Amid the rising numbers of SRO tenants being forced out of low income housing because of fixed term leases, the City of Vancouver says it’s doing all it can to stop more people from becoming homeless.
Some SRO residents say they can only eat if they can find free food as rents rise above welfare amounts, and a local MLA says the city needs to step in and prevent landlords of low-income buildings from using fixed term leases.
But the city’s director of housing policy and projects Abi Bond the city’s limited by what it can do.
“We’re not able to… I mean, obviously the use of certain tenancy agreements is under the Residential Tenancy Act, and that’s under provincial legislation, so we’re not able to kind of step into that on behalf of other landlords or tenants.”
MLA for Vancouver West-End, Spencer Chandra Herbert, told CKNW the number of fixed-term lease evictions at other low-income housing projects in his riding are becoming too high to count.
He says that while the government could change that with a stroke of the pen, the city needs to do more.
However, Bond and Chandra Herbert say the city can’t impose on tenancy agreements with SRO landlords.
“That’s been the advice that we’ve received… And we have been working with Landlord BC and they’re working with their members, trying to educate their members,” says Bond.
CKNW recently covered an SRO on Alexandra St. where tenants were charged more for rent than what they received from welfare.
Bond says there may be a case for these tenants.
“There was a significant rent increase in that building, and that when we investigated we are seeing that there’s potential [non] compliance with the RTB (Residential Tenancy Branch) and if there are individual tenants who need to take a case to the RTB then that’s obviously something that they can choose to do [but] the city can’t do that on their behalf.”
Meanwhile Bond says they can’t compel landlords to keep rents at SROs down if they’re in-line with Residential Tenancy Act.