Many people have discussed with me about the need for safe and healthy low cost housing choices.
I was told a story of a fire in a house that had been converted to 5 smaller apartments. The 5 tenants left the house while fire-fighters put out the fire. After 6 hours or so the residents were let back in. Residents and next door neighbours were concerned about the safety of the building, but being low income and welfare recipients, they were not in a strong enough position to advocate for their own on-going safety.
When I returned from Japan in 2005 and searched for an apartment to live in, I viewed some apartments that at the very least seemed to have issues of sanitation and hygiene. It would not surprise me that there are many apartments that presently exist with both safety and sanitation/hygienic concerns.
Given the state of our economy, we NEED affordable housing!
This said, our need for affordable housing is not an excuse to allow landlords to risk of the health and safety of their tenants – people who are often struggling with the daily challenges of a low income life.
If a property owner wishes to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions, while this should not be condoned the owner should be free to do so. But if a property owner runs his/her property as a business and receives payment, it should be none other than the property owner’s responsibility to provide a safe and healthy living space for tenants. Although residential tenancy is governed by the provincial governent a provincial jurisdiction, there are certainly some areas of overlap where city by-laws will have some effect. An in depth review of the areas in which the HRM could intervene on the behalf of its residents could produce positive results. And we can even consider and discuss an inspection requirement as a possible part of the solution to improve the safety of low cost apartments in Dartmouth and across the HRM as a whole.