Councillor takes aim at student rooming houses near University of Manitoba

​City Coun. Janice Lukes is continuing her crusade to crack down on rooming houses near the University of Manitoba with a new website to make reporting bylaw infractions easier.

Coun. Janice Lukes continues fight against landlords in Fort Richmond area

City Coun. Janice Lukes is continuing her crusade to crack down on rooming houses near the University of Manitoba with a new website to make reporting bylaw infractions easier. (CBC)

City Coun. Janice Lukes is continuing her crusade to crack down on rooming houses near the University of Manitoba with a new website to make reporting bylaw infractions easier.

On Tuesday, about 100 people showed up to a meeting Lukes ran on how neighbours can help tackle the rooming house issue.

"The community loves the fact that there are students in the community," she said. "We are just frustrated with the landlords that are not taking care of the properties and are putting the tenants' lives in jeopardy."

She says houses that are zoned as family homes are being converted into rooming houses, and landlords are cramming students into unsafe quarters and letting the properties fall into disrepair.

Beyond safety issues, she said the homes often have neglected yards and are noisy.

Lukes has spent more than a year trying to get the city to do something about the issue in the area.

Now, a new website from the Fort Richmond University Heights Neighbourhood Association helps neighbours report by-law infractions at the houses.

"It's a simplified explanation of the common bylaw infractions that we have out here. It identifies how to properly report them and what to expect," said Lukes. "We have also put neighbourhood responsibilities and standards on what the responsibilities are for landlords and for tenants."

The site is also recruiting people to monitor online rental sites like Kijiji and volunteer "street captains" to monitor their neighbourhoods.

She hopes that with enough complaints, the city will do something about the properties.

"The number one problem with reporting a bylaw infraction is how to report it. The number two problem is not reporting it," said Lukes. "Everyone can sit in their house and stew about an issue, but you have to pick up the phone or email."

Lukes said enforcement is difficult if bylaw officers don't know about the problems in the first place.

"If I see there is one or two [infractions] on a property, ah, you know, but if I see there is 15, 20, 25 or a bylaw officer sees that, you know there is an issue there, and they need to be going and investigating and following up," Lukes said.

Lukes also recommends people email their complaints to 311 for the fastest response.

About 100 people turned out to hear how they can help combat the student rooming house issue in Fort Richmond. (CBC)