The landlords who made up the delegations at Thorold the night of November 21 sounded like they thought that Thorold City Council wasn’t listening to them at all. But I’m pretty sure they were. After all, I wasn’t entirely certain that the new Residential Rental Licensing By-Law was necessary even for safety, and concerned that the fees would pay for the costs. However, after listening to the landlords’ arguments that night, I’m convinced that this is indeed the right thing to do.
First off, there was the argument that the process would cost the landlords a great deal to prepare their properties for inspection. No real specifics were mentioned but, since the by-law is all about the safety of residents and the inspections are safety related, shouldn’t the work that such preparations require be made anyways?
Then the question, “Have you asked the landlords if we agree?”, with its follow-up of what the remedy is if you don’t like the decision. My understanding has been that, in a democracy, permission of special interest groups isn’t require to set policy, even if it sometimes seems that way. And, if you don’t like what they choose, landlords’ recourse is the same as anyone else’s: vote against the politicians who give you offence in the next election.
The kicker, though, has to be the question, “Does my profit belong in your pocket or in my pocket?” immediately after pleading the case of the poor tenants who will have to pay the increase costs. Aside from that one landlord who claims to be subsidizing his tenants already, for the rest, especially in light of all the concern shown for the financial well-being of the tenants, is it possible that profit (at 4 tenants, $5.21/month the first two years, $4.17 /month thereafter) belongs in the tenants’ pockets?
Of course, there’s the weak threat, which also appears in letters protesting the removal of buses from the Winterberry route, that the tenants might move away if [fill in the blanks]. This sort of provides the answer to two questions asked by one landlord and alluded to by another: “Who benefits?” and “How will it fix the problems [of garbage, noise and parking]?” Obviously, if some tenants move out because they have to walk a block or because an extra $5.21 is out of their reach, my guess is the neighbours who want them out will win.
After accusations of additional levels of bureaucracy, though, one landlord representative provided an argument that Councillors may have understood. He spoke of a committee consisting of a number of groups who are discussing what tenants need, to “find solutions that don’t cost the tenant so much”. They will then provide a report at some indefinite future time. His only request was that a decision be put off until the results of that report come in.
Now that sounds like something a government bureaucracy, at any level, might suggest.