B.C. residents rally over landlord’s appeal to make them pay for $1M elevator costs

Click to play video: 'New Westminster tenants fight landlord over cost of elevator repairs'
New Westminster tenants fight landlord over cost of elevator repairs
Tenants of a New Westminster apartment building are fighting their landlord's attempt to make them pay for fixing their elevators. Janet Brown reports – Nov 3, 2023

Residents at an apartment building in New Westminster, B.C., are holding a rally outside of their building, demanding that their landlord stop pursuing legal recourse to make them pay for new elevators.

Around a couple dozen or so residents and housing advocates gathered outside the Skyline Towers on Agnes Street on Friday morning.

“Basically, they’ve replaced the elevators which were in such bad shape … they needed (to be replaced) for at least 20 years. So (the landlords) finally replaced (them), and they are trying to pass on the cost to us tenants which would be a $50 increase for each tenant (a month), ” Monica Bhandari said, a resident at the building.

The Canadian community advocacy group, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), is supporting the residents in their rally and said they should not have to pay the more than $1 million repair cost figure for their elevators.

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Back in April, the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) denied the landlord’s request to raise rent rates through an “Additional Rent Increase for Capital Expenditures” to cover the $1-million price tag.

The repair costs have already been determined, in an RTB ruling, to not have to be shouldered by the residents, which the landlord has appealed.

“Thankfully, the arbitrator sided with us (the tenants). The elevators got to this position due to (the property owner and management company’s) negligence,” Bhandari said.

“They want to pass the entire cost of what the owners need on this property to us renters.”

According to ACORN, this denial and ruling is quite rare, and the appeal that has been filed will now bring the case to the BC Supreme Court for a judicial review.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver man fighting eviction'
Vancouver man fighting eviction

Another resident, who is a senior, said she will have to make some significant sacrifices to continue living in her apartment if the renters have to pay for the elevators.

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I’ve been here for 24 years. I’m going to have to cut down on my cable and sell my vehicle, just to stay here,” Donna Fuson said.

“And if I moved out of here to another building my rent would be considerably more.

“It’s not fair. The (landlord) seems to be more concerned with the outside (landscaping).”

ACORN said the changes made to the Residential Tenancy Act in 2021 have made a possible loophole for landlords and management companies to exploit.

“In 2021, the BC NDP changed the act to allow landlords to bill the tenants in increased rent, permanently, for regular maintenance,” Murray Martin said, ACORN’s co-chair of the Burnaby chapter.

“Landlords do the maintenance first, then they bill the tenants later.”

The listed landlord/owners is X.L. Properties Inc. with Bayside Property Services Ltd. being the listed property managers.

Global News has reached out to both for comment.

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B.C. housing activists protest landlord-use evictions loophole

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