City of Vancouver launches Rental Standards Database to assist renters
The City of Vancouver today launched a new online searchable database of rental buildings to assist renters to make more informed decisions about their housing.
“The City’s new Rental Standards Database is our latest step to help Vancouver renters and motivate property owners and landlords to keep their properties in good condition,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The overwhelming majority of landlords in Vancouver are responsible and treat their tenants with respect, and many of the properties included in the database are for minor infractions.
“We’re putting this information out there in an easily accessible way, empowering renters to make more informed decisions on where to live.”
The Rental Standards Database includes information about all licensed rental buildings in Vancouver with five or more residential units that have any open bylaw issues, or issues that have been addressed and resolved within the past 12 months.
The types of buildings included in the Rental Standards Database are single-room occupancy hotels, private rental housing, social housing and supportive housing units. These make up approximately 2,500 buildings, or 70,000 of Vancouver’s 131,000 rental units. There are 300 buildings in the Rental Standards Database that have open violations or current issues.
The City’s Rental Standards Database was inspired by a similar program in New York City, which provides information online about building violations and landlords. The City of Vancouver worked with the staff in the Office of Bill de Blasio, New York City’s Public Advocate, to help develop Vancouver’s Rental Standards Database.
“Too often, the deck is stacked against renters–but information can level the playing field,” said NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “The City of Vancouver is making big strides to hold landlords accountable. This database will make a real difference for families trying to find safe, decent housing.”
In January 2012, Vancouver City Council passed a motion to establish an online searchable database of rental buildings and their history. This initiative helps fulfill Council’s commitment, as outlined in the Affordable Housing and Homelessness Strategy (2012), to provide strong leadership and support to partners to enhance housing stability, including support to renters.
Through coordinated partnerships and initiatives, including the SRO Task Force, City of Vancouver Integrated Enforcement and the Coordinated Working Group for Troubled Buildings, the City is now seeing bylaw compliance for standards of maintenance issues completed in approximately half the time — down from approximately 250 days in 2009 to 125 days in 2011.
“Making sure that existing rental housing is safe for renters is a key priority in our Affordable Housing and Homelessness Strategy,” added Mayor Robertson. “Property owners must make necessary repairs to their buildings, and tenants need tools to be assured that those responsibilities are being met. Making this information open and accessible online will help promote higher standards for rental housing and better protect Vancouver’s existing rental housing stock.”
To learn more, go to Vancouver.ca/SafeRental