Vancouver Rental Database Goes Live

Hotel Balmoral in the DTES is found on the new rental database.

Vancouver’s City Hall looks to put power in the hands of renters, by creating a database of problematic residential rental buildings.

On February 6, 2013 Vancouver’s City Hall launched a database listing all of the single occupancy hotels and private apartments that have received bylaw infractions or violations during the past year. The database, which came from a motion passed last January, allows potential renters to check the database for any problems before ever signing a lease.

“We had two real primary objectives,” says Will Johnston, Vancouver’s director of licenses and inspections. “One was to motivate property owners and landlords to keep their properties in good order for renters, and the second was to assist renters in making more informed decisions about rental properties in the city.” The first objective has already been successful: in the past year 7,200 violations have been addressed and cleared by Vancouver landlords and property owners. While 300 buildings are still listed as having active infractions, the vast majority of those have only between 1 and 9 violations, but the 11 buildings that hold upwards of 50 each are of particular concern to Johnston: “Our initial focus right now are those buildings that have more than 50 violations–they’re our primary focus at this point.”

The database is meant to support the local government’s continued goal of increasing affordable housing in Vancouver, and ties into their long term Affordable Housing and Homelessness Strategy. It also aligns with a consorted effort by Mayor Robertson’s office to share governmental information with the public–such as the open-data initiative they introduced in 2009, which gave the public access to government-solicited data including lists of business licenses and environmental study results.