Proposed changes to public nuisance bylaw draw issue with London landlords

Police footage of the Broughdale Avenue area at around 1:46 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, during FOCO celebrations.
Police footage of the Broughdale Avenue area at around 1:46 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, during FOCO celebrations. Supplied photo / London Police Service

A lawyer representing the London Property Management Association (LPMA) says proposed changes to the city’s public nuisance bylaw will be “legally unenforceable” and place landlords in a difficult situation.

The changes aim to curb unsanctioned street parties such as Fake Homecoming (FOCO), an annual celebration consisting mainly of Western University students that drew 20,000 revelers to Broughdale Avenue last year.

READ MORE: ‘There will be blood on all of our hands’: London Mayor Ed Holder urges immediate action on street parties

The potential bylaw tweaks stem from ideas floated around in March, and would make landlords or property owners responsible for their tenants’ parties.

If a tenant’s party gets out of control, landlords or property owners would have to prevent it or at least prove they tried to prevent it, otherwise they could be on the hook for a fine that maxes out at $25,000.

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A lawyer with Cohen Highley and representative for the LPMA, Joseph Hoffner, argues the very nature of the proposed bylaw changes would contravene provincial legislation.

“It completely disregards the obligations which prohibit a landlord from interfering in any way with a tenant, other than after the fact,” Hoffner said.

“The problem for landlords is they can’t go on that property without first giving 24 hours written notice.”

Hoffner elaborated in a letter addressed to the city’s bylaw enforcement officer in which he said the bylaw tweaks would “compel a landlord to engage in unlawful behaviour” and “will undoubtedly be declared legally unenforceable.”

READ MORE: Western University considers penalties for student misconduct during Fake Homecoming

Speaking on 980 CFPL’s London Live with Mike Stubbs, Hoffner suggested a different approach for curbing unsanctioned street parties.

“Landlords would make sure that tenants and the tenant’s guarantors, which are usually the parents, are clearly aware of the liability that’s going to flow to the tenants if the tenants engage in that behaviour,” Hoffner said.

London’s community and protective services committee will look at staff suggestions and the proposed bylaw changes during their meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

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