Archive for the ‘BC Tenant Rights’ Category

BC Tenants Speak Out: “Close the Fixed Term Lease Loophole”

Monday, October 16th, 2017

t 4

Tenants Speak Out and Share Their Concerns and Opinions on the Rental Industry

As part of our “Let’s Improve the British Columbia Rental Industry” we have invited landlords and tenants to share their opinions on how we can make these improvements. These opinions are from individual contributors and are not the opinions of the BC Landlords Association. We believe by fostering communication between landlords and tenants we can improve the BC rental industry. Landlords and tenants can share your thoughts and opinions by emailing us at landlordtenantsolutions@groupmail.com

BC Tenants Speak Out:  We Need To End This Ridiculous Loophole That Allows Landlords To Jack Up Rents Now!

This is just my opinion and hopefully others will agree with me.  It’s about time landlords actually invited BC tenants to speak about our how stressful it is to even find a half decent, affordable apartment these days. It’s hard for us hard working tenants to even begin to understand how landlords think.

After all, the reality is you need us to pay your mortgages and with the high rents you charge you are probably not only paying off your mortgage but also raking in lots of extra cash for the next Ferrari or Porche SUV for your teenage son.

I think one of the first things we need to do to improve the rental industry is quickly close the ridiculous loophole that gives free reign for bad landlords to jack up rents on hard working tenants who are struggling already just to make ends meet.

From my own experience this is how bad landlords use the loophole to rip off tenants. When I was looking for my last apartment the landlord only offered me a what is called a fixed term lease for one year only.

In the lease they demanded I sign a tiny weird little box they said to “check”.

The little box seemed so insignificant at the time and the landlord never even tried to explain what it really meant. So I checked off that tiny little box without even thinking about it. Only later did I find out how that tiny little box could influence my life and hurt me financially as well as giving me unneeded stress that led to migrains and physical ailments.

By checking off on the “little box” I found that even though I told the landlord I was going to stay at least a couple of years I would have to vacate the apartment at the end of one year or sign a new lease, kind of like starting over like I was a new applicant, like I didn’t just spend a year of my life there and pay 12 months of hard earned, too high rent money.

After one year was over I thought what the landlord and I agreed to the year before would apply. We agreed for me to stay two years but would sign an annual lease because that was their policy. “Sure, fine, at least it’s a home for me and my five year old and close to work” I thought at the time.

Let’s face it,  if you are a Tenant in British Columbia these days you don’t have a lot of choices and need to get what you can just to survive.

At the end of the lease the landlord told me for me to stay I would have to sign a brand new lease instead of just changing the date on the current one. I thought at least the lease would go month by month on the same terms. 

“Shouldn’t the landlord work to keep a good paying client like me in their rental unit for as long as possible?” I thought.

When the landlords presented the new lease for me saying “if you want to continue living in MY apartment” everything was the same except for the date and…a much higher rent!

In British Columbia we have a rent increase guideline so landlords can’t gouge tenants with huge rent increases. 

Or so I thought. After challenging the landlord on the much higher rent she explained because this was a new fixed term lease, the terms can change…because I checked that little tiny, apparently insignificant at the time, little box.

The little box impacted my life in a negative way. I never expected to pay so much higher, and with my already tight budget for healthy food, extra classes I was taking, and some clothes and recreational activities for my child, it meant big changes in my life just to keep living in my home.

I’m no fool and learned an important lesson.

The system allows unscrupulous landlords to gouge hard working BC Tenants by allowing them to bypass the annual rent increase guideline.

After doing some research it looks like a landlord group called ROMS BC lobbied to get this “little box” added to leases.

I don’t know if it’s true, but if this is so it makes the situation even worse because if landlords specifically made this happen it’s not fair because tenants didn’t have a say in the process.. It’s really shocking and every BC landlord and BC tenant should read it, if that’s how things really happened. The weird thing they say the fixed term lease box actually helps tenants.

Maybe the “box” makers had good intentions, but at least in my honest opinion and experience it’s being abused.

The problem is landlords network and they are kind of ‘unified’ in all making us check that little box. That little, nasty, life-altering box that is playing a key role in destroying the entire social fabric of our province is becoming less fair every day. 

