Massive Rent Hikes Feared: Spencer Herbert

spencer herbert mla v2 Massive Rent Hikes Feared: Spencer HerbertBy John Colebourn

The Province

Win by West End landlord sparks concerns

A decision by the Residential Tenancy Branch allowing rent hikes of 40 per cent in a West End Vancouver apartment is like Christmas for landlords, a tenants’ advocate said Thursday.

“It’s Christmas everyday for landlords now,” said Stephen Hammond, an organizer with

“It’s just a matter of time before every B.C. landlord applies for excessive rent increases.”

Tenants and housing advocates have charged that property owners are abusing the Residential Tenancy Act, which allows landlords to evict tenants when major renovations require a vacant space.

Residents at the Seafield Apartments at 1436 Pendrell Street have been notified that the tenancy branch ruled in favour of the landlord, paving the way for rent increases for nine of 14 units of between 17 and 38 per cent.

Christine Ackermann, who is working with Hammond, said rent hikes like the ones at the Seafield have deep ramifications.

“The people most affected are the most vulnerable; seniors and young adults,” Ackermann said.

“Parents, wake up, your kids will never be able to afford the rents out there.”

MLA Spencer Herbert, the West End’s NDP candidate in the upcoming provincial election, said the tenancy act is not helping renters.

And he said in the case of the Seafield, the rent hikes were based on other apartment rents, where there are amenities such as hot tubs and pools and oceanside views.

“This is a heritage building that hasn’t been upgraded in many years,” he said of the Seafield.

Some residents can expect their rent to go up more than $400 from the $1,325 they now pay.

Gordon Nelson Investments, which owns the building, filed a request for rent increases to the province’s residential tenancy office, a representative of the Ministry of Housing and Social Development said in an e-mailed statement.

In such cases, the onus is on the landlord to demonstrate that the increase is representative of rental rates for comparable units in the area, the ministry statement said.

When an increase is approved, tenants have three months’ notice and the right to dispute the increase with the branch, the statement said.

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