FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Gordon Nelson Abandon Appeal of Decision Denying them a 38% Rent Increase
Residents of the Seafield Apartments learned yesterday that landlords Gordon Nelson Investments dropped their appeal of Madam Justice Loo’s Supreme Court decision denying them a 38% rent increase.
This is a big win for all renters in Vancouver and BC at large as the decision, which now goes unchallenged, helps to clarify the law around geographic area rent increases.
The decision shows that landlords aren’t entitled to an additional rent increase simply because a couple of tenants pay higher rents in a similar unit; Dispute Resolution Officers must look at all the evidence about the whole market for similar units in the same area, not just the evidence dealing with a few higher rents.
Justice Loo also expressed doubt that the rent increase legislation is meant to let a landlord use the higher rents it is getting for newly rented units to bootstrap up the rent in other units in the same building.
While this is a major win for Seafield tenants too, the case is still supposed to be reheard at the Residential Tenancy Office (RTO), which adjudicates disputes between landlords and tenants under the Province’s Residential Tenancy Act. Residents have not been informed of any hearing date.
Jason Gordon and Chris Nelson of Gordon Nelson Investments filed an application for a rent increase at the Seafield of up to 73% in January 2009.
The pair made their application under the additional rent increase section of the residential tenancy act. This section allows landlords to receive a higher than normal annual rent increase if they can show that residents in their building pay significantly lower rents than those in similar buildings in the same geographical area. (The normal increase for 2009 was 3.7%.)
Despite the breadth and quality of the tenants’ evidence, Dispute Resolution Officer K. Miller of the RTO did not consider the tenants evidence and granted Gordon Nelson Investments a 38% rent increase in April 2009.
Seafield residents applied for a Judicial Review of the 38% rent increase in August 2009, and the Supreme Court of British Columbia set aside the RTO’s decision because it was found to be “patently unreasonable” in January 2010.
Residents at the 14-unit apartment building in Vancouver’s West End have been pressured by Gordon Nelson Investments since the former Bodog executives purchased the building in the summer of 2008.
All original tenants in the building are still living in their apartments, despite more than a year and a half of threats to their ongoing tenancies.