News / Winnipeg

Council approves fines for landlords who keep units on chilly side

City council has backed a fine system for landlords who fail to abide by minimum heat standards, despite a late plea from a member of the industry who believes it can be easily abused.

Avrom Charach, who spoke to city council on behalf of the Professional Property Managers Association, said the fine system isn’t required because complaints can already be lodged with the Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB).

“Will the fines help the tenants? No, it will not force the landlord to repair the issue, it will not give the tenant any money to fix the problem themselves,” said Charach, adding that his organization manages about 68,000 rental units in the city.

“There is, however, already a system already in place which will force repairs, find guilty landlords and give the tenants money back in their pockets… This is enforced by the Residential Tenancies Branch of the Province of Manitoba.”

Charach said he’s come across cases where an RTB officer arrived at a complaint and observed that the window of the tenant’s unit was left open. When the officer went inside, the tenant had the window closed and complained of the cold.

“I’m not saying there aren’t bad landlords, there are,” added Charach.

“The proposed changes before you do not address the thousands of bad tenants, it is not balanced.”

Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) said there’s “no doubt in my mind” that the bulk of landlords are good.

“But the fact is the landlords will now know what the penalty is ... and it will save thousands of Winnipeggers from being cold,” said Smith.

‘This we should be supporting whole-heartedly.”

The city’s report states the fine for failing to provide a heating system or take reasonable steps to repair a defective system will be $1,000 for individuals and $5,000 for corporations, and the fine for failing to provide adequate heat in a dwelling carries will be up to $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for corporations.

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