While the B.C. government recently strengthened protections for tenants facing renoviction, the City of Victoria is considering its own bylaws to address any gaps that remain.
At its Sept. 16 meeting, council directed staff to report back with an updated draft bylaw that would provide displaced tenants with assistance during renovations, and preserve affordability once renovated units are ready for occupants.
B.C.’s updated legislation aims to prevent nearly all renovictions, reported Karen Hoese, Victoria’s director of sustainable planning and community development. But rental rates would be at the discretion of the landlord after the work is complete, she told council.
“While the ability to end a tenancy applies only in limited situations, this does highlight a gap in the legislation in addressing ongoing affordability of units that require significant renovations, and in turn require the unit to be vacated for a longer period of time,” Hoese said.
Under the province’s updated rules, a landlord wanting to do renovations or repairs must meet four requirements to be able to apply to end a tendency. That includes improvements necessary to prolong or sustain use of the rental unit or building.
If all the requirements are met, an arbitrator is assigned to the case and if they side with the landlord, the tenant must leave the rental within four months.
The city had started work on its own bylaw aimed at protecting tenants from renovictions before changes to the province’s Rental Tenancy Act (RTA) were announced in the spring and took effect on July 1.
Victoria staff had previously recommended that the city suspend creating its own bylaw while it monitors the provincial legislation’s effectiveness over the next two years. If further municipal action would be needed, staff said, it’d likely be through an updated bylaw or an alternative approach that could ensure protections for tenants.
Upon hearing Hoese’s Sept. 16 update, Coun. Jeremy Loveday proposed an amendment – which council approved – to have staff instead report back with an updated bylaw that would address the provincial legislation’s shortcomings.
“I think that will provide more protections for tenants and for the affordability that we so desperately need to preserve in our community,” Loveday said.
Staff will still monitor the updated RTA’s effectiveness and give an update to council next fall.
Coun. Stephen Andrew was the only one to vote against the amendment. He agreed with its intent, but said he’d rather see the city advocate for the province to improve the RTA over drafting a new bylaw.
“My concern is the provincial legislation will carry more weight than us creating bylaws to fill gaps,” he said.
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