With a week to go in the city’s municipal election campaign, mayoral candidate Olivia Chow appealed to renters Monday, saying she is the only one who will fight for their rights.

Standing in front of a private rental building near Dawes Road and Danforth Avenue where tenants have been fighting their landlord over complaints of peeling paint, bedbugs and incomplete repairs, Chow vowed that if elected mayor she will ramp up inspections of private rental buildings.

“It’s really not fair for the thousands and thousands of tenants who live in these buildings that they have to endure bad quality,” Chow said.

Chow said if elected, she would introduce a more regular and transparent system of rental building inspections, akin to the city’s system of placing a notice in restaurants after they are inspected.

“If the apartment owners are not making the changes and doing the repairs, charge them. Take them to court and ask for stiffer fines,” Chow said.

She said if landlords still fail to carry out repairs, the city should do so and then charge the landlords by adding the costs onto their property taxes.

Chow said the city could pay for increased inspections by passing the inspection cost on to landlords. Chow's campaign said landlords would not be able to pass the cost on to renters because the province does not list rental inspections as an allowable justification for rent increases. 

While she acknowledged that there are many buildings that are kept in a good state of repair, she said it’s important to tighten the system so that standards are maintained across the rental market.

“There are many landlords that are very good,” Chow said. “I’m talking about bad apples. The bad apples have to be routed out so we can have better rentals in the city.”

Speaking alongside Chow, Ward 31 Coun. Janet Davis said the city has power to add repair costs onto property taxes for absentee landlords, but needs direction from the mayor’s office.

“We need some leadership at the top that says this is the way we’re going to do it. We’re going to proceed this way on a regular basis,” Davis said.

Chow said that in the last four years, the situation of some renters has “gone from bad to worse” under Mayor Rob Ford’s watch.

She added that rival mayoral candidates Doug Ford and John Tory lapse into a discussion about Toronto Community Housing when the matter of affordable housing comes up at debates.

“John Tory and Doug Ford have not talked about the importance of fixing private rental housing,” Chow said.

Ford says he feels ‘momentum’

In the meantime, Ford made an appearance on a local radio show to discuss his platform. Speaking with reporters afterward, he said his campaign is “feeling the momentum” with just a week left to go in the campaign.

He also attacked rival John Tory, who currently leads in the polls, saying “people are clearly going to see John Tory’s given up on his transit plan.”

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Ford shrugged off a suggestion that people might vote for his rivals in order to cast a ballot against his brother, current mayor Rob Ford.

“Everywhere I’m going we have an overwhelming response and I think the media, the pollsters are underestimating our support like they have in the past,” Ford said.

Asked what he would do for renters, Ford said he would help thousands of people save money on rent if elected.

“I’m going to be their voice – loud and clear,” Ford said.

Tory did not have any campaign appearances scheduled for today.

All three candidates are expected to take part in a debate co-hosted by The Martin Prosperity Institute and the Toronto Star at the Rotman School of Management tonight at 6:30 p.m.

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