Unhappy Renter Sets Record Straight

Mark Moore, a Seafield resident in Vancouver, wrote this letter in response to “Renters brace for reno, eviction” appearing in the Courier on November 7, 2008, to correct several errors in the story. The correction appeared in the Courier on Wednesday, November 19, 2008.

To the editor:

I am a tenant of Seafield Apartments, the building profiled in Sandra Thomas’ article “Renters brace for reno, eviction” (Nov. 7, 2008).

As tenants, we thank the Courier for running a story on this important issue that has affected and will continue to affect thousands of renters in Vancouver and elsewhere in B.C. However, there are a few misleading statements in the article.

First, the article states: “Should a landlord decide to renovate a suite, he or she is legally allowed to evict the tenant and increase the rent beyond the four per cent.” This refers to Section 49(6)(b) of the Residential Tenancy Act, amended in 2004 by the current provincial government, which now reads: “A landlord may end a tenancy in respect of a rental unit if the landlord has all the necessary permits and approvals required by law, and intends in good faith, to do any of the following: …renovate or repair the rental unit in a manner that requires the rental unit to be vacant.”

The key phrase here is the last one. Landlords cannot evict for just any renovations, they must argue (if the evictions are disputed, which they rarely are) that the renovations require an end to tenancy. This was clarified in a landmark B.C. Supreme Court case, Berry and Kloet v. British Columbia. A need to have the suite empty for a brief period of time, if the tenant is willing to accommodate this, is not a reason to end a tenancy.

The article also says that: “Landlords can also simply ask tenants to pay more rent and give another reason for the renter to leave if the tenant balks at the increase.”

Under the law, the landlord may ask the tenant to voluntarily agree to a rent increase, but refusal by the tenant does not give the landlord any right to evict.

Finally, neither Heather Pawsey nor any other tenant has ever said that we welcome the renovations (the building has been well maintained by previous owners and is not in need of repairs).

What Ms. Pawsey said was that we have repeatedly offered to work with the landlords to accommodate their renovation plans without ending our tenancies.

So far they have refused our offers.

Mark A. Moore,

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