Frequently Asked Questions

On this page

  1. Why do licence applications have to be made in person?
  2. Can the City send someone to check my property for issues before I apply?
  3. Why does the application require a criminal record check?
  4. Is someone with a criminal record ineligible for a licence?
  5. How are licensing fees determined?
  6. Why doesn't the licence fee include all costs to get a licence?
  7. Why are some dwelling units excluded from the by-law and pilot study?
  8. Why aren't recently-constructed dwelling units excluded as well?
  9. How was the licensing framework created?

Why do licence applications have to be made in person?

Licence applications need to be supported by original documents or certified copies of documents like passports, driver's licences, work permits, or property deeds. These documents have to be presented in person so City staff can reasonably confirm they are authentic. At this time, there is no way to verify these documents digitally in order to allow someone to apply for a licence remotely.

If you cannot come to Windsor to submit your licence application yourself, you can provide your original documents to a person you trust who can act as an authorized agent to do so on your behalf.

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Can the City send someone out to check my property for issues before I apply?

Anyone can submit a request for a Building By-law or Fire Prevention Officer to attend their property through 311. However, the outcome of an officer attending a property that is not in compliance with a by-law or code, whether as part of a licence application or prior to it, is the same: they must ensure the property is brought into compliance, including issuing an Order to Comply or Order to Repair as necessary. These orders come with administrative fees to recover the cost of performing the inspection and administering the order.

An order will describe the deficiencies an officer found, but it does not provide specific instructions on the materials or methods to be used to address a deficient condition.

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Why is a criminal record check required?

Licensing is a tool municipalities use to ensure health and safety standards are maintained, to protect consumers, and to prevent public nuisances. The City requests a criminal record check to help confirm a licensee is of good character and has a willingness to comply with all levels of law.

Depending on the type of conviction, the Windsor Licensing Commission may want to impose certain conditions on the licensee.

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Is someone with a criminal record ineligible for a licence?

Not necessarily. Criminal record checks are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and only referred to the Windsor Licensing Commission based on the type and details of the conviction. Please see Section 5.4 (b) of By-law 14-2023 for convictions that require the Licence Commissioner to refer an application to the Windsor Licensing Commission.

The information we receive through the police record check is only used for licensing purposes and is not disclosed to the public or to licensed unit occupants. Matters related to criminal convictions are only heard during in-camera (i.e. closed-door or private) meetings of the Windsor Licensing Commission.

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How was the licence fee determined?

All licensing fees, including the residential rental licence, are calculated based on the principle of "full cost recovery." This means that the fee is calculated to fully recover costs of delivering the program, like site visits, administration, and licence issuance. A breakdown of the residential rental licensing fees for new and renewal applications is included as Schedule 1 of By-law 14-2023.

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Why doesn't the fee include all costs associated with getting a licence?

Windsor's licence application fees include the minimum cost to issue a licence, including all required site visits or and administration performed by City staff. However, the City cannot perform criminal record checks directly, and electrical inspections are performed by private licensed electrical contracting (LEC) businesses. Because the cost of these services is outside of the City's control, they cannot be included in the licence application fee.

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Are some dwelling units excluded from the by-law and pilot study? Why?

All dwelling units that are rented or offered for rent need to get a residential rental licence unless they meet one or more of the conditions below:

If the unit is: Reasoning
In a building with five or more dwelling units total Under the Ontario Building Code (OBC), buildings larger than 600 square metres and four storeys have more stringent requirements for construction, design, and life safety systems. The minimum unit sizes prescribed in the OBC make it very unlikely that a building with five or more units will be smaller than 600 square metres and/or four storeys tall.
Occupied by the owner or their immediate family Section 5 of the Residential Tenancies Act exempts living accommodations occupied by an owner or their immediate family (spouse, child, parent, or spouse's child or parent). Dwelling units occupied by the owner or their immediate family were excluded from the Residential Rental Licence By-law to maintain the same parameters as the provincial Act governing residential tenancies.
Already licensed as a bed and breakfast, guest house establishment, or lodging home These businesses are already licensed under the City's Licensing By-law. To secure a licence, these properties are already required to submit supporting documentation and undergo regular inspections.
Already subject to specific provincial Acts These residential properties, such as long-term care homes, are under the regulatory jurisdiction of the Province.
Providing social or affordable housing already subject to an agreement with the City of Windsor These properties must meet certain requirements in order to participate in affordable housing programs.

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Why aren't recently constructed dwelling units excluded as well?

New buildings are inspected by building inspectors before being occupied, but this only confirms that work was completed appropriately up until that point. After that inspection, interior alterations like adding additional bedrooms or units could be undertaken without the City's knowledge. Site visits are required for all residential rental licence applications in order to confirm that the current condition and layout meet the standards prescribed in the building and fire codes.

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How was the licensing framework created?

Beginning in July 2021, City staff undertook extensive research, consulted with internal departments, surveyed other Ontario municipalities, and spoke with representatives from local organizations to develop an initial proposed regulatory framework. Staff presented that framework to the City’s Housing and Homelessness Advisory Committee (HHAC) on September 21, 2021, as well as the Town and Gown Advisory Committee on September 29, 2021. Following these meetings, administration sought further feedback through a public survey available from October 19 to November 9, 2021.

Based on these consultations, City staff revised the initial proposed framework with consideration of stakeholders’ concerns. Administration delivered the revised framework, along with the public survey and its results, to Windsor City Council in Report C 54/2022.

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