Slum­lord sur­vey

Land­lord reg­istry aims to help ren­ters



city coun­cil is pre­par­ing to cre­ate a manda­tory reg­istry for rental prop­er­ties in Hal­i­fax that will show you their ba­sic in­for­ma­tion and by-law vi­o­la­tion record. An amend­ment to by-law M-200 was approved Tues­day to in­crease com­pli­ance with new stan­dards.

Al­most three years ago, M-200 was passed to re­de­fine stan­dards for rental prop­er­ties. On Tues­day, coun­cil voted to open a reg­istry that would re­quire build­ing own­ers to make pub­lic in­for­ma­tion about fire es­capes, accessibil­ity and contact info for build­ing own­ers. More im­por­tantly, the reg­istry would also list a his­tory of code vi­o­la­tions for each prop­erty. If it is adopted, fu­ture Hal­i­fax ren­ters will be able to check a web­site to see how rep­utable their po­ten­tial home is.

Kait Fralic is a com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer who has lived in five apart­ments over the last 10 years. Though her cur­rent north end apart­ment is great, and her land­lord is “just a text away,” she would have loved ac­cess to a rental reg­istry when be­fore she moved into her previous flat. The south end apart­ment was “def­i­nitely a night­mare,” she says. “It was over­priced and the place was just dis­gust­ing.” She might have had mould, and cer­tainly had mice. “The orig­i­nal contact moved or something, and no no­tice was sent out... It wasn’t un­til a few months later that some­one was on the prop­erty that we fi­nally fig­ured out that there was a new contact.”

Fralic doesn’t plan to move, but says the re­source would be great for po­ten­tial ren­ters. “If the per­son rent­ing [out] a prop­erty isn’t tak­ing that ini­tia­tive to be on that reg­istry, that would be a huge red flag,” she says.

Some city coun­cil­lors echoed Fralic’s opin­ion. “There should be some kind of comfort that if some­one’s gonna rent something,” says coun­cil­lor David Hends­bee, “they should know it’s been listed, they should know it’s a le­gal apart­ment, or room to rent, and there should be some min­i­mum safety stan­dards.”

The leg­is­la­tion will al­low third-party com­plaints to prompt in­spec­tions, mean­ing a ten­ant can com­plain anony­mously about their sit­u­a­tion with­out wor­ry­ing their land­lord will kick them out.

Coun­cil voted 11-4 to pass the amend­ment that opens the door for the reg­istry. One change from cur­rent leg­is­la­tion is that build­ings with three units or less would be sub­ject to the new rules. If you’ve got an in-law suite or a room to sub­let, you’ll have to regis­ter too. How this by-law might in­ter­act with pro­posed pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion reg­u­lat­ing Airbnb rentals was not dis­cussed. Some coun­cil­lors were con­cerned shady land­lords who don’t follow the old rules won’t be com­pelled to follow the new ones. “To me it seems like it would be bet­ter money spent to start a data­base of the bad guys,” said coun­cil­lor Matt Whit­man. Stephen Adams didn’t think non-com­pli­ant land­lords would feel com­pelled to regis­ter.

Plans for the reg­istry will be con­sid­ered by coun­cil be­fore it be­comes of­fi­cial.


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