Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | May 28, 2010

Read & Weep

A growing number of advocacy groups are currently promoting the recognition of housing as a human right.

While the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations (CFAA) and associated landlords support the right of low-income people to acquire sufficient income support and address their essential housing needs, they feel formally recognizing housing as a human right may have dangerous implications.

There are concerns that the human rights approach may interfere with a landlord’s ability to evict tenants in order to ensure the landlord receives the rent he or she is entitled to when providing housing services.

Landlords should also be aware of a movement to include “social condition” as a prohibited ground of discrimination in order to prevent landlords from refusing to rent to the homeless.

This ignores the fact that many  homeless people already return to private rental housing by renting rooms or economical apartments. However, landlords need the ability to screen tenants for their ability to pay the rent and ensure that the prospective tenants are likely to behave in a manner which allows all other tenants in a building their right to reasonable enjoyment of the premises without undue disturbances.

Canadian privacy regulations are also inflicting unnecessary hardship on tenants and landlords. The federal privacy act, PIPEDA, and its provincial equivalents in Alberta and British Columbia, act as roadblocks for those landlords trying to get professional help for tenants from mental health outreach teams.

The governments fund outreach teams to help tenants and others with mental health problems, but because of PIPEDA, landlords (the people who may be the first to become aware of the need for medical assistance) are prohibited from calling in the services when they are most needed.

All this becomes so much more apparent following the City of Victoria decision to relocate the existing needle exchange centre from one specific location in the city core and redistribute the service to four rural locations. Nobody ever said you had to be intelligent to run for office.

Following this decision the city has now drafted a policy to assist those who are homeless to find suitable accommodation within conventional rental units throughout the city core and its rural areas. Their mandate simply reads; “we will resolve the homeless situation.”

This new policy reminds me of the City of Vancouver’s decision to force the prostitutes out of the city core and into the East End. The problem didn’t go away, it just moved into an area now inhabited by single family residential units.

Brilliance !

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