Tenants complain more 'renovictions' underway in B.C.
Published Friday, September 10, 2010 6:11PM PDT
Tenants in Vancouver and New Westminster are complaining that they're being unfairly evicted so that landlords can raise their rents, and they're calling on the provincial government to do more to protect them.
Christine Brandt and her husband Mark Moore have received an eviction notice from the Seafield building on Pendrell Street in Vancouver's West End. The notice says that the couple is being evicted to make room for a new property manager, but Brandt says there's a vacant two-bedroom apartment in the building.
"I feel that this is a ruse to break our tenancy, to get us out so they can double the rent," she said. The family currently pays $1,400 per month for the two-bedroom suite.
"Our landlords have an ongoing campaign of trying to pluck us off, one by one."
The building is owned by Gordon Nelson Investments, and tenants say that since the company bought the building two years ago, it's tried various ways to evict tenants, including an attempt to raise the rent by 73 per cent.
That bid was turned down in court.
Representatives from Gordon Nelson refused to be interviewed, but issued a press release saying that they gave Brandt and her family ample notice, and will not be intimidated by what they say are "extortion tactics" for more compensation.
Brandt says she wants to see the province crack down on landlords carrying out so-called "renovictions" -- evicting tenants to make way for things like renovations in a bid to increase rents.
"At some point, I really feel that our province needs to say, with these types of landlords, ‘Enough is enough,'" she said.
Housing advocates say that B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act has a loophole that puts the most vulnerable tenants at risk.
"This legislation creates an incentive for landlords to allow suites to go into disrepair and then evict tenants and increase the rent. There is no accountability for the landlords to actually do the renovations," said Amanda Boggan of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
It's something that New Westminster resident Catherine Battersby says she's learning firsthand. She received an eviction notice from her property's landlord claiming that the suite is needed for other use.
But Battersby thinks she's being pushed out because she's asked for repairs.
"I am angry, but I'm not ready to pack my bags and move," she said.
Calls to Minister of Housing Rich Coleman were not returned on Friday
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Leah Hendry