Ottawa Community News: Anti-poverty advocates want movement on landlord licensing

Posted September 8, 2017

A review of the city’s property standards bylaw that looks at issues like external lighting, graffiti and removal of ice from walkways doesn’t go far enough, said Gisele Bouvier of the Association of Communities for Reform Now.
The anti-poverty group has been an advocate for a landlord-licensing program by the city in an effort to deal with negligent landlords.
The city’s community and protective services committee approved the review of the bylaw on Aug. 31, but chair Coun. Diane Deans said the next term of council may want to have a deeper look into the issue.
“Those of you that are returning, you should keep in mind how important this issue is to your residents,” she said to her council colleagues.
Council members fill in a survey at the beginning of a new term, to determine which bylaws should be reviewed over the next four years.
Deans said the city’s work plan for this term of council doesn’t allow for a look at the possibility of landlord licensing.
Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum said when he was knocking on doors during the last election; he heard a lot of “landlord woes" from residents.
“I put a property standards review on my poll,” he said, adding that he was more interesting in figuring out the tools the city has to deal with negligent landlords.
River Coun. Riley Brockington said waiting until the next term of council means nothing will get done until at least 2020.
“We should get moving,” he said.
According to the staff report, there are about 10,000 service requests under the property standards bylaw annually.
As part of the review, the city held two public consultations, one on July 10 at the McNabb Recreation Centre and the other one was held in Hintonburg on July 19 with a total of 14 attendees, the staff report says.
City staff consulted with Action Sandy Hill, ACORN, the Eastern Ontario Landlord Organization and Building Owners and Managers Association.
“Whenever you have a discussion with low or moderate income residents, the issue of housing maintenance always comes up,” Bouvier said. “ACORN was anxious to participate in the review, but was surprised by the narrow scope.”
The group is urging members to attend a presentation at city hall on Sept. 18 by Ottawa Public Health to discuss its role in addressing bad landlords.
It’s time the city does something, Bouvier said.
“We’d hoped to deal with the elephant in the room.” she said of the property standards review. “But we find we are dealing with the mouse.”
The changes to the bylaw will take effect on Oct. 31.
Article by Jennifer McIntosh for Ottawa Community News