CBC News Calgary: Renters advocacy group calls for landlord licensing in Alberta
Posted November 2, 2022
Posted on November 2nd, 2022
The provincial chapter of a tenant advocacy group believes landlord licensing could be the solution to many Alberta renters’ concerns about health and safety in their homes.
According to Fable Dowling, a spokesperson with Alberta ACORN, a licensing program would ensure landlords would be charged a small fee per rental unit to license their properties and be put on a registry for annual health inspections.
“Landlords are essentially running a business. Their business is housing,” Dowling said.
“Just like we ask restaurants to get licensed, and just like you need a license to drive a car safely, it just makes a lot of sense that landlords also get licensed to make sure that they’re taking proper care of their business, which is people’s houses.”
Through more frequent and proactive health inspections, ACORN’s goal is to ensure health issues in rentals are addressed before they become major issues.
CBC Calgary previously reported that over 8,000 Albertans have called Alberta Health Services about health inspections since the beginning of 2021, and many renters say they’re too afraid to call in fear of ruining their relationship with their landlord.
“A lot of renters don’t know their rights, don’t know where to go for help,” said Dowling.
Landlord licensing programs have been implemented in other parts of Canada, including Toronto and London, Ont. Earlier this year, Windsor, Ont. launched a two-year pilot program where rental units would need to be licensed in some parts of the city.
Its success has Alberta’s chapter of ACORN asking — why not us?
Dowling says the organization has reached out to members of Calgary’s city council to get the conversation going among the municipal government. Eventually, he says ACORN would like it to become a provincial program.
Program is ‘unworkable,’ says landlord association
Gerry Baxter with the Calgary Residential Rental Association, which supports landlords, says health inspectors are already busy as the current system stands — on a complaint-basis.
He says it would also increase costs in the industry, which would increase rent prices for tenants.
“If that ever became law, could you imagine the extra cost of government to hire all the inspectors that would need it?” said Baxter. “The reality is, it’s completely unworkable.”
He pointed to section 16 of the Residential Tenancies Act, which states that “the premises will meet at least the minimum standards prescribed for housing premises under the Public Health Act and regulations.”
Under the act, landlords must ensure those minimum standards are met in every rental unit. If they aren’t, and the landlord won’t fix the problem, Baxter says renters can call a health inspector, who will come check it out.