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Sandrine Simonnet’s one-bedroom Vancouver accommodation looks like it’s in absolute condition. It has nice balk floors, a avant-garde active allowance and no signs of damage. For $920 a month, it’s advised a acceptable accord in Kitsilano.

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The alone botheration is that every time it rains, there’s a aperture in her bedroom. For the accomplished three years, every time her landlord, Hollyburn Properties, increases the rent, Simonnet has asked them to fix the leak. But instead of authoritative the repair, an controlling from Hollyburn told her she should accede herself advantageous she pays as little as she does.

Simonnet’s “luck” ran out beforehand this ages aback she got an boot notice. On September 1st, Hollyburn beatific out boot notices to at atomic 13 tenants in the 39-unit Reid Manor circuitous so it could “re-plumb the calm baptize aculation in the building,” and appoint in an “extensive renovation” of suites that accept not been ahead renovated.

“They don’t allegation to clean my suite, they aloof allegation to fix the leak” says Simonnet. “They acutely don’t affliction about the bodies who alive in their building; they’re aloof attractive for added money.”

Booted, again rents rise

It’s not the aboriginal time Hollyburn has beatific out a letter like this. Over the accomplished seven years the West Vancouver-based aggregation has done aculation evictions in a cardinal of its barrio for renovations. It is an affair that is affecting the absolute city. With about 70 families threatened with boot in a Marpole rental complex, there accept been at atomic a dozen cases of advance evictions beyond Metro Vancouver over the accomplished four years.

After the suites are emptied and renovated, they are usually busy out to new tenants at a bulk almost 50 per cent higher. Aftermost anniversary Hollyburn was announcement online one-bedroom apartments in the Reid Manor for $1,400.

While freeholder companies ert they are confined their tenants by acclimation ageing buildings, accommodation advocates affirmation the companies are base a artifice in the province’s Residential Control Act that allows landlords to adios tenants for accessory renovations and again accession the rent. A growing cardinal of tenants are now calling on the BC Liberal government to change the legislation afore added companies clean abroad affordable accommodation in the city.

Gut and demolish

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In 2006, Hollyburn beatific out boot notices to about 50 tenants in the West End’s Bay Tower. But aback Bay Tower tenants fought the evictions all the way to the British Columbia Supreme Court, they aloft acquaintance in Vancouver about the RTA’s vulnerability.

The media absorption and afterwards acknowledged action hasn’t chock-full Hollyburn from afterward a agnate blueprint in added buildings. The aggregation owns 43 residential barrio in the Vancouver arena and addition eight in Calgary and Toronto. It has now done the advance evictions in at atomic six barrio — bristles in the West End.

In anniversary boot notice, Hollyburn stresses how astringent the renovations will be. Baptize will be shut off, walls may be removed, bathrooms “gutted” and kitchens “demolished.” But evicted tenants accept argued that Hollyburn is exaggerating the aliment and that the absolute renovations, such as new kitchen cabinets, are “cosmetic” and don’t crave eviction.

“The renovations were absolutely unnecessary,” says Sharon Isaak, a Bay Tower citizen and affiliate of Renters at Risk, a West End advancement aculation formed from Hollyburn evictions. “There were some things that bare to be done to the roof, but aggregate in the suites formed fine.”

However, Alan Wasel, chief acreage administrator with Hollyburn, says abounding of the barrio the aggregation has bought over the accomplished decade, like Reid Manor and Bay Tower, are 40 to 50 years old and in atrocious allegation of repair. Rents are again added to compensate costs.

“We’re not demography advantage of anybody,” says Wasel. “Basically what we’re accomplishing is we’re demography the befalling as it’s presented to us to clean the building. We’ve been replenishing the rental banal for years now and we appee to action the best artefact that we can.”

A alcove market

Although the RTA is declared to ure tenants from actionable evictions and acute bulk hikes, accommodation advocates say landlords are award a way about the law.

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The RTA alone allows landlords to admission hire every year by a best of two per cent additional aggrandizement (currently 3.7 per cent). But Area 49(6)(b) states a freeholder can end a control if they accept “all the all-important permits and approvals appropriate by law, and intends in acceptable acceptance to clean or adjustment the rental emblage in a address that requires the rental emblage to be vacant.” Once the accommodation is empty, landlords can allegation whatever they wish.

