British Columbia

Vancouver voting on tougher 'renoviction' protection for tenants

Vancouver city council is voting today on a staff report with recommendations on how to better protect tenants from ‘renovictions’.

Much of Vancouver's rental stock is more than 30 years old and will require upgrades soon

Much of Vancouver's rental stock was built during the 1950s and 60s and those buildings will require upgrades soon, according to Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Vancouver city council is voting today on a staff report with recommendations on how to better protect tenants from 'renovictions'.

Councillors are hoping the recommendations will better protect renters from a looming renovation boom.

"The issue has emerged because a lot of the stock is getting older … needs upgrading. That's the reason for the push at this time," said Coun. Tim Stevenson.

The city says more than half of Vancouverites live in rental housing, but more than 81 per cent of the existing stock is more than 36-years-old and will require upgrades soon.

Existing city Rate of Change Guidelines require developers to have tenant relocation plans during redevelopments when existing tenants are displaced

The guidelines include "a minimum of two months free rent, reimbursement of receipted moving expenses, assistance with finding alternate accommodations, and right of first refusal back into the new building," according to the report.

The new report makes several recommendations on tenant policy changes:  

  • An increase in tenant compensation from two months to six months of free rent for tenancies over 20 years.
  • Up to $1,000 compensation for moving costs for tenants.
  • Additional support for vulnerable tenants.
  • Developers must give tenants who request assistance at least three options for alternative accommodation, at no more than the CMHC average rent for the area.

Changes in rental stock

In 2008 and 2009, very few new rental units were built in the city, but Stevenson says that's changing, noting more than 1,000 new rental units are being built in Vancouver this year.

The report shows more than 1,800 units were renovated in the last six years, and notes that pace won't stop anytime soon.

But some analysts say Vancouver's competitive housing market continues to put pressure on renters despite the increase in rental stock.

Meanwhile the Carnegie Community Action Project says the recommendations in the report don't go far enough.

"The proposed guidelines will at best, soften the blow of eviction for a small number of tenants. The new reforms only apply when a  development permit has been approved and as such, exclude the large number of tenants that are illegally evicted before this stage," the group said in a statement.

Stevenson acknowledges more work needs to be done, but points to the province to step up and doing their part.

"We're very keen that the province have a look at all of these issues," he said, adding that the biggest changes would have to come from the province with the Residential Tenancy Act.

"This is a big start. This will give the most protection of any municipality in B.C. for tenants. Can we go further, can we get the province involved? Hopefully."

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Vancouver wants to reduce 'renovictions' .


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