THINK YOU ARE SAFE FROM MASSIVE RENT INCREASES OR EVICTIONS? -NOT WITH BC’S CURRENT RENTAL LAWS
Over the last few years, many renters have been driven from their homes because property owners across the Lower Mainland aggressively use BC tenancy laws in a variety of ways to get around yearly rent increase controls. The tight rental market combined with the changes that the BC Liberals made to the Residential Tenancy Act in 2004 have significantly eroded tenants’ rights and obliterated the concept of security of tenure.
To date, the BC Liberals and the Housing Minister ignore the widespread epidemic and refuse to listen to BC Renters’ cries for help.
Renters need protection NOW to rebalance the Residential Tenancy Act and protect them from investors speculatively buying buildings and driving up rents to unprecedented levels.
You are at risk of losing your home at any time in the following ways:
MASS EVICTIONS FOR RENOVATIONS:
Landlords buy buildings and start evicting tenants’ floor-by-floor or building-by-building for cosmetic renovations or normal maintenance. They then re-rent these spruced up units a month later, for up to 120% of the old rents. The BC courts have recently called the practice a “loophole” to end tenancies and circumvent the intent of rental legislation (section 49 (6)(b) of the Residential Tenancy Act). Despite the 2007 Amacon and Hollyburn rulings, tenants are still being evicted and must fight the same battle over and over again at the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) even after BC’s highest court has spoken out against this practice.
• The solution: IMPLIMENT RIGHTS OF FIRST REFUSAL LEGISTLATION (Private Members Bill M205)
In Ontario legislation was implemented in 2007 to solve their eviction crisis. Right of first refusal allows landlords to do legitimate upgrades and gives evicted tenants the option of returning to their units after the renovations are completed at their original rental agreement and rate. If tenants opt not to return, they get 3 months compensation (BC gives only 1 month) and 120 days to move out (BC gives only 60 days). The right of first refusal is the only way to balance the rights of both renters and property owners in BC in an increasingly tight rental market.
GEOGRAPHIC RENT INCREASE APPLICATIONS:
Landlords can apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to bring below market rental units up to existing new rents in a geographic area. It means that tenants with long-term leases can have their rents increased dramatically above the yearly allowed amount at any time. This essentially eliminates rent control and makes an existing rent in a tenancy contract meaningless. As rents get pushed up by in neighbourhoods, renters will get pushed out of their homes because of huge, unexpected rent increases.
Could you afford a rent increase that is HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS/MONTH?
After much public outcry in 2004, the BC Liberals dropped their proposed retroactive rent increase clause, but slipped this clause into the RTA instead.
• The solution: REMOVE SECTION 23(1)(a) OF THE RTA REGULATIONS
VOLUNTARY RENT AGREEMENTS
Landlords send letters to tenants asking them to agree to higher rent increases, and threaten pending evictions or massive rent increase applications if they refuse to sign the “deal”. Many tenants unknowingly sign their rents away in fear.
• The solution: REMOVE SECTION 43(1)(c) OF THE RESIDENTIAL TENANCY ACT
FIXED TERM LEASES
Using tenancy forms from the Residential Tenancy Branch, landlords are now asking tenants to sign time-limited leases in this tight rental market. This is especially concerning before the Olympics. When the lease is up, the tenancy is over and does not revert to a month-to-month lease that is subject to the yearly allowable rent increase. The tenant must either move out on the date specified, or negotiate a new lease with an unrestricted rent increase.
• The solution: REMOVE FIXED TERM LEASES, UNLESS BY APPLICATION.