Bad Toronto landlords outed on new website

A website listing the 100 “worst” landlords in Toronto has launched on the eve of a debate on a possible bylaw to require a licence to rent out apartments.

The website, LandlordWatch: Toronto is based on a similar listing in the out-of-control rental market in New York City, which lets potential tenants know when they might be signing a lease to regret.

“New York has a lot of problems in housing, and Toronto is on that path,” said Yale Fox, CEO of Rent Logic, the company behind

“Right now people love it, there’s no transparency in the apartment market. In New York it’s 75 per cent of the people who are renting, and the average cost is $4,000 a month U.S. Making that purchase is major, because you’ve signed a lease that’s for a year.”

The website lists buildings and landlords, and aggregates information on complaints that have been made to the city about particular properties.

“Generally what you see is neglect,” he said.

“So if you have renters asking to fix something and they don’t fix it, so the renter has to call the city. These problems range from everything from bedbugs, roaches, moulds, to no heat or hot water, or just that the grass isn’t cut.”

Fox said the website isn’t intended specifically as a shaming exercise, but rather as a tool to aid discussion as the city contemplates taking a more pro-active approach to dealing with tenant issues.

Currently, if a tenant has a problem with their unit and the landlord doesn’t respond, they must call the city to complain and the city will send an inspector to ensure the work gets done.

A licensing system would see regular inspections of all rental units whether there were complaints or not.

“That’s important, because a lot of people don’t want to make complaints for various reasons,” said Fox.

The website ranks properties by the number of city investigations they’ve sparked over the last year.

And as far as landlords go, Toronto Community Housing is the worst by a mile, with 452 violations through its holdings.

Toronto’s Licensing and Standards Committee debates the proposal at its May 19 meeting.