Tenants at 326 Nanaimo continue to face demoviction as the situation raises serious questions about the efficacy of the Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy...
The ongoing struggles of tenants at 326 Nanaimo reveal continued flawed implementation of tenant protection legislation, along with a disturbing outsourcing of government responsibility in protecting the rights of tenants. All of the residents of 326 Nanaimo are low income and vulnerable people who are facing demoviction. The vacate date had been pushed from September 7th to October 14th and now till the end of November. In that time the landlord has made unsafe and improper repairs to a fire door damaged during a break-in. This has made the building a fire hazard resulting in a situation where residents can be asked to leave by the Fire Department at any moment, and some of them have nowhere to go. The landlord continues to refuse to make the proper repairs to make the building safe and is fighting to avoid their responsibilities to assist with tenant relocation laid down in the TRPP (Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy), passed in June of 2019 to deal with such situations. So how does the legislation hold up to the test of our current reality?
One of the most disturbing aspects of the landlord's response to tenants attempts to negotiate fairly was hiring a PR firm called Reside Community Relations to “manage” the landlord's compliance with the TRPP. Reside employs no one with professional expertise in housing law and human rights. Their job is to spin the landlord's attempts to save money at the expense of tenants rights. When the TRPP was passed in City Council Councillor Christine Boyle lamented that landlords had been sending tenants craigslist ads for housing often comically unaffordable to them as “assistance” to tenant relocation. But here we see Reside, a private company hired by a criminally negligent landlord, sending tenants craigslist ads for units out of their budget, some of which turned out to be scams. This hands off, landlord preferential approach to tenant relocation was fast tracked by the City's Certified Professional who has failed to ensure that all redevelopment permits were obtained by the landlord at the time of eviction. The landlord then falsely claimed to have obtained the permits on multiple occasions.
This lenient attitude towards the landlord should not come as a surprise given that the CP was hired by the developer, Lanaca Properties. Tenants bargained and agreed to take a one-year rent top up, which will pay the difference of their current rents and their new rents. The landlord pressured all of the tenants to sign an illegal non-disclosure agreement, none of them did. One tenant has not yet accepted the offer and VTU is still working with them. This case study in landlord biased implementation of tenant relocation laws shows that the legislation still allows for a good deal of underhanded, illegal and abusive behaviour towards tenants. The result is that in spite of the gains made by tenants in the TRPP only tenants who organize and demand their rights will get the protections they're entitled to.