Over 36% of Edmontonians rent, but there are enormous gaps in information available to renters.
The City of Edmonton can play a role in protecting the rights of renters. Through regulation, we can raise the bar for rental accommodation and helping tenants make more informed decisions prior to signing a lease. Neighbours dealing with problem landlords would have more tools to hold a problematic or absentee landlord accountable. Happy and healthy renters are longer term renters who can be more invested in our city. By reducing expensive and frequent moves, we can help Edmontonians keep money in their pockets.
Almost all of us at some point in our lives will rent, but you have very little ability to learn about your landlord or your future home. Your child, parent, loved one or friend, or landlord next door may be in the process of signing a lease that may have dramatic implications on their quality of life, but there is very little information available about either the landlord or the rental unit. This needs to change.
Landlord licensing and rental regulation will improve property standards and tenant safety. We want to make sure that all rentals provide quality accommodation for both the tenants and members of the community.
Regulation could require landlords to submit floor, maintenance and parking plans, provide proof of insurance and tenancy agreements, allow city staff to enter and inspect the units, and comply with codes and bylaws. Landlords could face tickets for violating their licence.
Licensing could pay for a dedicated housing bylaw enforcement team, provide proactive rental inspections, and develop a database of licensed rental units to ensure that the information collected through the licensing program is publicly available and accessible.
At this time, there is little information a tenant can currently obtain about a landlord or the condition of a rental unit prior to signing a lease. There is no easy way to track or identify problem landlords.
Better landlords contribute to better communities. Neighbours and constituents have complained to me about problem landlords who are absent and allowing their property to become disorderly. Many of us have experienced excellent landlords, but we've all heard too many stories of landlords who have broken the law and you certainly would not want your friends or family to sign a contract with them.
I recently experienced firsthand a negative experience where after signing a one year lease and moving into a rental, we discovered a major cockroach problem that was not disclosed to me prior to signing my lease. In discussion with my neighbouring tenants they were shocked that the previous cockroach issues had not been previously disclosed to me prior to moving in.