Standards of Maintenance Bylaw
On January 31, 2021 the Standards of Maintenance (SOM) bylaw for rental housing comes into effect in the City of Victoria.
What is it?
The BC Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) states in general terms that landlords must maintain their rental properties to meet housing, safety, and building standards required by law, but the establishment and enforcement of specific requirements for building maintenance standards is under the authority of local governments through the creation of a standards of maintenance bylaw.
Why do we need a campaign?
While its enactment is a partial win for housing justice advocates who have been calling for a SOM bylaw since 1998, the City has decided to withhold the mechanisms that would make the bylaw effective. The City will not provide the necessary resources to support inspection, mediation, and enforcement of this bylaw choosing instead to rely on existing Provincial mechanisms such as those offered what’s available to renters through the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).
What are we calling for?
In Victoria’s rental crisis, the SOM bylaw has the potential to retain and improve existing rental units, but additional actions must be taken.
Together, Victoria Tenant Action Group and Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) are calling for the City to:
Dedicate staff and resources for inspection of units and to support tenants in dispute resolution.
Protect tenants who may be at risk of eviction and renoviction.
Apply these minimum standards and develop a process for complaints and inspection of units that do not fall under RTA legislation such as shelters, transitional housing, and long stay motels.
What are we doing?
The City will evaluate the rollout of this new bylaw over the next eighteen months. During this time, VTAG/TAPS will be collecting data about renter experiences navigating the SOM bylaw, as well as its efficacy in compelling landlords to ensure their tenants are living in rental units that meet the standards of maintenance required by law.
Are you using the SOM bylaw to file a dispute or to otherwise improve your living conditions? We would like to hear about your experience! Please get in touch using the form below.