Landlords in Prince Rupert may be affected by new municipal legislation passed by the city council on April, 25. Rules, fines, maintenance standards and renovations are addressed in the new business licencing byaws. (File photo)

Landlords in Prince Rupert may be affected by new municipal legislation passed by the city council on April, 25. Rules, fines, maintenance standards and renovations are addressed in the new business licencing byaws. (File photo)

Restrictions on evictions in Prince Rupert

Landlords will require minimum maintenance standards and business licences

Landlords and renters of residential rooms and units should take note of the new Business Regulation and Licencing Bylaw set to regulate rental rules for living purposes, the City is advising.

Prince Rupert City Council announced the new regulations on April 25 as repeated violations may incur up to $50,000 fines under the Offence Act.

“This bylaw is intended to address the serious shortage of affordable market rental accommodations and renoviction trend in Prince Rupert,” said Veronika Stewart, city communication manager.

The bylaw puts in place several new regulations about the upkeep of units and intends to implement controls on repairs and maintenance. In addition, property owners will be responsible for obtaining a business licence when renting out multi-family dwelling units in the city.

Numerous maintenance standards are listed in the bylaw, which requires a minimum maintenance standard for tenants to have appropriate living conditions, including:

• Owners are responsible for maintenance and good repair of roofs, stairs, railings, porches, deck joists, rafters, beams, columns, foundations, floors, walls, ceilings, plumbing, heating, electrical, ventilation, as well as fire alarm and detection systems. Where laundry and elevator systems exist, they must also be maintained.

• Plumbing must be free from leaks and have an adequate supply of both hot and cold running water. One working toilet must also be supplied for every five sleeping units within a property, which must be accessible from a common area within the building.

• Owners or their designates may not disconnect or cause to be disconnected any service or utility providing light, heat, air conditioning, refrigeration, water or cooking facilities for any rental unit occupied by a tenant, except for such reasonable period of time as may be required for repairs, replacing or altering the service or utility.

• Owners are responsible for pest control and must keep properties free of mice, rats, bed bugs, cockroaches and other vermin and from conditions that may encourage pests.

• Owners must supply adequate receptacles to keep garbage enclosed and ensure tenants are disposing of waste appropriately.

• The bylaw also sets out minimum room sizes and ceiling heights.

• Owners or their designates may not disconnect or cause to be disconnected any service or utility providing light, heat, air conditioning, refrigeration, water or cooking facilities for any rental unit occupied by a tenant, except for such reasonable period of time as may be required for repairs, replacing or altering the service or utility.

• Each sleeping unit must also be provided with means of ventilation and natural light from windows.

The full bylaw is accessible on the city’s website.

The new municipal legislation also outlines restrictions on evictions.

“Effective April 26, city landlords will no longer be allowed to deliver or serve a notice to end a tenancy for the reason of renovations or repair unless the owner has obtained every permit required,” Stewart said.

This includes entering into a new tenancy agreement with the tenant with either the same terms for the same unit or terms more favourable to the tenant for a comparable unit in the same building. A copy of the agreement must be supplied to the inspector.

Alternatively, parties can make other arrangements in writing for the tenant’s temporary accommodation during the renovation/repair, and for their return to their original rental unit under the terms of the existing tenancy agreement following the renovation/repair. Documentation of the arrangements as well as evidence of the tenant’s consent to the arrangements must be provided to the Inspector.

Landlords who have met all of the conditions under the city bylaws must also still abide by all the Residential Tenancy Act conditions and as of July 1, 2022, they must apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to determine if terminating the tenancy is essential for the completion of repairs.

Rent will not be permitted to be increased after the renovations are completed except as allowed under the RTA. Under the new city laws, the city inspector is authorized to collect a monthly business licence surcharge if rent is found to have been increased. This will be equivalent to the difference between increased and prior rent. As well, business licence renewal may be refused.

Stewart said the city’s chief licencing inspector has the authority to enforce the rules and the right to enter properties at reasonable times to ascertain bylaw compliance. A compliance order and fines of between $25 – $2,000 may be issued if landlords are found to have broken the rules.

If compliance is not garnered, under the Offence Act, landlords may be nailed for fines up to$50,000. This may occur if there are repeated maintenance and/or renovation violations under the new bylaws.


 
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist 
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