Pubdate: Wed, 27 Jul 2005
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Duncan News Leader
Author: Angie Poss
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


When people come in to Rowan Property Management to find a place to
live, they don't always come with the best of intentions.

Sometimes they lie. They make up past addresses. They drive posh,
expensive cars while claiming to be unemployed.

It's up to the Duncan-based company to weed through the applications
and find someone who will pay the rent on time and generally be a good

As with most property management companies, the precaution of a
lengthy application process gives some protection but like other
landlords, the company faces the risk of renting to someone with crime
on their mind.

There, in the past, has been the occasional (marijuana) grow operation
but we do the correct screening of tenants before so we don't tend to
have problems," said Rowan's Margaret Wall.

But landlords who are eager to fill a vacancy without losing a month's
rent may jump into things more quickly, she said, and that's where
problems can arise.

North Cowichan began work in April on a bylaw that would require
landlords to make semi-annual inspections of their rental properties.
It is aimed at reducing the number of drug production facilities at
rental properties - everything from marijuana grow ops to highly toxic
crystal meth labs.

After a grow op is busted, landlords commonly say they just weren't
aware of what was happening on their land, said bylaw enforcement
officer Rob Clark.

The draft version of the bylaw also tentatively requires: professional
cleaning of carpets, walls and air ducts in homes where grow ops were
discovered; new building and occupancy permits if structural changes
were made; decontamination of pesticides and insecticides used in

While it is aimed at grow ops, the bylaw would cover any building
illegally producing drugs.

Now the municipality is retooling the soon-to-be-introduced bylaw to
include fines for tenants who produce drugs on rental properties and a
break in fines levied under the rule for those who make the required

Rowan currently does an inspection three months after a tenant moves
in. If everything looks normal they do monthly drive-by inspections
and interior inspections every six months.

It would tax our resources. It would cost us a lot of money," said
Wall of having to inspect their estimated 400 tenants' homes every two
to three months.

She would like to see flexibility in the inspection schedule for
long-term tenants and those who have proved to be responsible. That
would relieve some of the financial stress of the inspections and
spare good tenants from what is often seen as an invasion of privacy,
said Wall.

That's the balance the municipality will strive to reach, said Clark.

You want the bylaw to be something that is not going to be too
intrusive on property owners but you want it to work," he said.

Along with the goal of reducing grow ops on rental properties, the
bylaw sets out clear steps that homeowners must take before a former
grow op can be rented out again. Those steps are designed to ensure
the house is safe and healthy, said Walker.

I think people can unknowingly rent an apartment or house and not know
what exactly was there before," said Walker.

Feedback on the proposed rules is being sought from landlords and
property management companies. The Community Policing Office has a
free program to help landlords ensure grow ops are not happening on
their property.

North Cowichan had hoped to vote on the bylaw his summer but a fall
vote will still allow it to be in place for Jan. 1, 2006.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin