Got Hung up on by Ontario's NDP

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Sean in Ottawa
Got Hung up on by Ontario's NDP

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Sean in Ottawa

Today I saw the NDP's latest promise to retrofit houses to improve their energy consumption.

I have been raising this issue for years-- these plans are not efficient, and unfair unless they are coupled with improvements in standards for rental housing.

I called the NDP to tell them this. I was handled very well by a front line responder who actually listened and took my call seriously. Then I was passed on to a person in policy who was arrogant, uninterested and rude. He also hung up on me.

I stated the following:

Rental housing stock where the tenant pays the utilities are in the worst shape as the landlords have no incentive to improve their efficiency. Even if the province pays half the cost of a retrofit the landlord who pays no bills will see no benefit and has no reason to take them up on it unless there are improvements to the legal standards.

Homeowners have had many programs over years to improve their houses and have the incentive of paying the increased cost of heating and powering them.

Rental housing standards in Ontario require that a landlord provide a dwelling that keeps out moisture and can -- at whatever cost -- be heated to room temperature. There is no minimum insulation or environmental standards for rental housing in Ontario -- whatsoever. If it costs you $600/month to heat your place-- tough.

Sure new building standards exist but most rental housing in Ontario was not built recently.

Programs to help homeowners are essentially programs that require people who cannot afford a home to contribute through their taxes to the assets owned by those who can. Anytime, we consider such a policy we need to ask if those paying the bill have the same need and employ some kind of fairness to the construction of the policy. In this case, that would mean that in concert with any incentive program that is offered to people with the money to buy a house, improvements to rental housing legislation to raise standards must also be considered.

As well we have condo corporation making bad decisions. I live in a condo that is rented to me. The majority of the units are owned by landlords not homeowners. For this reason they have no incentive to replace the single-pane sliders even though the replacement of those inefficient windows would pay for themselves in just 3-4 years in reduced heating costs. (I looked into this.) Even if I bought the condo I live in, the fact that a majority are owned by landlords mean I would not be allowed to change the windows although I could look at the furnace.

So now, as I realize that I may never in my life be able to afford to buy a house. I rent a house with the cottage windows, old appliances, almost no insulation, 40 year old furnace. I rent this house because I can't afford to rent anything else for my family. I have to consider that my taxes are needed to upgrade someone else's house even though they are richer than me, their home is likely already way more efficient than mine.

I know there are hundreds of thousands of people like me across this province. I have raised this issue with the NDP for years and just got some young twit to tell me that it was covered because I could get some loan so that I could help my landlord improve his asset-- and have me pay the loan back. He also told me that I had no issue because it was covered elsewhere on the NDP site (I guess he did not consider the fact that I had read the entire site before calling and knew that was untrue.)

This is a very important issue for me and for many other people and the issue of fairness, trust and being able to call and make a point like this with someone who would care is even more important.

You can guess what I will do next-- what most would do. I am a person who has never before voted anything other than NDP. I'm checking out the Green Party of Ontario's website and will call them as well. Who knows maybe they will have nothing. Maybe they will receive me in as arrogant and  condescending way. But then again, maybe not.

If I vote other than NDP on this issue-- it will be partly because I have tried in the NDP to get them to address this for almost two decades. And it will be a question of trust.

I did call back and I told the reception what happened and I am writing it here. More than enough opportunity for someone to give me a reason to vote NDP. But right now, I'll need a better one than the one I have now.

Stockholm-- you can try to convince me if you like-- I'm open but right now unconvinced.

This is about social justice, trust, leadership, the environment so first you will have to agree (if you want my vote that is) that this is an important issue. Many other parties don't think these are important but then again -- I don't vote for them either.

Sure, maybe I might calm down, look at my choices, decide there is nothing better and vote NDP but there will be no help, no sign in front of my house and very possibly no vote if this issue is not addressed.

