Vancouver Rent Dispute Ends in Split Decision by Arbitrator

CBC News

The Residential Tenancy Branch has handed down a split decision in a dispute between a group of tenants in the west end of Vancouver and their landlord.

The owners of the Seafield Apartments had applied to raise the rents in the building by as much as 73 per cent, well above the four per cent allowed under provincial law, based on a formula of the rate of inflation plus two per cent. The tenants fought the increase, telling a dispute resolution officer with the residential tenancy branch the proposed rent increases were exorbitant.

The company, Gordon Nelson Investments, argued a clause in the Residential Tenancy Act permits landlords to increase rents beyond the allowable limit if they can prove their suites are renting for significantly less than what similar suites in the same area are renting for.

In the case of Seafield Apartments, a large, two-bedroom heritage unit was renting for around $1,400 per month.

In a decision released earlier this month, the officer ruled some of building’s rents were low and allowed an increase of about $500 for two-bedroom units by August 2010.

But the decision didn’t go entirely against the tenants. Of the 13 units in question, four were exempt from the increases.

Christine Ackermann, a member of the tenants group Renters Fight Back, said the increases are unaffordable.

“Since when is a 40 per cent rent increase OK? That is not OK. We are talking a $500 per month rent increase. Nobody can afford that,” Ackermann said Thursday morning.

Ackermann said the tenants are considering asking for a review of the decision.

Nobody from Gordon Nelson Investments was available for an interview with CBC News.

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