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Renters protection bill

Vancouver-Burrard’s new MLA introduced a private member’s bill to amend BC’s Residential Tenancy Act to provide more protection for renters, Nov 27.

Spencer Herbert, who won his seat in the October by-election, listed housing and homelessness as priorities throughout his campaign. 

“This is a huge issue and one where you see long-term renters being pushed out. Something has to change,” states the queer NDP MLA, who also says some West End residents have seen their rents increase anywhere from 30 to 100 percent.

The Act allows landlords to apply for rent hikes above the standard annual increase if the unit’s rent is significantly under market value in its geographic area. Herbert’s bill would eliminate that.

“We really need to start to have a measure that ensures security of tenure,” says Brent Granby of the West End Residents Association.

Last spring, the NDP introduced a similar bill aimed at cracking down on tenant eviction due to renovations and geographic area rent increases. The Right of First Refusal Bill was brought to the house twice but died before debate.

Herbert blames the Liberal government for the housing crisis in Vancouver and says changes the Liberals have made to the Residential Tenancy Act have allowed some landlords to manipulate rents and push people out of their homes.

Rich Coleman, Liberal Minister of Housing, was unavailable for comment prior to press time.

Two new Residential Tenancy Offices are set to open in Vancouver in January and while Herbert says the move is a step forward for renters it’s not a concrete solution to the housing crisis. “The victory has to come in legislative and policy changes,” he asserts.

Herbert says he is hopeful but unconvinced his bill will come up for debate when the house reconvenes in February.

“I’ll continue to raise this issue with the Housing Minister and do whatever it takes,” he promises.