North Vancouver MLA Ma warns of rental hikes that flout tenants’ rights

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By Jane Seyd, North Shore News

Oct 13, 2017 – North Vancouver MLA Bowinn Ma says her office is trying to help with a disturbing trend of landlords trying to threaten long-term tenants into accepting large rent increases.

Ma said a number of tenants have approached her office recently after being asked to sign new leases – at an increased rent – or face the prospect of the landlord asking for an even higher amount at a residential tenancy hearing.

In one North Vancouver case, the landlord of an apartment building went to every existing tenant and asked them to negotiate a 15 to 20 per cent rent increase or face an application for a larger rent hike, said Ma.

“The majority of tenants who received this notice signed a new lease,” she said. “Once they have signed, there’s virtually no recourse.”

Those who didn’t sign were served notice that the landlord will apply to the residential tenancy office for a 44 per cent increase.

“It doesn’t really matter how much your income is,” said Ma. “Very, very few people are able to absorb a 44 per cent rent increase all of a sudden from one month to the next.”

Tenants who have come to Ma’s office for help weren’t willing to speak publicly to the North Shore News, for fear of backlash.

Ma said her office has put those people in contact with tenants’ advocates and other community resource staff who are helping to appeal the increases.

She’s also pushing for the new NDP government to close some of the loopholes that allow landlords to raise rents.

“It drives me bonkers that these situations are happening in North Vancouver,” she said.

In 2016 there were 19 applications for geographic rent increases in B.C., according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Of those, 12 were rejected, three were partially approved, three were approved but phased in over time and one was approved without changes.

Read the article on the North Shore News