Tenants’ rights advocates are raising legal concerns about a Toronto building complex that is banning electric transportation vehicles from the property, including in the units, garage, parking spaces and lockers.
Notices were posted this week at 110 and 120 Jameson Avenue in Parkdale, owned by Oberon Development Corporation, alerting tenants of the ban.
According to the notice, electric vehicles are not permitted anywhere on the property. Electric bicycles and motorcycles, hoverboards, mopeds, segways and scooters are also part of the ban.
“If you have any of these vehicles, remove them from the premises immediately,” the notice says, adding lithium batteries, a type of rechargeable battery, could be a “potential fire hazard.”
Electric scooters are currently banned in Toronto, although the city is engaged in a process to examine the risks and benefits.
Douglas Kwan, director of advocacy and legal services at the Ontario Tenant Advocacy Centre, a community legal clinic and advocacy organization, said he had never seen such a ban on a residential building.
“And these are small devices. A Segway is so small that it’s smaller than some vacuum cleaners. It doesn’t seem reasonable for the owner to act this way,” Kwan said.
CBC Toronto contacted the property manager for comment but did not receive a response.
Ban Could Violate Tenants’ Rights, Advocate Says
Kwan says such a ban could violate legislation protecting tenants’ rights and could also violate the Ontario Human Rights Code.
When asked whether property managers can implement such a ban, the Landlord and Tenant Board did not respond directly, saying that tenants who believe a landlord has violated the Residential Tenancies Act can apply to the board.
Toronto Fire Services (TFS) told CBC Toronto that it has responded to 47 fires involving lithium-ion batteries this year, 10 of which took place in residential high-rises. Parking an electric vehicle in an exit aisle or exit stairwell is against the Ontario Fire Code, he said.
“Condominium corporations have the right to implement any condominium rules for the operation of their building. This is subject to separate legislation in which TFS does not intervene,” he added.
The Residential Tenancies Act guarantees a tenant’s right to “reasonable enjoyment” of the premises, Kwan said. That can include everything from treating a guest to a meal, or using a chosen transportation method and storing it in their unit, he said.
In the law, landlords have certain rights to choose a tenant, collect rent, increase rent, and evict tenants, but there is no specific language about whether they can set rules regarding tenants’ personal property.
Beyond that, Kwan said, if a person has a disability and relies on an electric vehicle due to mobility restrictions, such a ban could violate their human rights. According to the human rights code, a person cannot be discriminated against because of their need for accommodation, he said.
As for lithium-ion batteries, he said, they are used in all types of personal items. “It is unusual and unreasonable” to ban transportation that uses these batteries, Kwan said.
A review of the published literature. by the National Research Council of Canada in June examined the potential dangers of parked electric vehicles and whether current fire guidelines and standards were adequate to address any dangers.
The council said in its findings that while fire risks from electric vehicles are no greater than those from gasoline cars, there are concerns about outdated parking structures and more research is needed to understand how to prevent fires, specifically when These are electric vehicles.
Tenants may not be able to afford a car: lawyer
Samuel Mason, a tenant attorney with Parkdale Community Legal Services, said the ban is an example of how landlords “dictate the minutiae of tenants’ daily lives.”
Mason, who does not represent tenants, said he agrees the ban is contrary to the Residential Tenancies Act.
“Using transportation devices or electronic vehicles is certainly something that someone has the right to do, where they live, especially in a city like Toronto where many people use these types of vehicles to live a normal life,” he said. saying.
He also said that in this particular building complex, most tenants rent.
“It is very likely that they cannot afford a car or that parking spaces are not provided to them, or that they cannot afford parking spaces even if they are provided,” he said, adding that electric vehicles could be a popular alternative for such tenants. .
Many may be using this type of device to go to work or do their job, for example if they are delivery drivers, Mason said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people use these devices to survive. And that, of course, is a class issue. The class of owners are not people who have to do these kinds of jobs,” he said.
The climate agency wants more devices of this type
The devices are also environmentally friendly, Mason said, adding that getting more Torontonians to rely on alternative transportation is helpful in combating climate change.
Regional climate agency The Atmospheric Fund is currently launching a program with Kite Mobility, a Toronto-based electric ride-sharing company, to help residents of buildings like condos and apartments gain access to electric mobility devices by renting they. Kite is currently in the process of implementation.
“This is a great solution for families living in the buildings because it makes life more affordable by eliminating the cost of private car ownership,” said Ian Klesmer, director of strategy and grants at TAF.
For now, Kwan recommends that tenants seek advice from a local community legal clinic on how to file a tenants’ rights application. That, he says, would force the landlord to demonstrate why the ban exists before the Landlord and Tenant Board.
“They should really challenge the owner,” he said.