Other features of the charming two-bedroom suite include original hardwood floors, lead glass windows off the kitchen and high ceilings.
But, Warring explains, that charm is a trade-off for living in a 1931 three-storey walk-up with a tiny galley kitchen with minimal counter space, no balcony and heat provided by radiators, which on this sunny February day give the suite a tropical feel, even with the window open.
Warring and Broster believe it’s that mix of vintage detail and lack of amenities that makes the $1,374 monthly rent they pay for their 1,250-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment right on the money. But that’s not how the new owners of the Seafield Apartments at 1436 Pendrell St. see it.
In January, Broster and Warring, along with the other tenants of the building, received notices from Gordon Nelson Investments stating the company has applied to the provincial government’s Residential Tenancy Branch for rent increases of up to 73 per cent. That would see the monthly rent on Broster and Warring’s apartment rise to $2,255.
Gordon Nelson Investments is owned by local businessmen and brothers-in-law Jason Gordon and Chris Nelson. The tenants claim the application, based on what’s known as “geographic profiling” is outrageous, but Chris Nelson argues the increase is in keeping with what’s being charged for similar apartments in what he calls one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in North America.
The landlords and tenants will fight it out March 11 during arbitration through the Residential Tenancy Office. Though not legally binding, the outcome of the ruling, which could take up to 30 days to decide, is expected to be precedent setting.
The tenants of the Seafield view the application as yet another ploy to drive them out of the building, which would give Gordon and Nelson carte blanche to charge new renters what they want for rent.
But the tenants have drawn a line in the sand and say they’re not going to be driven out of their homes by what they call unscrupulous and corrupt landlords.