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First working council meeting tomorrow; apartment owners on red alert

December 16th, 2008 · 10 Comments

Who needs It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on Whatever Street as pre-Christmas entertainment, when Vancouver’s new dust-busting council is on the go?

Tomorrow will be the first council meeting with real business and a chance to see Dr. Penny Ballem in the city manager’s chair.

In the meantime, Vision councillors have a raft of motions on the new agenda to kick off their new era. Among them is Councillor Tim Stevenson’s motion to ask the provincial government to stiffen up the Residential Tenancy Act.

That has apartment owners and sellers in a tizzy, warning that council is “attempting to influence the provincial government.” Uh, boys, that’s what they do every day of the week. It’s their job.

Anyway, my guess is that most of the actions in Stevenson’s are unlikely to go anywhere with this government or even, in a parallel universe, an NDP government. A nice gesture, though.

There is a chance the provincial government might move to provide a few more protection for renters, given that their NPA friends probably told them that, in the recent civic election, the NPA couldn’t even get renters to talk to them. Maybe because they feel like they’ve been thrown out to the wolves the last few years, as they grappled with rising rents, economic evictions, demolitions, a zero vacancy rate, and everything else that strikes fear into the heart of renters. By the way, the latest CMHC report came out today and the vacancy rate is now at 0.3 per cent.

Anyway, this is what’s going around in the landlord-type circles.

From: Mark Goodman [mailto:mark@goodmanreport.com]
Sent: Friday, December 12, 2008 4:38 PM
To: [deleted]
Subject: The Goodman Report: Councillor’s plan to protect renters is a recipe for slums


Dear [deleted],

While The Goodman Team was not planning to publish any further newsworthy items until the New Year, unfolding events dictate that we immediately address issues that we consider vital to our readership. There are growing concerns that Vancouver city council is attempting to influence the provincial government, as predicted by The Goodman Report a couple days ago, wherein we commented on “the spectre of increased government action concerning evictions and renovations.”

In today’s Vancouver Sun, in the front page article Councillor’s plan to protect renters is a recipe for slums, columnist Don Cayo writes, “Specifically, it calls on the province to amend the Residential Tenancy Act to require landlords to allow tenants evicted for the purpose of renovations to reoccupy their units once renovations are completed at the same rent as they were paying prior to the renovation.” David Goodman is on record in the forgoing article decrying the fact that Vancouver city council is advocating that landlords “subsidize tenants by making new investments that are guaranteed to show no return.”

Read: Councillor’s plan to protect renters is a recipe for slums >>

Further, Mary Francis Hill writes in The Vancouver Sun today on the same topic.

Read: Councillor Stevenson urges eviction protection for tenants >>

Included in Councillor Stevenson’s and Mayor Robertson’s motion to go towards Council next Tuesday, Dec 16th include:

  • “First right of refusal” for rental tenants whereby landlords cannot raise rents even after substantial renovations
  • Giving the City the authority to demand improvements on apartment buildings wherever and whenever they deem necessary
  • Eviction notices to extend from 60 to 90 days
  • Landlords to report to the Residential Tenancy Branch annually all turnovers, rent increases, and reasons for eviction.

To better appreciate the serious ramifications of Council’s initiative, please
download the
MOTION ON NOTICE >>

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Be proactive and write your MLA, write the City of Vancouver, write the media and to the Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillor Tim Stevenson.

Mayor and Council as a group: mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

Mayor Gregor Robertson
gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca

Phone: 604.873.7621
Fax: 604.873.7750

Councillor Tim Stevenson
clrstevenson@vancouver.ca

Phone: 604.873.7247
Fax: 604.873.7750

WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

British Columbia Newspapers

Vancouver Sun
sunletters@png.canwest.com

Vancouver Province
provletters@png.canwest.com

Local Newspapers

Vancouver Courier
editorial@vancourier.com

Westender
editor@westender.com

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CMHC Fall 2008 Greater Vancouver Rental Market Report
To further assist our readership in setting their suite rentals at appropriate levels, we are delighted to share with you the just released CMHC Fall 2008 Greater Vancouver Rental Market Report.

Vancouver Highlights: Strong Demand for Rental Housing

  • Vancouver’s rental apartment vacancy rate moved lower in 2008, after two years of stable but already low vacancies
  • Same sample rents increased at a slightly slower pace than last year
  • The stock of purpose-built rental apartments declined in 2008, while the number of rental apartment condominium units increased
  • The rental condominium vacancy rate rose slightly compared to 2007, but remained below one per cent
  • Vacancy rates will stay below one per cent in 2009, while rents will continue to edge up in the 3-5 per cent range

CMHC Fall 2008 Greater Vancouver Rental Market Report >>

Yours sincerely,

David & Mark Goodman

Categories: Uncategorized

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  • spartikus

    Yes, I’m with Don Cayo…keeping a lid on the rights of pesky renters will prevent slums. Because, as we all know, Vancouver is slum-free. And besides, you should always buy, not rent.

  • George

    Its frustrating when policies are brought in that try to fix the problems of a few with an imposition on everyone else.

    Everyone complains about Landlords, so as a Landlord of one unit myself lets set the record straight.

