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B.C. advocates call for heat limit regulations in rental housing

Advocates are calling for more regulation around maximum temperatures in rental housing units.

Some municipalities in B.C. have mandated minimum temperatures in rental homes but there are no existing rules for maximum heat levels.

Following the heat dome in 2021, when more than 600 people died, extreme heat events have become a health issue as well as a housing one.

Emily Rogers, the director of operations with Together Against Poverty, said it is time to look at how hot it has to be before a landlord must install something to keep the heat down.

“The burden of action should be on the landlord in terms of equal temperatures,” she said, adding that could mean providing an air conditioner or fans.

“At the end of the day, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide a home that ‘s safe — and that includes extreme heat.”

B.C.’s Minister of Housing, Ravi Kahlon, told Global News he has asked staff to look into options about this topic that would be beneficial to both a tenant and the landlord.

“We want to find a balance. We know it’s hot, we know it’s going to be that way in the future, climate change is not going away — we need to find ways to help people stay cool but we need to find that balance that gets the achievements of the results we want but ensures at the same time that people can continue to have those affordable units that are so important,” he said.

Kahlon added that this fall the province is going to be updating the building code for all new housing, which includes a higher level of code for cooling.

The government rolled out a program at the end of June to provide air conditioners to those most at risk.

As of last Friday, only about 360 of its free portable air conditioners for the vulnerable have been installed.

BC Hydro confirmed the number, adding that to date, it has received some 3,000 applications for the units through its Energy Conservation Assistance Program collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

Rogers said she would like to see changes made by the province sooner, rather than later.

“This is really about safety and this is a safety issue that needs to be addressed,” she said.

“We’re recognizing that this is something that is going to happen year after year. It’s our new normal, unfortunately, and it’s something we’re going to need to figure out how to address.”

Source: Global News