Proposed bylaw calls for stepped-up maintenance plans in rental buildings

Plumbing
Image courtesy iStock

Owners of multi-unit apartment buildings in Ottawa will be required to spell out how they plan to maintain, repair or replace infrastructure such as plumbing, elevators, roofs, fire escapes and balconies under a proposed new city bylaw.

The proposal, which is set to go before the city’s community and protective services committee on Thursday, would apply to all rental properties that are at least three storeys tall or have a minimum of 10 rental units. The new bylaw would not cover townhouses or rowhouses.

According to a city staff report, the purpose of the proposed capital maintenance plan is to “ensure that property owners are inspecting the critical infrastructure within their buildings and planning for its maintenance, repair or replacement as necessary.”

The new bylaw also calls for landlords to keep detailed records of all service requests from tenants and would require tenants to make such requests in writing. 

Under the proposal, landlords would also be compelled to respond to urgent issues “such as those concerning a loss of vital services, security issues or any issue that could reasonably be expected to make a unit uninhabitable” within 24 hours and all other service requests within seven days.

The new bylaw also calls for what it calls more effective pest control measures in rental properties. While current bylaws require dwellings to be kept “free of pests” at all times, the proposed new rules call for buildings to be “reasonably free” of vermin.

“In practice this means that the presence of a single spider or bee would not necessarily constitute an infestation and would not automatically place a property owner in violation,” the staff report says. “However, as a result of the above-noted definition of infestation, the presence of a single bedbug, rat or mouse would require immediate control measures to be taken.”

If approved by the committee, the new bylaw would still require the green light from full council at its next meeting on Aug. 26.