Lachine Scot

Good for you for calling them about it, shame on them for hanging up! Having read your explanation, and as a renter, I totally agree with your take.

robbie_dee

I don't mean to dismiss your concern by any means but as a matter of process, what actual actions, other than telephoning the Party office, have you taken to "raise this issue" with the NDP? Are you active in your riding association? Have you put forward any proposed resolutions for NDP convention? Have you run for provincial executive or any other position in the Party? The reality is when you just call up the office to complain about a party policy that has already been adopted, you are not going to have much luck changing that policy. Rather, at best you will get some well-meaning low-level employee to try to "spin" the issue to you as a member of the public, and if you persist eventually forward you to someone else who may work "in policy" but is unlikely to have the authority to unilaterally change policy in response to a phone call, and probably does get exasperated from time to time from receiving a lot of phone calls from those who expect different. That being said, it is not appropriate to be rude or to hang up on a caller without good reason, and in any case you do raise a good point about the potential regressive impact of this policy (similar arguments may apply to other policies such as subsidized university tuition for middle-class students paid for by the taxes of the working class who don't have the opportunity for postsecondary education but I can see both sides). I hope you stay active in trying to push this issue with whichever party you see fit to get involved in.

robbie_dee

You might also consider directing your concerns to Ontario NDP caucus environment critic Peter Tabuns (tabunsp-qp@ndp.on.ca  or tabunsp-co@ndp.on.ca / 416-325-3250 or 416-461-0223) or housing critic Cheri DiNovo (dinovoc-co@ndp.on.ca /416-763-5630) as they may be in a position both to give you a better response and/or to raise the policy issues within caucus.

Life, the unive...

So just so I understand - your problem is that you won't personally benefit from such a program- ergo it is bad and screw the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who are also living in poor housing, that they happen to own, because rental properties are scarce where they live so many had few choices but to take on a hard to pay mortgage in order to have a home in their community.  Boy you're right, that is a progressive response.

It is not Mcmansions that will be the target of most of this retro-fitting.  It will be for the most part the housing built during the post-war era to about the mid-eighties.   Not being a member of the NDP I don't know what their current policy, but I distinctly remember Howard Hampton talking about rental properties and the need to retro-fit them, and help landlords to do it, while speaking in Goderich at a nomination meeting.  I remember it because he drew a very vivid picture of all the high-rise apartment buildings along the 401 corridor and how poorly they were made and how they were big energy sieves.   Every time I travel to Toronto I look at those apartment buildings differently now.

Sean in Ottawa

Life etc. you seem not to want to understand:

1) I am not against the idea of helping homeowners improve their houses per se-- I am against excluding tenants from the idea that we need to have greater enviro efficiency. There is no reason why rental housing cannot have higher standards as well. You can do both. Please explain to me why a requirement for the program to also improve rental property standards somehow "screws" the people who actually were able to buy their homes. Your logic escapes me.

2) Your contention that it will not be the better off who will mostly be able to take advantage deserves some scrutiny. These programs are rebates. You pay the money up-front and get part of it back. People just hanging on are a lot less likely to be able to take advantage than those who have more money. A person with money and a desire to have a nice old century home is more likely to get the benefit than a guy with his visa maxed out and a mortgage due-- don't-cha-think? People who have recently purchased a home might also be more likely to have a house not fixed up than someone who has lived already through countless other similar reno-plans but those people may not have the cashflow. You or I could go further and say the plan to be fair should front the money at point of sale rather than limit participation to those with extra credit or cash. But any rebate plan helps people with cash or credit more than those without.

3) The issue with large complexes is also a point to be examined. Some of the large complexes have the tenants pay the utilities but many the landlord pays. For those, the landlord has an incentive. As well, the landlords in those have had a double incentive as they were able to use the AGI program to improve the property and get an extra rent increase out of it. I handled these above guideline increases on behalf of thousands of tenants for several years in Ottawa. There was no shortage of work going on including government subsidized work in many of those buildings. The landlords that did not take advantage of those programs several years ago would have no reason to want this new one. The landlords who don't pay the utilities-- that is another story.

4) You might find this a lovely irony. Some landlords used government money to install individual metering on their units so the tenants would pay utilities-- and in that lost any incentive to improve the efficiency further -- it was up to the tenants to freeze in the dark to save the environment.