Fixed term leases with that little box are creating leases that are weaponized to create harm and grief for thousands of people. It’s time to end this loophole, now! This way we can make things more fair for landlords and all the tenants here in need of housing stability to build our lives and help our children be successful for the future of our province.

It’s time to end this loophole now! This way we can make things more fair for good landlords and tenants who need housing stability to protect our families. This is just my opinion but hopefully others will read it and agree and it will lead to positive change.

Thank you for your time reading this.

 

Tenant Independence Day?

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

July 18th, 2012

 

 ACORN Wants to Amend the British Columbia Residential Tenancy Act!

What’s Happening?

A US based group now in Canada has started a new campaign called “Healthy Homes”

Healthy Homes?  That Sounds Like a Good Thing

The group is called ACORN.  Their campaign is to get the province to amend the British Columbia Residential Tenancy Act.

How Would that Create “Healthy Homes”?

ACORN’s Susan Collard claims to hear stories from tenants that are horrendous “all the time.”  She says one of the most important issues tenants face is trying to get repairs completed.

According to Collard, some tenants have fought their landlords for two and half years trying to get repairs done.

I’m a Landlord and I Do Repairs on my Properties ASAP!

Collard continued: “[They’ve] been battling landlords for two and a half years.  It has gone to Supreme Court and so far all [they’ve] gotten out of it is an eviction notice and the repairs still haven’t been done.”

So What is Her Proposed Solution?

She says one solution is proper enforcement.  Collard explains explains too often complaints won’t be taken seriously.  “To use what laws we currently have to the full extent.  You need reforms around the amount of time it takes to get repairs done.”

What Reforms are Proposed?

Collard adds the structure of the  Residential Tenancy Branch also needs to be re-jigged to ensure it  has both sides of the story.  Currently, Collard says the branch will only speak with the landlords.

Is The Government Going Along With Their Proposals?

The NDP has responded.

Let Me Guess, the NDP Wants more “Tenant Rights”

The British Columbia NDP housing critic Shane Simpson remembers visiting a rental property in his Vancouver riding.

Simpson recalls: “It had been left in disrepair for years and years,” he said. “The roof of the building collapsed.”

Does Simpson Want to Change the Residential Tenancy Act?

He believes the Act lacks tools for tenants to “push back” and battle “bad landlords.”

Simpson believes that after substantial renovations tenants should have the right to return to the rental at “fair rates.”  He also wants the province to be able to intervene in situations where municipalities are not taking action.

According to Simpson there is no doubt the Act needs to be reviewed, and changed.

So the NDP Agrees With ACORN?

It looks that way.  Which means the next provincial election is very important for BC landlords and investors.

 

More “Rights” Coming for BC Tenants?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

May 22, 2012

 

Fight, Fight, Fight or a Search for Social Justice?

According to a story in the Peacearch News, BC tenants with may soon find it easier to fight their landlords.

The Surrey government has asked the Lower Mainland Local Government Association to lobby the province to amend the British Columbia Residential Tenancy Act.

Amend the BC RTA?

Surry councilor Judy Villeneuve received unanimous council support for a resolution calling for a change in Part 5 of the Residential Tenancy Act.

What is Part 5 of the Residential Tenancy Act about?

Part 5 of the RTA states how tenants can enforce their ‘tenant rights’ against landlords.  Tenants who have issues with their landlords must now go to court and present and prove their case.

So What’s Wrong With That?

According to Villeneuve having to make and defend your case is too difficult and too bureaucratic for tenants.

The Surrey resolution states:  “Tenants who wish to enforce their rights under the RTA must navigate a complex bureaucratic and legal process and be prepared to spend significant amounts of time and money to engage the process.”  It goes on to say “Creating barriers for tenants to access the RTA, especially tenants with low incomes of vulnerabilities.”

Villeneuve goes on to voice her concern that many rental properties in British Columbia were built 25 to 30 years ago.  She says “Tenants are living in untenable situations.”

Wait a Minute.  To Create More Private Rentals You Increase Government Interference in the Market?

Villeneuve and Surrey Council seem to think so.  Which is strange because even the former Ontario NDP government under Premier Bob Rae found out otherwise.  Our friends at the Ontario Landlords Association explain the NDP 1991 rent increase exemption here.

Let’s hope Villeneuve and Surrey Councilors come together and rent out their basements and invest in some private multiplexes to help create more high quality, new rental stock in the province.

Don’t hold your breath.