This week, the City of Vancouver launched an online database of rental properties that officials say are in violation of building bylaws.
The database is designed to make it easier for renters to “make more informed decisions” about their choices in rental housing.
“The City’s new Rental Standards Database is our latest step to help Vancouver renters and motivate property owners and landlords to keep their properties in good condition,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The overwhelming majority of landlords in Vancouver are responsible and treat their tenants with respect, and many of the properties included in the database are for minor infractions.”
The Rental Standards Database includes information about all licensed rental buildings in Vancouver with five or more residential units that have any open bylaw issues, or issues that have been addressed and resolved within the past 12 months.
The types of buildings included in the Rental Standards Database are single-room occupancy hotels, private rental housing, social housing and supportive housing units. These make up approximately 2,500 buildings, or 70,000 of Vancouver’s 131,000 rental units. There are 300 buildings in the Rental Standards Database that have open violations or current issues.
The City’s Rental Standards Database was inspired by a similar program in New York City dubbed the “Worst Landlords Watchlist”, which provides information online about building violations and offending landlords. The City of Vancouver worked with the staff in the Office of Bill de Blasio, New York City’s Public Advocate, to help develop Vancouver’s Rental Standards Database.
The Vancouver database includes the property address, the landlord or property owner’s name, and any unresolved issues. Issues that have been resolved within the past 12 months will also be listed.
The database lists issues related to:
Standards of maintenance;
Electrical, plumbing, gas, and sewer;
Untidy premises; and,
Zoning use and regulations
The Rental Standards Database can be searched by buildings with open violations, or by address. A Google map is provided to allow people to search by neighbourhood.
Landlords and owners were given several months’ notice to clear up any outstanding issues and schedule a re-inspection prior to the database being launched in January 2013.
The City mailed notices to buildings with open and closed violations in late August 2012, as well as a follow-up notification as part of a business license renewal mail-out.
The Rental Standards Database refreshes daily although it can take from two to six weeks for the issue to appear on the database, depending on when the City official has been able to gain access to the building and determine that there is a bylaw violation.
Property owners should notify the City of Vancouver or the Vancouver Fire Department of work that has been done to address any open issues or work orders. The City may send an inspector to confirm the issue has been dealt with. Once an inspector confirms the violation has been addressed, it can take a few days for the database to be updated.
The City of Vancouver conducts 20,000 fire and 90,000 building safety inspections each year.
The database can be viewed at http://app.vancouver.ca/rps_net/search.aspx
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.