Vancouver renters will have a new tool at their disposal now, namely a searchable database that will help them avoid the worst rental properties. The new website will allow anyone to search their own building or any one they are contemplating living in by both address and Google map.
Up to 2,500 buildings will be on the list including single-room occupancy hotels and private apartments.
The move is part of a pledge by city council to make it easier for renters to find out whether or not their building is meeting its obligations in terms of various city codes. These include fire codes, life safety issues, maintenance, electrical and plumbing amongst others.
The city likewise confirmed that court injunctions would be sought against some of the very worst offenders. Two of the worst private buildings are owned by companies directed by Peter Plett, who is also owner of a hotel high up on the list.
It is however the provincial government that is highest on the list of the 300 odd buildings that require major updates. The province’s housing corporation, one that operates various single-room occupancy hotels and other buildings, is on the hook for a variety of renovations and outstanding safety issues that need redress.
The database covers a range of possible issues including everything from health and cleanliness standards, signage, electrical problems, piping issues, fire safety and even tree protection. The model is taken from a New York City project.
According to Will Johnson, the city’s director of licences and inspections, the project was designed to inspire property owners to keep their Vancouver real estate in good order. The information will not only help renters therefore, but is hopefully a good motivator for those owners that haven’t kept up the maintenance on their Vancouver apartments and properties.
Back in August of last year, the owners that were to appear on the list were given the opportunity to work with the city to address the issues before publication. More than 7,000 violations were then resolved during that time, which the city says is evidence that the potential for publication was highly motivating to many.