Gregor Robertson, the mayor of Vancouver, has called on provincial lawmakers to take action in tackling issues of housing affordability, low vacancy rates and renovictions.
Seeking an overhaul of BC rental legislation, Robertson says that over half of the city’s households are renters and low vacancy rates are making rents unaffordable.
Putting forward a motion to council to review the Residential Tenancy Act, Robertson would like to see more protection be given to renters and low-income households.
The rise in ‘renovictions’ has also been an issue. A shady practice, renovictions are cases in which renters in older properties are forced out so that landlords can renovate ageing buildings. Not only does this displace the tenants, but post-renovations the rents increase so many of those forced out cannot afford to move back, while also taking lower cost rentals out of the market.
The trend of renovictions began in 2007 in the West End, with landlords claiming they needed to refit the entire building with carpet or lighting fixtures, forcing out long term tenants. The practice is a problem particularly for seniors on fixed incomes, who once turfed are left searching for an affordable apartment in a city that already has low vacancy rates for renters.
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, vacancy rates in parts of Vancouver are as low as 0.7 percent with rents for a one-bedroom apartment in the West End averaging just short of $1200 per month.
In addition to better protection for renters, the city is also advocating for a full-time residential tenancy office in Vancouver, and specific protections for tenants in single room occupancy buildings. The Renters Advisory Committee has been asked to complete its commendations for council by the end of June.