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Knowledge is power! NS ACORN launches province wide survey on landlords and housing conditions

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – An earlier survey conducted by ACORN Nova Scotia about housing conditions in HRM finds that many respondents live with bed bugs, rodents, mould, and safety issues. One third experienced heating issue in the winter, and many admitted to feeling intimidated by their landlord.

Now ACORN Nova Scotia is kicking off a more elaborate and province-wide on-line survey to back up its demands for landlord licensing and rent control.  

Disrepair and bad landlords everywhere

Conditions in a Spryfield public housing unit. Contributed.

Stories about disrepair and bad landlords will not come as news to many low income tenants in the city. It certainly doesn’t come as a surprise to Sarah Parker, an organizer with ACORN Nova Scotia, an organization that supports people on low incomes with chapters in North End Halifax and North Dartmouth.

Parker hears such stories a lot ever since she became active in ACORN.

Our landlord does not fix issues in our building, does not give notice when coming over, and generally does not consider our comfort when imposing to fix things she wants to that we have not asked for.  From the ACORN NS report

It took months of complaining to have our landlord address a bathroom full of mould (ceiling was covered), the ceiling was partially collapsing, and tub paint was coming off & sticking in our feet.  From the ACORN NS report

Now, after a successful meeting at the Dartmouth North Community Centre dedicated to bad landlords, ACORN is gearing up for a new campaign to push the municipality to implement landlord licensing and the province to establish rent control.

“The meeting was awesome. We had a wide range of people, people from Highfield, but also from mobile home parks, people who have private landlords. We had the four metro councillors speak briefly, and Emily Reid, a Salvation Army case worker talked about her efforts to find safe and healthy homes for her clients,” says Parker.

Matt Covey, division chief, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, spoke about existing bylaws that sets standards for rental units and boarding houses.  It describes conditions that must be met in terms of safety, structural soundness, dampness, pests, heating, plumbing, ventilation, etc.

What’s missing are a licensing system and mandatory inspections, says Parker, and the data collected through the brand new on line survey will be used to support these demands.

Province wide survey on rental housing conditions and landlords

Housing conditions across the province are in crisis, says ACORN Nova Scotia, which is why it is launching the province wide survey. In fact, some notorious landlords such as Metcap Living operate in many locations across Nova Scotia.

The data collected will be used to build a case not just for municipal landlord licensing, but also to begin working with provincial politicians on implementing rent control or a rent cap.  

At this time, as long as a landlord gives sufficient notice they can raise the rent to as much as they want, and that’s a problem that will only become more serious when landlord licensing is put in place..

“If we are going to implement some kind of landlord licensing we don’t want the landlord to take it out on the tenant. So we want the city and the province to work together, to make sure that landlords are held accountable, but not over the backs of the tenants,” says Parker.  

The survey will run from April 30 to June 30, 2017.  

Landlord licensing in Halifax  moving at snail’s pace

Implementing landlord licensing has been one of the priorities of ACORN Nova Scotia for a long time. Such a bylaw would require rental apartments to be registered at City Hall and subject to an inspection. This is to protect tenants from bad landlord and substandard living conditions, much like restaurant licensing protects you from unsafe food.  

Earlier this year Toronto implemented a landlord licensing scheme, but although Council is interested in Halifax and asked staff to present a report, things are moving at a snail’s pace.

We are still waiting for the staff report, says Parker, who had contacted the city for a progress report, and read that response at the community meeting. Consultation with major landlords and the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia,  a landlord lobbying group is still ongoing.

“I think the councilors were a little embarrassed. You could see them slinking down in their seats. There was a lot of bureaucratic speech not telling us anything,” says Parker.

We need to make rent control and landlord licensing an issue that politicians can no longer ignore,” says Parker. “Filling out this survey is a real way to get your voice heard. Here is a chance to show the politicians that rental housing is a problem, and to tell them that you can’t keep ignoring what is going on,” Parker says.

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    1. I don’t get it WHY?WHY?WHY? ARE THESE DAMN SLUMLORDS ALLOWED IN CANADA TO GET AWAY with such properties and a snail pace? what the what? I myself have asthma and a slumlord and taped conversations that my slumlord has said oh the trailer home is safe to live in (mould) mold) however you wanna spell it its a killer period end of story Canada health has on their website there is (no safe amount of mould) quote me here but these scumbags get away with it why? when are we going to see something happen so what people are poor but yes it matters if you are poor here in Canada you are treated like a third rate human being I have been there done that and once had a bylaw officer from the Halifax area come and did a report and said a deck holding on with yes 1 screw and said it passes a safety plus get this I had rats yes large rats (I still have alllllll of this very proof (tape everything you say to anybody people) anything and everything you need it October 25/2017 you need it anyway this poor excuse for a bylaw officer had said get this if the rats were not inside its an ok REALLY?????? WHAT DID I MISS I TOLD HER THEY WERE IN MY WALLS IN THIS TRAILER HOME ACTUALLY IT IS ON HAMMONDS PLAINS AND STILL STANDS (SLUMLORD) TOOK THEM TO COURT GUESS WHAT WITH ALL MY PROOF HE WON?????? ANYWAY THERE HAS GOT TO BE A PERSON WHO DOES SOMETHING OUT THERE INSTEAD OF JUST TALK TALK TALK THAT’S ALL THAT EVER HAPPENS MILLIONS ON SPEECHES AND NOTHING DONE
      anyway if the reader of this page ever wants to contact me i do have living proof of everything iam saying here right from conversations to the (trailer I am currently living in) to taped yes taped everything like I have said here to photos to videos but guess what the health Canada is as far as it will ever go ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh there is no safe amount of mould well get off your fricking asses and get out there and see people that are actually living in these conditions, not for a fricking photo op and the such but real human beings without a fricking camera crew following you and guess what reelection times come and go and nothing again hold these assholes accountable people we need to send and go there everyday with signs for immediate media releases only we as a whole can get this done so what your poor your still human beings and for the most part poor people are some of the greatest people you will ever find on the face of the planet I know I have been homeless and lived in my car in -25 weather out there so I know and together lets get it done people enough is enough when are we going to quit crying to these slumlords and stand up against them and their cronies or whoever the frick they are ……Thanks

  1. About time. We lived in a rental home for 21 years. It was filled with black mold everywhere. Both my children now have Mast Cell Activation disorder which doctors feel is related to the black mold . Both my sons go into anaphylactic shock when exposed to mold, bacteria or viruses.
    I have liver cancer. My landlord did nothing in the 21 years we were there. The house had to be gutted when he died….and was full of black mold through out. The back deck was rotted…unsafe to walk on let alone take my handicap scooter down.
    Now we are renting again paying over $1,800.00 when you include power and water . I only make $940.00.

  2. why is there only 2 comments here? there should be thousands come on people get involved with these slumlords just think about the living conditions they put you all in and damn well do something (not violent) but positively don’t give up are you a quitter if so i just hope this gives you a lift and put this in your mind if you don’t get involved (as one who is living this way) then who will don’t ever give up dammit don’t your a good human being who deserves a decent home to live in with people to be held dam well accountable for placing people in hoes they know damn well aren’t safe for a pig to live
    thanks people
    Dave again.

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