Property managers in Winnipeg say they will fight a proposed bylaw change that would fine landlords thousands of dollars if they don't keep apartments warm enough for tenants.
The change to the neighbourhood livability bylaw would require landlords to maintain minimum levels of heat or else face immediate fines ranging between $1,000 for individual landlords and $5,000 for corporations.
The city's protection and community services committee approved the proposed bylaw amendment last Thursday. It will next be reviewed by council's executive policy committee on Wednesday.
If the bylaw amendment is approved by council as a whole at the end of this month, the fines could be implemented later this year.
But the Professional Property Managers Association says its members are angry with the proposal and worried it could lead to more disputes between tenants and landlords.
"How can you know that the landlord is always at fault when the suite is cold?" Avrom Charach, a board member with the association, told CBC News on Monday.
"You have a tenant who's not happy for some reason or another, and they figure they're going to get back at their landlord in some way or another."
Charach said he has seen cases of tenants leaving their windows open, causing issues for others in the same building.
"I have personal experience with tenants lying to health authorities about why their suite is in the condition it's in," he added.
At least one developer has told CBC News he is willing to take the city to court over the proposed bylaw amendment if necessary.
Wellington Avenue building had no heat for days
For much of last week, dozens of tenants in a Wellington Avenue apartment block had no heat in their suites.
While the heat was on as of Monday, landlord Winpark Dorchester told CBC News there was a delay in turning the building's boiler on because of plumbing issues.
Krista Krall, who spent much of the week turning the oven on to keep her suite warm, says she wishes tenants have more control over how much heat they can get in their suites.
"Should be turned on, at least a little bit for us to have access to it, just in case we are cold. Like, what if there's babies in here?" she said.
The neighbourhood livability bylaw states that apartments must be kept at least 21 C from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and a minimum of 18 C overnight.
Currently, tenants who are concerned about their apartments not meeting those standards must file complaints with the Residential Tenancies Branch, then wait for the landlord to appear in court.