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Halifax council votes to introduce rental registry


Halifax Regional Council has approved a rental registry and the major violations will be shared online.

The vote came Tuesday after years of debate, consultation and reports.

It means landlords will have to register their properties by next April or face a fine.

Those in favour of the registry argue the comprehensive list will help the city keep tabs on rentals and launch pro-active inspections.

“The intent of this is to require that you have to be registered to rent and then stay on top of making sure people are meeting the minimum standards,” said District 7 councillor Waye Mason.

Mason said both before and after he was elected he saw houses that were converted without permits, didn't meet fire code and were overloaded with people.

“The key thing is to be able to aggregate the data and identify if landlords or companies are having a pattern of bad behavior of not meeting the minimum standards,” Mason said.

Housing advocates with ACORN gathered outside Halifax City Hall before council’s meeting Tuesday.

It was one last nudge of public pressure to help push the proposed rental registry past the finish line.

“It’s just important regulation,” Hannah Wood, chair of ACORN’s Halifax-Peninsula chapter, said. “Right now, there are more bylaws enforcing running a hot dog cart in this city than there are being a landlord.”

Representatives of ACORN also noted the registry could help people feel more comfortable complaining about an issue at their rental unit without fear of retaliation.

The one vote against the registry came from District 15 councillor Paul Russell.

“The intent is good, I think that the hopes are good, I think the promise is good. I don’t think we’re seeing enough benefit for it,” said Russell.

In addition to approving the rental registry, Halifax Regional Council voted to amend a bylaw that would beef up minimum safety standards, such as ensuring doors have working locks that can operate from inside without keys and making sure water in plumbing fixtures flows and drains free from obstruction.

The rental registry will require landlords to provide contact information of the owner, proof of insurance and a maintenance plan.

Kevin Russell, executive director of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia, called the registry onerous and warns many landlords won’t register and others will sell.

“The rent cap and now the registry, they’re leaving the industry. The small mom-pops are just saying, ‘we didn’t sign up for this,’” Russell said.

He’s written to John Lohr, Nova Scotia’s minister of municipal affairs and housing, asking him to nullify the bylaw.

“And the reason we’re asking for this is because it’s going to impact housing,” Russell said.

“We need more housing supply, not less, and so this is going to shrink the inventory at a time when we need more inventory.”

“I don’t like being bullied. I am not interested in that conversation with them,” said Mason. “I would find it outlandish if the province decided to override a bylaw designed to make people safe.”

The rental registry requires fines ranging from $150 to $10,000 depending on the type and recurrence of the offence. Top Stories

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