5.1 Removing the exemption based on number of people paying rent
In the licensing bylaw and exemptions application process, the City should remove any distinctions that are based on the number of people contributing to the rent. The City should not favour “traditional families” in the exemptions process.
In communications with the OHRC, the City committed to monitoring and evaluating the bylaw on an ongoing basis. The OHRC recommends that the City implement a five-year monitoring program that tracks the impact of its licensing bylaw on Code-protected groups, consistent with the principles laid out in the OHRC publication Count Me In! Collecting human rights-based data and Room for everyone: Human rights and rental housing licensing, recommendation 12. The OHRC would be happy to help the City in this endeavour.
Exemptions to the bylaw should also be monitored to ensure that they are granted in a non-discriminatory manner.
As the OHRC noted in Room for everyone: Human rights and rental housing licensing, licensing bylaws should clearly establish that property owners rather than renters will be held responsible for any licensing violations. The City has said that in cases where the bylaw leads to closing a rental unit, the City will be reasonable with the time it will give to tenants to find alternate housing (if necessary) and will only require immediate removal in the case of serious life safety issues. The OHRC recommends that the City include this in an enforcement policy, or in the bylaw itself. The OHRC also recommends that the City educate tenants and property owners about any enforcement policies or amendments to the bylaw.
In communications with the OHRC, the City said it has and will continue to “educate the public regarding this By-law using whatever means are appropriate and relevant.” The City will also:
- Continue to educate the public that the By-law does not strictly apply to “student rentals”
- Provide landlords with information about their responsibilities under the Code
- Add Code-related information to its website.
The OHRC recommends that the City train all staff on the process for granting exemptions from the bylaw. The City should also educate the public about this.
The OHRC recommends that the City develop a “Q & A” section on its website and a brochure that it mails to “all tenants” of registered rental addresses, to address these and other common questions about the bylaw, and which also refers to the Code.
The OHRC wishes to thank all of the people who took part in the inquiry, particularly the tenants who shared their opinions and experiences. The ORHC also thanks the staff and officials at the City of North Bay for their cooperation. The OHRC remains available to assist the City in its ongoing monitoring and public education efforts related to the bylaw and its relationship to the Ontario Human Rights Code.
 Room for everyone: Human rights and rental housing licensing, OHRC, p.19.