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Port Moody councillor wants more protections for tenants

Maintenance standards for rental apartments may be important now than ever as temperatures become more extreme from climate change.
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Current rules for landlords to maintain their rental apartments are tough enough, says Port Moody councillor Amy Lubik.

A Port Moody city councillor wants to strengthen protections for vulnerable low-income renters.

On Tuesday (June 14), Coun. Amy Lubik is set to try to garner support from colleagues around the horn for a resolution to be submitted to the annual fall convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) calling upon the province to update minimum standards for maintaining rental properties to include maximum and minimum safe temperatures, as well as definitions of serious mould concerns.

Lubik also wants local governments to have the authority to undertake repairs of problems in rental suites that could cause health or safety concerns for tenants, then recover costs from landlords.

In a report, Lubik claims current rules for maintenance of rental properties are "fairly vague," putting some tenants at risk.

She believes, according to a report of the Mayors Task Force on Housing undertaken in Burnaby, "inadequate maintenance and building conditions" are major problems for renters across the province.

"When a unit or a building is in disrepair, the tenant’s health, safety and quality of life is at risk," says Lubik in her report, drafted in collaboration with councillors from New Westminster, Richmond and Victoria.

She adds the dangers posed by poor maintenance will be exacerbated in a changing climate, as temperatures becoming more extreme and rain events increase the likelihood of mould.

"In a changing climate we are seeing many vulnerable residents, particularly those who are low income, become ill or die in extreme heat conditions,” says Lubik.

She also notes while landlords must abide by the Residential Tenancy Act to maintain residential property in a state of "decoration and repair" — complying with health, safety and housing requirements — many of those standards haven’t been specifically defined.

Lubik believes local bylaws can go into greater specifics, but they’re not in place everywhere and the vigour of those bylaws varies.

"Renters need some enforceable recourse no matter where they live."

Port Moody city council's regular public hearing begins tomorrow at 7 p.m. and you can watch the meeting via a live-stream on the city's website.