5) In rural parts of the province there are actually quite a few rental houses. Turnover is low and the people living in them tend to be poor.  The condition of those properties is terrible in many cases. Tenants pay the utilities and buy the construction grade plastic to make do. They burn whatever wood they can find if they have woodstoves. Landlords do not have to care at all. Like you say-- there are not as many houses available for rent in the country at any given time so nothing needs to be done. And the NDP does not speak for those people apparently. Of course the reality that they, through no fault of their own, pollute way more than those with better homes is not addressed.

6) Please Life etc. do not make me have to go through detail explaining that the average tenant is a lot less wealthy than the average homeowner. The poor hardluck story of some poster child for house-poverty notwithstanding -- most tenants are tenants because they cannot afford to be homeowners although there are a few who are also old or disabled and don't feel up to the tasks of homeownership.

Now you explain to me why it is so important to you that we should screw the tenants in one more retrofit program passing them by when the cost of introducing standards for rentals cost the government less than this program. The only loss would be the votes of a few landlords-- or is that the people the NDP want to have vote for them when the tenants give up on the idea that anyone speaks for them? (By the way did you know that tenants in residential complexes pay more property tax than a homeowner would pay in the same value of home?)

So please Life etc. explain:

1) what evidence you have that this program will go to lower income homeowners over higher income ones

2) why you think that insisting that the NDP propose improving standards for tenants at the same time screws homeowners-- at least in that case the tenants would get an equal benefit and not be subsidizing people with more money than they have and less need.

Sean in Ottawa

Also Life-- are you suggesting that there should be a means test to argue for social justice?

So if someone is poor they cannot argue for social justice because that would be too self-serving?

That is what I get out of the tone of your post particularly the first paragraph.

Ironically, I live in Ottawa and I cannot afford a home because I have a family and committments that do not allow enough money to do so. However, I would be considered middle class by any definition.

Maybe Life, you need to drive a little further and realize that there are many cities in which middle income people cannot afford homes and must still live reasonably close to their employment becuase transit is difficult and they have kids etc.?

Maybe you might want to consider that it takes two good incomes to be able to afford a family house in a major city in Canada. Not every family has two incomes great enough to do it.

The minimum income to buy a house in Ottawa is about double the average income.

There is no shortage of people with good incomes paying pretty good taxes who cannot afford a home. I'd like to think the NDP represented them as well.

Sean in Ottawa

Robbie Dee-- On process.

I do think the NDP should be able to take such concerns over the phone and a party of the people must be able to do this. Otherwise they are out of touch. That said I have been writing to them for years about this. I wrote again today.

I have not run for any positions in the party mostly because I have more than a full-time job and family commitments so that is out of the question. Running myself as an independent is also out since I cannot sustain my family in such an effort. I have been more active at moments in the past but not as much recently.

I do not expect someone to answer the phone to me who can change the policy. I do expect someone to be able to listen and take my concern somewhere if it is valid. I doubt they get dozens of really valid policy suggestions a day to pass on or have to listen to politely. I expect the NDP to be able to recognize a social justice concern and manage it.

I have been active on this but it is difficult to reach out that far with limited time and financial resources. Before the last election I wrote dozens of letters to the editor but none were published -- it is an idea that relates to class conflict-- landlords would have to pay more so that tenants could be better off-- I do not deny that.

As far as parties-- my preference is the NDP but they also need to be open to such involvement. I have found that at the federal level and have had more success there but not so much provincially.

There are a lot of people around here-- surely this too is another attempt to get attention to the issue.

dacckon dacckon's picture

If someone hung up on you, then you should file a professional complaint. Using a letter over an email is key, as it shows you took the time to deal with it.

 

Also talk to your local candidate about this.

Sean in Ottawa

I have sent a letter already-- thank you though.

I also sent letters to the two people Robbie Dee suggested using those emails-- thank you for that.

This is one of a few issues that I have fought for -- another is public dental care (even though I actually might not benefit from that since I have insurance through work).

Even if I owned a house right now-- I would not change this point of view.

I took the NDP to task in 2004 for proposing a flat exemption which would have effectively removed the value of old age and disability benefits for many people leaving them the same treatment as healthy younger people. I fight for what I think is right and fair and good policy not just what benefits me. I would gladly pay more taxes for more good policies whether I benefit from them or not.

I admit I was offended and a bit hurt by Life etc.'s comments and suggestions that I was motivated by greed rather than justice, principles and good policy.

