Measures the City of Vancouver can take to prevent renovictions

CCAP made a presentation to the City Manager on Friday, June 20th on renovictions. Scroll down for a summary of the context, and 11 steps that the City can take to prevent renovictions. For a virtual tour of the Clifton Hotel, click here.

The Context

CCAP 2013 Hotel Report:

  • Number of rooms surveyed in total: 3319
  • Number of rooms renting at $425 or more: 2278 (69%)
  • 2013: Number of rooms that increased beyond $425: 236
  • 2014: 146 units under $400 lost, at least 98 more at risk
  • Living Balance alone purchased the Station (32 weeks), Thornton Park (22 weeks), Vernon has an Instafund sign. Other concerns: 74 residents in the Clifton are evicted; approximately half of 18 rooms are empty at the  St. Elmo, 98 rooms at the West are at risk.

How landlords are evicting low-income tenants:

  • Raising rents up to legally allowable limit, which exceeds welfare/disability shelter rates;
  • Converting rooms for “caretakers”;
  • Citing pre-existing pest control issues;
  • Using pay-offs;
  • Demanding unreasonable replacement costs for key fobs;
  • Attempting to use exceptional rent increases based on market rents in geographic areas.

Measures that the City can take to protect SROs as low-income housing:

Enforce standards of maintenance

  1. Enforce the Standards of Maintenance Bylaw to ensure that buildings do not deteriorate.
  • Use section 23 of the Standards of Maintenance Bylaw to do the necessary work on the building without evicting the tenants.

    A bathroom in the Balmoral Hotel

    A bathroom in the Balmoral Hotel

  1. Enforce other maintenance bylaws more strictly so that landlords aren’t allowed to let buildings deteriorate to such poor standards.
  1. Require non-profit management as a condition of obtaining a business license for landlords whose buildings have been the subject of complaints and violations.
  • Lease the hotel from the owner and guarantee current residents
  • will not have their rents raised.

 

Apply the SRA Bylaw

  1. Use the SRA bylaw to prevent conversions that have a “material effect on the enjoyment by permanent residents of their living accommodation.”
  • Definition of Conversion (Section 1, 1.2):  “(e) a repair or alteration to a designated room or any improvement or fixture in it or a replacement of any such improvement or fixture, except for repairs or alterations that are minor in nature and have no material effect on the enjoyment by permanent residents of their living accommodation.”
  • In many cases, repairs and alterations are not minor because they do make the place better and improve the enjoyment by permanent residents of their living accommodation. This is why landlords are able to increase rents.
Metropole hotel is "trying to get rid of the welfare people"

Metropole hotel is “trying to get rid of the welfare people”

  1. Enforce the conversion or demolition permit conditions in the SRA Bylaw
  • 4.8 Section A allows the City to charge a $15,000 fee as a condition of approving a conversion or demolition permit to deposit into a reserve fund to replace the accommodation.
  • 4.8 Section E establishes measures that require the owner to either locate and arrange comparable or better accommodation at a comparable/lesser rent for residents or give the resident the first right of refusal to re-rent the room at the same rent.

Leverage municipal permitting processes

  1. Use the municipal permit process to prohibit rent increases as conditions of allocating building and development permits.

Invest in and advocate for social housing

  1. Buy land for social housing that rents at welfare rates to show leverage provincial funding, as was done for the 14 sites before the Olympics.
  2. Ensure that the $30M/year in provincial funding for social housing is directed at housing at welfare rate. Designate sites in the DTES, such as 58 W. Hastings, the former police station, the Buddhist Temple owned by the Health Authority.

Support advocacy

  1. Fund a tenants’ union to organize tenants to advocate for adequate maintenance and to prevent renovictions.
  2. Implement a poster campaign to inform tenants of their rights and who to call when their rights are violated.
  3. Assign a City inspector to work closely on implementing these ten recommendations.