Vancouver City Council has unanimously approved new rules designed to protect tenants forced out of their rental units due to redevelopment.
The suite of changes was presented in a staff report on Tuesday, after council voted in December to amend the city’s Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy.
The new measures include a significant increase in compensation for tenants who have occupied a unit for more than one year.
Residents who have lived in a unit for under five years are now eligible for four months’ rent in compensation, while residents who have been in a unit for more than 40 years are entitled to two full years’ rent.
The compensation applies to redevelopments where a development permit is issued, which would include demolitions and some renovations. It does not apply to renovations where only a building permit is issued.
The new rules would also require owners to provide more help for displaced tenants looking for a home at a manageable price, and also cover tenants of secondary suites demolished as a part of a land assembly.
Tenants rights groups, however, say the new rules don’t go far enough, leaving out protections for most residents of secondary suites. They also argue that unscrupulous landlords could forgo development permits and try to skirt the rules by only using building permits for some jobs.
However, landlords worry that boosting compensation too much could put a chill on the industry.
“What we don’t want to do here, because we have aging rental stock, is discourage investment in that stock,” said Landlord BC CEO David Hutniak.
“And the reality is much of it needs to be redeveloped, not because it’s old and unsafe but because we need more new units as well. So you have to find that balance.”
Staff appear to have taken those concerns at least partly to heart, refusing to recommend boosting discounts for renters returning to units after redevelopment, warning it could cause “significant potential financial challenges” to the creation of new rental housing.
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