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'We need to protect our renters': Port Moody to pitch for B.C.-wide rental maintenance standards

Port Moody councillors say most property standards are now set and policed by local bylaws.
Port Moody council wants to see a province-wide minimum standard for the maintenance of rental properties.

Regulating a minimum standard for the maintenance of rental properties, including assurances they’re warm enough in cold weather and cool enough when it gets hot, should be a provincial responsibility, say Port Moody councillors.

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, council endorsed a resolution calling for updates to the guidelines for maintaining rental properties that would establish a minimum standard across the province. It will be presented to upcoming conventions of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association and the Union of BC Municipalities.

In a report, Couns. Amy Lubik and Samantha Agtarap said extreme weather events, like atmospheric rivers and heat domes, can be particularly difficult for tenants who are subject to the level of commitment landlords have for maintaining their properties.

“B.C. landlords are sometimes responsible for heating systems, though not always, and cooling is not regularly included in rental units, especially in older stock,” the councillors said, adding the inconsistencies are exacerbated by patchwork of local bylaws and standards.

“Bylaws vary greatly across communities,” Lubik added. “It’s a lot for local governments to take on.”

She said the confusion about who’s responsible for the standards often sends tenants with a problem like mould or heaters that don’t work on a goose chase for help.

“It’s very hard to navigate the process.”

A 2018 report by the BC Rental Housing Task Force said “inadequate maintenance and building conditions” are the top challenges faced by renters across the province.

Lubik said implementing a province-wide standard for maintenance of rental properties, as well as designating who enforces them and investigates complaints, would provide tenants a greater sense of security no matter where they live in British Columbia.

“We need to protect our renters,” she said.