The City of Victoria is considering new protections for tenants in hopes of improving stability for renters.
City staff recommended that a bylaw be enacted to regulate maintenance standards of rental buildings, and a tenant relocation policy created to increase stability for renters. Intense competition for rental accommodation in Victoria can leave tenants vulnerable to housing instability through substandard conditions and insecure tenancy, according to the report.
Council was will receive an interim report Thursday, recommending methods the City can use to preserve the existing stock of affordable market rental units, and measures to protect tenants when their homes are demolished, redeveloped, or renovated. The recommendations are part of the ongoing Market Rental Revitalization Study (MaRRS).
Jonathan Tinney, director of sustainable planning and community development, said other cities have created bylaws to impose minimum standards to keep rental buildings safer for residents.
While other protections do exist in other City regulations, a bylaw would pull them all together to provide tools for bylaw officers to deal with “problem properties.”
“Right now we have a property maintenance bylaw that basically tells people to cut their lawns and not leave garbage on your front step,” Tinney said. “Unless its an egregious, life-safety issue, we don’t have the ability to mandate that owners uphold basic levels of maintenance.”
The other aspect is what he calls the renter transition policy. It could include, for instance, how much notice owners need to provide tenants before evicting for redevelopment, or how many months of rent they should provide to help tenants find new accommodation.
Tinney anticipates staff will come to council in February or March with the full MaRRS report, which would recommend incentives to building owners to make improvements, including energy efficiency and seismic upgrades, while also protecting the rental housing stock and treating current tenants well.