Sean in Ottawa

I wrote this as a private message to Life... but either there is something wrong with the system or Life does not accept messages or does not accept messages from me:

We can disagree with the policy but I admit I was disappointed by your suggestions that questioned my motives. That was hurtful and hardly constructive. I think if you look at the positions I have taken here over many years you cannot link them to my personal circumstances. You may to some of my experiences, people I know and knowledge but that is natural. I have worked with a lot of low income people who feel this much more acutely than I do at the present time but when I argue it I use my own experience because I believe it is more honorable to speak on your own behalf. And while I am not suffering as some are, it is still true that I cannot afford a house so I can use my example. The motives you suggested of me are nothing better than a right wing person which I am not.
I am passionate about things like this because of a sense of fairness and social justice not greed. And I did not argue that anyone should get something less -- just that the policy should be balanced and inclusive.

I do not want further conflict out of this.

Wilf Day

robbie_dee wrote:
Are you active in your riding association? Have you put forward any proposed resolutions for NDP convention?

You don't have to run for any office. You just have to write something (you already have), and get your riding association to endorse it (should be easy.)

That's the NDP policy process. 

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

with respect Sean, I disagree with your argument:

 

"Rental housing stock where the tenant pays the utilities are in the worst shape as the landlords have no incentive to improve their efficiency. Even if the province pays half the cost of a retrofit the landlord who pays no bills will see no benefit and has no reason to take them up on it unless there are improvements to the legal standards."

 I think  any property owner would be tempted if the government offers to  pay half the costs of  improving the value of a property  . If  you are renting out a unit where the heating bills are, say $600 a month, and the government offered to pay half the cost of a retrofit to reduce the costs by half to $300 a month, the owner would be tempted ,even if currently the tenant is the one who pays the heating bills.  It makes it much easier to rent out  when the tenant has reduced heating costs. -which would you rather try to rent out ,  a unit the tenant would  have to pay $600 a month hearing costs or  an identical  unit where the tenant would have to pay $300 a month? If the premises are covered by our rent review system there are provisions that  allow landlords to raise the legal  rent charged,  if they have made improvements in the premises. Or the landlord can  raise the rent but now its utilities included..  Then there are always thoughts  of selling the improved  property  some time in the future  or taking possession of it for your own use.

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

with respect Sean, I disagree with your argument:

 

"Rental housing stock where the tenant pays the utilities are in the worst shape as the landlords have no incentive to improve their efficiency. Even if the province pays half the cost of a retrofit the landlord who pays no bills will see no benefit and has no reason to take them up on it unless there are improvements to the legal standards."

 I think  any property owner would be tempted if the government offers to  pay half the costs of  improving the value of a property  . If  you are renting out a unit where the heating bills are, say $600 a month, and the government offered to pay half the cost of a retrofit to reduce the costs by half to $300 a month, the owner would be tempted ,even if currently the tenant is the one who pays the heating bills.  It makes it much easier to rent out  when the tenant has reduced heating costs. -which would you rather try to rent out ,  a unit the tenant would  have to pay $600 a month hearing costs or  an identical  unit where the tenant would have to pay $300 a month? If the premises are covered by our rent review system there are provisions that  allow landlords to raise the legal  rent charged,  if they have made improvements in the premises. Or the landlord can  raise the rent but now its utilities included..  Then there are always thoughts  of selling the improved  property  some time in the future  or taking possession of it for your own use.

Freedom 55

peterjcassidy wrote:

If  you are renting out a unit where the heating bills are, say $600 a month, and the government offered to pay half the cost of a retrofit to reduce the costs by half to $300 a month, the owner would be tempted ,even if currently the tenant is the one who pays the heating bills.  It makes it much easier to rent out  when the tenant has reduced heating costs. -which would you rather try to rent out ,  a unit the tenant would  have to pay $600 a month hearing costs or  an identical  unit where the tenant would have to pay $300 a month?

 

This presupposes that property owners have a hard time finding tenants to rent their properties, which I don't believe is the case in much of the province. Housing is scarce, but also a necessity, so whether utilities come to $600 or $300 a month, I don't think there are many units that sit vacant for long.

