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Ottawa Citizen: Tenants group presses for better housing standards - ACORN Canada

Ottawa Citizen: Tenants group presses for better housing standards

Posted May 10, 2012

ACORN members show their support during a rally at Sandalwood Park on Wednesday to press the City of Ottawa for better housing standards.  OTTAWA — Members of Ottawa ACORN rallied Wednesday in Sandalwood Park to press the City of Ottawa for better housing standards in their battle to get quicker action from landlords on repair and maintenance issues.

About 20 members were at the park near Herongate Mall, holding signs that read “We Want Healthy Homes” and “Make Landlords Accountable” and reiterating their concerns about the need to live in safe and clean housing.

ACORN Ottawa has about 9,700 members and is one of the largest tenant organizations in the city.

ACORN members show their support during a rally at Sandalwood Park on Wednesday to press the City of Ottawa for better housing standards.  OTTAWA — Members of Ottawa ACORN rallied Wednesday in Sandalwood Park to press the City of Ottawa for better housing standards in their battle to get quicker action from landlords on repair and maintenance issues.

About 20 members were at the park near Herongate Mall, holding signs that read “We Want Healthy Homes” and “Make Landlords Accountable” and reiterating their concerns about the need to live in safe and clean housing.

ACORN Ottawa has about 9,700 members and is one of the largest tenant organizations in the city.

Danielle Langlois, a tenant on Baycrest Drive, said repair work in her unit often took a long time. Even when it was completed, she said, there was often a lack of quality workmanship.

“They wanted to put silicone on the railing in my house and weatherstripping was put on my front door and it wouldn’t lock. Then we noticed there were one-and-a-half-inch screws holding the deadbolt and so we had to go to fix it ourselves,” Langlois said. The eavestroughs were failing apart and birds had built nests inside them, and the parquet flooring in her unit lifted and was in desperate need of repair, she added.

Ottawa ACORN called for the creation of minimum apartment building standards in the City of Ottawa bylaws and a “protocol” should be developed to ensure enforcement. The group would like to see maximum time frames in which landlords must respond to repairs and maintenance. It also wants explicit time frames for landlords to respond in cases where the city issues work orders after tenant-requested work orders are ignored by the landlords.

Erica Marx, co-chair of Ottawa South ACORN, says the city needs to protect tenants and ensure they are living in homes that are safe and healthy. She said the group met with the mayor and city officials last year, and she was surprised to learn there wasn’t a clear protocol to deal with tenant issues.

“At this point it’s just like, ‘Oh, bad landlord,’ and they get a slap on the hand and nothing actually happens,” said Marx, a resident of Sandalwood Drive.

“We have a lot more issues of the city coming and demanding the (repair) work be done, and either it doesn’t get done in a timely fashion, or gets it done in a bad way. Sometimes the people doing the work don’t even know how to do it,” she said.

She said she hoped the city would respond to Ottawa ACORN’s demands and incorporate a clearer protocol on tenant repair and maintenance issues into the bylaws.

“The city is supposed to be representing the tenants and making sure they are living happily and safely, but there is nothing to ensure that, and, while there are probably a lot of good intentions on the city staff, there are no actual bylaws or rules to set that up. This is a step that we hope to do to try and change landlord-tenant law.”

Langlois said she was frustrated that work orders for repairs often sat for months before landlords acted on them.

“I don’t want them to wait three, four or six months for repairs,” said Langlois, who moved into her house in December 2010.

When she moved into her house, Langlois said, the basement had been flooded and it took the landlord about a year before the necessary repairs were completed. She said she wasn’t aware of the flooding before moving in.

“We can’t afford to move because you have to pay for a moving truck and pay for last month’s rent, so we have to stay here,” she said.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/ottawa/Tenants+group+presses+better+housing+standards/6595237/story.html