While over half of Vancouver’s residents are renters, their voices and interests are not represented at City Hall. Renters are vulnerable to soaring rent costs, demoviction, and displacement. At OneCity, we see the clear need to increase protections for renters in our city. We can protect renters’ rights by advocating to the Province to tie rent to the unit and not the tenancy, to tie the maximum allowable rent increase to no more than the rate of inflation, stronger enforcement of the current rules, and increased city resources directed at renter protection.
Tenant evictions often happen as landlords renovate their rental units. These moments are opportunities for the city to intervene on behalf of tenants.
In order for a landlord to evict a tenant for renovations, they must have work permits from the City, honestly intend to complete the work, and show that the work can only be done if the unit is vacant. Tenants evicted due to renovations have four months to challenge their eviction if one of these criteria isn’t met. In some circumstances, they have additional protections under the City’s Tenant Protection and Relocation Policy.
The City has an opportunity to investigate and protect the rights of tenants at this point. Assigning a City staff member to the role of Renters' Advocate will ensure that the landlord is meeting the requirements for the eviction of the tenant.
Tenants often don’t understand the complicated rules around renovations and evictions. With both an advocacy and an educational mandate, a Renters' Advocate at the City can help both parties understand and abide by the rules.
ONECITY'S PLAN TO PROTECT RENTERS
- OneCity will create the position of a Renters' Advocate within the City. This staff member will be part of the investigation into whether the landlord is acting in good faith with respect to their intention to renovate, and whether the proposed renovations truly require the unit to be vacant.
- For major building and demolition projects, rezoning and/or development permits may be required. In these circumstances, a Tenant Relocation Plan must be submitted as part of the permit application. The Renters' Advocate will review these Tenant Relocation Plans to ensure they provide fair and adequate protection and compensation for displaced tenants, and will monitor compliance.
- Smaller renovation projects don’t require development or rezoning permits, but may require building or trades permits. The City should require applicants for these permits to indicate in their application whether the permit relates to a rental building or unit, and, if so, whether the landlord is requiring vacant possession. The Renter’s Advocate should flag these permit applications for closer scrutiny and, where warranted, potential legal action before the Residential Tenancy Branch.
- OneCity will consult with existing tenants’ rights organizations and front-line advocates to ensure a complementary and effective use of resources.
- OneCity will advocate to the Provincial government to tie rent to the unit and not the tenancy.
- OneCity will advocate to the Provincial government to tie the maximum allowable rent increase to no more than the rate of inflation. We oppose the Province's plans to increase the maximum allowable rent to 4.5 percent.