Things are getting even tougher for seniors living in the City of Delta.
That concern was acknowledged by city council recently during a discussion on a possible renoviction at Ladner's Evergreen Lane that could force seniors out of a Ladner apartment building.
Coun. Lois Jackson said it’s discouraging to see how seniors are increasingly finding themselves in a tough spot when it comes to rental housing.
It’s especially challenging for those on a fixed income and have no other pension, other than what’s provided by government, she said.
“In today’s real world, looking at an extra $500 a month is devastating. It is devastating for those who cannot afford any more, even if there is a place for them to go…I think we should be more aware of what our seniors are facing, and they sit quietly by because they don’t think they can really make a difference or that they can get through to anybody,” said Jackson.
Council agreed to have staff report back on the Evergreen Lane situation as well as a larger report on current housing challenges facing local seniors.
Asking the city to intervene on their behalf, senior Ethel Keast wrote to council about a plan by her rental apartment building’s new owner to renovate and increase rents.
She had received a rental termination agreement from management asking her to voluntarily sign the document.
“We are all looking for nonexistent apartments. We all want to stay where we are because we are able to walk to all the things that we need to have a decent life. Most of the tenants are non driving. Rents for one bedroom apartments have increased to a minimum of $1,500 per month. We are on fixed incomes and cannot come up with another $500,” her letter said. “Governments have dropped the ball on this situation, ignoring the need for affordable housing, now it’s coming back to bite you. It won’t help me but you have to take this seriously.”
A staff memo in response notes the city recently received and issued a plumbing permit to re-pipe the waterlines for all fixtures at the apartment building. Based on the scope of the work, a separate building permit was not required.
City staff also noted that they were not aware of an application by the owner to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) to end the tenancies for renovations and repairs.
“The writer has been advised to contact the Residential Tenancy Branch with any questions or concerns. Additionally, Mayor Harvie intends to write to the Residential Tenancy Branch requesting an update regarding the status of the property in question,” the staff memo said.
Staff also noted Delta’s Housing Action Plan includes actions to develop a tenant relocation policy and a rental stock protection policy, and work on those is underway.
The policies would apply to scenarios related to proposed demolition and redevelopment of existing rentals.
The provincial government has also come up with new rules.
Last year, the province announced residential tenancy changes aimed at preventing renovictions and provide renters with more security and protection.
Coming into effect July 1, 2021, the changes address the Rental Housing Task Force’s top recommendation to stop renovictions by shifting responsibility to the landlord to apply to the RTB for pre-approval.
“Tenants will have the opportunity to participate in a dispute resolution hearing and provide evidence that the tenancy does not need to end for the work to be completed. The landlord will need to have all required permits and approvals, and must prove the work is necessary and the only way to complete it is by ending the tenancy,” the province explained.
“The changes will eliminate most renovictions. Landlords will only be able to end a tenancy in situations where that is the only way to do the necessary repairs or upgrades. In those rare cases, tenants will now have a full four months’ notice after the RTB approves the application – no longer having to spend that time fighting the eviction.”
The province also noted that, previously, some landlords issued notices to end tenancy for renovations when the work did not require units to be vacant.
In cases where a tenant has been evicted, but the landlord does not follow through on the stated purpose for ending the tenancy, an amendment will make it easier for tenants to receive compensation, says the province.
Also, should a landlord make repairs or improvements to a rental unit or building and want to apply a modest rent increase to pay for them, they must now apply to the RTB for approval.