Also, I recognize the example is only hypothetical, but even the NDP's statement on their website only suggests a 35% savings - not 50%.

I agree with Sean on this.

Sean in Ottawa

Come on over Peter and explain my neighborhood. My place is not the worst at all.

Go to the housing tribunal closest to you and talk to the people there filing complaints about landlord's not repairing things they are obliged to repair and see if anyone thinks they will do work on a volunteer basis for stuff the law does not oblige them to do.

Many landlord's only make minimal investments-- in part becuase they consider all tenants deadbeats. They let the places go till there is no recovery. I do not have the worst of it but I have seen and represented many who did.

In the case of moisture coming in -- some are FORCED to fix them but with other things there is no legislation to do so.

I have seen it -- this is not conjecture. This is not theory where you or I can be right-- this is fact and you should look in to this -- it is easy to see if you want.

When in Ottawa come to Ogilvie Court (Ogilvie and Cummings). Drive around and look at the cottage windows-- single pane sliders and just guess at the heating bills. Consider the 35-40 year old furnaces inside and all the retrofit programs not taken advantage of. PM me and I'll show you mine and we can have a cup of tea.

Affordable housing does not exist here so there are no vacancies. We pump the heat straight out through those windows even with construction plastic on them-- there are thousands of us across the province and this proposal will do nothing at all to help.

Life, the unive...

 

If you were half as condescending on the phone as you were in your posts to me I can see where someone might become exasperated.   Your presumption of superior knowledge is rather telling and leads one to believe there might just be two sides to your story.   I'm not a New Democrat so knock yourself out.   However, I have been working on environmental issues for a very long time and recognize that the kind of retro-fit program the NDP is talking about is essential to addressing our energy problems far more so that the Liberal sham Green Energy Act and the Greens we'll say anything approach.   I do notice that the program specifically targets low income people with grants and low interest loans for those a little further up the economic scale.   There is simply no reason to suspect the NDP doesn't get this given their long track record of work on tennat issues. And how do I know this - shockingly some of have been involved in these issues too and have just as much knowledge or more than you. My big suspicion is that the real problem may in fact be your approach, not the issues you raised.

Sean in Ottawa

Life-- fucking incredible how you ignore basic facts like:

1) You took a run at my motives before I even addressed you in this thread-- who is condescending whom?

2) As I stated several times I am attacking the fact that this program does not address no standard rental accommodation. Can you answer my question-- why do you think they can't do both?

3) I make no presumptions at all in this-- I am reporting what I witness what I have seen for many years and fought for. there is nothing theoretical about this, nothing predicted or presumed. This is just facts -- what really exists what has been left out that did not need to be. And this has gone on for years.

4) The program is to fix up houses-- tenants do not own the houses but pay the bills. What part of this situation are you missing? So you say that even poor home-owners are covered-- glad to know now why can't we include the rental accommodations?

5) If you are such a great environmentalist why are you not concerned about the thousands of homes in Ontario occupied by tenants with nearly no insulation, cottage style windows, old inefficient and in some cases even unsafe furnaces (I know an example on my street of one of these now and the landlord just forced the tenant out and will resell or rerent). How about the fact that there are landlords still installing electric baseboard heaters because it is the cheapest thing to install and tenants pay? Don't you care or is winning an argument just that important to you?

As for my approach -- I also approached the Green party and the Liberals on it-- this is not partisanship -- this is an important policy needed both for the environment and thousands of people in the province. I was actually well received by the others. And as I stated I was well received by the first line NDP person who was to filter out the people with nothing to say-- those are the more likely people to give a brush-off.

As for who gets this-- All three major parties have been in power in Ontario and all have tinkered with rental legislation-- none of them have introduced any enviro/energy standards to rental accommodation -- not ever. That is why we have these worst offender major polluting households who have no choice in the matter. So who gets it?

Life, you can't seem to get past the fact that you took a run at my motives-- why should I be nice to you after that? In fact I think I have been a little restrained in facct having not called you what I think you are. This is not the first time you have taken a run at me and then been offended when I responded. You want a different result then start by debating my proposal, facts or policy rather than beginning with what you arrogantly presume to be my motives--- then I'll be a little nicer --Okay?

