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Rooming Houses in West-Central Ottawa Receive Failing Grade Again in 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

New report card applauds city’s commitment to review licensing by-law for rooming houses, but finds rooming houses often fail to meet minimum standards for safety, affordability and maintenance


Ottawa, December 4, 2017 – New data shows that 73% of Ottawa rooming house residents have between one and three concurrent mental health disorders. Additionally, 55% are between the ages of 50 to 60. This data comes in today’s release of the 2017 report card on rooming houses from two community health centres: Somerset West and Centertown.


The report card, Improving Health and Housing in Ottawa: An Update on Rooming Houses in West-Central Ottawa, is a follow-up to the 2016 report that found rooming houses in west-central Ottawa often fail to meet minimum standards for safety, affordability and maintenance.

Tenants reported experiencing rodent infestations, mold, exposed pipes and electrical, and no heating for long periods in the winter. 82% of tenants have experienced bed bugs. These findings highlight the critical need for improvement in rooming house living conditions.

Following last year’s report, the City of Ottawa’s Bylaw & Regulatory Services committed to a review of the Licensing By-Law, specifically related to rooming houses and private home conversions. A report with recommendations will be presented to the Community and Protective Services Committee and Council in early 2018.

Rooming houses play an important, but often overlooked role in providing affordable housing in our communities. Since many people cannot afford most options in the housing market due to the high cost, rooming houses meet the desperate need for low-income housing options for many who would otherwise live on the streets or in overburdened City shelters.

The new report card calls upon the City of Ottawa, landlords and the Government of Ontario to take immediate action to improve living conditions in rooming houses.

·       Landlords:

1.     Ensure property meets fire code and basic property standards

2.     Provide easily accessible landlord or property manager to monitor maintenance and property issues

·       City of Ottawa:

1.     Invest in a dedicated bylaw officer to ensure monitoring & enforcement of all property standards and fire code as required by annual licensing agreements

2.     Develop a publicly accessible complaint system that supports tenants to lodge a complaint, or by approved third parties on the tenant’s behalf if they do not have a phone, and get appropriate & timely response

3.     Provide resources to address pest & rodent infestations in rooming houses

·       Government of Ontario:

1.     Implement rent control for rooming houses

2.     Provide rent-supplement programs to close the gap between Ontario Works rates and the cost of rental housing