Jennifer Depooter, mother of a University of Windsor student killed in a 2016 house fire, speaks to Windsor City Council on February 5, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Windsor To Increase Rental Enforcement

The City of Windsor is increasing enforcement of its rental properties.

Windsor City Council approved a motion Monday night to start a two-year pilot project to handle concerns about the safety of the city’s rental housing.

The pilot project would involve the hiring of one fire prevention officer and two building inspectors to handle those complaints.

Mayor Drew Dilkens says the pilot project will help clear a backlog of building concerns made to the 311 service.

“If you’re a tenant and you believe the home you’re renting is unsafe, you call 311, and we will actually have actual dedicated resources who will respond to those complaints,” says Dilkens.

The mayor says this will help alleviate concerns that keep people from calling the hotline, such as eviction or other repercussions. Some councillors mentioned that those living in substandard or unsafe housing do not make the call due to fear, language barriers or a lack of information.

Council, however, rejected a motion to draft a bylaw establishing a residential rental licencing regime, or the Waterloo model. The model was championed by Jennifer Depooter, who lost her son, 19-year-old Andrew Kraayenbrink, in a 2016 rental house fire near the University of Windsor campus.

Depooter told councillors that having a licencing regime is vital for the city since it would make enforcement clearer for the city’s emergency responders.

“If Windsor fire prevention officers do not see the fire code as black-and-white, how are the students, the seniors, immigrants and the vulnerable population able to determine if smoke alarms are properly located?” says Depooter.

During a delegation period lasting over two hours Monday night, some U of W students spoke in favour of the regime, while some landlords spoke against it, saying it would add additional costs and increase red tape.

Dilkens says costs for the additional enforcement may not be determined until the end of the pilot project, but the estimate is around $160,000 after the two years.