City of Hamilton Rental Property Licensing

The City of Hamilton introduced a two-year Rental Housing Licensing pilot program in August 2021, targeting Wards 1, 8, and part of Ward 14.

This program requires property owners to obtain a licence for rental housing units and buildings with five or fewer self-contained units, detached homes, or townhouses.

The pilot, which began in 2022, addresses issues such as illegal dwelling units, absentee landlords, property standards, and yard maintenance.

Properties can still be rented while the licensing application is in process, unless significant health and safety violations are identified.

The program’s cost will be covered by licensing fees, assuming approximately 2000 rental units are licensed by the end of the pilot.

Although this initiative will help increase property standards, especially for neglected properties, some landlords feel it is another cash grab, with the ultimate cost being passed onto the renters. It’s important to note that most properties in these areas have always been held to a good standard. However, this licensing program aims to keep an inventory of rented properties and further elevate overall standards, ensuring all rental units are well-maintained and safe.

This pilot project on Hamilton rental property licensing and student rentals aims to improve rental housing conditions across these wards and could potentially be a model for broader implementation throughout the city.

Breakdown of Ward Boundaries – Which Properties are Required to Participate

Ward 1: Boundaries include the area from the western edge of the city along Highway 403 to the Hamilton Harbour, extending eastward to include McMaster University and surrounding neighborhoods. This area predominantly features student rentals due to its proximity to McMaster University. Many houses are rented out to students attending the university, creating a high demand for rental properties.

Ward 8: This ward covers the central mountain area, bounded by the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway to the south, Upper James Street to the east, and Garth Street to the west, extending north to the brow of the escarpment. Ward 8 includes a mix of student rentals and family rentals. Student rentals here cater primarily to Mohawk College students.

Ward 14 (Part): The included part of Ward 14 is in the western region of the city, encompassing areas west of Ward 8 and south of Ward 1, focusing on the peripheral regions where residential and suburban developments are prominent. This area includes a mix of family rentals and some student rentals, providing housing for those attending nearby schools and colleges, as well as families seeking a quieter residential environment.

Applying for a Hamilton Rental Property License

Required and up-to-date documents can be found here.

Application Requirements
  1. Submit an Application Form
    • Include owner details, contact information, and mailing addresses.
    • If the properties are held in a corporation, provide incorporation documents, including any notices of change or initial notice, and a Certificate of Status issued by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
  2. Proof of Liability Insurance
  3. Proof of Property Ownership
    • Submit documentation verifying the ownership of the property.
  4. Certificate of Compliance Application
    • Obtain a Certificate of Compliance Application from the City of Hamilton.
  5. Self-Certification Checklist
    • Complete the Self-Certification Checklist available on the City of Hamilton website.
  6. Floor Plan
    • Provide a detailed floor plan of the rental housing unit, including the dimensions and proposed use of each room, clearly indicating the location and number of bedrooms.
  7. Site Sketch
    • Submit a site sketch that indicates the location of the rental housing unit, any external structures, and parking spaces. Each must contain their dimensions.
  8. Electrical Inspection Documentation
    • Provide documentation from a licensed ESA/ECRA electrician stating that a general electrical inspection was completed and complies with the Electrical Safety Code (O. Reg. 164/99). Note: Duplexes (Two-Unit Dwellings) do not need to submit electrical inspection documentation with the initial application; it may be requested post fire inspection.
  9. Certificate of Zoning Verification
    • Obtain a Certificate of Zoning Verification from the City of Hamilton to ensure that the property is zoned correctly. Properties that may not be zoned correctly may require additional steps to become recognized.

For landlords in Hamilton, this new rental housing licensing program represents a significant shift in how rental properties are managed and regulated. While it might feel like an additional burden, these standards are designed to enhance the overall quality and safety of rental housing, which benefits both landlords and tenants in the long run. It’s important for landlords to recognize that these licensing requirements are likely here to stay. Therefore, those looking to be involved in the Hamilton rental property market, particularly with student rentals, should plan to incorporate these standards into their property management practices. By doing so, landlords can ensure compliance, avoid potential penalties, and maintain high-quality rental units that attract and retain tenants. Embracing these changes can ultimately lead to a more professional and reputable rental market in Hamilton.

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