News / Vancouver

COPE would put up red tape to stop renovictions in Vancouver

COPE is hoping a little red tape can stop the city’s problem of renovictions, where landlords use renovations as an excuse to boot tenants in order to steeply raise the rent.

If elected in Vancouver’s Nov. 15 election, the party will introduce new conditions on renovation permit forms to guarantee renters can move back in at the same rent after a renovation, COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong announced Monday.

Landlords would need to prove that vacancy is required and the renovations are necessary and not cosmetic, agree in writing to let the tenant move back in at the same price and pay for the tenant’s moving expenses and extra temporary accommodation expenses.

Renovation permits are needed for major overhauls such as moving interior walls or building new plumbing, electrical or gas lines.

COPE believes these rules will discourage renovictions by making it more expensive to evict people, especially if landlords are just doing cosmetic repairs.

COPE has also promised to tax vacant condo units, establish a $15 per hour minimum wage and provide $30 per month transit passes.

Wong made the announcement in front of an apartment building in the West End, where more than 90 per cent of people are renters. (Slightly more than 50 per cent of Vancouverites rent.)

Some residents in the 19-storey building at Broughton and Alberni fear a large-scale renoviction after developer Wall Financial Corporation purchased their entire block for $83.5 million. The new West End community plan allows for up to a 500-foot tall tower (about 50 storeys) on the property.

Resident Maxine Shearer, who has lived in a one-bedroom in the building for two decades, is very stressed and believes the entire building will be torn down to make way for newer, more expensive units.

Under COPE’s proposed rules, the developer would have to pay for all the tenants to relocate and give them the first right to move back in at the same price. The party believes the costs would be high enough to deter action.

A message left with Wall Financial Corporation’s president asking for comment on the property was not immediately returned.

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