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City to use legal injunctions to protect low-income housing

Vancouver City Hall is preparing to use legal injunctions to require landlords to repair low-income housing, a move that Mayor Gregor Robertson says is key to protecting some of Vancouver’s most vulnerable citizens.

 “Some of our most vulnerable citizens live in substandard housing, particularly single-room occupancy buildings,” said Mayor Robertson. “Although the overwhelming majority of landlords in Vancouver follow the rules, we are finding that there are still landlords who ignore the City’s safety regulations and refuse to treat their tenants with respect.
 
“By seeking legal injunctions to force these landlords to fix their buildings, the City is using a new tool to protect both the residents and the affordable housing in SRO buildings.”
 
The two SRO buildings, the Wonder Rooms at 50-52 East Cordova, and the Palace Hotel at 35 West Hastings, collectively provide 71 single-room occupancy units in the Downtown Eastside. Recent inspections by City staff show that both properties have extensive safety and building violations, including missing smoke alarms, broken ladders, blocked safety exits, pest infestation, and roof leakages.
 
Legal injunctions are the final step the City can take to require SRO buildings to be brought into compliance with City by-laws without closing them. The majority of building owners respond to issues raised by city inspectors, or failing that, the threat of a legal injunction.
 
Using legal injunctions to compel landlords to fix SRO buildings is a new policy, which Vancouver City Council approved in March 2009. In cases where a landlord has repeatedly refused to meet basic health and safety regulations, staff can seek approval from City Council to pursue a legal injunction.
 
The two reports coming forward are the first time that City Council will vote on whether to approve the use of a legal injunction on SRO buildings. Mayor Robertson says this is a step that needs to be taken.
 
“Given the way these landlords have treated their tenants and refused to maintain their buildings, approving the use of legal injunctions is absolutely critical to helping the people who live there. I hope all of Council will approve these reports next week.”
 
The two council reports, scheduled for the June 16th Planning and Environment meeting, can be viewed at:
 
 

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