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Landlord group to appeal court decision over residential rental bylaw

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A group of landlords contesting the city’s new residential rental licensing bylaw is appealing a recent court decision.

A judge tossed their case last month, but the landlords feel they have a case for the decision to be overturned, saying the judge made errors in law.

“This bylaw is poorly thought out. It's poorly implemented, and it's illegal in our opinion,” said Borys Sozanski, who heads up the group Windsor Housing Providers. “That's why we're challenging and that's why we're appealing it because we believe that we have grounds for a solid appeal of this case.”

Sozanski, a Windsor property owner, says the licensing bylaw that’s currently in the midst of a two-year pilot phase is redundant and costly.

“This is not reasonable and the fees will never go down,” he said. “Bureaucracies never become more efficient. They get more bloated, they get out of control. And that's exactly what's going to happen here.”

The licence fee when applying is $466 dollars. Annual Renewals cost about half that.

But Sozanski argues the various inspections run that tab above $1,000 per unit.

“That's outrageous. A lot of these small operators and small mom and pop owners of properties are already not making ends meet,” said Sozanski.

The intent of the bylaw is to bring rental units in wards 1 and 2 in compliance with building and fire code.

“It's extremely disappointing to learn that there's an intent to appeal,” said Ward 2 Councillor Fabio Costante.

He points to early data from the pilot program, which shows code compliance from early registrants is below 40 per cent.

Costante is concerned the repeated litigation is affecting the city’s efforts to run a successful pilot.

“The litigation has cast a large shadow over this pilot project,” Costante said.

The councillor, who was instrumental in the creation of the bylaw took to Facebook Tuesday, calling the appeal a “stall tactic to avoid the RRL pilot project altogether.”

“It does beg the question of is there more that's being protected here, not just the claim that these fees are too high per year,” Costante said, adding he will be asking council to recover all costs associated with litigation so taxpayers aren’t stuck with the tab.

Sozanski believes the landlords will prevail and is trying to keep the pilot program from rolling out city-wide, which he says will raise everyone’s rents even higher.

“These costs of licensing will get passed onto the tenants and that's very unfortunate, because tenants are struggling to make ends meet as it is,” Sozanski said.

The appeal will be filed within a few weeks.

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