British Columbia

Musqueam reserve residents win court challenge over proposed 800% rent increase

A judge has accepted a court challenge against the Musqueam band over a proposed 800 per cent rent increase.

In 2015, the Musqueam Band issued a notice to increase leaseholder rents by an average of $80K

The new rental rates will now remain at $25,000 a year until 2035. (CBC)

Dozens of residents leasing property on the Musqueam reserve in southwest Vancouver have won a longstanding dispute about what is considered fair rent.

A judge has accepted their challenge of a Musqueam Band proposal to increase rents by an average of $80,000 a year or about 800 per cent.

The band issued the notice of a rent increase in 2015, prompting 69 families to take their case to the Federal Court of Canada.

The leaseholders own the actual houses on the properties and pay the Musqueam band to lease the land. 

Randy Hordo, who represented the families, said the outcome is a "tremendous relief."

"What was at risk was having to shut the doors to their homes and move all their possessions and their families out. So, it was tremendous pressure."

The judge ruled that the appraiser for the leaseholders provided a detailed analysis of the local real estate market, while the appraiser for the band provided questionable evidence and tried to make the case for an even bigger average rent increase of $142,000 a year.

The dispute originated in 1965, when residents were able to lease Musqueam land for the bargain basement price of just $400 a year.

The first rent review came in 1995, when leaseholders were required to start paying $10,000 a year.

The new rental rates will now remain at $25,000 a year until 2035.

Musqueam leaders have 30 days to appeal. They could not be reached for comment.

With files from Tanya Fletcher