Customizing the Bylaw for Your Community
Compliance with Other Local Regulations
Public Consultation Process
Responsibility for Administration
Notice to Comply
Penalties and Enforcement
Bylaw Contravention Notice
Inclusion of Provisions to Regulate Hotels
Licensed and Unlicensed Community Care Facilities
Maintaining Standards Using the Residential Tenancy Act
A Model, Not a Prescription
Rabnett Makaroff Planning Consultants Ltd. provided assistance in preparing the model bylaw.
A standards of maintenance bylaw provides local government with the ability to meet the needs of tenants who live in unsafe and unhealthy accommodation due to poor building maintenance. The province has heard from many tenants who are frustrated by the sub-standard and deteriorating housing conditions in which they find themselves. The 1992 report of the Provincial Commission on Housing Options noted that while the location and extent of poor housing was generally well known to community organizations and local government officials, there was no mechanism to allow local officials to require improvements. Local governments also indicated an interest in using a standards of maintenance bylaw to expand their authority to maintain the affordable housing stock in their community and protect it from premature demolition. The Commissioners concluded that most municipalities would be willing to enact minimum maintenance standards bylaws if they had the authority to do so.
Now that the authority to adopt a standards of maintenance bylaw exists, a model bylaw has been provided to serve as a starting point for use in drafting a bylaw suited to local conditions.
In addition, section 1025 of the Municipal Act provides the possibility of broader powers for regulating the condition of rental properties that have heritage significance.
Several of the definitions in the model bylaw have been taken directly from the Residential Tenancy Act. This is because the Municipal Act ties the provision for standards of maintenance to specific terms found in the Residential Tenancy Act. These definitions should only be changed following legal advice and a review of the Residential Tenancy Act.
It is suggested that a procedures manual be prepared which addresses such issues as the service of notice. These procedures could be adopted as policies of council but not be incorporated into the actual bylaw itself.
The procedure manual should address how notice will be served to property owners who do not live in the community or where the property is held by a numbered company. The procedure manual could also include a process for keeping the tenant and complainant informed, subject to freedom of information legislation and privacy protection policies.
Municipalities will want to consider the utility of the methods they currently use to enforce bylaws and the resources they have available in order to determine which tools will work best.
The Offence Act. The model bylaw assumes that the municipality will prosecute the property owner in court for contravening the bylaw. The maximum penalty currently allowed under the Offence Act is $2000. Should local governments adopt section 7, Penalties as in the model bylaw, no amendment needs to be made to the bylaw if and when the Offence Act limit is changed.
Municipal Tickets. As an alternative to seeking a summary conviction and penalties under the Offence Act, the municipality may want to consider implementing a Municipal Ticket Information Authorization Bylaw and deal with offences to the standards of maintenance bylaw by ticketing. The authority to use ticketing as a means of enforcing bylaws and the fines that can be charged are found in section 934.1 of the Municipal Act.
Licence Remedies. If the property owner has a business licence to rent accommodation under section 498 of the Municipal Act, the municipality may want to consider suspending the licence under section 513 of the Municipal Act, if the owner has been convicted of an offence under the standards of maintenance bylaw. Another remedy under section 513 is revocation of the licence. This remedy is only available after a show cause hearing under section 513(3).
Notice on Title. A council may also, by resolution, decide to file a notice in the land titles office against the title of a property that does not comply with the standards of maintenance bylaw. This notice serves as a warning to future purchasers of the property and may serve as an immediate incentive to the current owner to comply. The process that council must follow is detailed in section 750.1 of the Municipal Act.
Local Government Remedial Action. Section 299 of the Municipal Act gives council general authority to, by bylaw, take remedial action on a building that does not comply with a bylaw, if the property owner fails to take the action, following a municipal inspection. The local government may also recover the expenses, costs and interest incurred through this action by adding them to municipal taxes payable on that property.
