LandlordBC CEO David Hutniak, left, and Surrey Councillor Vera LeFranc at an Oct. 3 event at Surrey City Hall that officially launched LandlordBC’s translated registry. (Photo submitted)

B.C. landlord registry translated to Punjabi, Mandarin to encourage participation

LandlordBC says roughly 1,000 landlords have signed up, but that’s ‘nowhere near what we’d like it to be’

LandlordBC has translated its provincial registry into Punjabi and Mandarin, in an effort to encourage more landlords to sign up.

The group officially launched its “Tri-Lingual Landlord Registry” in Surrey on Oct. 3, after unveiling the English-based project last year, which is said to be the first in Canada.

The program’s online “e-learning tool” is now available in all three languages.

“It was a nice opportunity to make people aware of what we’re doing here,” said David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord BC, of the event held at Surrey City Hall. He noted that the expanded resource is particularly needed in Surrey, which has a large Punjabi community.

Since launching the registry in 2017, Hutniak said roughly 1,000 B.C. landlords have signed up. It’s hoped translation into new languages will help boost the count.

“It’s a positive result but obviously nowhere near what we’d like it to be,” he noted. “We started looking at, what communities do we need to better engage? What would that take? We realized two communities — the Punjabi-speaking community and the other is the Mandarin-speaking community. There are a lot of South Asian and Asian landlords, so we felt it was important to try and have a tool, to speak to them in their own language.

“Surrey and Richmond are the two communities we’ve had the least traction in, with this tool, at this point in time,” he elaborated. “And really, they’re the two we need the most. There’s a lot of secondary suites and not a lot of purpose-built rental there, or even on the horizon.”

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The goal of the overall registry, said Hutniak, is “to allow all landlords to gain good knowledge of the Residential Tenancy Act legislation, and really, at the end of the day, it’s about knowing rights and responsibilities as landlords.”

The registry was designed to “professionalize” the rental housing industry throughout the province and to provide landlords with education and resources, allowing them to manage their business in accordance with the Residential Tenancy Act, and other legislation that governs the rental housing industry, such as the Human Rights Code.

“It helps them mitigates their risks, but the registry also has renters at the front of the mind,” said Hutniak. “If you’re a renter and contemplating a basement suite in Surrey, you can go and enter the name of a prospective landlord and if they show up, it’s going to give you confidence that this person has knowledge some others may not.”

He said while a landlord being absent from the registry doesn’t make them a “bad landlord,” it’s his organization’s view that those who go through the program “demonstrate they’re more committee to the business, and more committed to ensuring they provide high-quality rental homes.”

“We want to be cautious here,” he added, “and not be too critical of landlords who don’t register, but we think it’s important they do.”

Hutniak said landlords can be a “challenging group to engage.”

“One of the challenges we always have is many of these people don’t realize they’re actually running a business,” he remarked. “As soon as you take one rent cheque, you’re running a business, taking on risks and you need to understand those risks in order to mitigate them.

“We look at it from a common-sense perspective,” Hutniak added. “It’s surprising that people decide to do this, and don’t understand even the basics, then wonder why they end up in front of a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator and lose.”

Hutniak thanked the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. for a $25,000 that helped translate the program into the two new languages.

The cost of the program is only $39 and takes roughly two hours to complete. Once a landlord has completed the program and has scored a minimum of 80 per cent on the final knowledge check, they are listed on the searchable Landlord Registry.

Explore the registry, or learn more, at landlordbc.ca/landlord-registry.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

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