The province will close the loopholes in the Residential Tenancy Act that allow renovictions to happen.
As seniors and other tenants in the 22 units at the Esme Manor apartments in Maple Ridge look for new homes, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare said the provincial government is aware of the issue.
“We’re very concerned by these evictions,” said Beare, who was recently named to the new NDP government’s cabinet as the minister of tourism, arts and culture. “And they’re at a time when Maple Ridge is facing challenges with homelessness.”
Tenants in eight units on the three-level building’s top floor have been evicted to make way for renovations, and told that they can return in two months, but with their former $750 per month rents hiked to the $1,000 range.
Some, like Robert and Gail Halliday, say they have nowhere to go, and they will refuse to leave.
Others say they may be left homeless. One resident at a press conference outside the building on Monday said he just got two months eviction notice, and has rented a storage locker.
“If I can’t find a place at the last minute, my stuff goes into storage and I’m homeless again,” he said.
The press conference was called by the Alliance Against Displacement. Spokesperson Tingchun Chen called on the provincial government to take action.
“The provincial government needs to be accountable for the policy decisions they have made that have created the housing crisis, and step up and fix it, operating with municipal governments as well,” she said.
Beare said the renovictions have been discussed with the premier’s office, and Housing Minister Selina Robinson has a mandate to amend the Residential Tenancy Act.
“It’s clear the law does not do enough to protect tenants,” said Beare. “We’re planning to close the loophole and make sure tenants are better protected.”
That loophole allows landlords to evict tenants for renovations, then raise rents beyond the annual maximum. For 2017, the maximum allowable rent increase is 3.7 per cent. For a unit renting at $750 per month, the maximum increase would be approximately $28 per month.
Beare said BC Housing staff were on site meeting with tenants on Monday, and the province will work with the landlord and the city to ensure no tenants are left homeless.