

BENJAMIN BACH
KW Commercial, a division of Keller Williams Golden Triangle Realty Inc., Brokerage | 9-871 Victoria Street North, Kitchener Ontario N2B 3S4 | 519-570-4447
Independently owned & operated. This information is for research purposes only, is not legal advice and is solely Gweneth Minaker’s opinion. This information is not
warranted by Benjamin Bach or the Brokerage, & is subject to errors, omissions, corrections, or changes without notice. Consult an attorney for legal advice.
Proposed Waterloo
5 "Not Good For Anyone" by Gweneth Minaker Rental Licensing Revision

NOT GOOD FOR WATERLOO

If off-campus housing does not offer students diverse and affordable accommodation,
they are less likely to choose to attend university or college in Waterloo.

If Waterloo students do not enjoy where they live during their university years, it is
unlikely they will want to stay in the community post-graduation, providing talent and
energy in the Technology Triangle.

NOT GOOD FOR CITY HALL

Devaluing current properties by approximately 25% (4 bedroom), 40% (5 bedroom),


50% (6 bedroom) or more will decrease the tax base. In response, City Hall will be
forced to raise the mill rate, thus raising taxes for regular homeowners, as landlords
carry less of the tax burden. Abandoned and depreciated houses will also erode the
tax base. The shift of the financial burden to other taxpayers will lead to complaints
and resistance.

Municipalities who have attempted to pass by-laws far less prohibitive than those pro-
posed by Waterloo have been plunged into costly and time-consuming litiga-
tion. Bylaws have been reversed by the courts and issues elsewhere are still not re-
solved and there are ongoing disputes in St. Catharines and Oshawa. When City Hall
is embroiled in bitter controversies, less energy can be devoted to ways which will im-
prove the local economy and quality of life on Waterloo.

 St. Catharines http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2881731

 Oshawa http://durhamregion.com/news/article/169034

The cost of effectively running this program has been grossly underesti-
mated. Consider just the cost of receiving and filing multi-page annual leases for
EVERY tenant in the City, even infants.

Enacting bylaws which cannot be enforced creates neighbourhood conflict, civil disobe-
dience, and an uneven playing field for legitimate law-abiding business owners, thus
undermining respect for City Hall

BENJAMIN BACH
KW Commercial, a division of Keller Williams Golden Triangle Realty Inc., Brokerage | 9-871 Victoria Street North, Kitchener Ontario N2B 3S4 | 519-570-4447
Independently owned & operated. This information is for research purposes only, is not legal advice and is solely Gweneth Minaker’s opinion. This information is not
warranted by Benjamin Bach or the Brokerage, & is subject to errors, omissions, corrections, or changes without notice. Consult an attorney for legal advice.
Proposed Waterloo
6 "Not Good For Anyone" by Gweneth Minaker Rental Licensing Revision

NOT GOOD FOR THE LOCAL ECONOMY

The University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Conestoga College are the eco-
nomic powerhouses of Waterloo, and lodging houses contribute to the economy. If fewer
students choose to attend these institutions because of expensive and low quality off-campus
housing, all will suffer.

Since it is not economical to offer student housing when three bedrooms are rented, this by-
law would have the effect of shutting down all independent small-time landlords in favour of
the multimillion dollar apartments built by corporations. This could potentially lead to a hous-
ing bubble in the apartment rental industry which will have negative ramifications on the local
economy for years.

Small-scale landlords support many local business not patronized by corporate apartment
owners (e.g., landscapers, snow clearance firms, independent trades people, small construc-
tion firms, local banks, property management companies, appliance and other retail
stores). Upheaval in the lodging house market will have a ripple effect on these other local
business people.

NOT GOOD FOR LANDLORDS

The increased provisions of requiring landlords to file individual leases, floor plans, mainte-
nance plans, and proof of insurance is a harassment, not inflicted on other landlords in any
municipality.

Requiring landlords to undergo a police check infringes on their human rights since it is not
illegal for convicted felons to own and rent property. This could easily lead to a human rights
challenge.

Landlords will devote their time, energy, and funds to fighting these regulations rather than
improving their properties. Many will unfortunately go “underground” to protect their financial
assets, turning law-abiders into criminals, eroding everyone’s faith in government.

Small-time land-lording is a traditional means to earn an income or supplement a pension


while meeting a community need. It has been a traditional path to prosperity used by those
who--for one reason or another--are unable to find other employment (e.g., immigrants with
language and educational barriers, older workers who lose employment). Landlords have
acted in good faith buying properties with Lodging House Licences provided by the City and
followed the law, providing a valued service in their community. It is unconscionable that the
City is devaluing their property and destroying their livelihood, in a way which will primarily
benefit large-scale real estate corporations.

BENJAMIN BACH
KW Commercial, a division of Keller Williams Golden Triangle Realty Inc., Brokerage | 9-871 Victoria Street North, Kitchener Ontario N2B 3S4 | 519-570-4447
Independently owned & operated. This information is for research purposes only, is not legal advice and is solely Gweneth Minaker’s opinion. This information is not
warranted by Benjamin Bach or the Brokerage, & is subject to errors, omissions, corrections, or changes without notice. Consult an attorney for legal advice.