Rent hikes in Vancouver’s West End could force seniors out of their homes. Here is some advice on key issues:
– Under the Residential Tenancy Act it is legal for a landlord to raise rent two percent plus inflation every year. For 2009 this figure is 3.7 per cent and for 2010 it will be 3.2 per cent
– A letter from your landlord telling you that your rent has been increased above this, and asking you to please sign below, is NOT a legal document. It is a suggestion and you do not have to sign. However once you have signed it you have agreed to the increase. Rent can only be increased above this when the landlord submits an application and successfully proves that suites similar to yours in another building nearby are renting for higher. If you receive such a letter, ask for the documentation stating the owner is allowed to raise the rent. Even if they have this, you have 15 days to file a dispute at the Residential Tenancy Branch.
– An eviction for renovation can only legally happen if the landlord has obtained the permissions to perform structural renovations on a building. Minor and cosmetic upgrades through which the tenant can still feasibly live in the suite are NOT grounds for eviction. Ask to see the permit to ensure it is in fact structural.
– Be proactive. Search out options ahead of time. Waiting lists for subsidized housing can be as long as five years. Think about your future and apply now.
– If you have any questions or issues you are unsure of how to deal with call the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre at (604) 255-0546 or visit www.tenants.bc.ca
(Source: The Right to Rent: Aging in Place housing action forum)
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