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No standards for maintenance and occupancy

Kelowna and Joe Rich topics.

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Re: No standards for maintence and occupancy

Postby gambler » Dec 4th, 2012, 9:51 pm

And around we go some more.

The provincial government, through the Office of Housing and Construction Standards, writes the building code standards for this province. According to their website, enforcement of the code falls on the municipality. (Source:
http://www.housing.gov.bc.ca/building/)

Building Code Enforcement and Building Permits

The Building and Safety Standards Branch does not enforce compliance with the BC Building Code. Local governments are authorized to enforce the BC Building Code through the Local Government Act and the Community Charter. If you have a question regarding building permits or building code enforcement, please contact the local government building department in your area.


Under the Local Government Act, (source: http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws ... _division1) it states:

Provincial building code and regulations
692 (1) The minister may make regulations as follows:

(a) establishing a Provincial building code for British Columbia governing standards for the construction, alteration, repair or demolition of buildings;

(b) amending, adding to or varying for the purpose of this section the building code established under this section;

(c) adopting by reference, with the changes the minister considers necessary, all or part of any building code or standards for the construction, alteration, repair or demolition of buildings;

(d) regulating building generally for matters not included in the building code;

(e) exempting certain persons, buildings, classes of buildings, materials or areas either generally or for certain periods of time from the building code or regulations, and making other regulations for the persons, buildings, classes of buildings, materials or areas exempted;

(f) providing for the administration of the building code and other regulations under this section.

(2) Subject to the regulations under subsection (2.1), the building code and other regulations under subsection (1) apply to all municipalities and to regional districts or parts of them not inside a municipality, and have the same force and effect as a validly enacted bylaw of the municipality or regional district, as applicable.


What all that says to me, is that the City does not need a bylaw covering building standards. They are covered by the Provincial Building Code and the Local Government Act and must enforce it. After all, if there was a dangerous building in our town, it would be the responsibility of the City of Kelowna to condemn it.

I would phone the City back Libelle and try talking to as many people as it takes to get some clarification. As we all know, someone has to be responsible for enforcing the B.C. Building Code. That's why it exists. A landlord (and all owners of buildings in B.C.) must be held accountable to certain standards.

I love a challenge and this was surely it. Now I need to get a life. :sunshine: Good luck!
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Re: No standards for maintence and occupancy

Postby Libelle » Dec 5th, 2012, 11:56 pm

Gambler: I did talk to someone in the Kelowna city bylaw office. A building inspector with the City of Kelowna has no legal basis for inspecting an existing residential (we did not discuss commercial buildings just residential). The BC building code states:

Question: Existing Buildings – Do they have to conform to the BC Building Code?

Answer: In general terms, existing buildings should conform to the edition of the BC Building Code in force when they were constructed. An existing building is not expected to be brought up to current BC Building Code standards. If a building is altered or renovated, its use or occupancy is changed, or components of the building are replaced, the current BC Building Code applies.

Unless the owner does a major reno, like the kitchen then permits will be needed, as well the kitchen will have to meet the BC building code. Changing carpets, painting, drywall, or putting on a new roof are examples that do not require to meet BC building code. You could be renting a place that has structural mould on a wall in your bathroom the landlord can repair it as poorly as they want, a band aid effect and you as the tenant have no one to contact regarding this major health risk.
So you file for dispute resolution with the RTO and you win your case for the landlord to do said repairs because the mould is back. But again there is no standard of proper repair as it is an existing building and the wall is not a permit worthy task. You can either move or keep filing a dispute resolution. The director may award you compensation in the form of reduced rent until the repairs are completed with no building code requirements.

So how can section 32 of the RTA that the landlord must provide and maintain the rensidential property in a state of decoration and repair that meets health, safety and housing standards required by law when in Kelowna there is no such laws? For municipalities that do not have their own bylaws regarding the maintaining of existing buildings there is nothing stopping a landlord from providing substandard living accommodations for their tenants. Even if you hired a local company that can assess the extent of the mould there is no legal way to make the landlord ad hear to the building code. They can paint right on over the mould and be happy with him or herself that they complied with the RTO officers order and saved a ton of money as well.
How section 32 can apply to any renter in Kelowna I have no idea. I do not know if a RTO officer has the authority to order a building inspection. I have not come across anything that says either way, but in Kelowna that would be the only way for a landlord to have to have their property assessed for health, safety and housing standards.
This is a discrase to tenants in Kelowna and anywhere else in BC that does not have manuicapl bylaws. Wonder what has to happen before Kelowna decides these types of bylaws are required?
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Re: No standards for maintence and occupancy

Postby gambler » Dec 6th, 2012, 6:54 pm

Libelle wrote:Wonder what has to happen before Kelowna decides these types of bylaws are required?


I imagine when the citizens of Kelowna have too many of these run down houses in their neighbourhoods and they finally figure out that it's better to correct the problem rather than move. The only way to get the by-law, is for our City councillors to take up the cause on behalf of enough disgruntled residents and renters. So that's probably not going to happen.

