The impending eviction of tenants from an East Vancouver apartment building has revived a question about renter protection in B.C.
In Ontario, evictions due to renovations are dealt with in a different way through the province’s Residential Tenancies Act.
There, a tenant gets the right of first refusal to occupy a rental unit after it has been repaired.
Plus, a renter who returns gets to pay no more than what the landlord could have lawfully charged if there had been no interruption in the tenancy.
As well, if a resident doesn’t give notice of intention to go back, the tenant is entitled to three months of free rent.
In B.C., tenants don’t get these terms.
Renters who face eviction here get one-month free rent. In cases involving renovations, they don’t have the right of first refusal to go back.
If they want to return, they’re likely to pay much higher rents than before.
So the question, according to Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Jenny Kwan, is: why can’t B.C. amend its own Residential Tenancy Act to follow the Ontario model?
It’s not for a lack of trying on the part of the provincial NDP with which Kwan is the longest-serving representative in the legislative assembly.
“Over the years, the Opposition have put forward amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act to that effect,” Kwan told the Straight in a phone interview a day after a recent meeting with tenants at 1925 Woodland Drive.
Days before that meeting, Kwan also wrote the City of Vancouver to inquire if the planned renovation of the four-storey apartment building bought by a numbered company identified with the Pappajohn family really requires tenants to vacate their homes.
In 2010, then NDP Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Diane Thorne filed a bill that copies some of the features of the Ontario legislation. The NDP’s representative for Vancouver-West End, Spencer Chandra Herbert did the same in 2011.
“There are things that could be done for British Columbia, which is to follow the Ontario model and that is to ensure that in situations like this, that the tenants have first right of refusal, [and] that they could actually come back to the building with reasonable rent,” Kwan said.
Several residents at 1925 Woodland Drive have filed applications questioning the eviction before the Residential Tenancy Branch.