An organization representing low- and middle-income tenants in Toronto is urging the city to beef up its licensing and enforcement efforts concerning large apartment buildings, arguing that some landlords don’t do enough to maintain their properties.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now conducted an informal survey of 174 residents of rental housing and found that the vast majority (165) said they live with a problem in their unit that violates the municipal property standards bylaw.

More than two-thirds said they identified needed repairs in their unit on the first day they moved in and told ACORN they have trouble getting their landlords to complete basic repairs, the survey says.

Major issues identified included peeling paint, regular presence of cockroaches and cracks or holes in the walls or ceiling.

When it comes to tenants asking landlords or their staff to conduct repairs, 29 per cent of respondents to the ACORN survey said they felt threatened when asking for a repair to be made.

ACORN says the city’s current complaint-based audit system of enforcing property standards on apartment buildings falls short, as it conducts a relatively small number of audits each month.

The current multi-residential apartment buildings audit program targets buildings based on the number of complaints received from tenants.

Statistics published by the city indicated between one and five audits are conducted each year in each of the city’s 44 wards.

In October 2016, the city conducted 10 audits of apartment buildings across all wards.

When asked about the city’s existing audit system, 31 per cent of respondents said they were not aware such a system existed.

Instead of the current regime, ACORN says it wants a full landlord licensing system, where buildings larger than three floors or ten units would pay a small per-unit fee to cover the cost of a larger complement of city inspectors.

The inspectors would be able to conduct annual inspections of each large apartment building in the city, and would have the authority to levy “large financial punishments” for landlords who violate municipal property standards.

On Wednesday, Toronto city council’s tenant issues committee will consider a staff proposal to create a landlord licensing system that would cover the city’s more than 2,900 large private rental apartment buildings and more than 500 public housing apartments.

See the full ACORN report here: