Windsor council split on decision to register rental units

Being a landlord in Windsor does not require a licence, and it will stay that way after a prolonged discussion at city hall Monday night.

Council was split 4-4 on the vote

Windsor city council discusses residential licensing at a meeting on November 20, 2016. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Landlords in Windsor will be able to continue operating without a licence after a prolonged discussion at city hall Monday failed to settle an ongoing debate between safety and cost concerns.

Mayor Drew Dilkens argued against setting up a licensing system, stating he does not believe it would help make apartments safer because only responsible landlords would follow the rules.

He added creating a licence requirement would only punish good landlords by raising their costs.

"You have a couple bad students, but it sends the whole class, the whole city, to the principal's office, and put them under this regime, instead of dealing with the bad area or the bad actors that you have," said Dilkens. 

West-end resident and landlord, Mike Cardinal, said he's in favour of the city licensing.

"At one time I was even coached by city administration to use 'single housekeeping unit' in the lease in order to escape the consequences," said Cardinal. "That loophole has created unsafe Room for Rent houses across the city. That choice has cost the city's reputation. That choice has cost permanent injury. That choice has cost loss of life."

Ron Jones is a former firefighter who once represented the area around the university on city council and can attest to the presence of unsafe rental units.

"I saw situations that people should not live in, both as a firefighter and on council, and certainly the absentee landlord are the ones that are taking advantage of the students here at the university and St. Clair College," said Jones.

Ultimately the vote was a 4-4 tie by council. Councillors John Elliott and Hilary Payne declared a conflict, and Coun. Bill Marra was absent.

Right now, rental unit issues are complaint driven, and administrators say creating a licensing system would not change anything because they cannot force landlords to get a licence.