Recommendations of the VTU to the BC Rental Task Force

Prepared by the Vancouver Tenants Union Policy Team

The Vancouver Tenants Union (VTU) is a grassroots, volunteer-led, democratically structured group of
tenants seeking to provide an organized voice for tenants in the City of Vancouver and to advocate for
stronger tenant protections provincially. These proposals reflect the diversity of perspectives and first-hand
experiences of VTU members and have been democratically approved by our membership. We organize on
the unceded and occupied territory of the mi ce:p kʷətxʷiləm (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw
(Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

The Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) has not been updated since the early 2000s, and does not reflect the reality
of the housing market. Housing market conditions have over time shifted more powers from tenants to
landlords within a relationship which at its very foundation is one of unequal bargaining power. The first
core value in the VTU’s Constitution is that housing is a human right, and in order for legislation to reflect
this, our provincial government needs to be concerned with providing and preserving affordable, safe and
secure rental housing. Our position is that the Residential Tenancy Act in its current iteration does not reflect
this value.

A housing strategy that is primarily concerned with avenues towards middle class home ownership ignores
the people who are most negatively affected by climbing property values and the speculative housing
market. Low-income renters experience the housing crisis by living in fear of losing their homes and their
communities. These recommendations are rooted in the belief that if we protect people’s housing and their
housing rights we can make a huge impact on poverty and the quality of life in this province.

The VTU wants a clear, fair and easily-applied RTA. We are proposing amendments which will more
substantively protect tenants and critically examine the ease with which landlords can use the current
system to evict people in order to charge higher rents. We have made vacancy control our first policy priority
because it will disincentivize evictions issued for a profit motive, slow the destruction of low-income rentals,
lower RTB caseloads and facilitate positive, good-faith relationships between landlords and tenants. More
importantly, it is the biggest step we believe the Provincial Government can take to stabilize rents and
ensure that there is effective action on affordability and poverty alleviation throughout the province.
Without this step, tenants access to secure housing will remain at the mercy of B.C.’s inflated housing

Our recommendations aim to keep cases out of the RTB process wherever possible in order to streamline the
process, make tenant and landlord obligations clear and improve the caseload for RTB arbitrators and
administrative staff. We want an RTA which promotes a clear decision making process for arbitrators. We
also believe that data collection on evictions and the regulation of existing “grey-area” practices such as
tenant buyouts are essential to craft future policy. Amendments to the RTA are an integral component of any
serious strategy to end the housing crisis. As the evidence shows, we cannot simply rely on new rental
construction to get out of this situation. Building rental housing at rates that are out of line with what low-
income tenants can afford is, at best, a twenty year solution. Based on current market conditions, there are
no guarantees that higher priced housing built now will age into becoming affordable rental stock.

Serious action on the housing crisis includes looking at housing options that are outside of the market. We
believe there is an opportunity for the government to act on this with older rental buildings that are entering
the end of their life as profitable rental operations. A program should be put in place to support the creation
of cooperatives and social housing rather than standing by as long-term tenants are renovicted and
affordable housing supply is lost.

Improved protections for renters will temper the speculative cycle that prompts predatory investors to buy
up older, affordable housing stock and displace the occupants to house higher-income residents. New York has responded to this problem with a Predatory Equity Bill. Such acquisitions are explicitly referred to as
predatory because they displace tenants and the profits generated come directly out of the pockets of low-
income people, with additional costs being imposed onto the public by increased homelessness and
reliance on social services.


=>Click here to read the FULL list of 50 Recommendations

i. Introduction
ii. Key Recommendations
iii. Measures For Improving Rental Affordability
iv. Improve Procedural Safeguards
v. Maintenance
vi. Paying Rent
vii. Improve RTB Processes
viii. Prevent Discrimination
ix. Security During Transitional Periods
x. Commercial Tenant Protections
xi. Appendix