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City eyes bigger penalties for landlords leaving tenants cold

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City hall moved one step closer to imposing harsh and quick punishment on landlords who fail to provide adequate heat to tenants in winter.

The protection committee this morning endorsed an administrative proposal for a bylaw amendment to give enforcement officers the authority to issue tickets on the spot to building owners, similar to police issuing tickets under the Highway Traffic Act.

"This is a faster process and will save the city money," said Coun. Harvey Smith, who is credited with conceiving the idea.

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, told the Free Press earlier the changes would allow staff to build a database of repeat offenders who would be issued tickets and fined for repeat violations.

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.

The current process is considered time-consuming and costly and the outcome of cases is left to the discretion of a magistrate.

Smith (Daniel McIntyre) said the changes let landlords know right away what penalties they face, adding now a judge sets the fine amount and it can vary.

The proposal moves next to city council, where Smith said he expects it to be approved unanimously.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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