Update – May 31st Community Meeting on Rental Housing
On May 31st, 2016, I hosted another community update on the rental housing issue (the third meeting since being elected). Much progress on this issue occurred over the winter months, and is summarized here. I was also pleased to see that the many meetings and discussions held with the University of Manitoba is now resulting in a greater commitment to work together on the issue.
The two presentations below were provided at the meeting, and summarize the updates well – as do the news articles by the Sou’Wester, CBC News and CJOB 680. My thanks to them for reporting on this important issue.
- Community Update – Councillor Janice Lukes
- University of Manitoba Presentation – Tyler MacAfee, Director, Government and Community Engagement
Efforts to tackle rental property problem progressing
The Sou’Wester – Canstar Community News By: Danielle Da Silva Posted: 06/2/2016 11:23 AM
Residents in Fort Richmond are hoping to tackle nuisance rental properties from the ground up.
On May 31, the Fort Richmond-University Heights Neighbourhood Association and area councillor Janice Lukes (South Winnipeg-St. Norbert) held a meeting at the Pinnacle Club to provide an update on illegal rental properties around the University of Manitoba.
“We have had volunteers come forward to form a board and actual association,” Lukes said. “They are applying for not-for-profit status with a chair, treasurer… and we’ve formed subcommittees to focus on certain issues.”
“Now I’ve got the leadership, while I will be on the board as a non-voting member, it’s important that the community leads it,” she said.
The association has developed a website (www.neighbourhoodassociation.ca) meant to educate residents, tenants, and landlords about their rights, responsibilities and actions that can be taken when community livability is compromised.
“This whole thing is about education,” Lukes explained. “On the website they will learn how to properly report the infraction and they will also learn what to expect after they report.
“We’re also educating tenants on community livability, how to live in the community, what the expectations are… and we’re also giving a section dedicated to educating landlords.”
With the creation of a neighbourhood association, the city has also dedicated a task force to help enforce bylaws and provide resources for community operations, Lukes said.
New parking bylaws are also expected to be brought to city council before the summer break giving the Winnipeg Parking Authority new powers to ticket excessive vehicles parked on residential properties all across Winnipeg. According to Lukes, in the Fort Richmond/University Heights area up to 10 vehicles might be parked on one property.
“It’s a horrific problem…right now you’re only allowed to park a certain number of cars on a driveway or in your back,” Lukes said. “With the bylaw change, it will allow the Winnipeg Parking Authority to ticket.”
Moving forward, Lukes said the committee will be working with the City’s taxation department to flag suspected illegal rental properties for tax evasion. Members of the committee will be dropping postcards educating homeowners and tenants about renting in the neighbourhood while also compiling an inventory of assumed rental homes.
“We’re going to work with the City of Winnipeg taxation division and the taxation department will review the list of assumed rental properties… and they’re going to cross-reference the owner to where the tax bill goes,” Lukes explained.
The tax department will be looking for inconsistencies in tax filings and double dipping on certain credits, Lukes said.
“It sounds bad but it’s illegal… you can have two tenants in a home but you have to be declaring the revenue and many people don’t,” she said.
The University of Manitoba is also working towards identifying a solution with the students’ union providing tax filing assistance, and assistant professor of city planning Orly Linovski tasking her master’s students to study the issues plaguing the community.
“It’s a massive best practices study that the City planning department and University of Manitoba will be doing… that’s huge and just amazing —we’re ecstatic about it,” Lukes said.
Read more by Danielle Da Silva.
Councillor takes aim at student rooming houses near University of Manitoba
Coun. Janice Lukes continues fight against landlords in Fort Richmond area
CBC News Posted: May 31, 2016 9:16 PM CT
City Coun. Janice Lukes is continuing her crusade to crack down on rooming houses near the University of Manitoba with a new website to make reporting bylaw infractions easier.
On Tuesday, about 100 people showed up to a meeting Lukes ran on how neighbours can help tackle the rooming house issue.
“The community loves the fact that there are students in the community,” she said. “We are just frustrated with the landlords that are not taking care of the properties and are putting the tenants’ lives in jeopardy.”
She says houses that are zoned as family homes are being converted into rooming houses, and landlords are cramming students into unsafe quarters and letting the properties fall into disrepair.
Beyond safety issues, she said the homes often have neglected yards and are noisy.
Lukes has spent more than a year trying to get the city to do something about the issue in the area.
Now, a new website from the Fort Richmond University Heights Neighbourhood Association helps neighbours report by-law infractions at the houses.
“It’s a simplified explanation of the common bylaw infractions that we have out here. It identifies how to properly report them and what to expect,” said Lukes. “We have also put neighbourhood responsibilities and standards on what the responsibilities are for landlords and for tenants.”
The site is also recruiting people to monitor online rental sites like Kijiji and volunteer “street captains” to monitor their neighbourhoods.
She hopes that with enough complaints, the city will do something about the properties.
“The number one problem with reporting a bylaw infraction is how to report it. The number two problem is not reporting it,” said Lukes. “Everyone can sit in their house and stew about an issue, but you have to pick up the phone or email.”
Lukes said enforcement is difficult if bylaw officers don’t know about the problems in the first place.
“If I see there is one or two [infractions] on a property, ah, you know, but if I see there is 15, 20, 25 or a bylaw officer sees that, you know there is an issue there, and they need to be going and investigating and following up,” Lukes said.
Lukes also recommends people email their complaints to 311 for the fastest response.
Renewed Push To Crackdown On Stuffed Rental Homes Near U of M
Some are buying up single family homes and renting out all the rooms to students.
Now, a new group called the Fort Richmond-University Heights Residents Association has been formed.
Jackie Field is part of it and tells 680 CJOB they held an information session last night.
“Educate, not only the students and the residents, the homeowners in the neighbourhood, but, the landlords as well on what are their rights and their responsibilities,”says Fields.
Field says a big concern is the up-keep of properties.
Councillor Janice Lukes says it can also be dangerous to have a lot of people living in a home not designed for it. Some rental homes have up to nine students living inside.
“It’s a fire hazard. Then you’ve got hot plates, and you know, I don’t know what all. Kids come, go, whatever, it’s great. But, it’s just a tragedy waiting to happen,” Lukes tells 680 CJOB.
The councillor says the city is actively taking an informal census of the areas around the university, trying to figure out how big the problem is.
Twitter link: http://janicelukes.ca/?p=6155