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12 Dec

Ban renovictions. Let all condo owners rent out their units, B.C. task force says


Posted by: Kimberly Walker

Rental housing group makes 23 recommendations for improving B.C. rental system

B.C. should end nearly all renovictions and prevent strata corporations from banning rentals in condo developments, the province’s task force for rental housing has recommended.

The task force presented the government with 23 recommendations Wednesday, meant to offer more protection for tenants and security for landlords.

At the very top of the list is stopping renovictions — the practice of forcing out tenants so the landlord can perform renovations. Task force chair and NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said renters need to be offered a choice.

“If the tenant wants to stay and is willing to accommodate the renovations, they should be allowed to stay in their home,” Chandra Herbert told reporters.

He said the landlord of a 10-storey tower in his riding, Vancouver-West End, recently refurbished the entire building while people were still living in the suites.

“It’s definitely doable. A lot of people do it,” Chandra Herbert said, adding that some evictions may still be necessary in situations like necessary seismic upgrades.

Overall, he said the report strengthens enforcement and penalty options for both tenants and landlords, to make sure everyone is treated fairly.

In an attempt to address a shortage of rental housing, the report recommends that no condominium strata should be allowed to prevent owners from renting out their units.

“We think that housing is needed and we think that landlords should be able to rent out their own homes,” Chandra Herbert said.

No change to rules on pets

The task force also recommends creating a provincewide rent bank for low-income people and investigating how to give landlords in remote communities cheaper access to bailiffs for evictions.

But the report does recommend sticking with the status quo on certain issues

That includes the question of pets in rental units.

“The task force was not persuaded that requiring all rental housing providers to allow pets would be fair for landlords or for renters who want or need to live in pet-free buildings,” the report said.

The task force also recommends keeping the current system of tying rent increases to the tenant, rather than to the home. This means landlords would still be permitted to raise their rents above the annual allowable increase when the current tenant moves out.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson thanked the task force for a “thorough and thoughtful job” of listening to the concerns of landlords and tenants across the province, as she accepted the recommendations Wednesday.