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Merit in shared housing report

In the latest city hall report on the contentious issue of whether or not to license shared rental housing, staff make a convincing case for an alternative approach – and for an additional $150,000 a year needed to make it work well.
Some councillors and residents aren’t happy about the money Guelph has been spending on enhanced enforcement to deal with problems associated with shared rental housing. They might resent paying $150,000 more from the city’s tax pot for an additional inspector as well as a communications and education campaign.
But the new staff report says an expensive licensing program would raise rents if landlords passed on the cost of licensing fees, which they likely would do.  This is just one of the problems with the licensing option, it says.
Staff say the proactive – meaning not waiting for complaints – enforcement approach started by the city in 2012 has yielded good results, and the report offers statistics to prove it. However, staff have encountered challenges. A big one has been an inability to gain access to 104 – about 13% – of 792 dwellings “where access was required to determine safety or compliance with municipal regulations,” the new report says.
Staff are proposing following in the footsteps of Hamilton in using search warrants to gain such access. But doing this and also implementing a formalized zero-tolerance approach for repeat offenders would take staff time, which is largely why an additional inspector is needed, the report says. It says that if extra money isn’t approved to pay for this new inspector, it would mean fewer proactive investigations and prosecutions in the future.
Staff have made a good case for this approach to deal  with the rental issue, and council should back them up.
For residents who have complained loudly that student rental housing is destablizing neighbourhoods, the new report should make for interesting reading.

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