    1) I an other investors like me took the risk of putting down our money to purchase these units. No one ever can be certain that the investment will pan out, and we can see now where the market is going.

    2) Having enough investors interested in a development gives it legs, and the developer the confidence to build. The building process itself creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs. (In my case the Yaletown Park project) as well as Millions in Property Tax and Property Purchase taxes to the City. It creates an opportunity for surrounding businesses to build and hire.

    2) Every unit that we bring into the rental market is helpful, especially when they are new stock.

    3) No one talks about damage renters do. Having been a Strata President for 4 years, I have seen horrific situations that not only damaged that owners unit, but many other units in the buildings. Guess who pays for that? A friend just had to invest $12,000.00 in a new unit that was badly damaged by renters.

  • Manuel Pereda

    I have just sent the following request to our new Mayor and all Vancouver Councillors regarding this issue:

    December 16, 2008

    TO: MAYOR AND ALL COUNCILLORS
    (FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION PRIOR TO TODAY’S COUNCIL MEETING)

    I respectfully request:

    – That the motion moved by Councillor Tim Stevenson in regards to a request to ask the Province to amend the Residential Tenancy Act be put on hold until there is more public consultation on this issue.

    – That my proposed public consultation process in regards to the aforementioned motion be debated openly to include citizens who may support or not the motion.

    – That I be allowed to prepare and explain my views to Council on the proposed request to amend the Residential Tenancy Act.

    The above request is based on the following factors:

    – I am the General Manager of a small building renovations company specializing in providing repair services to the apartment rental industry.

    – We are members in good standing of the following organizations:

    -The Better Business Bureau
    -The British Columbia Apartment Owners & Managers Association
    -The Professional Association of Managing Agents

    – I am supportive of initiatives to help solve the problem of homelessness in Vancouver (as evidenced by a Letter to the Editor published on Civic Election Day in the Vancouver Sun).

    I will appreciate it if you can consider my request prior to approving the motion.

    Respectfully,

    Manuel Pereda
    General Manager
    Aquataur Services Ltd.
    Tel: 604-767-2792 (Cell)
    Or: 604-737-7226 (Office)

  • JM

    I completely agree with George. This will be the result of this by-law:

    – Apartment owners will cease investing in upgrades to property because they will have no ability to recover those costs. Facilities will degrade.
    – The appeal of building or purchasing apartment buildings will diminish. Existing managers will exit the field and more convenient property dispositions — mainly, going condo — will be far more attractive
    – Because stock will not grow, and because existing stock will go downhill, there will be no movement from government- or non-profit run housing into the market. That means the only way to grow affordable housing will be for the City to build it.
    – This means more pressure on the rate base, which will only further the above cycle.

    Basically, its an ideological stance that is going to exacerbate homelessness and affordability issues, not solve them. Let’s hope the province does the right thing and refuses t support this by-law.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy for landlords who seem to believe that repairs and renovations – like repainting an apartment, or replacing things when they get old and wear out – aren’t something they have an obligation to do during an existing tenancy.

    Instead, they think that their only obligation is to collect rent on a decaying building every month, and they bank on being able to throw their tenants into the street and jack up the rent when they finally decide to do work they should have been doing over the course of years.

    Landlords can, of course, recover capital and other costs if they do work on their buildings. The Residential Tenancy Act allows landlords to make application to an arbitrator for rent increases greater than the annual fixed amount when they have unusual expenditures (and for other reasons, as well).

    If these lazy landlords had done their jobs, they’d have well-maintained units at reasonable rents. Preventing mass evictions won’t cause slums – what causes them is the cheap bastards who have been nickel-and-diming their tenants for years.

    tl;dr Suck it up, princesses.

  • Not running for mayor

    I can see you’re a pleasant tenant that likes to call the landlord when the lightbulbs burn out and you need a new one. Tenants have responsibilities to take care of the apartment they live in as well. No one comes to my house to unplug my toilet if I get it stuck.

    If you feel your landlord isn’t doing enough then you stop being lazy and call the RTB. Good luck.

  • ptak604

    I can see that you have the uncanny ability to see into the very details of another’s life and pluck the relevant portions to bolster your weak argument over the magical ether of the Internet.

  • George

    Stephanie, Lets diffrentiate between landlords who own individual units and those who own rental complexes. There is a difference in attitude and approach. I for one have gone above and beyond for my tenants, and even had the parents of one from the US thank me several times for taking good care of the place and the tenant.

    Since you would not want tenants generalized as those who damage or destroy property, run drug or prostitution rings from the units or skip out on rent etc, its not right to generalize about landlords.

    As for rental complexes, lets face it, its a business, some will run it well and some won’t. Some tenants will be great, and some will be a horror show.

  • Stephanie

    @George – I wasn’t generalizing about landlords. I was talking about a particular kind of landlord, the kind that invests little in the property and then complains that the only way they can make a living is to chuck their tenants out.

    There’s a huge problem with landlords abusing the eviction-for-renovations process. It’s absurd that tenants are being told by their landlords that their apartments will be reasonably maintained (old carpets replaced, etc.) only if they’re evicted. And often tenants are evicted when the landlord doesn’t require vacant possession at all.

    Stevenson’s proposal still needs work, but more needs to be done to protect security of tenure.