West End tenants say they face eviction because of legal 'loophole'
Landlord plans to use renovations to clear renters out of units, residents say
Tenants in an apartment building in Vancouver's West End say they may be kicked out of their apartments because of an apparent "loophole" in the province's Residential Tenancy Act.
Gordon Nelson Investments Inc. bought Seafield Apartments at 1436 Pendrell Street in July, and tenants say they have since been told that the company plans to renovate the 77-year-old building.
Section 49 (6) of the Residential Tenancy Act states that a landlord can end a tenancy if he or she has "all the necessary permits and approvals required by law, and intends in good faith, to … renovate or repair the rental unit in a manner that requires the rental unit to be vacant."
"I thought I'd be spending the rest of my days here," said Rollie McFall, 92, who has lived in Seafield for 47 years.
Ross Waring, another tenant in the building, which has 14 suites occupied by a total of 24 tenants, claimed the new owner plans to exploit the clause on renovations to evict the renters and make more money off the units.
"It's quite clear that what they want to do is get the tenants out so they can do cosmetic renovations and rent it at much higher rents," Waring said.
Waring said their rents are expected to go up by 80 per cent to 100 per cent.
Some Seafield tenants claimed Gordon Nelson Investments has done the same thing to at least two nearby buildings in the West End.
Seafield tenants have not received any eviction notices as yet.
The property company could not be reached for comment Monday.
"Civic politicians really do have a role to play in putting pressure on the province to make sure these kinds of injustices are rectified," Waring said.
Mayoral candidates from two opposing camps both said Monday that the renters' rights should be better protected.
"The city could be a little more aggressive in terms of looking at the permits and being sure that those permits are for necessary renovations … not being used as a loophole to evict people," said Gregor Robertson, representing Vision Vancouver.
The Non-Partisan Association's Peter Ladner, an incumbent city councillor, agreed the tenancy act has a loophole.
"I know there are people who have looked at this in detail and thought about it and figured out a way you could change the rental tenancy act to fix this loophole," said Ladner, without offering further details.