Tenants rights raised at Toronto-Danforth debate

Maureen Codd (foreground left) and brother Paul Codd (right), listen in at the Toronto-Danforth all-candidates debate on Oct. 14. (Codds_1)

All Maureen Codd wanted to do was move into an apartment building with a clean slate.

“Don’t do anything,” was her motto and she hoped no issues would get in the way.

All of that changed the morning of July 20, 2008, when a hydro vault explosion sent flames through her 2 Secord Place apartment. Dozens of families living in the 21-storey high rise were forced out of their homes for more than a month. That’s when Codd, 50, realized her attitude had to change.

“When the building blew up I said, ‘We have to do something.’ We couldn’t just let people suffer,” she said. “For six weeks and six days we were out of the building and we saw some of the tenants in their bare bones, some in night clothes and some with no money and these are very proud people.”

Her brother, Paul Codd, believes the effects of the explosion showed a level of negligence from their landlord at the time. He’s now involved with the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association (FMTA) http://www.torontotenants.org/ and ANC (Action for Neighbourhood Change) http://www.anccommunity.ca/ .

Codd, 58, voiced his opinion about tenants’ rights during a recent Toronto-Danforth all-candidates meeting.

During a recent Toronto-Danforth all-candidates meeting on Thursday evening to spread awareness on the licensing of landlords. Although their fire damaged Main and Danforth apartment building is covered by Ward 31 – Beaches, East York http://www.janetdavis.ca/, they want to help people everywhere.

“Our city officials were doing everything they could … but our landlord property management couldn’t care less. I hope to get tenants to know that we can stand up; we can be counted; and I would like landlords to know the same,” he said.

Codd’s sister echoed his sentiments.

“We care about helping people and we don’t care about what political station you are ,” she said. If you need help, then there needs to be somebody there who cares.”

When the brother and sister duo presented their ideas about landlord licensing, they were met with mixed reviews from the candidates. Mary Fragedakis http://www.maryfragedakis.ca/, Chris Caldwell http://www.caldwellforcouncil.ca/ and Mike Restivo http://mikerestivo.org/electrestivo/ were in favour of landlord licensing, while John Richardson http://www.johnrichardson.ca/, Jennifer Wood http://votejenniferwood.ca/ and Jane Pitfield http://www.voteforjane.com/ were against it.

As a former tenant and landlord, Richardson guaranteed the worst thing that could happen for tenants in Toronto is to have a licensing regime in place. He feels it would discourage people from becoming landlords and stressed the need for more rental housing.

Restivo believes there is a need for landlord licensing, citing current landlord abuse as an example.

“I would support landlord licensing. …Notwithstanding the existing bylaws and the initiatives, there is still abuse. Some landlords need to be aware of the system and know how to work the system,“ Restivo said.

In the end, Codd feels the landlord licensing initiative is an ongoing process. He is hopeful more people will get on board.

“I feel like it’s an idea that hasn’t had its day yet,” he said.