October 20th, 2014
Meena Wong will ban ‘renovictions’ as part of her strategy to make Vancouver more affordable. While her Duty on Vacant Properties will increase supply of rented housing and generate funds to build real affordable housing, we also need to keep rents down in existing housing supply. To do this COPE will stop landlords from circumventing rent increase regulations.
To get around legal limits on rent increases, some landlords kick out tenants for repairs - often minor repairs. Once the renovation is complete, landlords often increase the rent an ‘extraordinary’ amount.
COPE’s simple plan to ban renovictions
“We have a very simple plan to stop renovictions in their tracks,” said Meena Wong. “We’ll put a condition on renovation permits to guarantee that tenants can move back at the same rent they were paying before.”
On any renovation permits requiring that the unit be vacant, COPE will require that the landlord provide:
- Evidence that vacancy is required;
- Evidence that the renovations are necessary and not cosmetic;
- Agreement in writing that the existing tenant be given right of first refusal upon completion of renovations;
- Agreement with the tenant for alternative accommodation for the existing tenant for the duration of the renovations;
- Payment for all tenant moving and extra temporary accommodation expenses.
Removing the incentive for “cosmetic” renovictions
“Under the current system, a rent hike is like a prize a landlord gets for evicting a tenant,” said Meena Wong. “COPE will remove the incentive for landlords to try to evict tenants, especially for minor or cosmetic repairs.”
Currently, landlords don’t need to show evidence that a renovation requires the unit to be vacant - unless the tenant challenges the eviction notice in court. Under COPE’s plan, landlords will have to show evidence up front that vacancy is required for the renovation to proceed. This will remove the incentive to try to evict for cosmetic repairs.
Bringing down rents across the city
Average rents in the City of Vancouver increased 15% between 2008 and 2012 according to Metro Vancouver - greater than the rate of inflation. This was only possible because landlords circumvented rent increase regulations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this outside the city’s jurisdiction?
No. The city issues the renovation permits and has the authority to set guidelines for those permits. COPE will only issue renovation permits that legally bind landlords to return tenants to their home at the original rent. Vision Vancouver has created a series of environmental conditions on permits, but none to protect the tenant’s tenure security.
COPE will also advocate that the Provincial government amend the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) to explicitly state that after any renovations, tenants must be granted the right of first refusal at the previous rent. This will also help tenants in cities across BC.
Are renovictions legal?
No. The BC Supreme Court decision “Berry and Kloet v. British Columbia” stated that the purpose of the RTA is to ensure that if renovations can be completed without ending the tenancy, then that should be done (2007 BCSC 257).
If it’s so simple for the City to stop renovictions, why hasn’t Vision done it already?
Ask them. Vision’s Geoff Meggs told The Tyee that allowing tenants to return without an extraordinary rent increase would “unfairly cause landlords to lose money.”