THUNDER BAY – A pair of legal clinics are calling on the City of Thunder Bay to go further on protecting tenants as it revamps a set of property-related bylaws.
A proposed new minimum heat by law, which still requires city council approval, is intended to tighten enforcement of an existing requirement for landlords to provide adequate heat to tenants of 21 C.
The rules do not apply to landlords who can provide proof of an agreement that the tenant is responsible for heat.
A draft recently updated by city staff following public consultation would increase the powers of municipal enforcement officers to intervene in the case of tenant complaints, and boost financial penalties for landlords who break the rules.
The changes don’t fully address concerns about how quickly complaints are resolved, however, according to the Kinna-Aweya and Lakehead University legal clinics.
The agencies are also calling on the city to expand tenant protections to cover other vital utilities like power and water.
That first draft came under fire for what advocates said were unreasonable requirements that would make it challenging for tenants to file complaints.
An updated draft presented to the city council earlier this week addressed several of those concerns.
Tenant advocates said they welcome those changes, but are still hoping the city will approve more significant protections before council votes on approval on July 27.
Those protections are more important than ever, said Sally Colquhoun, coordinator of legal services with the Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic.
“It’s a big issue right