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Landlords Blast North Cowichan Pot Bylaw


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Landowners warn North Cowichan's bylaw mandating property inspections every two months is expensive and ineffective.

Just over a month after the bylaw took effect, Rental Owners and Managers Association of British Columbia director Arthur Allan told council the new bylaw, meant to crack down on marijuana grow operations, inconveniences the wrong people.

"You are going to be annoying people who are not the problem," Allan says.

Before the new bylaw, Allan, who is also the president of Rowan Property Management Ltd., would inspect new tenants within the first three months of moving in and every six months thereafter.

He says by making potential tenants aware of the system, drug dealers were weeded out before they signed on the dotted line. Allan added the Residential Tenancy Act already allows owners to make monthly inspections if warranted.

"If I start beating on the doors every two months, we will start losing the good will of our tenants," he says.

Allan says abiding by the new law is taking money from landowners' pockets. He estimates the bylaw will result in a 20 per cent increase in owners' operating costs. The cost of an inspection is approximately $50 to $100. Allan expects these costs will be dumped on tenants, representing an eight per cent rent hike for a $600 unit.

"What isn't anticipated in the bylaw is the time it takes to arrange inspections," Allan says.

He says tenants must agree to an inspector visiting the property. A time and date must be arranged. If the tenant refuses, the owner must get a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) arbitrator to issue an inspection order, which costs the owner $50.

"This takes a lot of time preparing and delivering documents to the RTB and the tenant," Allan says.

More importantly, says Allan, if an owner is bylaw-compliant and does not find any signs of a grow-op and a week later the property burns down, the owner is subject to all the fees, service costs and penalties enshrined in the bylaw.

If the owner suspects something suspicious and reports it, service costs are waived. He noted North Cowichan landowners would be on the hook regardless of whether they adhered to the bylaw or not.

"Owners, whether they inspect or not, will be fined or charged with financial penalties greater than the courts typically determine for the operator of the grow operation," Allan says.

He says landowners are sympathetic to the municipality's desire to rid the community of the illegal drug trade and admits grow operations are a big nuisance for property owners.

"I would like to find a way to solve the problem," Allan says.

Mayor Jon Lefebure says with the exception of councillor Dave Haywood and George Seymour, council supported the bylaw. However, he noted Arthur Allan raised some legitimate questions.

"We do have the ability to amend [the bylaw] or alter it," Lefebure says.

"The last thing I ever want is to think that we are perfect and because we voted for something, that made it right. We have to be listening and we have to be prepared to change things if we think we made a mistake or we could improve something."

He will be in discussions with North Cowichan director of administration Mark Ruttan. Lefebure says any amendments to the bylaw would occur next year.

Councillor Glen Ridgway, who worked in conjunction with police to establish the two month time frame based on marijuana growth cycles, challenged Allan to come up with a better solution.

Newshawk: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: ladysmithchronicle.com (Canada)
Author: Rebecca Aldous
Copyright: 2007 Ladysmith Chronicle
Website: Ladysmith Chronicle
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