New Democrats Introduce Bill to Protect Families in Rental Housing

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VICTORIA— New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert is taking action to protect families who live in rental housing by introducing legislation to stop landlords from using phony renovations as a way to evict tenants and raise rents.

“The Residential Tenancy Amendment Act is needed to protect families who rent from unscrupulous landlords who are exploiting loopholes in our current laws to evict renters on false pretences for the sole purpose of jacking up rents way above the legal maximum,” said Chandra Herbert. “My bill will protect families by stopping the few landlords who use phony renovations as an excuse to evict long-term renters, while still allowing the majority of landlords to do their renovations when suites change hands, as is common practice.”

The bill would follow legislation brought into Ontario by their Liberal government and make it so that any tenant evicted for renovations would have the right to return to the same unit without a rent increase above the maximum yearly amount. It would also protect renters by removing the geographic area increase clause which allows landlords to apply for large rent increases over and above the yearly rent increase.

“B.C. renters desperately need stronger protection from unfair evictions by investment owners circumventing tenancy laws to raise rents more than the allowable amount,” said Sharon Isaak, with Renters at Risk. “Landlords are allowed to raise rents two per cent plus inflation, so over the last four years, rents have gone up about 14 per cent. Yet for some corporations, this is not enough of a profit. They want more, and are willing to displace entire buildings of seniors and families from their communities, with no regard for how eviction notices change people's lives.”

Melissa Mewdell is a renter who has experienced the threat of renoviction first-hand as a renter at Seafield apartments.

“My neighbours and I were subjected to two and a half years of non-stop harassment from our previous landlords – everything from a 73 per cent area rent increase to mass renoviction to personal evictions designed to intimidate us out of speaking to the media,” said Mewdell. “The law as it stands now is ripe for abuse, and needs to be changed to actually protect renters.”

Chandra Herbert is confident his bill will give families in rental housing more stability and peace-of-mind by evening the playing field between renters and landlords.

“People who rent their homes deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not as cash-cows to be milked by property investment companies,” said Chandra Herbert. “My bill is fair and protects families, and if Christy Clark is serious about her commitment to families, she will work with New Democrats to get it passed.”

Adrian Dix and the B.C. New Democrats are committed to making life better and more affordable for families by investing in healthcare, education, and other vital services.