Taxpayers, OPPOSE The Proposed St. Catharines Rental Licensing By-Law

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The City of St. Catharines is in the process of adopting a By-Law requiring each and every rental property of four units or less to be licensed.

This, no doubt, is in reaction to problems that have arisen over student housing; street parties, noise complaints, erratic behavior, etc.  However, there are certain very serious concerns if this By-Law were to come into effect.  Concerns that not only affect landlords and tenants, but will without a doubt impact every taxpayer in the City.


In spite of the fact that each property will be assessed a registration fee, initially and every two years thereafter, these costs will ultimately add to the cost of housing.  By the City’s own calculations, the program will result in a shortfall of $2,329,123.44 over 5 years.  Who’s going to pay that?  The City gets its revenue through taxes.  This shortfall will affect us all, the taxpayers.


There is nothing in this draft By-Law that will have any effect on tenant and student behavior.  Certain jurisdictions throughout the province have adopted this By-Law.  No demonstrable change in tenant/student issues have been observed. And how/why would it? The tenants/students themselves aren’t the ones facing fines.


Already in place covering rentals is province wide fire retrofit legislation. The City has property maintenance standards in place as well as zoning By-Laws.  These are the main issues brought forward in this new licensing regulation.  It is a costly, intrusive repetition of what we now have. And the timeline suggestions simply aren’t feasible. What they are not considering is the fact that the majority of landlords have full time jobs, in addition to being landlords. That’s how they were able to invest in their properties, and ultimately our City, in the first place.


Throughout the City, numerous apartments exist that don’t necessarily conform to zoning; Triplex units in duplex zoning areas, Secondary apartments in single family dwellings.  These units offer good quality, safe, affordable housing.  The City is well aware they exist and has always taken a ‘complaint based’ approach to enforcement.  These are the types of units that single tenants especially are able to afford. With a 1.1% vacancy rate, we NEED every unit.  With this new licensing initiative, several By-Law enforcement officers will be hired to do inspections.  Can the City at that point let these units exist?  Where will the tenants go? Especially within their budget. It’s a very scary, and distressing thought!


When a similar By-Law was passed in Waterloo, average rents increased by 18.1%, after just one year of the licensing By-Law!! (From $831 to $981) and up 35.4% in just four years ($831 to $1125). No property investor takes on the headaches that often comes attached with being a landlord to simply lose money. It is time consuming as it is. Now, between the licensing fees, the need to hire property managers to make the continuous required check-ups, the fear of potentially being hit with ridiculous fines for even the smallest infraction, the path no longer becomes viable. Local investors will inevitably sell their properties, and in many cases, they will turn back to single family dwellings; owner occupied homes only, eliminating MANY of the affordable units within our City. With the increase in our Real Estate market over the past couple years alone, it will not be possible for new investors to repurchase existing investment properties and offer them at such affordable rates.


How is the City prepared to spend an additional $2,329,123 over 5 years, money that it doesn’t have?!  Rather than hire a host of additional staff at outrageous salaries to enforce a By-Law that it doesn’t need, wouldn’t that money perhaps be better spent providing subsidized housing for hundreds of struggling families that are under housed or struggling to get by?

If you agree that this proposed By-Law is ill-conceived and ought to be suppressed, we would ask that you lend your support by signing the attached petition which will be presented to City council before a final vote is taken.

Your support is critical.  Thank you in advance.