Landlords seeing red over North Bay bylaw change

A lot of houses could be up for sale in North Bay if a new bylaw is not changed.

Residential rental bylaw caps the number of rooms that can be rented out in a home

A lot of houses could be up for sale in North Bay if a new bylaw is not changed.

That's according to a landlord who disagrees with the city's new rule that allows only five rooms to be rented out in a house.

Linda Wilson owns five houses in North Bay — but each one has six rooms. Wilson said if no changes are made, she will consider selling her buildings. She said other landlords plan to do the same.

Inspections required

Another new part of the North Bay bylaw pertains to inspections. Landlords who rent between three and five rooms in a house are now required to have the property inspected. Before, inspections were only required if landlords were doing work that required a building permit. After the inspection, landlords are given a licence, which has to be renewed every two years.

"I need to be able to make a profit, a decent profit," Wilson said. "It’s like any other business — you need to have a good bottom line and balance sheet."

The bylaw only affects houses — not apartment buildings.

Landlords who violate the rule could be fined a maximum of $25,000.

The city is expected to begin enforcement on May 1, but not everyone will be in compliance.

Students like Emily Ryan — who lives in a house with six other students — are worried rental prices may go up and housing will be harder to come by because of the new bylaw.

Ryan also doesn't believe having fewer students in a house will eliminate noise complaints and parking issues, as city council suggests.

"One person in a house can throw a party, so … kicking people out of their house is not going to accomplish those goals," Ryan said.

But Councillor Sean Lawlor said the rule is also to protect students from landlords who may try to cram too many tenants into unsafe living conditions.

"In a situation like this it’s next to impossible to please everybody," Lawlor said. "But I think we've come up with a reasonable approach."

Emily Ryan and a few other students have taken their complaints to the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, because they think the bylaw unfairly targets students.

They are waiting to see if any aspects of the bylaw will be overruled.

As a point of comparison, the city of Sudbury only allows two tenants to rent rooms in one house at once —  that's not counting apartments.