Most of the residents in this two-story walk-up apartment building in the West End have been issued a notice to have rents increased by 16% to 43%.
(UPDATED. We are adding media coverage/links at bottom.)
MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert (@SChandraHerbert, MLA for Vancouver – West End) hosted a press conference on Sunday, March 12, 2017, at 11 am at 1565 Harwood Street (between Nicola and Cardero). Residents are trying to keep their neighbourhood affordable. This case deserves everyone’s attention to see what systemic issues are going on here.
It appears the owner of the building (Immobiliere Canada Investment Ltd. No known website. Seems to be a mystery firm, with no public/web presence. Anyone with info, please write WEN.) applied to the Province of B.C. for a “geographic area rent increase” (under B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Act) beyond what would otherwise be the permitted cap, and may have been successful in arguing that rents in the neighbourhood had increased beyond those at this address. Is the dramatic increase in development since the 2013 adoption of the West End Community Plan resulting in increased land values and increased rents?
Some attention may be needed to review legislation, relating to short term lease contracts that some landlords are imposing even on long-term renters. Also, legislation 43 (1) (b), 43 (3) regarding “geographic area rent increase” needs some review. Public involvement is crucial to make changes happen. This could be an important test case.
Chandra Herbert has introduced a Private Members Bills opposing such rent increases.
If landlords in other neighbourhoods start using the geographic clause to increase rents, could this problem spread beyond the West End? Stay tuned.
Media, links, and related resources:
Vancouver renters facing huge rent hike have law on their side, advocate says: A housing advocate says he believes tenants could successfully fight the increases (CBC News, 13-Mar-2017). With audio.
Excerpt: Wayne Smithies is the president of Martello Property Services, Ltd, the company that manages the building. He declined to comment on the specific case. “I cannot discuss private information from my clients with the press,” he said. Smithies wouldn’t comment on the geographic tax increase clause. He said the real problem is the City of Vancouver’s tax framework. “The driver for rent increases is tax increases in the City of Vancouver, pushing taxes as high as they can. The rent increases can’t keep up with the tax increases,” he said. “We have condos going up on lands where they could have built apartment buildings but they haven’t because the city makes so much more tax off condos than they do off of apartment buildings.”
CBC Podcast (13-Mar-2017)
Tenant advocate Russ Godfrey, and Landlord B.C. CEO David Hutniak discuss loopholes in the residential tenancy act.
Une forte hausse de loyer dans le West End: Les locataires d’un immeuble dans le West End de Vancouver ont appris que leurs loyers allait augmenter de 16 à 43 %. Le député Spencer Chandra Herbert s’insurge d’une telle hausse. (ICI Radio Canada, audio/video, in French, 12-Mar-2017)
Vancouver West End renters shocked by proposed monthly increase to rent: Local MLA says landlords taking advantage of legislation allowing them to match prices to high rents in area (by Chad Pawson, CBC, 12-Mar-2017). With video.
Roundhouse Radio interview (12-Mar-2017):
Link to audio: http://bit.ly/2nk5tCy
Some West End tenants could be forced to pay another $500 rent after receiving a notice of arbitration (CKNW, 12-Mar-2017).
Vancouver landlord requests to ratchet up West End rents by up to 43 per cent: For some decade-long tenants, a legal loophole they’d never heard of means they could have to pay hundreds more every month — or move out. (By David P. Ball, Metro News Vancouver, 12-Mar-2017)
Some West End residents worried rent increases could force families from their homes (News 1130, Hana Mae Nassar, 12-Mar-2017)
- Landlord: Immobiliere Canada Investment Ltd. No known website. No known contact information.
- Management firm: Martello Property Services. http://www.martello-tra.com/
- Rent increase being sought by landlord: Total increase (of) 16.28-43.48 per cent, percentages depending on how long people have lived there.
- Telephone arbitration date with Residential Tenancy Branch is April 18th.
- Yearly increases cannot exceed the inflation rate plus two per cent: Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act (http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies/tools-and-resources/policy-guidelines/policy-guidelines-listed-alphabetically)
- B.C.’s provincial election is scheduled for May 9.
See this Twitter discussion regarding legal aspects of this case.
1565 Harwood, Property Inquiry – Vancouver Property Info Report, 2015-2017 (Download PDF showing taxes and utilities assessed for this property)