Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)

B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Rental tenant advocates say the the province’s new legislation to stop false renovictions is good, but doesn’t go far enough to protect existing affordable housing stock nor address “exponential” rate increases over the last few years.

The B.C. government announced Mar. 1 it would extend the freeze on rent increases, and proposed a new policy that would have landlords to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to be able to evict people for renovations. They would have to show renovation permits, demonstrate that renovations are significant enough to require vacancy and prove that renovations are necessary.

Currently, there’s no onus to prove renovations are significant or actually required, allowing opportunistic landlords to flip suites and jack up rent for the new tenant after a few superficial improvements.

The Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre is excited about the change, saying it will help curb illegal renovictions, which they think happen often, thought it’s impossible to track.

But the new legislation, which if approved will go into effect July 1, does very little to protect affordable rental stock, said Zuzana Modrovic, a lawyer with TRAC.

“A lot of the affordable rental stock is in buildings that are aging, where renovations are likely needed. When a landlord does those renovations, they can charge whatever they think the market will bear,” she said.

RELATED: B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

The task force’s solution also fails to address “exponential rate increases” over the last few years, and it doesn’t help people who fell behind on rent during the height of the pandemic.

“At the start of this emergency, we were told by Premier John Horgan and Selina Robinson, who was the housing minister at that time, that nobody would lose their housing due to COVID-19. They have not kept that promise. People are now losing their housing because they can’t afford rent, never mind the repayment of missed rent, and there’s no protection for them,” Modrovic said.

Now tenants are facing paying regular rent, plus a repayment plan to make up missed rent. The province has said landlords must give renters until August 2021 to repay rental debt owed from the first five months of the pandemic.

“Essentially that’s just like a temporary rent increase. They have to pay an additional $200 or $300 a month, or more.”

A ministry spokesperson said B.C. has the second lowest rate of rent arrears in the country, and that there has not been a significant increase in the number of disputes in recent months.

TRAC has been asking the government for rental arrears forgiveness across the province, or at the least another eviction freeze. The government initially said no one could be evicted for not paying rent due to COVID-19, but that ban lifted July 30.

Landlord BC, an association for landlords was also included in the task force, said they welcome the change but said the Rental Tenancy Board will have to handle the application process efficiently.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


Housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

ght
Mission RCMP rescue boater on Hatzic Lake

Two officers swam out to save man clinging to an overturned boat

Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won a $1-million prize with Lotto 6/49. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won the $1-million prize in a Lotto 6/49 draw. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen wins Lotto 6/49 $1-million prize

Ticket was purchased at Abbotsford’s FreshCo for the March 6, 2021 draw

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
Former Chilliwack man charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Prolific offender Kao Macaulay, 23, accused of breaking into home on March 30

Workers were on scene to clean up the oil spill in Abbotsford at Trans Mountain Pipeline’s Sumas pump station in June 2020. (File photo by Shane MacKichan)
TSB releases final report on June 2020 oil spill in Abbotsford

Transportation Safety Board says pipeline fitting to blame for spill of up to 190K litres

Williams Lake RCMP arrested a man Saturday, March 13 near Wildwood in vehicle stolen in Quesnel. (RCMP logo)
UPDATE: Chilliwack woman missing since March 17 found safe and sound

RCMP thanks the media and public for assistance

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of B.C. man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Greater Vancouver still driving more, taking transit less

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Most Read