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Concerns coming from same people

The number of responses in recent weeks regarding the proposed licence fees for rental housing highlight the way in which this issue is being spun by some landlords to stir up public distrust or distaste for the system.

In particular, John Johnston (Tribune letters, Dec. 19) brought up a number of points, all of which were fallacious and had been clarified at the two meetings held recently by the city.

He brought up a concern under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, he failed to understand that what the city is proposing is patently NOT a “student rental housing licence” but a “rental housing licence.”

This is NOT an attack on student housing landlords, but rather a licensing of ALL rental housing, whether you rent to students, to a family, or to your mother-in-law; whether you rent a house, part of a house, or a bedroom in a house. It is clearly an across-the-board policy, not a targeted one, and therefore his concerns are moot.

Secondly, he mentions that the city should also inspect apartments, and not unfairly target landlords who own houses.

However, if the author had attended the city meetings, he would have learned that apartments are already covered under existing legislation since they are regularly inspected for safety and fire prevention, and already pay an annual fee for this.

In addition, apartment buildings are purpose-built with fire-breaks and prevention already in place. It is precisely to address this inequity and safety gap that this legislation is being introduced.  Finally, the city has indicated clearly that this will be a “zero-sum” program; that is, the city will not generate revenue under this fee; the fee will cover all costs of inspections, thus saving the non-landlord population  money currently spent on enforcement under existing legislation.

I think it important to recognize that all of the “concerns” raised in recent weeks have all come from the same portion of Guelph’s residents.  We have yet to hear any concern from neighbourhood groups, students, tenants or the rest of the Guelph population at large.

One has to ask: if none of those directly affected in a positive way by an increase in safety standards, housing standards and quality of life standards are opposed to this legislation, should we really take the wailing and gnashing of teeth by landlords to heart?

Are they truly concerned about standards and safety, or are they simply concerned that they will finally be compelled to be responsible and conscientious, regardless of the impact on their personal pocketbooks?

Trevor Elmslie

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