BY: ROBYN SMITH
Vancouver— Globe and Mail Update
Published Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011 5:40PM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011 6:00PM EST
After a two-and-a-half year long battle, a tight-knit community of tenants in Vancouver’s West End will not be forced to leave their homes for renovations.
B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Branch ruled that the landlords of the 80-year-old Seafield apartment building acted “in bad faith” by attempting to evict tenants under the pretence of renovating.
The decision comes after a series of disputes between landlords Gordon Nelson Inc. and the tenants of 1436 Pendrell St.
After purchasing the building in 2008, the landlords served tenants with an eviction notice to leave their apartments for two months or face rent increases.
According to Brian Broster, who has lived in the Seafield for 17 years, the tenants protested the notice. The dispute was taken to the Residential Tenancy Branch, where the landlords applied for approval to hike rents up to 73 per cent. The tenancy branch approved a rent increase of up to 38 per cent, but the tenants appealed that decision in court. The landlords’ application to raise the rent was returned back to the tenancy branch for a rehearing, which was dismissed entirely in Oct. 2010.
Ten days after the dismissal, the landlords served the tenants with another eviction notice for renovation.
The Residential Tenancy Act permits landlords to evict tenants for renovations and to raise rents once the units come back on the market. Some landlords have used the pretence of renovations to turn out renters paying less than market rates, an act casually known as a “renoviction.” However, a dispute resolution officer with the Residential Tenancy Branch ruled the timing of the later eviction notice demonstrated the landlords’ “ulterior, primary motive of achieving a substantial rent increase,” and cancelled the eviction notices.
Mr. Broster called the decision a “victory” for renters.
“The process of collecting evidence against these landlords is onerous. It’s a full-time job, and everyone is this building has cohesively pulled together to fight every single broadside attack from these landlords,” he said.West End tenants win ‘renoviction’ case