Tenants Balk at ‘Enormous’ Rent Increase

Tenants of a West End apartment building are facing as much as 40 per cent rent increases, or $471 a month, after a ruling by the Residential Tenancy Office allowed their landlord to raise rents to that of comparable suites.

Advocates say renters all over B.C. should be wary of the decision at Seafield Apartments, because it means that traditional rent controls won’t stop landlords from raising rents as much as the highest competition.

“No other province allows this to happen,” said Christine Ackerman of RentersFightBack.com. “You can guarantee the landlords are talking to each other about how simple it is to get an enormous, exorbitant rent increase.”

But the landlord, Jason Gordon of Gordon Nelson Investments, said that he was just following market principles.

“All I can earn is what the market will pay me,” he said. “How can I be greedy? How can I charge more? The people in the West End determine what the rents are.”

The Residential Tenancy Act caps rent increases at about four per cent a year. Generally, the only time a landlord can raise rents beyond that is if a tenant leaves and the next tenant pays a higher price.

But a new clause in the Act, introduced in 2004, allows landlords to compare rents between similar suites.

In this case, the landlord compared the suites in Seafield Apartments to other suites, argued that the market price was much higher, and said it should be able to raise the rents. The Residential Tenancy Office agreed.

Advocates say that process undermines the four per cent a year rule, because when a nearby landlord raises the rents for a new tenant, all nearby suites could theoretically have their rents raised.

“Since when is 40 per cent okay? It’s not okay,” said Ackerman. “We’re talking $500 a month, people, no one can afford that.”

Renters told CTV News that they would seek a judicial review of the decision.

At a press conference, NDP candidate Spencer Herbert said that if the NDP was elected, the law would change.

“In economic tough times, we need to be doing more to protect renters and keep them in their homes, not less,” he said.

The Liberal candidate for Vancouver West End, Laura McDiarmid, did not return phone calls for comment.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Jon Woodward

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One Response to “Tenants Balk at ‘Enormous’ Rent Increase”

  1. Derek Richer Says:

    Well, it would appear that West End Liberal Candidate Laura McDiarmid is emulating Rich Coleman’s style for evading media questions: DO NOT RETURN PHONE CALLS.

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