Vancouver launches online database of problem rental buildings

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      A new online database listing rental buildings with bylaw violations was launched by the City of Vancouver today (February 6).

      According to Vision Vancouver councillor Tim Stevenson, the searchable site is aimed at helping Vancouver residents make decisions about where to rent, and encouraging landlords to keep their properties in good condition.

      Stevenson, who introduced a motion calling for the database in January 2012, said the site makes information accessible that was previously only available through separate departments.

      "Previously everybody really was in the dark," Stevenson said in a phone interview. "You wouldn’t know what your landlord was like, or what the building was like, and if you had it in you to begin to try and track down all the various departments, you’d have to be a detective really…now this is readily at their fingertips."

      The site, referred to by the city as the rental standards database, includes all licensed rental buildings with five or more residential units that have outstanding infractions, or those with bylaw issues that have been resolved within the last year. 

      Database users can view a map of the listings around the city, or can search the site by building address or properties with open violations. Types of bylaw infractions listed include issues related to standards of maintenance, fire safety, building safety, and untidy premises.

      The five buildings with the highest number of bylaw infractions currently listed in the database are single-room-occupancy hotels in the Downtown Eastside.

      Stevenson said the city has seen an increased level of compliance after giving notice to property owners over recent months that their buildings would be listed in the database.

      “As people realized this is going up, many many people came into compliance,” he said.

      The database currently features 70,000 units in about 2,500 rental buildings, including single-room occupancy hotels, purpose-built rental buildings, and supportive housing units. Three hundred of the buildings currently included in the database have unresolved health and safety issues.

      The site does not include information on properties including single family homes, secondary suites, duplexes, and condo buildings.


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      Raymond Tomlin

      Feb 6, 2013 at 4:16pm

      Too soon. Whoops. Getting a "404 - File or directory not found" error message. The <a href="" target="_blank">root address</a> seems to be working only sporadically. Guess this is what you get when you spend $3 million plus on a user-confusing, "where the hell can we find things, is the information I'm looking for even available anymore?" re-design of the website. Oh well. Thank you Vision Vancouver.


      Feb 6, 2013 at 5:24pm

      What about a database of bad tenants who dont pay rent or damage places?!?!? A tenant can go look at a place and see if it is in decent condition. A landlord has to rely on references (which are very easy to fake). A tenant can move out of a crappy place. A landlord can have their property destroyed by a bad tenant.

      I personally would start a website for this, but I would be instantly sued by anyone on it.


      Feb 6, 2013 at 7:56pm

      Bylaw infractions don't show Bed Bug and/or Rat/Mice infested Buildings of which there are many in Vancouver.

      @jonny apart from Reference checks most landlords require Credit Checks which resolves those issues.

      Amy Spencer

      Feb 7, 2013 at 8:08am

      The Rental Housing Council represents more than 3,000 rental buildings owners, managers and associates. We are actively pursuing a Certified Rental Building program to bring to BC that will provide tenants with quality assurance when selecting their future home.

      The program currently exists in Ontario, is the first of its kind in North America, and focuses on quality building management and customer service standards for rental apartment buildings. We have already heard interest from several apartment building owners who feel the need for such a program in the province, and we are looking to develop the program to adhere to BC legislation and regulations.

      Concerned Vancouverite

      Feb 7, 2013 at 5:59pm

      By-Law infractions are not necessarily a sign of a bad building nor of bad management and/or owners. I don't think that will be a fair basis for listing "bad buildings" by. For example, the building I am in could be included on this list simply because the owner was late with paying property tax but the building is the best I have ever lived in and it is full of happy long term tenants. This is not cool. I don't think there is a happy solution for any public listing to do with Landlords or Tenants. Best to leave it alone. What could be more effective is an education and licensing system in order to become a Landlord in the first place.