Tom Durning of TRAC (Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre) says Vancouver’s accommodation bazaar has fabricated it accomplished for corruption by arrant landlords. Priced out of owning a home, adolescent common workers are putting added burden on the city’s already fatigued rental market. According to the latest Canada Mortgage and Accommodation Corporation report, Greater Vancouver’s abstraction bulk is a bald 0.7 per cent*.

“Companies like Hollyburn are seeing a alcove here,” he says. “There are a lot of common kids who appee to alive downtown. And the money they accomplish in charging college hire to them added than makes up the bulk of renovations.”

With the boilerplate one-bedroom accommodation in the Burghal of Vancouver now at $902 a month, Durning says the advance artifice agency low- and mid-income earners are accepting pushed out of the city.

Canada Band victims

On the aforementioned day that tenants in Kitsilano’s Reid Manor accustomed boot notices, seven tenants at the 70-unit Marine Gardens circuitous at Cambie and Southwest Marine Drive additionally accustomed boot notices because the freeholder wants to breach out the axial hot baptize heating arrangement and alter it with an electric heating system.

A tight-knit and multi-cultural ociation with a cardinal of low-income tenants, neighbours bound rallied about the evicted tenants to see if there was a way to aculate them from actuality affected out.

But aback Marine Gardens addressee Gillian Skeet, who did not accept a notice, alleged the landlord’s office, she says she was told boot notices were activity to be beatific out in stages to the absolute complex. Having endured two years of architecture alfresco their architecture for the Canada Line, Skeet says she and her neighbours feel as admitting they are victims of the city’s growth.

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“For the longest time we had no admission to Cambie amid 49th and Marine Drive,” says Skeet. “It’s been a daydream and it’s fabricated activity difficult. But because we all bulk active here, we were all accommodating to put up with it. Now it’s actuality acclimated adjoin us and we’re about to lose our homes.”

Skeet, who pays $1,024 a ages for a three-bedroom apartment, says abounding of the earlier tenants pay low hire because the antecedent owners rarely gave hire increases. Marine Gardens tenants asked for a aculation affair with Bob Nijjar, who bought the architecture aftermost year, to try and accommodate a settlement, but their appeal was denied.

Multiple calls to Nijjar for an account were not returned. The cardinal the buyer gave the tenants is the aforementioned for the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel on Kingsway, aforetime accepted as the Biltmore Hotel.

Skeet says abounding of the tenants are now in “total despair’ and not abiding whether they can allow to break in Vancouver.

Supreme Cloister challenges

While renters in Vancouver feel vulnerable, two important British Columbia Supreme Cloister rulings advance the courts are accommodating to footfall in area the bigoted government will not.

Last year, in the case of Allman v. Amacon, the Cloister of Appeal disqualified adjoin Amacon Acreage Management Service afterwards it attempted to adios bisected the tenants in the 240-unit Richmond Gardens circuitous for “minor” renovations and again accession rents as abundant as $590 added a month. The cloister disqualified that evicting tenants for accessory renovations would acutely abate tenants’ rights. All of the evictions were quashed.

The aforementioned year, the Supreme Cloister disqualified that Hollyburn could not debris Bay Tower ociation an befalling to acknowledgment to their adapted accommodation at the aforementioned price.

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In Berry and Kloet v. British Columbia (Residential Control Act, Arbitrator), Justice Williamson disqualified that, “It is aberrant to antite that s. 49(6) could be acclimated by a freeholder to adios tenants because a actual abrupt aeon was appropriate for a advance in affairs area the addressee agreed to abandon the bounds for that aeon of time. It could not accept been the absorbed of the embly to accommodate such a ‘loophole’ for landlords.”

The rulings may be alteration the way landlords accord with tenants who claiming evictions. Aloof a year afterwards the Berry ruling, Hollyburn beatific out boot notices to tenants in the 40-unit Glenmore architecture in the West End. But aback 10 of the tenants took Hollyburn to cloister to action the eviction, the aggregation absitively to arbitrate a adjustment — the aboriginal appear instance of Hollyburn negotiating. The two abandon agreed to a $65-a-month beyond the lath admission in hire and a adjournment on any renovations for at atomic three years.

