File photo © Can Stock Photo / jhan.File photo © Can Stock Photo / jhan.

City to decide whether to license rental properties

Next Monday night, Windsor City Councillors will decide whether to go ahead with a licensing regime for many rental properties in Wards 1 and 2.

The two-year pilot project would allow city officials to document housing stock, address safety concerns, and collect data on the impact of ensuring compliance with property standards.

Most student housing in Windsor is either in Ward 1 or 2. The University of Windsor is in Ward 1, and St. Clair College is in Ward 2. Child poverty rates in West Windsor are also among the highest in the country. A third of children live below the poverty line.

If it is adopted, only properties with four units or less would need to be licensed. Buildings, where the landlord or a member of their family lived, would also be exempt.

The city has been researching the possibility of licensing rental properties since last July. In addition to finding out what other municipalities do, it launched a public survey last October asking landlords, renters, and homeowners about their concerns. More than 720 people responded. Tenants made up 39 per cent of those surveyed, while landlords accounted for 28 per cent and 23 per cent from either homeowners or others.

For landlords, the most articulated concern was fire safety and landlord-tenant rights. Renters cited property standards, housing affordability and availability. Homeowners were most concerned about the state of some properties.

There is a drawback. The report said the city would need to increase staff in the licensing and bylaw enforcement department, fire department and building department to keep up with an anticipated increase in workload.

The licensing fee would cost landlords $466, and 91 per cent of those surveyed said they would pass those costs along to tenants. Three-quarters of renters said the increase would create a financial hardship. Some said they could no longer afford to pay their rent.

After two years, city councillors would take another look at the program and decide whether to extend it city-wide or end it.

Note: An earlier version of this story said the licensing fee for rental units would be $616.  This was posted in error. regrets the error.

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