New bylaw is adequate step in right direction

After the passage of a new housing bylaw by the City of Waterloo on May 9, it has become apparent that city councillors are attempting to take concrete steps toward solving longstanding issues with rental homes in Waterloo.

In the long run, the benefits for student safety and security are numerous.

Primarily, landlords will now have to purchase licences and display them prominently on their properties. Cracking down on absentee landlords by holding them more accountable for their rentals is necessary and an important first step. For council to acknowledge the sub-par, sometimes frightening, conditions of student rentals is refreshing.

As well, safety has been a genuine concern for students in some rental homes. Council has also included provisions on this, especially with fire safety.

It is also true that this bylaw potentially brings immediate challenges for students. With new restrictions on how many bedrooms a rental house can have, students may face increased rent costs. Landlords may also pass off the costs of licences to their tenants.

The fact remains, however, that rental housing has been a major issue and common concern for students. Council is to be praised for recognizing the need to reform this area of municipal law even if the bylaw is not altogether perfect.
In the coming years, council and city staff should work diligently to ensure these changes are being fully adopted by landlords and be more welcoming to prospective development in student areas in order for the bylaw to reach its full potential.

—The Cord Editorial Board

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