Ottawa ACORN: Healthy Homes Campaign After countless hours of our members organizing and working on tenant campaigns over the past few years, ACORN members have determined the current minimum standard for residential properties and enforcement protocols are insufficient. Recently, Ottawa City Bylaw did door-to-door inspections with our members in the Herongate community, and this reinforced the same issue. ACORN Ottawa is a member based organization of 9700 members. As one of the largest tenant stakeholders in the City of Ottawa, we believe that the current minimum of guidelines and enforcement is not enough to create and maintain a healthy standard of living for all residents of Ottawa.
The City of Ottawa Needs to Create Tenant Protections Urgently. 1)Create minimum apartment building standards in the city of Ottawa by-laws. 2)Develop a proactive enforcement protocol at the city department level to ensure enforcement is done effectively. This protocol should include: a. Explicit minimum time frames in which landlords must respond to repairs and maintenance requested by the tenant before the tenant issues a call to the city. b. Explicit time frames for the landlord to respond after the city issues a work order when the tenant requested work order is ignored by the landlord. i. Such as: if a tenant calls the city, and the city inspects the property, the city should follow up with tenants within 5 days of the city inspection or as soon thereafter as possible - but no later than 15 days from the compliance date specified in the order. c. By-law should be equipped with a standard work order form. Pictures should be available on the form for tenants and inspectors to easily identify issues and record inspections. No form exists to date. d. Tenants should automatically receive a copy of the standard work order of all city by-law inspections without having to request it, just as the landlord receives an obligatory copy. Tenants should also receive a copy of reports from follow up inspections. e. The city should create a website to list outstanding city issued work orders by ward and by building. The communications to tenants on their rights, and information displaying what buildings currently have outstanding city issued work orders, is clearly outlined online.
City inspections of common areas should be posted on the front of the building, or main area in the case of multi-unit rental row housing. g. The city should issue fines to landlords who don’t meet outlined timelines. In the
past 5 years, the city has issued no fine to landlords in Ottawa. Recently the city enacted a progressive system for noise by-law violations. We would like to see a similar system, where applicable, for property standard violations.
Conclusion We need action! The City of Ottawa should create an action plan on how to bring problem properties to a “Healthy Home” standard.
Background: Municipal Minimum Standards Toronto Municipal code provides a protocol to help address property standard violations: See: Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 629, Property Standards. This protocol applies to all residential rental buildings. http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_629.pdf (This was created before the city of Toronto Act).
Background: Enforcement Examples See City of Toronto enforcement protocol:
See the City of Toronto’s main page for a first step toward a proactive tenant enforcement system: it is their Multi Residential Apartment Building (MRAB) Audit and Enforcement Program. See: Main Page: http://www.toronto.ca/licensing/mrab.htm See: list of audited buildings: http://www.toronto.ca/licensing/mrab/audit_activity_by_ward.htm
Background: Existing System in Ottawa Currently, the city defaults to the provincial building code act only when a tenant notifies the city of a problem. The act outlines: Section 15.3(1)(2) provides a defendant to make application to the Property
Standards Committee to challenge any Order issued. This Section stipulates the owner has 14 days from receipt of the Order to make such application – thus Officers must provide a minimum of 14 days to allow for such an action and no remedial action on the part of the City can be done within this timeframe. Section 27(2) outlines service of said Order, specifically registered mail. This Section indicates the Order is deemed services after 5 days.