West end residents push to develop a residential rental licensing system in Windsor
Mike Cardinal has been fighting for a residential rental licensing system in Windsor for the last 20 years. But it was the fatal fire that took place on Rankin Avenue Oct. 26, 2016 that inspired his most recent push to approve what he calls "Andrew's Law".
"There's been a call for many years now for a residential rental license. Especially in light here on Rankin Avenue. The house is no longer here and Andrew is no longer here," Mike Cardinal said.
Andrew Kraayenbrink, 19, was killed in that house fire last year. Five others suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Cardinal believes if a licensing system was in place Andrew would still be alive.
"It's very important for safety. We're neighbours, we see these house fires happen. We've been warning city council for years now. Do we have to wait until someone dies for them to do something?" said Cardinal.
Cardinal, a long time west-end resident and landlord, would like to see Windsor adopt the same residential rental licensing system as Waterloo, Ontario. That city has adopted a 'full cost recovery model' costing landlords $460 to $600 for the initial license fee.
"It's just like any other business model in town," said Cardinal, explaining that landlords would bring pre-clearance inspection to city hall, pay a fee of around $500, then building and fire inspectors would take a look at the home and make sure all the safety codes are in place.
Windsor city council will discuss the licensing of residential rental housing at Monday night's council meeting. The council agenda states administration determined that licensing of residential rental housing would involve increased expenses to implement a licensing program, "whereas existing by-laws provide a cost-effective method to ensure the safety and rights of tenants as well as landlords."
'We're putting human lives on the line'
"The pushback seems to be about cost. Even if people were to pay the $525 that I pay as a lodging house landlord and made that a two-year license, that would bring that cost down to only $3.65 per month," explained Cardinal.
"We're putting human lives on the line every day we delay this."
Kiran Singh has been living in a rental home for a year and a half. He told CBC News he would agree with an increase in rent if it meant improved safety standards.
"It's a better move if they license it, because that's way safer for residents living here. It's beneficial for everyone," said Singh.
Cardinal along with other concerned residents will be Monday's council meeting to share their thoughts on why "Andrew's Law" is important to them. Cardinal hopes a counselor will request a motion to adopt a residential rental licensing program.
CBC News contacted west end ward two councilor John Elliot. He declined our request for an interview because of a conflict of interest in this matter.