Victoria News file photo

Victoria housing advocates applaud province’s move to protect tenants

Law has not kept pace with the changing housing market: Premier John Horgan

In the midst of an affordable housing crisis in B.C., the provincial government will introduce proposed changes to the Residential Tenancy Act in the house today to protect those displaced by renovation or demolition.

The proposed changes would extend the mandatory time period landlords give tenants to vacate properties from two months to four. It also proposes doubling the amount of time – up to 30 days from 15 – that a tenant has to file a dispute resolution to fight an eviction.

RELATED: More residents falls victim to ‘renovictions’

Other changes include increasing the amount of compensation a landlord must pay a tenant if they end a tenancy for renovation or demolition purposes, but do not follow through on those plans.

The new legislation also includes a first right-of-refusal for tenants in multi-unit buildings to return after being evicted due to renovation or repair.

Together Against Poverty Society in Victoria (TAPS) has long advocated for such changes and is hopeful the new rules will prevent “bad faith evictions.”

“Hopefully, this will act as a real deterrent for landlords that were intending to cash in on the housing crisis by unlawfully evicting their tenants and increasing the rents,” said TAPS tenant legal advocate Yuka Kurokawa.

RELATED: Tenants disappointed by renoviction

On April 10, the province announced it would provide $6.8 million to fund the new Rental Housing Task Force chaired by Vancouver MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, with the goal of reducing wait times for tenancy disputes.

Premier John Horgan said the law has not kept pace with the changing housing market, leaving both landlords and tenants “vulnerable.”

“This task force will connect with British Columbians, review laws in other jurisdictions and deliver the first full review of our residential tenancy laws in 16 years,” he added.

Emily Rogers, also a tenant legal advocate at TAPS, agreed the changes are overdue.

“We are playing catch up,” she said. “This brings B.C. to the baseline of what is fair and reasonable treatment of tenants when they are faced with losing their home through demoviction and renoviction.”

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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