We have a slum landlord in our neighbourhood. Every time a renter moves out, I'm hopeful the place will be torn down. That never happens though because (not suprisingly) there is always someone desperate enough to rent the house from him. For whatever reason, some people are not able to rent decent places to live. They may have pets, they may be unemployed, they may be new renters and have no references...the list goes on and on, so these places always have tenants looking to rent. It's unfortunate for the renters but understandable from their perspective. They'd rather rent a dive than sleep on the streets. I've been disgusted for years that this local real estate agent has put no money into his rental house. Just recently, the tenants pretty much wrapped the house in plastic as they've just discovered there is no insulation. It looks like hell but I'm not blaming the tenants. They have the right to stay warm.

When we moved here, there was one house like that. Now there are three. Only one is really a slum but the other two will be in a few years. They now get paint and polish so they still look presentable. I've seen them before the paint and polish though so I know what's really under the cosmetic repairs. Maybe 10 years from now, there will be so many derelect houses in this neighbourhood, the good owners will simply move away to a better neighbourhood and urban decay will set in.

I'm as complacent as the next guy. I look the other way and just go about my business. You've made me rethink this whole issue. Really, when it gets so run down, why should I have to move? Why shouldn't the absentee owners/landlords be responsible for the upkeep of their houses in MY neighbourhood?

Until we have a City Council willing to create a bylaw to keep our neighbourhoods up to standards nothing will change. But until the citizens of Kelowna collectively voice their opinions to our council, that can of worms will not be opened. And we can't blame council for this as THEY respond to our wants (at least in theory), not the other way around.

I'm surprised by this whole situation Libelle. I always thought some day when my neighbours and I had enough of this derelict house, we could just complain and have something done about it. The only step I can see now is to talk to our local council members and see what they suggest. Who knows, maybe they've had the thought of a bylaw regarding housing standards but it's been on the back burner until they get enough complaints. It's certainly worth a phone call to a council member or two.

In the meantime though, it is the renters who are getting screwed. As you say, any landlord can do a cheap repair to mask the problems and the renter won't find out about it until after they move in and then they have to deal with the consequences of his shoddy repairs. And it's usually at the tenants expense. I don't imagine Mr. Real Estate Agent paid for the house to be wrapped in plastic. If there are no standards, it certainly makes being a slum landlord a lucrative business, doesn't it. I feel for you Libelle, I really do.

I could research this (and probably will at some point) but did you find any reference to any other municipalities that have a bylaw regarding housing standards?
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Re: No standards for maintence and occupancy

Postby Libelle » Dec 6th, 2012, 10:25 pm

I do not know the scope of a director's powers, if he/she could order for an inspection on a duct tape fixes all landlord but in Kelowna that would be the only way of proper repairs being done in a city with no standards. The burden of proof lays with the tenant to show that the landlord has completed the repair but the repair caused another issue and or was not done to keep from the repair from always needing a repair. So the tenant would have to make a full time job out of documenting each repair and through out it's inevitable deterioration. Also who did it, get a business card, do not take the landlords word for it who the "professional" is.
I have made a point in knowing what my rights are and those of the other party. Section 32 was not a mystery to me, but got me thinking about what the health, safety and housing standards are. Once you have worked getting all your evidence together you need something to substantiate that evidence. In this case that would be what health, safety and housing means where you live.

How many tenants out there look into what are the safety standards? Ignorance on my part that the director would just know, and I thought all of BC would follow the same standards. So if the majority of people do not know that no standards exist as they must surly do as the act says it does how can they demand council for passing the bylaws? Choose a city in BC and the odds are in favor of them having such bylaws. So no one at any time since the dawn of council never thought about the existing buildings and their upkeep? If so, how very sad is that? If they at any time did entertain the idea of such bylaws then why were said bylaws not implemented? If it is a money issue I call BS. Every landlord must have a business licence so in order to renew that licence they must pass an inspection which will go on file in case a patern develops with a repair that does not stay repaired. And when a tenant or any occupant to said property moves out to ensure that it is up to code for the next tenants no matter how many times a year the property sees new people. This should be at the cost of the landlord to pay for an inspector to come and make sure the property is all good to go. Could add up as unfair fee as many landlords will see it as, but it is the cost of doing business. The renewal of a business license to a secondary suite owner each year is the only thing that makes that suite keep being legal.
So that tell me that as long as you pay your dues with the city you can rent out your shrink wrap house to who ever will take it. So if the city deems those houses in your neighbourhood to be legal what happens when someone looses their life because of negligence on behalf of the landlord? Can that family sue the city as well as the landlord as the city said the rental unit was legal? A good lawyer and Kelowna would be up poop creek without a paddle. I will follow up with the city about this as I can not let it go. It is good of course for every tenant to have these measures in place but also for anyone who lives by a duct tape landlord so they too know that the house next door is not to combust some time this week. The provincial govt grants Kelowna the authority to do so, do what is the problem?
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