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Seafield landlords drop appeal

But vow to 'fight on another playing field'

The landlords of Seafield Manor apartments in the West End have dropped their appeal of a January Supreme Court ruling that overturned their 38 percent rent increase.

The tenants had asked the court to weigh in after the Residential Tenancy Office allowed the increase last April. The landlords had originally sought a 73 percent rent hike.

They may have dropped their appeal, but the dispute is far from over, the landlords say.

“We’re going to fight on another playing field,” promises Jason Gordon. “We own the building; we can’t go away.”

When asked why he and his brother-in-law, Chris Nelson, dropped their appeal, Gordon says, “It’s a long and expensive process and [one that’s] not that enjoyable.”

Nelson says he would rather seek a re-hearing at the Residential Tenancy Office than pursue an appeal through the BC Supreme Court.

It will be a “restart of the whole process,” Nelson explained. “We think that we may even get a higher hike than the 38 percent.”

Nelson says they plan to renew their original request for a 73 percent rent increase at the new hearing.

He wouldn’t say when the new hearing might begin.

The tenants’ lawyer is claiming victory, at least for now. “My clients are very pleased that Gordon Nelson Investments has decided to drop its appeal,” says Jess Hadley.

“My hope is that this case and others like it will alert the public to the problem with decision-making at the RTB, so that perhaps the government will make it a priority to improve the process.”

Gay MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert says Gordon Nelson’s decision to drop its appeal sets a precedent for West End renters.

“This community of renters have put up with so much and have stuck together, providing a really good example of what can be done when you stick together with you neighbours,” says the Vancouver-West End MLA.

Still, Chandra Herbert says ongoing re-hearings for rent hikes at the Residential Tenancy Office are “bad public policy.”

“There’s no penalty to large landlords for trying attempt after attempt to get rents hiked higher than what is allowable under the law,” he points out.

The Residential Tenancy Act allows landlords to raise residential rents by 3.7 percent annually. But under Liberal legislation, landlords can apply for an additional increase if they can prove the increase will put their units on par with the area’s market value.