Landlords in Kingston, Ont., say more thought needs to go into proposed changes to the city’s nuisance party by-law that would see property owners held accountable for the behaviour of their tenants.
“I’m sure virtually every student tenant lease contains clauses that ban these parties,” says landlord Alex Legnini. “The reality is, those clauses are likely void by the Residential Tenancies Act.”
Concerns were first raised by landlords at last week’s council meeting about proposed changes to the city’s nuisance party by-law.
“It is alarming that this matter is being brought forward for all three readings at a single meeting when little, if any, opportunity for public consultation was provided,” says Lindsey Foster, former president of the Kingston Rental Property Owners Association (KRPOA).
The staff report to council suggested removing a warning notice provided to landlords when a nuisance party is declared on their property, before the landlord could be subjected to a fine.
Under the tougher measures, landlords could find themselves on the hook for further cost recoveries, paying $90 per hour for every by-law officer, police officer and member of Kingston Fire and Rescue that may have to attend a nuisance party.
These costs could potentially run into the hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.
“We understand that the city wants to recover some of these extra costs from the nuisance parties that are happening, that seem to be happening more and more,” says landlord Paula Nichols.
“We think we can assist with a broader solution, but it shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of those that don’t have any control,” she says.
Kingston police estimate that almost $1,000,000 was spent responding to student parties in the University District last Fall.
Mayor Bryan Paterson says the aim of the changes was not to punish local landlords that are doing what they can to prevent nuisance parties, but rather the ones who show no care or concern for the community.
“We really are going after, in my view, the absentee landlord that isn’t showing any efforts or concern,” says Paterson.
Council deferred voting on the nuisance party by-law changes last week to allow for further consultation.
“Perhaps we could come up with a standard way to be able to inform tenants about what is and is not allowed,” says Paterson. “Maybe there’s a brochure, an information sheet that the city can supply.”
KRPOA President Robert Melo says a solution like that could help, but says landlords don’t have any enforcement powers.
“I believe that the Landlord and Tenant Board and the adjudicators should be part of this consultation in order to come up with a resolution,” he says.
Consultations are set to take place over the coming months, before council revisits the matter in June.