Vancouver city council increases compensation for displaced tenants in certain areas of town

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      Vancouver tenants who face eviction because of redevelopment or renovations will receive more financial help finding a new place to live.

      That's because Vancouver city council has approved several measures to force developers to fork over more cash if they want knock down rental buildings.

      Tenant-relocation plans are required in "rate of change areas" (see map above) but not in single-family, industrial, or agricultural zones in Vancouver.

      Prior to the vote, developers would have to pay tenants in these rate-of-change areas two months' free rent if they were being displaced.

      The new policy provides two months' free rent for those who've lived in a suite for fewer than five years. Compensation rises to three months' free rent for tenants who've lived in a building from five to nine years.

      It increases to four months' free rent for those in a building for 10 or more years, and six months for those with tenancies lasting 20 years or more.

      "This can take the form of free rent, a lump sum payment or a combination of both," the policy states.

      In addition, tenants must be given a minimum of two months' notice before tenancies can be ended after all permits have been issued.

      “The new Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy is another step that Council is taking to support Vancouver renters,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a news release. “We’re doing what we can to support tenants in a tough rental market, and we will continue to advocate to the provincial government for changes to the Residential Tenancy Act.”

      The new city policy also requires that developers pay the following moving expenses in the event of redevelopment or renovations: $750 for a bachelor or one-bedroom unit, and $1,000 for two or more bedrooms.

      Another innovation: tenants will have right-of-first refusal to move into a new rental unit on the same site at a 20 percent discount below market rents.

      Tenants make up just over half of the households in Vancouver. And the apartment vacancy rate has averaged just 0.9 percent in the city over the past 40 years.

      Last year, Canada Mortage and Housing Corporation pegged the apartment vacancy rate at just 0.5 percent.

      According to a staff presentation to city council, four in 10 renters pay more than 30 percent of their income to keep a roof over their head; 15 percent pay more than 50 percent.

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