Vancouver Mayor Rallies with Alleged Renoviction Victims

CTV.ca

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is calling on the provincial government to close a loophole that allows landlords to evict tenants, perform minor repairs and then bump up the rent in their suites.

Robertson spoke at a rally of frustrated renters in the West End on Sunday, saying the city is powerless to protect them from so-called “renovictions.”

“We’re not able to step in and protect the residents in the way we wish we could without flouting the laws,” he said.

“The province needs to close the loopholes … that endanger renters in cities like Vancouver.”

Robertson and West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, who also attended the rally, say the Residential Tenancy Act can be amended to prevent owners from evicting tenants over minor renovations.

“The Residential Tenancy Act should be about balancing the rights of landlords and tenants. Right now it’s broken, it’s not balanced,” Herbert said. “It’s up to Rich Coleman and it’s up to the Liberal government to act.”

Many at the rally, including an 84-year-old cancer sufferer and a pregnant woman, are evicted residents of Seafield Apartments (1436 Pendrell Street). Building owner Gordon Nelson Inc. has told them to vacate by Feb. 1, 2011 to make way for what it describes as substantial, necessary work in the 75-year-old building.

Jason Gordon told CTV News that kitchens and electrical systems both need major overhauls and it wouldn’t be safe to let residents stay.

But the tenants aren’t buying it. They say they’re being forced out over minor upgrades.

“Make no mistake, the only thing here that needs renovation is the legislation,” said Ross Waring, who has lived at the building for 17 years. “We’ve scrutinized their building permits. The intended renovations certainly do not require vacant suites.”

Gordon Nelson Inc. says it’s offered to pay residents to move to properties they’ve already renovated, but at higher rents than they’re paying now.

But tenants — who recently won a battle over a proposed rent hike that would have increased payments by up to 73 per cent — say they’d rather keep fighting.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Penny Daflos

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