City debates rental property standards bylaw

Victoria City Hall wants to make sure the city's apartment buildings don't fall into neglect all at once and they're considering a bylaw to enforce minimum levels of maintenance.

A report delivered to councilors Thursday morning said that over 80% of Victoria's rental buildings were built in the 1960's and 1970's. The fear is that a majority those apartment buildings could become run-down all at once, if minimum standards aren't maintained. The staff report said that some buildings are already below acceptable standards despite provincial residential tenancy regulations.

Councilors are considering a "Rental Property Standards of Maintenance Bylaw," which would require landowners to maintain some standards such as functioning heat and hot water, dealing with leaks, and controlling pests. It could start with a pilot project involving three buildings.

Several councilors expressed concerns about putting too many regulatory burdens on landowners, which could scare away investment from rental properties.

"I do have some real concerns about the message that we're going to be sending to landlords here. We have to be very careful about setting standards that will simply lead people to say 'this is an industry that I don't want to be in,'" said Councillor Geoff Young.

However, Councillor Jeremy Loveday likes the message it sends, "I think with this we're sending a message to landlords, and we're also sending the same message to tenants, and that's that every single resident deserves adequate housing."

In the end, councilors directed staff to continue development of the bylaw.

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