BYLAW: A city hall committee is set to consider a proposal for a new bylaw that would govern who has to shovel what
By KATE DUBINSKI, The London Free Press
If there’s ever been a time when snow removal has been on Londoners’ minds, this has been the year.
But some landlords are crying foul over suggestions they be made responsible for clearing snow from their London tenants’ walkways and driveways.
“What’s next? Are landlords going to be responsible for making sure their tenants eat their vegetables every day?” said Jane Schweitzer, a representative of the Ontario Landlord Association.
“It’s Canada. We all know we’re going to have to deal with ice and snow. I don’t think the city should be involved in these issues,” added her husband and fellow landlord, Mike Schweitzer. The couple are based in Brantford.
The Ontario Landlord Association represents landlords with properties that have 10 or fewer units.
The city’s built and natural environment committee will hear arguments Monday for a new property-standards bylaw to deal with snow removal in rental units.
“There’s no recourse for Londoners. Right now, you either kick up a fuss with the landlord or property-management company, or you go before the landlord and tenant board, which takes time and money,” said Tiffany Roschkow. She is proposing the city consider a new bylaw to make landlords responsible for shovelling or plowing walkways, driveways, ramps and parking spaces.
“It makes sense. You move into a rental property and you expect that kind of thing to be done for you.”
Roschkow lives in a three-storey walk-up in Wortley Village.
Several days before Snowmageddon, the building manager there died, leaving no one responsible for the snow clearing, Roschkow said. Piles of snow built up around cars and around the dumpster and recycling bins. Tenants began leaving their garbage bags in the hallways.
“For the garbage, I called the city and they came out right away because it was a property-standards issue but for the snow, we couldn’t do anything about it,” Roschkow said.
Someone eventually cleared a pathway to the front door about the width of a standard shovel. that didn’t help much when an elderly tenant out doing errands fell on the walkway, she noted.
“There was nothing being done about it, so I started nosing around and I realized that London doesn’t have a bylaw for rental units like Toronto does,” said Roschkow.
In London, landlords are responsible for keeping rental units in a good state of repair as required under the Residential Tenancies Act.
In Toronto, an additional property-standards bylaw states, “Steps, landings, walks, driveways, parking spaces, ramps and similar areas shall be cleared of snow and ice during and immediately following a snowfall to provide safe access and egress for persons and vehicles.”
The Ontario Landlord Association recommends leases include a section about who is responsible for snow clearing.
Ward 11 Coun. Denise Brown supports Roschkow’s proposal for a newer bylaw.
She has a visually impaired acquaintance who was stuck in his house after Snowmageddon in December and whose landlord told him to shovel his own driveway. “Eventually I had my son and husband do his driveway, but I can’t do that for the entire ward,” Brown said.
“I want staff to look at Toronto’s bylaw and what happens in other cities and to bring back recommendations so we can set something up here.”