Landlords Manipulate Loophole to Increase Rents: Robertson

KRISTEN THOMPSON, MÉTRO
November 09, 2008 06:17
While many Vancouverites watch Dec. 1 draw near with thoughts of the approaching holidays, 24 tenants of Seafield apartment are bracing for eviction notices that day.
Yesterday, they gathered on the steps of their West End heritage building, joined by Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson, demanding the right to stay in their home when renovations start on Feb. 1, and to be allowed to return without the proposed subsequent rent increase.
Resident Christine Brandt said when Chris Nelson and Jason Gordon bought the building in July, they were told to expect eviction notices in December, followed by cosmetic renovations and rent increases of 80 to 100 per cent.
“Many of us cannot afford that,” she said, adding that some tenants have lived in the building for nearly 50 years.
One couple is expecting their first baby on the day of the possible eviction.
“We’re very much an extended family. It’s way more than just knocking on the door for an egg or cup of sugar … We love each other, and we don’t want that to end,” she said breaking down in tears. “And it’s going to be over our dead bodies that we allow this to happen.”
While she spoke her neighbours stood behind her, applauding or putting their arms around her when she was overwhelmed with emotion.
Robertson said many Vancouverites are in similar situations because of a loophole in the Residential Tenancy Act.
“(The Act) should strike a balance between protecting renters and serving the interests of the landlords,” he said.
“Unfortunately the balance has been tipped … and we now have landlords manipulating these loopholes to drive renters out on the premise of renovation and jacking up rents after the fact.”
He said the loopholes need to be closed and, in the meantime, the city needs to protect renters.
Robertson said permit applications should be scrutinized to determine whether renovations are necessary to keep a building up to standard or merely to justify a rent increase.
“We have not seen that kind of advocacy at City Hall,” he said.
Messages left for Chris Nelson and Jason Gordon were not returned by press time.

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