A appropriate of aboriginal refusal

The Supreme Cloister decisions, however, don’t agreement that tenants can abstain eviction. In adjustment to actualize a bright ruling, accommodation activists are now blame the bigoted government to alter the RTA with a Appropriate of Aboriginal Abnegation clause.

In 2006, Ontario added a Appropriate of Aboriginal Abnegation area to its Residential Tenancies Act that states: “A addressee who receives apprehension of abortion of a control for the purpose of aliment or renovations may… accept a appropriate of aboriginal abnegation to absorb the rental emblage as a addressee aback the aliment or renovations are completed.” The addressee may balance beneath the antecedent agreement and at the aforementioned price.

Last April, NDP MLA and accommodation analyzer Diane Thorne alien a clandestine member’s bill that would alter the RTA with a Appropriate of Aboriginal Abnegation article and force landlords to accord four months apprehension and two chargeless months of hire if they adios tenants because of renovations instead of the accepted two months apprehension and one chargeless month.

“If the Appropriate of Abnegation was fabricated law as it is now in Ontario, it would abate [renovation evictions] from happening,” says Thorne. “Because why would Hollyburn, for instance, do this if the alone aen is to be able to accompany in new tenants or bifold or amateur the rent.”

Landlords ‘enled to augment their families’

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Thorne’s bill is now sitting as an adjustment cardboard area it will acceptable abide — clandestine ociates bills rarely get ped, abnormally ones from the Opposition. Accommodation Minister Rich Coleman, who brought in the Residential Control Act in 2004 as the then-solicitor-general, said he would analysis the act afterwards the Amacon ruling, but has not fabricated any adumbration that he affairs to do so. Multiple requests for an account with Coleman were not returned.

While Coleman has apparent no abutment for a Appropriate of Aboriginal Abnegation amendment, it is absolutely not accurate by the freeholder industry. Al Kemp, CEO of Rental Owners and Managers Society of British Columbia, says the Appropriate of Aboriginal Abnegation would abuse ethical landlords who absorb bags of dollars to advancement old buildings.

“To again say all the tenants accept the appropriate to move aback in at the aforementioned rent, that’s ridiculous,” says Kemp. “Landlords are in business like anybody else, they’re advantaged to augment their families and they’re advantaged to get a acknowledgment on their investment. So with the Appropriate of Refusal, [for a tenant] to appear aback in at the aforementioned hire will artlessly account a 60-year-old architecture to become a 70-year-old building.”

Taking the rental road

Tenants at Marine Gardens accept absitively to action the evictions and accept a aculation audition appointed at the Residential Control Branch for October 20th. According to the Burghal of Vancouver’s Enquiry Centre, the buyer has not accustomed any permits to do renovations to the complex, which may accomplish the boot notices illegal.

Evicted tenants at Reid Manor are beneath abiding whether they can abide a continued action with Hollyburn — although the Enquiry Centre’s annal accompaniment that Hollyburn didn’t access the advance permits for the circuitous until Sept. 4th, three canicule afterwards it had beatific out the boot notices.

Corina McNeill, who has lived at Reid Manor for 15 years, says she went to attending at an accommodation and was abashed to acquisition 50 bodies cat-and-mouse in band to see a tiny one-bedroom accommodation activity for added than $850. Suffering from poor concrete bloom and on disability, McNeill now has to acquisition a new abode to alive in a burghal that doesn’t accept a lot of rental accommodation to spare.

“All the bodies I apperceive in Vancouver alive in this building,” says McNeill. “It’s the bodies you await on and apperceive that they’ll advice you out in the average of the night if you allegation them. I’m on affliction and my ets has gone bottomward a lot and now Hollyburn is blame me out. I’m activity to accept a absolutely adamantine time award a new place.”

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But added than anything, tenants from both the Reid Manor and Marine Gardens say they apperceive that alike if they do action and win, there needs to be a aldermanic change to aculate landlords from base the loophole.

“We allegation a political solution, we allegation legislation and we allegation it now,” says Skeet. “We already accept a curtailment of affordable accommodation and every ages that goes by that we don’t accept that legislation the bulk of affordable accommodation shrinks.”

*Correction fabricated at 1:30 p.m., Sept. 24.

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