I think I am pretty nice to people who disagree and want to debate some policy or idea but when someone goes personal at all as a debating tactic-- I stop being nice. I might even get a little mean. I suspect I am not the only one here like that -- get fucking used to it and try on some manners and the debates will stay nicer.

Sean in Ottawa

Oh -- and consider this-- in a place like this trying to exclude from discussion people just because they are arguing something they experience and know because they have a stake in the discussion -- well that does not fly here. You want to try that in gender issues, race issues, poverty issues you will get the same reaction -- people here tend to think that those actually experiencing something actually DO have a right to participate even if the result might be of benefit to them.

This is a place where people are SUPPOSED to be able to advocate on their own behalf as well as others.

And you can expect some pretty heartfelt anger when you pretend that only observers get to participate.

But it is not so clear as that-- perhaps you to have something at stake maybe as a homeowner except you are too hypocritical to admit it.

And yes, you go personal-- I will go there but I never, ever start there. That is the difference between you and me.

And yes-- I accept PM as a way to manage things and achieve understanding off the floor so to speak -- you like this shit out here -- so be it. If you don't like a fight -- don't start one.

Life, the unive...

Sorry but you made a personal post about a personal experience and when I read it sure comes across exactly as I described it.   If you behave as you do here, there very well may have been good reason for someone to become exasperated.   I am not questioning your motives, just crystalizing your postion based on what you yourself posted.  What you might want to consider is the fact that your posts can easily be read as if it isn't good for me and my group screw everyone else.  I've lived long enough to recognize that divisive attitude when I see it.  I beleive there is room for good work for all in addressing our energy and environmental issues, but that every solution doesn't have to work for everyone all the time.  That cookie cutter approach just never works.  Instead I can see having different programs to address the different needs of different people. 

That said you presume it doesn't affect renters.   I see no evidence for that.  You presume it can't cover both - I also see no evidence for that.  You make some assumptions that I have not experienced any of this directly and earlier made a profoundly ignorant comment about a rural person needing to drive more to see what happens in urban areas as if no rural person has any direct connection to urban centres.  In short it is not the ideas you are presenting- they have some merit.   What is the problem is your superior attitude.  Since you chose to attack an un-named worker who has no ability to defend themselves- you open the door to observations on how you might have been part of the problem yourself.

You also presume I don't know anything about the situation of renters.   You are completely wrong.  I have been actively doing anti-poverty work for over 2 decades.  We focus mostly around food, but you can't address food issues without coming into contact with housing issues as it is is all inter-related.  We have worked closely as advocates for a disabled adult who is like a son to us because he no longer has any family to help him. I've seen plenty of terrible rental accomidations and have been a part of taking at least 3 landlords to varios courts and tribunals.   However, I really appreciate your constant lecturing tone like other people are stupid.  I am sure that tone with workers in an office- regardless of who they might work for - really goes over well in getting your otherwise valid point across.

Sean in Ottawa

Look Life, I'll reply addressed to you but probably for any third parties considering what you wrote-- seems you are simply unreachable.

You very directly questioned my motives-- it was not subtle. And you continue here-- divisive attitude and more garbage... You accuse me of a cookie cutter approach and miss the irony that this could be a description of what I was criticizing. I did not suggest the exact same program needs to do both but criticized that this came out without a policy to address the other. Renters have been waiting through more than two decades of retrofit programs without having enviro/energy standards for rental housing. It is not like the folks have not been patient.

I made no ignorant statement about a rural person needing to drive to urban-- That was bullshit. I had no idea if you lived in an urban area, a suburban one or rural. I did make the point that the answer to what you were missing is right there to see and if you look around more then you can see it. I said drive because you were talking about driving (to TO as a matter of fact). You can't criticize me for mentioning driving when you introduced the concept. This small thing illustrates the way you respond and react to things.

I never showed any superior attitude here-- that is entirely a projection of your own. I spoke passionately from personal experience and what I have witnessed about something I have fought for for years-- this is not even the first time I have written about it here. I became involved in it when I was a paralegal working with mostly low-income tenants here in Ottawa. Most of the time even though I was renting, I was lucky enough to be in places that were not so bad but I visited worse places and photographed them to use as evidence and faced the adjudicators who told me that nothing other than weather envelope to keep out moisture and the ability to heat to 68 degrees could be addressed. But I have lived in bad places at times and the place I live now is not good that way.

