Metro News: Where the bed bugs bite? Halifax group calls for landlord licensing to improve living conditions

Posted May 14, 2014

Although Bruce Muir doesn’t live the same slum situation described by many people outside Halifax City Hall on Tuesday, he said it’s important for everyone to push for landlord licensing because a good society cares about everybody in the community, “not just the people who can afford it.”
About a dozen people holding rubber spiders and signs painted with rats or broken toilets attended a rally hosted by the local ACORN chapter (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), to draw attention to slum landlords who aren’t being held accountable in the current complaint-based system.
“We should make sure that people can live in housing that’s safe and healthy,” said Muir after the protest.
Scott Domenie, co-chair of ACORN, said those with a low income are especially vulnerable because they don’t have funds to move away from a bad situation.
He said Halifax regional council should introduce landlord licenses, which would cost landlords $30 a year and be awarded if their properties passed a mandatory yearly inspection.
If a landlord failed an inspection due to mold, leaky pipes, or other factors that break the standards of the M-100 residential occupancies bylaw, Domenie said they would be fined $100,000.
The yearly fees would go towards hiring more inspectors, he said, adding Toronto and Vancouver have similar programs.
Catherine, who preferred not to give her last name, spoke to the crowd about how the heat in her apartment doesn’t work. Last winter, she said her home was so cold she had to stay with friends for a few days.
Devon Berquist has found asbestos in her building in the past, and said a license system is important because “it should be understood that you’re not moving into a rat-infested apartment.”
She said tenants would no longer have to worry about their rent going up, or other retaliation from the landlord if they filed a complaint.
“Whether legal or not, it’s a very real fear for a lot of tenants,” Berquist said.
Article by Haley Ryan by Metro News