Councillor Shelley Carroll

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Oct 20/05 Rooming Houses

Last night we held the information night on Rooming Houses at Pleasant View Junior High. The meeting was very well attended and very thorough presentations were made by staff.

I had staff record the questions and answers. They will be typed onto the Blog early next week for those who could not attend. In the meantime, I can provide you with the main points.

There is no such thing as a legal Rooming House in North York. The bylaw concerning Rooming Houses is not harmonized throughout the city. This means you may not apply to run a Rooming House within the boundaries of the former North York.

So what is a Rooming House? Any dwelling where the owner and a lodger, or several lodgers, share access to parts of the home and the owner collects a fee. This is not legal.

How does this differ from a second suite? In North York, a homeowner can obtain a license to rent out a portion of their home, providing separate access for a tenant, and pay enhanced property taxes based on providing the second suite. Important to note, the homeowner can have a lease with a tenant and that tenant can share the rent with roommates, as long as they meet occupancy maximums and no more.

Any suspected Rooming House can be reported. MLS, Toronto Police and Fire Services are all constrained by certain laws and statutes so the process of entering to investigate and closing one down is slow but not impossible. My office will provide information on reporting. The main thing to remember is that MLS staff, Division 33 Police and and Toronto Fire Service personnel present at the meeting all stressed the same point, "Let us deal with it." No one wants you to end up in a war with any neighbours.

You don't ever need to snoop inside a house. My office wants to hear if you have a chronic concern about improper garbage set-out, chronic littering on the property, excessive weeds and tall grass on a front lawn, excessive vehicles or illegal parking whether on street or inappropriate on property such as parked on grass and of course inadherance with the noise bylaw. These are crucial complaints for us to forward on to staff who are trying to tackle a wave of illegal Rooming Houses. And it goes without saying that these problems must be kept in check at any time to maintain a neighbourhood we can all be proud of.

Peter Constantinou from Seneca College was also present at the meeting and spoke to residents. He learned a great deal about community issues and promised further work. In the short term, he agreed to meet with my office and resolve the issue of the housing section of the Seneca College website. I asked before the residents present if Mr. Constantinou would endeavour to change the procedure at Seneca College Housing Office to require that any person listing student housing on the Seneca College Website first be required to provide proof of license to operate a second suite. This would have major impact. I'll report back after my office has met with the college.

Sargeant Fraser and Police Constable Downey from Division 33 gave a great presention and gave residents all the assurance they need that Division 33 is watching this situation very closely, especially as it has increased so dramatically in the past two years since the College expanded. Constable Downey will deal directly with any concerns as your Community Safety Officer.