I do not presume anything about what you know. I do know that you are not speaking as if you know anything about rentals and rental situations-- there is a distinction there. Perhaps you just willfully ignore what you know in order to get some perverse pleasure out of the argument. It does not matter-- unlike you I care little for the motivation. The point was you were arguing against a significant need and I called you on that. I find it all the more astonishing that you can now claim knowledge of crappy rental conditions after arguing against the inclusion of higher rental standards as a necessary sister plan to any further improvement of accommodations for owner-occupied property.

You also suggested that people who owned their homes were no better off than those who rent. That alone suggested ignorance. Sure some renters are better off than some home owners-- but the average or vast majority represent two different classes to use an ugly traditional distinction.

My problem was and remains that the proposal is not inclusive enough-- leaving out the most vulnerable. And that problem is not a minor one. and it is not selfish greed either.

I have read all that is out there on it. I have asked questions. There is nothing in here to address what thousands of tenants need in part because there cannot be other than legislative change introducing legal standards-- this is something a few dollars and an incentive program will not fix. I grant you a tenant can get help in this program buying a more energy efficient appliance (if they have space for them and don't rent them) but that is not much of a point if they live without adequate insulation, with an inefficient furnace, doors that leak air, single pane sliders. Most places in Ontario are rented with appliances in any case.

Other than appliances what exactly in energy retrofit improvements could be up to the tenant? And if you can't answer this why suggest this program works for tenants?

You are arguing there is some retrofit money for tenants -- provide some examples. But here again I ask questions you don't answer because that is not how you are playing this-- it is all about attack and nothing about substance. I was supposed to bow down and admit you were the supreme being of the thread and had so judged me -- that was all-- you were not here to debate the substance of what I wrote because you selectively ignore and refuse to answer direct questions about it. This was all about your ego after all wasn't it? Or do you have a problem with your motives being questioned?

Aristotleded24

I'm not a mod, but this has to be said:

Sean and life, I have a great deal of respect for you both. I appreciate the perspectives you both bring to discussions, and would at least presume you both to be allies in the broader sense, and it bothers me to see you at each other's throats so much in this thread. I hope you can mend this dispute so that your energy can once again be directed at our commom adversaries.

Sean in Ottawa

Freedom I agree-- also Life says "tempted" I think when it comes to this you need regulation not the whims of temptation. I don't think the temptation is that great given there would still be outlay to no benefit -- unless the place was unrentable but you can't see efficiency unless you have fairly advanced knowledge most do not possess. Unfortunately, too many tenants don't or can't or are too intimidated to ask to see utility bills even if they had choices so it is easy to rent a place.

A point of fact is there is no competition on this at least not for affordable housing. I am quite aware of this but when I last went looking there was no choice as the few homes in my price range all were equally bad in this respect. I was just grateful to have a frost free fridge. This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder how Life knows about tenant issues yet thinks landlords go beyond legal requirements out of temptation. Few even meet the minimum legal requirements and people accept that because of lack of choice.

One thing that could also be done by regulation is require landlords to disclose all utility bills to tenants before they rent. Problem is there could be privacy issues-- those bills may belong privately to the previous tenant. There was a time you could call the provider and ask-- I wonder if that is still done. If so then possibly this could be a requirement. Not good enough to require tenants to think of asking but if they actually had to get disclosure then the temptation Life refers to could be more significant.

Aristotleded24

Sean, what do you think of setting up a fund or Crown Corporation of sort where tennants can actually buy back their buildings from private landlords or public housing? It seems lately both are flip sides of the same coin, where a tennant is basically at the mercy of the building owners.

wage zombie

I live in a small rental buliding with 7 units.  We have one washer and dryer in the basement, which is a plus, but they are very old machines.  The owner of the bulding has had the washer rigged to only wash with cold water.  He says that it washes just as well.  I don't mind so much, since for eco reasons I choose to wash with cold water anyway.  Still, it would be nice to do a load with warm water every few months.  He considers warm water in the washing machine too luxurious for his tenants.

