Shortly after being elected as City Councillor of the South Winnipeg-St. Norbert ward in 2014, I began working to peel back the layers of the rental housing challenges faced by residents and tenants in our community.
For some valuable insight into this complex issue, including how the community has banded together to resolve these issues, please visit Ward Priorities: Rental housing on my website.
My thanks to the Sou’Wester.
The Sou’Wester – Canstar Community News
By: Janice Lukes – South Winnipeg-St. Norbert City Councillor Ward Report
Posted: 08/29/2016 2:12 PM
Dear room rental landlord:
As you well know, the University of Manitoba has an extreme shortage of affordable student housing on campus. Approximately 30,000 students attend the university on an annual basis; yet there are only 1,316 beds on campus. The university is looking at options to increase affordable housing, but there are no finalized plans. I am working with Terry Duguid (Winnipeg South MP) and Sarah Guillemard (Fort Richmond MLA) to try to identify potential funding for affordable housing, but for now, clearly there is a supply and demand issue where you as the room rental landlord are attempting to fill the gap.
Many of you are responsible landlords. You understand the houses in Fort Richmond and University Heights are zoned single-family, restricting owners to only two tenants. You take care of your property, mow the lawn, ensure garbage is removed, and provide safe living conditions for tenants. I and the community thank you for being responsible landlords.
But there are many landlords who choose not to adhere to residential tenancy rules and have a complete disregard for responsibilities in providing safe living conditions in compliance with zoning and neighbourhood bylaws. Please consider this your official notice that the community has had it with your irresponsible behaviour, and complete disregard for the safety of tenants, primarily young people to whom you rent. Young people who trust you with their lives to provide safe living conditions. Residents are fed up seeing your property’s dangerous living conditions, seeing your house in disrepair, seeing you neglect your property in winter and summer, and seeing you ignore neighbourhood livability bylaws. As neighbours, we see all of these activities.
Neighbourhood residents have united and are taking action. I am supporting them 150 per cent. We now have a City of Winnipeg bylaw task force in place to assist in cracking down on bylaw infractions in the area around the University of Manitoba, and are working to ensure there are more ‘teeth’ in bylaws and enforcement. We have street captains who are recording inventories of assumed rental properties and turning addresses over to the taxation department, which will investigate possible tax fraud. We are working with the Winnipeg Real Estate Association to ensure realtors adhere to their Code of Ethics. We are delivering educational postcards to every house in the neighbourhood. We are educating residents on how to properly identify and report infractions; we are educating tenants on their rights and how to identify dangerous living conditions, and we are attempting to educate you on your responsibilities. The Fort Richmond-University Heights Neighbourhood Association has built an informative website to help residents, landlords and tenants understand their rights and responsibilities: NeighbourhoodAssociation.ca
Landlords, this is not a unique situation. Be aware that we are working with other resident associations across North America to seek best practices in eliminating irresponsible landlords. We have experts studying the unique aspects of the situation in Fort Richmond and University Heights.
I and the neighbourhood residents ask that you please clean up your act, provide safe living accommodations, and respect the laws set out by the Province of Manitoba and City of Winnipeg. If you’d like more clarity, or would like to discuss, my door is always open. Call me at 204 986-6824 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more by Janice Lukes – South Winnipeg-St. Norbert City Councillor Ward Report.