Rental Housing Licencing Update


In a surprise twist, City of Guelph staff are recommending that licensing of rental housing be abandoned, and that the city continue enhanced enforcement and education initiatives in its place.

The Rental Housing Licensing report is to be presented to the Planning, Building, Engineering, and Environment (PBEE) committee on Monday, May 5 at 2:00 pm.  Any member of the public who wishes to comment or speak to this report should contact the Clerks office at  

Read the full report here.

Although there has been success with enhanced pro-active enforcement in the last two years, licensing was never intended to deal with tenant behaviour issues (noise, property standards, garbage, etc.).  We have by-laws for these concerns.  Licensing was intended to protect tenant health and safety, and prevent neighbourhood destabilization.  Licensing is a different tool with its own distinct purpose, separate from by-laws.

There are great landlords in Guelph who comply with regulations and offer safe, clean and affordable housing to our citizens.  However, there are others who knowingly and willingly rent sub-standard accommodations to the most vulnerable in our community, and should be held accountable.

Without right of entry to inspect, and in the absence of prohibitive fines for the those who knowingly rent illegal accommodation, the abandonment of licensing is simply the status quo.  We owe our tenant-citizens better.

I would love to know what you think?   Abandon the idea altogether?  Defer licensing, and then pursue right of entry and stiffer fines?  Or full steam ahead on licensing?


Jury of One Nails It

Mr. Tracey hit this issue squarely on the head.

I’ve heard enough tenant stories over the years (including my own son) to know there is a problem.

I will be the first to say there are a lot of legal and safe rooms in Guelph, managed by responsible landlords.  But there are enough rooms out there that would not pass inspection to warrant action.   City Hall licences all sorts of things to protect public safety — dogs, hotels, motels,  restaurants, car washes, nail salons, street vendors, pawnbrokers, holistic establishments, just to name a few — why would we not also licence the business of rental accommodation for the same reason, to protect the health and safety of tenants?

What do you think?  Have your say.  Public consultation will begin soon, details to follow.  

If you are, or have ever been, a tenant with a story to share, please share it here, or email me at and I will post it here on your behalf, name withheld.


Shared Rental Housing Licensing – Cost/Benefit Analysis

In response to Council’s motion to prepare a cost/benefit analysis of a potential shared rental housing licencing program prior to development of proposed regulations, a staff report is coming to the Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment (PBEE) committee on Monday, July 15.

Read more here.

Comments and input are welcome and encouraged. Rental Housing Licensing is a tool that has been implemented in several other municipalities, directed specifically to the rental of bedrooms in a detached, semi-detached and townhouse residences. Apartments buildings are regulated under other existing legislation.

This concept has sparked a great deal of debate — both for and against — and I am interested in your thoughts as Council deliberates whether this program will work for Guelph.

Send your input to

Shared Rental Housing Report Available Online

The long-awaited zoning amendment report on Shared Rental Housing is available on the city website at:

Note:  the Shared Rental Housing report begins on page 15.

This report will go as an Information Report to Council on Tuesday, August 3rd.  Delegations will be heard, and public input will continue to be received prior to a decision being made on Monday, August 30th. 

Why is this on the Council Planning Agenda?

The proposed regulations fall under the city Zoning By-law.  Zoning is one tool that municipalities can use to regulate land use.  Enforcement of by-laws (noise, property standards, parking, etc.) is also important.  As well, licensing of rental housing is proposed as the next phase (Spring 2011) to ensure compliance.

Anyone wishing input into the Shared Rental Housing Zoning By-law amendment can submit comments in writing to or c/o Clerks Office at 1 Carden Street, Guelph, ON.  You can also register as a delegation to speak at the Council meeting on August 3 or 30th. 


Lessons From London

Earlier this week, a delegation from Guelph (consisting of myself, Mayor Farbridge, Councillor Wettstein, Jim Riddell, Director of Community Design and Development Services and Katie Nasswetter, senior development planner) traveled to London, Ontario to talk with local staff and politicians about implementation of their Near Campus Neighbourhoods strategy.   The goal was to learn from their mistakes and successes, and model what is working (and not working) in the rental housing by-law amendments that are being proposed for Guelph.

It was well worth the trip down the 401 from my perspective.  London released its Near Campus Neighbourhood strategy document in late 2009.  Copy can be downloaded from:

The implementation of a new “Residential Rental” licencing by-law came into effect just three short weeks ago on March 1, 2010.

Some of the lessons learned during this Q & A excursion:

  • get renters, neighbourhood groups, landlords, etc. on board early
  • keep emphasis focused on safety and neighbourhood stability, not on behavioural issues (there are other by-laws already dealing with this)
  • increase fines for non-compliance
  • clearly define what type and where appropriate forms of intensification belong
  • push density to transit-supportive locations
  • little tolerance for unlicensed properties ($125/day fine for not getting your license)
  • make licensing procedure easy to do for property owners/landlords and keep the fee reasonable
  • applications for variances that attempt to legalize an existing illegal rental will NOT be supported by city staff
  • licensing application is a self-registration process, but the city will randomly inspect 15% of the rental properties each year
  • property owners/landlords must provide a copy of their Residence Rental Licence to tenants
  • a “Residential Rental” is any building with 3 or more rental “units”.

Some of the above, Guelph is already doing or proposing.  That’s good news.   The rest is still to come…soon.

Rental Housing Reports and Background Information

Further to last evening’s Shared Rental Housing Open House, I have attached links below to some of the documents that were referenced during the discussion.

City of London Near-Campus Neighbourhood Strategy

City of Guelph Committee Report on Proposed Changes to Lodging House and Two-Unit Rentals

Background Reports on Shared Rental Housing and Lodging House Regulations

If you would like to see other reports posted here, just let me know.

Leanne Piper

Shared Rental Housing Open House

A public open house is scheduled for Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm to provide an opportunity for public education and dialogue re: shared rental housing.

Date:     THURSDAY, JANUARY 14, 2010

Location:    City Hall

Time:  7:00 pm

The format is a casual Open House.  There will be information displays and staff on site to answer questions.

To review background documentation: