Some West End tenants could be forced to pay an extra $500 rent

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AM730 Michelle Morton

Some West End tenants could be forced to pay an extra $500 rentTenants in Vancouver’s West End are waiting to find it out if they could be paying up to an extra $500 in rent.

Amanda Panon says she and her family have been living in a two-storey walk-up building for 10 years, and last month 11 out of 13 suites were served a dispute notice for arbitration with the Residential Tenancy Branch.

She says her landlord wants to raise rent for long-term tenants to match today’s average rental price, which is legal.

“I’d never heard of an argument for a rental increase based on amounts in the same geographic area before, but now I have heard of it. So… whenever I was telling friends about it or I posted it on my FaceBook, just saying ‘just so you know, this exists,’ and the replies from my friends were ‘oh no they can’t do that, that’s illegal, there’s a cap’ and I’m like ‘yes I know there’s a cap, but here’s the percentage we were given,”

Panon says the percentages in the building vary from 16 per cent to 43 per cent, depending on how long people have lived there.

Her family is looking at a possible increase of $430 per month.

Meanwhile Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert joined about 60 renters in protest Sunday.

“Really what this is timed out to do, is hopefully to convince the landlord to back off, so that these tenants don’t get this massive rent hike, [and] hopefully to help encourage other renters to stand up and to speak out if they’re facing these kind of rent hikes. I hope the government changes their position and would actually delete this clause, but so far they’ve said they support these massive rent hikes.”

He says he hopes the opposition will make help make changes to the little-known provision in the Tenancy Act.

“[It] allows landlords to effectively get around rent control to seek massive rent increases, for no good reason aside from profit. That’s making it so landlords are throwing their weight around, and renters are having to decide if… do they move out? Do they leave the city? Do they take more money from their food budget to put into rent?”

Chandra-Herbert says he hopes this will encourage other renters dealing with a similar clause to come forward.

B.C.’s provincial election is scheduled for May 9.