Judge Overturns Rent Hikes at Seafield Apartments in West End

By Matthew Burrows

Georgia Straight

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has overturned rent increases of up to 38 percent for tenants at the 14-unit Seafield Apartments in Vancouver.

In her judgment, Justice Linda Loo also ordered Gordon Nelson Investments, which owns the heritage building at 1436 Pendrell Street in the West End, to return the additional rent collected since April of last year, when the hikes were imposed following a decision by a dispute-resolution officer at the Residential Tenancy Branch.

“This was a patently unreasonable error of law,” Loo wrote of the RTB decision in her judgment, which was posted on-line today (January 13).

The judge ordered that the matter be sent to another dispute-resolution officer.

“We’re back at square one, but it feels like a pretty good square to be at,” Seafield renter Melissa Mewdell told the Straight by phone today. “We were at square negative one before. This ruling is helpful, not just for us, but for other tenants. It goes a long way to explaining or clarifying the geographic rent increase law. That’s how I read it.”

Gordon Nelson Investments took over the building on July 31, 2008, and claimed the increases were justified based on what was being charged in rental apartments around the West End.

A dispute-resolution officer under the Residential Tenancy Act had issued a decision on April 2, 2009, permitting the landlord to impose rent increases of between 15 and 38 per cent on 10 units.

“This is good news for B.C. tenants,” Sharon Isaak, a West End renter and spokesperson for the group Renters at Risk told the Straight via cellphone today. “They’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

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