City staff does not recommend licensing rental housing in Guelph

Press release.

After a thorough analysis of possible licensing programs and alternatives, and considering feedback from tenants, landlords, neighbours and other community stakeholders, City staff does not recommend licensing rental housing in Guelph.

A report on the matter will be discussed during a meeting of the City’s Planning Building Engineering and Environment Committee on Monday, May 5 at 2 p.m.

To protect the health, safety and well-being of people living in neighbourhoods with high concentrations of rental housing, the City is working with the University of Guelph and the Guelph Police Service to reduce the number and severity of complaints about excessive noise, litter, vandalism and other disruptive behaviour.

“Since 2007, we’ve made progress using enhanced zoning and by-law enforcement programs” said Rob Reynen, the City’s manager of inspection services. “While a licensing program may have some merit, it may not be the most effective or efficient way to address neighbourhood concerns. So, instead of licensing the business of rental housing, we recommend building on the success we’ve already had by enhancing enforcement and community education programs.”

The staff report highlights how licensing could improve the City’s ability to regulate rental housing by increasing access for inspection purposes, and requiring property owners to provide contact and property information. However, the cost of administering a licensing program would likely be passed on to tenants, and would not necessarily address concerns expressed by those living in neighbourhoods with high concentrations of rental housing.

Instead of a licensing program, City staff recommends continued enforcement of noise, nuisance-party and other by-laws and several enhanced enforcement activities such as pursuing search warrants to access properties suspected of non-compliance, cross-training inspectors to enforce building and zoning regulations, and increasing fines. Council may also be asked to consider adding one zoning enforcement officer as part of next year’s budget.

The report also recommends continued collaboration with community groups and stakeholders, and using existing resources to develop communications and education programs designed to discourage disruptive or disrespectful behaviour such as the Right Foot Forward, Move-In-Out Madness, and the Restorative Alternatives Pilot Program administered by the University of Guelph Off-Campus Living Office.

To address the committee regarding the report, members of the public are invited to register with the City Clerk’s office

by Friday, May 2 at 9 a.m. or send written comments to the City Clerk’s Office at clerks@guelph.ca.

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