Brent Granby: Residential Tenancy Branch should start tracking evictions
Today at 10 a.m., the Vancouver Renters' Union is organizing a rally to support tenants at 1850 Adanac Street who are being evicted. Activists allege that the tenants are being “renovicted".
This term is used to describe instances in which landlords claim that tenants must move in order to do major repairs to the rental unit. In reality in a renoviction, the landlord is only planning minor cosmetic repairs. When these cosmetic repairs to the unit are completed, the unit is placed back on the market at a higher monthly rent. This enables landlords to increase revenue over the long term, given that the allowable rental increase is regulated.
I have written about the need for a rental advocate in Vancouver to support renters who are being evicted. There are a number of problems in the Resident Tenancy Act that are having an adverse effect on the security of renters’ tenure. Renters at Risk and the Vancouvers Renters' Union have also been articulating their concerns with the legislation and supporting tenants through the gruelling process of filing for arbitration at the Residential Tenancy Branch.
Another glaring policy need is for the branch to be able to document evictions. It is simply incredible that this is not being tracked and published.
Landlords are required to complete forms downloaded from the branch's website for an eviction to be valid and legal. It would be a very simple step to require landlords to file these forms with the branch when eviction notices are being served to residents.
Now, we have no way of knowing if there is an increase in the number of evictions—and if so, what are the causes and issues around them—because the branch does not track this information. This would be useful information to track if mass displacements are happening in order to be able to intervene and support tenants.
Brent Granby is a longtime resident of the West End and ran as a COPE candidate for park board in the 2011 election. This article originally appeared on his blog.