A group of Regina landlords filed an unprecedented 4,000 complaints with the city in the last three months, asking bylaw enforcement officers to examine what the landlords claim were deficient properties, but they say they only did it to prove a point.
The landlords, led by Jason Hall who owns dozens of rental properties, claim they have been unfairly targeted by Regina's inspection system, which they claim disproportionally investigates rented properties over those occupied by homeowners.
"At some point, you want to put the system to its test, and we tested it," Hall told CBC News on Thursday. He said the landlords hired a man to tour around different parts of Regina, looking for property bylaw infractions. He found 4,000.
'There clearly is a double standard.' — Jason Hall, Regina landlord
But Hall said that he alone receives one to three notices from the city every week regarding just his 165-plus properties and wonders why other properties go unnoticed by city inspectors.
"There clearly is a double standard that is happening," Hall said. "If the bylaw was created for everyone to keep their houses safe and tidy and beautiful, and we're the only ones being enforced on, that's just discrimination."
City officials acknowledged Thursday that they had received the complaints but had only looked into a fraction of them and issued just two notifications for owners to address deficiencies.
They also insisted the city does not target landlords over other property owners.
"They're inspected on priority," Dwayne Flaman, from the City of Regina's bylaw-enforcement office told CBC News. "They're public safety concerns, safety of tenants."
Inner-city housing needs work
Flaman added that it might appear that the city has rental properties under the microscope because they are often much older than owner-occupied houses and more likely to need repairs.
"We do deal with a lot of inner-city housing," Flaman said, "because that's some of the oldest housing stock in the city of Regina that needs the most attention."
Figures from the city confirm that most bylaw enforcement activity takes place in Regina's north central and core neighbourhoods, where Hall and other landlords have most of their properties.
Hall said his group might not have many options, other than to complain about the situation. However, he cautioned that some landlords could choose to board up homes if it becomes too expensive to keep up with complaints.