Access to justice for homeless people

Single Room Occupancy Hotels provide some of the only affordable rental housing for Vancouver’s poorest residents. These hotels are often infested with bugs and rodents, lacking functioning heat or plumbing and generally in states of disrepair. The City of Vancouver has long had the power to rectify some of these problems through the Standards of Maintenance Bylaw, which gives the City the power to enter a building and make essential repairs if the landlord refuses to do so, and then the bill the landlord through the property tax roll. However, enforcement of the Bylaw was declining as Vancouver’s housing crisis continued to grow. When the Picadilly Hotel was closed due to long-standing building standards violations in 2007, Pivot sued the City for its failure to enforce the Bylaw. In March of 2009, following discussions with Pivot, City Council finally resolved to pursue stronger enforcement. With the support of the counsel behind it, the Bylaw is working and much-needed repairs are going ahead at several buildings.