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Don't sign a lease without reading this first

Vancouver taxpayers already have enough headaches worrying if they are going to end up paying for the athletes’ village for…

By Heather Amos , in Vancouver's bitter suite life? , on January 26, 2009 Tags: , , , ,

Vancouver taxpayers already have enough headaches worrying if they are going to end up paying for the athletes’ village for the 2010 Winter Olympics.  The last thing anyone wanted to hear was that the Olympics may end up causing even more trouble.

This morning CBC radio reported that two advocacy groups, Renters at Risk and the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, are warning renters to be weary of signing one year lease agreements right now.  This time next year the Olympics will be around the corner and landlords will be able to make more money renting to tourists than Vancouver residents.  At the end of a lease there is no legislation limiting the amount a landlord can increase rent by, which is why renting prices will be able to skyrocket for the Olympics.

So what is the solution? Apparently you aren’t even protected if you sign a fixed term lease that lasts longer than one year.  A landlord has the right to evict you if they choose to use the property differently and if they give you two months notice.  Examples of changing the use of a property include selling a property or moving in themselves.  Within the first 15 days of receiving this notice you can apply for arbitration if you suspect they are just kicking you out so they can fill their property with Olympic tourists.  Unfortunately, it is very difficult to prove why the landlord is really evicting you.

Advocacy groups suggest that the best thing to sign is a month-to-month lease.  Particularly leases where you have to stay for a minimum amount of time but do not have a fixed move out day.  You can continue to rent month-to-month after the minimum amount of time has passed without signing a new agreement.

I was completely unaware that there is little you can do if a landlord wants to kick you out before the lease is over so they can use the property.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that this time next year I am not without a home and trying to accommodate friends and family who have decided that it would be a great time to come visit British Columbia.