Vancouver’s City Council has approved a measure designed to provide greater protections for renters.
The Tenant Relocation and Protection Policies expand relocation benefits for tenants who are displaced by renovations or redevelopment. Key provisions include:
Expansion of tenant relocation plan requirements to all zoning districts, except single family and industrial;
Increased compensation owed to tenants, with up to six months’ free rent for tenancies over 20 years;
Increased compensation for moving costs to as much $1,000; and
A right of first refusal to move back into new developments at a discount of 20% below starting market rent.
Council also amended policies to ensure that if a low income tenant is displaced, they are provided an alternative accommodation within 10% of their existing rent.
Mayor Gregor Robertson indicated that his admininstration will continue to advocate for changes to the provincial Residential Tenancy Act. Those changes may entail:
Altering fixed-term tenancy rules to prevent significant rent increases;
A right of first refusal following renovations resulting in displacement, including a limit on rent upon return;
Tying rent increase limits to single-room rentals; and,
Reviewing the RTA rent increase guidelines for major building improvements.
The Tenant Relocation measure is part of a two-phase plan by city officials to protect the existing rental stock, which houses up to half of Vancouver’s residents. Sustainability is an issue in the city’s rental inventory, 81% of which is over 36 years old, according to CMHC Rental Market Survey, April 2015.
Phase I of the plan focuses on increasing protection to renters impacted by redevelopment or major renovation activities, while Phase II will expand protections for existing rental stock. This may involve strategies to encourage landlords to reinvest in existing rental buildings.
Vancouver’s existing tenant relocation provisions are currently governed by the Rate of Change Guidelines, which apply to certain RM, FM, and CD-1 zones. According to city documents, there are 52,330 market rental units protected under the Rental Housing Stock ODP, or 77 percent of the purpose built market rental housing units in the city. The new Tenant Protection and Relocation Guidelines are recommended to replace the existing Rate of Change Guidelines.
This new policy is targeted at the “primary” rental stock, where the purpose of the building is to operate rental housing in the long-term, including:
Ppurpose-built market rental housing;
Non-market or social housing;
Buildings with rental units above commercial spaces; and
Large multiple conversion dwellings with six or more units.
The rules are applicable in situations such as:
Adding, relocating, or removing walls in units that change the floor plan;
Increasing or reducing the number and type of units in a rental building;
Upgrading rooms, including kitchen and bathroom floors and painting or tiling;
Installing fire sprinkler systems linked to multiple units in a rental building;
Extensive repairs to units that have been damaged by fire or flooding; and
Demolishing buildings that house tenants in rental units.
This policy does not affect redevelopment or renovation in the “secondary” rental stock, including single-family houses, basement suites, duplexes, or individually rented condos.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.