There are a number of options which may be included in the appeal process. These include whether the process should:
What The Legislation Says About Standards of Maintenance Section 734 (1) of the Municipal Act states that a council may,
for the health, safety and protection of persons and property, and subject to the Health Act and the Fire Services Act and their regulations, by bylaw .... (n) require the maintenance of residential premises as defined in the Residential Tenancy Act that are subject to a tenancy agreement as defined in that Act, in accordance with the standards specified in the bylaw, to the extent that the standards do not exceed those established by the building code for the Province established by the Minister under section 740 (of the Municipal Act).
a hotel, motel, inn, rooming house and apartment hotel and any prescribed class of premises, but does not include a facility
(a) owned or operated by a non-profit society incorporated under the Society Act, a municipality, a regional district, a college designated under the College and Institute Act or a university named in the University Act, or
(b) in which the landlord resides and which contains fewer than a total of 5 bedrooms or rooms used as bedrooms.
Therefore, a standards of maintenance bylaw would not apply in most boarding or lodging and shared accommodation situations or to commercial tenancies.
an individual who is
(a) occupying a room or premises in a hotel where the hotel contains rooms or premises that the individual usually occupies as his residence, and
(b) paying rent of less than a prescribed amount per day or, where no amount is prescribed, less than $20 per day
in circumstances where that occupation is considered, at common law, to be a licence to occupy land or premises, but does not include an individual who is occupying a room or premises in a hotel that has a peak season during which the daily rent for the room or premises has, in a peak season within the previous 12 months, exceeded the maximum amount of the daily rent that can be paid by a hotel tenant under paragraph (b).
In the case of all other community care facilities, there are many factors to consider in determining whether a standards of maintenance bylaw would apply. In some cases, the contractual agreement between the facility and the facility user may imply that a residential tenancy agreement exists and therefore the standards of maintenance bylaw may also apply.
For example, in circumstances where compensation is given for residency as part of the agreement for exclusive possession of the premises, a security deposit is given, or if one months notice is required to be given by the parties to vacate the premises, then the occupation may constitute a tenancy agreement. Where the relationship is unclear, an arbitrator may make an order whether the Residential Tenancy Act is applicable and the occupancy is a residential tenancy as defined in the Act.
Local government can use the unsightly property provisions of the Municipal Act and sections of the Fire Services Act to deal with maintenance and safety issues on the property and the Health Act to deal with a range of sanitary and health issues related to the upkeep of the property.
It is also important to note that the Building Code does not establish maintenance standards, it provides the minimum standard for new construction, or some alterations or renovation to existing structures. Therefore, while a complaint about a residential rental accommodation may result in improved living conditions, not every complaint will result in achieving the current Building Code standard.
At a later date, however, a complaint by a neighbour with respect to the zoning bylaw may result in the shutting down of the unit due to the fact that it is not a permitted use in that zone.
Situations requiring emergency repairs include blocked or major leaks to water pipes, sewer pipes or plumbing fixtures, a major leak in the roof, inoperable central or primary heating systems, and defective locks that would let anyone enter the premises without a key. In order to be considered emergency repairs, the need for repairs must be urgent and necessary for the health and safety of persons or the preservation and use of the residential property or residential premises.
Landlords must post an emergency contact name and telephone number in an easy-to-see place in the rental premises. If the tenant has made at least two reasonable efforts to reach the landlord or the landlords emergency contact person and no one has responded within a reasonable period of time, the tenant can have the emergency repairs done. The tenant must provide receipts and a written account of what happened, and the landlord must reimburse the tenant for reasonable repair costs. If the landlord does not reimburse the tenant for some or all of the repair costs, the tenant may deduct the remaining amount from subsequent rent payments. If the landlord disagrees with the repairs or the costs, the landlord may apply for arbitration to resolve the dispute.
For more information on the use of the Residential Tenancy Act for repairs, contact:
The Residential Tenancy Branch
It is strongly recommended that local governments obtain legal advice from their solicitors when modifying or adopting the model bylaw.
The model standards of maintenance bylaw is designed to serve as a starting point for those communities where tenants have expressed concern about their ability to ensure safe and healthy rental accommodation. Any questions can be directed to:
Housing Policy and Program
Return to Housing's menu page