Vancouver council unanimously passes online rental database motion
Vancouver city councillors unanimously voted in favour Tuesday (January 17) of asking staff to report back on creating an online rental database in the city.
Vision Vancouver councillor Tim Stevenson, who introduced the motion, said the online database will bring “transparency” for renters.“I think it’s going to be very exciting for renters who have a choice,” he said.
“This is about the renter being able to look about and finding buildings that are in top shape, and that they want to move into.”
The database will provide renters access to work orders, safety violations and other information on particular rental properties.
Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer noted that information on work orders and property violations is already collected by the city, but putting the data in an open source form will make the information more accessible to the public.
Christine Ackermann, the president of the West End Residents’ Association, spoke in support of the motion and called it a “great step”. However, she said her organization would also like to see business licenses featured as a search option, so that low-income renters seeking rooms in private dwellings could also search for information. She would also like to see an option to search for the name of a particular landlord in the database.
According to the city, 85 percent of West End residents are renters, while 52 percent of all Vancouver residents rent.
Shortly after the motion was passed by city council, the Coalition of Progressive Electors issued a press release arguing the proposed database doesn’t go far enough.
“The database would only include purpose-built rental buildings, meaning that a vast number of renters would find no information about the quality of their housing options,” said former city councillor Ellen Woodsworth in the news release.
“We have a huge number of SROs that are known to be violating bylaws, are in need of critical repairs, and whose landlords show no sign of coming into compliance. The people of Vancouver need to know about these units and right now this database would leave that out.”
City staff are expected to report back on creating the database within the next two months.