Posted November 23, 2013
For most residents living in wards five and six, there is the annual pain of enduring as many as a dozen students living in converted lodging houses in single-family areas. These young, temporary residents disregard the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood with parties, loud music and frequent visits by police.
The city officials have to blame themselves to allow this non-conforming situation to creep into residential areas over the years. Indeed city staff has expressed concern about the safety in these multi-occupied homes. Staff cannot force its way into these lodging houses without the authority of the owner to inspect safety devices and standards.
Then there is the concern that there are absentee landlords who are frequently not available when city officials require information.
This is why the Landlord’s Association is fighting the proposed bylaw to license rental housing in the city. The bylaw is still taking shape as city staff investigates all aspects and talks with stakeholders. One of their inquiries has been with other cities where there are universities and determine how they cope with off-campus student housing.
The city staff said that a final version of the bylaw should be ready between April and May next year.
So why are the landlords so worked up about regulations that will make their properties safer and the owners accountable?
This has become an unregulated industry in Guelph in which the landlords will have to be more accountable for the operation of their rental properties. Sure it’s going to cost more and those costs will be passed through to the students. Even in the costliest version of the five proposed bylaw variations, $132 per year, per rented bedroom, amounts to only $11 per month in additional rent.
And if known past practice is evident, two students may share the bedroom and cut the increase to $5.50 per month. That’s about the price of two beers.
So again, why are the landlords opposing the bylaw?
It’s all about control. For a variety of reasons, not the least is income tax reporting by owners, the landlords are functioning in a virtual lawless vacuum that is making them a lot of money.
But in October 2014, they will have to reckon with the residents in wards five and six who are disgusted and fed up with the situation.
There is good reason to believe that elected representatives in the two wards are aware of this. If they do not support the rental bylaw, they will be vulnerable seeking re-election.
But then, what have they done to ameliorate the problem in the past seven years?