by Bob Aaron
It's election time and Ontario's residential landlords are again facing a crisis.
The Liberals want to repeal the Tenant Protection Act, the NDP wants a rent freeze, and the Conservatives are trailing in the polls at press time. Energy costs are up substantially, and vacancies are at record highs for recent years. We are faced with threats of war overseas, and oil shortages. Predictions are that interest rates are on the way up.
But we Canadians are a tough lot, and landlords are even tougher. We are survivors. We survived the rent registry, we survived Bob Rae, and we will survive again.
So what do we do as a group and as individuals to survive these challenges? How can we respond?
Firstly, I think it is vital that we are members of at least one or more of our excellent landlord organizations: the Multiple Dwelling Standards Association, the Fair Rental Policy Organization, the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, and a number of municipal landlord groups outside the Toronto area.
Landlord groups offer bulk buying power for energy and appliances; educational seminars; lobbying activities; and informative newsletters. They keep us up-to-date on regulation changes. When landlord associations make representations to governments, we speak with a stronger voice that any number of individual landlords. When we approach energy suppliers to quote on massive amounts of gas or oil, we are able to negotiate bulk rates which are much more attractive than individual landlords could obtain independently.
We need to communicate with our tenants to inform them that the current rent control regime is working as intended, that vacancies are up, and that old-style rent controls brought serious harm to the tenant community. Tenants need to know the effects of unfair municipal taxation, and that they themselves are shouldering the burden.
With a spring provincial election a virtual certainty as this is being written, Ontario's residential landlord associations have banded together to form the Rental Housing Industry Coalition in response to the significant threats now facing our industry.
In order to preserve the advances we have made as an industry, the Rental Housing Industry Coalition has commissioned a communications action plan to let the public know, on the eve of an election, that rental property owners are interested in creating successful communities. The plan was created over several months by one of the most sophisticated agencies in the business.
Our targeted message will be communicated effectively, so we can educate the public, tenants, politicians and the media. The communications campaign has already been kick-started by donations from some of our largest landlords.
But the Coalition needs the help of every landlord, whether affiliated with a group or not. Each landlord is being asked to contribute $10 per suite to get the industry's message out to the public as the election clouds gather.
Please send your donation to Rental Housing Industry Coalition, 20 Upjohn Rd., Suite 105, Toronto, Ont. M3B 2V9.