I mention this because this is how it is renting.  The owner of the bulding refuses to pay for any modification, or any extras.  Fixes can take a while to happen.  Another tenant int he building went two weeks without a stove or oven a couple years ago when the appliance died.

He is so cheap that I think it works against him.  For example, once every six weeks a repairperson needs to come in to fix either the washer or the dryer.  I feel that it would probably be more cost effective for the owner to buy new machines that work well not not to have pay premium hourly rates to the repairperson.  The superintendent, who is quite sympathetic to tenant concerns, has told me that the repairperson has recommeded this exact thing to the owner--that it would be more cost effective to buy new machines.  The owner will have none of it.

Basically the owner does whatever possible to miminize immediate $ inputs.  He is wealthy enough and makes enough income from his rental properties that he does not need to work.  I suspect that if the government were to cover 80% of retrofit costs leaving 20% to the owner he would still not be interested.

Just sharing my experience as a tenant.

Sean in Ottawa

Aristotle--

It is an interesting idea but I think few landlords would be willing and it would be seen as a white elephant. Besides too few units would be affected. In this case I think regulation is more realistic, achievable and would have greater reach. But it could be done as well -- started on a pilot basis-- the white elephant concerns would be overcome if the management was good and the first experiences were positive. But we need to realize we cannot nationalize renting or make them all co-ops so we must deal with the landlord tenant relationship, modernize it, regulate it better and make it functional. Of course we have to deal with what landlord's need to. They need tenants not to be slammed down so badly that they cannot afford to pay. Over 90% of rental disputes are caused because tenants cannot afford to pay the rent -- even under pain of being evicted-- they are that broke. Minimum incomes, social assistance levels and minimum wages have to be on the table. If we were to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour while removing all employment taxes on wages at those levels and assisting employers who needed assistance (and there are things we can do to help) we could begin to address this.

Often rental problems are actually income problems-- I learned that years ago. This is huge because landlords think most tenants are deadbeats and this is partly behind their attitude to them. It is essential that we address comprehensively housing and living costs in the context of minimum wages and social assistance. A related point on minimum wage-- there should also be consideration in public policy to the fact that people do not live by the hour they do by the month. If you don't get enough hours even a $20 minimum wage would not be enough to live on. There are far too many employers who offer 10-20 hours of work each week and no predictable schedules so the employees cannot take a second job. They must be available 40 hours a week to get paid perhaps ten. Then with transit you have people getting as little as $2/hour they have set aside for employment. Think about that and you have a better understanding of the working poor in Canada.

Here is math: Person gets new schedule every week for 10 hours. To get this job they must be available 40. Plus they only get 3-hour shifts but have to travel an hour each way. This is actually common. So they have 3-3hour shifts a week; 6 hours transit time; and another 31 hours they cannot give to another employer set aside to be available. This comes to 42 hours for which they work and are paid 9 hours or $90. After deductions which might include uniforms etc, this may come to $70. They have no EI and no CPP. Their effective pay is $1.66/hour. their monthly income is $303. Now this is extreme but it is a principle I am trying to get across. Many people suffer from this type of working situation. Employers should have to pay for flexibility in work hours. If they did they would make firm week to week schedules and some of these people could consider a second job.

Wage Zombie--

Really important experiences you mention -- I might be able to answer your question though about why the landlord won't replace the appliance, I think: repairs are tax deductible in the year they are paid while replacement of a machine must be claimed over many years. It  actually might be cheaper considering that to keep repairing the old machine. I also recognize that to repair a machine is better for the environment and a local job than to buy a new one imported from overseas (just a bias).

 

greenwashedondp

I have cross-posted this thread on GreenWashedONDP. Thank you for sharing your story.

Aristotleded24

greenwashedondp wrote:
I have cross-posted this thread on GreenWashedONDP. Thank you for sharing your story.

I guess the Liberals are really feeling the pinch?

Fidel

The Liberal MPP in my hometown is doing nothing but go on the attack against the third party for what they did over one term in government 16 years ago. And not so much a bad word for the Mike Harris mess they inherited. Just goes to show they prefer dealing with one another more than the NDP. Liberal, Tory, it's the same old story.