Landlords under fire for ‘reno-victions’

by Jennifer Paterson24 Mar 2015
The mayor of one of Canada's largest cities wants his province to tackle so-called “reno-victions," although landlord advocates say those evictions are all about protecting renter safety.

“Like the mayor, we are concerned about the few ‘marginal’ landlords employing ‘reno-viction’ tactics,” said David Hutniak, the CEO of LandlordBC. 

“At the same time, we need a fair and balanced approach to provide responsible landlords the necessary structure to address tenant dislocation when they are doing upgrades of aging rental stock.

“These upgrades are essential if we are going to be in a position to continue to deliver safe, sustainable, rental housing.”

In British Columbia, there has been a rise in ‘reno-victions,’ a move where renters in older properties are asked to leave so that landlords can renovate ageing buildings.

Vancouver's mayor says that this practice doesn’t just temporarily displace tenants; the rents increase post-renovation so many are unable to afford to move back.

Hutniak says that tenant dislocation is an unfortunate reality when a building is undergoing a complete renovation, but that responsible landlords are not insensitive to this challenge.

“There is a cost involved to address tenant dislocation and, while we support the mayor’s concern, we feel that the City needs to be sensitive to these costs too when considering the approval of building permits for renovations,” he adds.

“The City cannot simply look at the construction costs in isolation because a landlord doesn’t have that luxury when considering a renovation.”

From the perspective of Vancouver’s rental industry, ending tenancies to invest in purpose-built rental units presents a huge challenge for landlords, continues Hutniak.

“While the [Rental Tenancy Act] technically allows this, the courts and, in turn, the Residential Tenancy Branch now say that owners are acting in bad faith if they wish to invest in our properties. 

“We have supported in the past and continue to support trading more compensation to tenants, more notice time, and the right of first refusal to return to the renovated building for current tenants in exchange for clear language that allows ending tenancies for permanent renovations.

“We want to ensure that tenants are treated professionally and appropriately. At the same time, there needs to be a clear, transparent and, balanced approach to this issue.”


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