BC Provincial Government Talks Big About Protecting Renters but Vancouver Tenants Union Says Key Changes Are Missing

***For Immediate Release***


BC Provincial Government Talks Big About Protecting Renters but Vancouver Tenants Union Says Key Changes Are Missing

April 2, 2024




Today the BC Minister of Housing announced proposed changes to the Residential Tenancy Act aimed at protecting tenants from bad-faith evictions, but the Vancouver Tenants Union urges the province to finish closing the loopholes that were left behind.

The union is asking why the province decided to specifically change the Act to protect families who are adding a child under 19 to their household from needing a new lease, instead of a broader rule to allow any changes in household composition to remain under the same lease. Currently, if a couple breaks up or moves in together, or a roommate moves in or out, a landlord can require the tenants to sign a new lease with a whole new rent or just be evicted


“As more and more renters are pushed into sharing their homes with roommates to save on rent, we see more people grappling with how to navigate regular changes in their household without incurring a big rent increase or being evicted. Right now roommates are a kind of grey area with the law in general.” says VTU member Rebecca Love. “It seems odd that they would only decide to protect some of the people affected by this problem, when they could have just as easily closed the whole loophole.”


VTU members say that while they’re glad to see “landlord use” evictions finally being taken seriously as a threat to housing stability, only half of the issue is being addressed. The proposed changes do not address situations where landlords claim they need to evict a tenant in order to move a caretaker into a unit. This has been an increasingly common tactic in multi-unit buildings since other types of evictions have become more regulated. Just last summer, renters rallied around a tenant who was facing eviction for this reason even though there were multiple vacant units being used as AirBnBs in his building


“In buildings that don’t already have a caretaker, how can the need for one be so great that it would warrant kicking someone out of their home?” says VTU member Mariah Javadi. “We hear of cases where a landlord will evict someone to move in a caretaker and then 6 months later, they evict someone else in the same building with the same justification. This is a loophole that gets abused over and over again - it’s like playing Whack-A-Mole.” 


The way the RTB is set up largely places the burden of enforcing tenants’ rights on the tenant by requiring them to file a dispute if their landlord is not obeying the law or acting in good faith. The union says that requiring landlords to apply for permission to evict with proof ahead of time is a step in the right direction, but without some proactive enforcement to ensure there are penalties for landlords who try to circumvent the new regulations, this leaves those most at risk behind.


“It’s often the most vulnerable long-term tenants, those with language barriers, seniors and people on fixed-income, who are evicted for financial gain.” VTU member Rebecca Love says. “Pursuing an RTB dispute requires a lot of time and energy, not to mention English reading and writing skills, plus understanding of basic legal terms and the RTB itself. But most importantly, you need to know that you have to file a dispute in the first place. We constantly hear of tenants getting a text or a call from their landlord just saying “you have to leave” and they don’t know it’s not a valid eviction until it’s too late.”

Ultimately, the union says that one of the most powerful things the government could do to protect tenants is bring in vacancy control. “The bad faith evictions that the province has been chipping away at for the past few years are largely attempts by landlords to exploit the rent control loophole, where they can kick out a tenant and raise the rent however much they want for the next tenant. Vacancy control would remove the profit incentive for bad faith evictions at the source.” says Javadi. 



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