Solutions needed for tenants, landlords

By: Rob Altemeyer, MLA for Wolseley

As published in The Metro

January 3, 2018

On Dec. 15, news broke that a once-stable apartment block in West Broadway, on Balmoral Street, had deteriorated so badly that the fire and police services evicted everyone, and declared the building unsafe for occupancy.

There had been no heat or hot water for days, the outer doors were unlocked, and apartment doors inside the building had been ripped off their hinges. Worst of all, 20 tenants were suddenly left scrambling to find another place to live as best they could, right before the holidays.

There were no winners in this story. The tenants lost their homes, the landlord/owner now has a money-losing asset in need of serious repair, and a neighbourhood that has made so much progress now has a boardedup building to deal with. Couldn’t something have been done to prevent this from happening? What about all the other valid issues faced by tenants— and landlords— on a regular basis?

I hope you will help me answer these very questions.

On Mon. Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.), I will host a public forum on possible improvements to the Residential Tenancies Act at Resource Assistance for Youth (Ra Y), located at 125 Sherbrook St. This provincial legislation sets out the rules for both tenants and landlords in Manitoba. My hope is that a community discussion will generate new ideas that I can introduce as a private member’s bill at the Manitoba legislature.

Even a small idea can make a huge and positive difference, not just for the 90 per cent plus of West Broadway residents who are tenants, but for everyone involved in rental housing across Manitoba.

The chronic shortage of safe, affordable housing for low and moderate-income people is a big issue we hear about at constituency offices. When we lose entire buildings or when rents increase too quickly, the problem just gets worse. The government hasn’t addressed these issues at all yet, and their recent decisions to cut Rent Assist benefits and increase rent in Manitoba Housing blocks are also taking us in the wrong direction.

Not every rental problem can be solved with new legilsation, but I know it can help. If you would like some background information please contact me at wolseley1@yourmanitoba.ca. or 204-775-8575. RSVP to the public forum on Jan. 29 are appreciated but not required. I hope to see you there!