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Keep the ball rolling for tenants

If the city is looking for a long-term solution to start solving the issues with apartment buildings, it would be wise to keep travelling down the road they’re on.

The City of Oshawa recently tested a proactive enforcement method for inspecting apartment buildings as they relate to issues with fire code violations, and other municipal bylaws.

Not only did these inspections identify a number of issues in each of the three buildings chosen for the pilot project, resulting in required action on the landlords behalf, but the very idea of the inspections coming down the pike prodded some into action.

Speaking during the Corporate Services committee meeting on Dec. 4, the director of Municipal Law Enforcement and Licensing Services noted that almost immediately after the notice was posted in the apartment buildings that an inspection would be occurring in two weeks time, improvements started to be made.

This is huge.

In 2015, it took a team of residents at 275 Wentworth Street banding together and making repeated appeals to council before any action was taken. Now, a simple piece of paper has created more action than any of the city’s past efforts.

It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to realize that if a landlord is aware they will be fined in two weeks time if an issue isn’t fixed, that they will probably go ahead and spend the money to have some work done on the building. It’s clear that this inspection process works better than the city’s existing complaint-based system, which has many tenants feeling like their complaints fall on deaf ears.

As it stands, there are no plans to continue with such project based inspections in the city, but all hope is not lost.

In the upcoming 2018 budget, city bylaw staff are considering an expansion of such a program, and they would be smart to put some serious consideration into the idea.

Many tenants in this city have suffered with terrible living conditions for long enough, and finally the city has found a workable solution to some of those issues, let’s hope they recognize it.