Landlords could be immediately ticketed and fined for failing to provide adequate heat to tenants during winter.
That’s the solution proposed by City of Winnipeg officials in a bylaw amendment.
"The current process is time-consuming, the outcome is uncertain and tenants are left freezing," Coun. Harvey Smith said as he applauded the move.
Smith (Daniel McIntyre) said he proposed issuing tickets to landlords earlier this year, adding he’s pleased the administration picked up his suggestion.
Under current procedures, civic bylaw officers issue warnings to landlords. If the heating issue isn’t addressed, the city’s only option is to take the landlord to court, where fines can vary up to maximums of $1,000 for individuals and up to $5,000 for corporations.
Under the proposed amendments, city staff would be empowered to issue tickets and fines on the spot to a landlord who isn’t complying with the bylaw, similar to police issuing tickets under the Highway Traffic Act.
The proposal calls for fines of $1,000 for individuals and $5,000 for corporations, for buildings with defective heating systems; and fines of $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for corporations for failing to provide minimum heat levels.
Peter de Graaf, manager of the city’s community bylaw enforcement, said the changes would allow staff to build a database of repeat offenders who would be issued tickets and fined for repeat violations.
Smith said the changes let landlords know right away what penalties they face, adding a judge now sets the fine amount and it can vary.
The amendments will be considered at the protection and community services committee meeting Oct. 3.
The current bylaw requires buildings have heating system in working order, and that during winter months, temperatures must be kept at a minimum of 21 C between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., and 18 C between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The city says it receives on average about 300 heating complaints yearly.