A Vancouver Woman is celebrating a B.C Supreme Court win after her landlord tried to “renovict” her.
Vivian Baumann had been living in her West End home for nearly two decades when a new landlord, AARTI Investments Ltd., took over the building.
Soon after taking over, AARTI successfully applied to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) to increase rent, causing Baumann’s rent to spike by 64 per cent to $1,200.
When Baumann refused to pay the new amount she was given an eviction notice claiming her unit was up for renovation. But she challenged the eviction at the RTB. The branch upheld the eviction, leaving Baumann with no other choice but to take things to B.C. Supreme Court.
Jonathan Blair, Baumann’s lawyer, believes the RTB’s arbitrator ignored important evidence and said the landlord was also missing permits to renovate the building.
“The arbitrator failed to do their job properly, failed to make sure that the onus was on the landlord to show that they weren’t acting in bad faith, they failed to ensure that the landlord had all the permits required for the eviction,” Blair said.
In an email to Global News LandLordBC said owners of rental housing have the right to invest and renovate their properties which sometimes may require displacing tenants.
“By the same token, LandlordBC expects these same owners to respect the spirit and intent of the Residential Tenancy Act as it pertains to the legitimate improvement of their rental properties and the treatment of existing tenants therein,” it said.
“We are committed to collaborating with the minister of housing to find solutions to ensure that tenants rights are respected and balanced with the owners right to invest in the homes they are offering to British Columbians.”
Blair believes the judge made the right decision against AARTI Investments Ltd.
“What we’re seeing in this situation is that the tenancy laws and the Residential Tenancy Branch don’t do enough to protect tenants like Vivian from landlords using the ‘renoviction’ provision inappropriately,” he said.
Vancouver has the lowest apartment vacancy rate in Canada, and the highest rents — with a two bedroom apartment priced at $2,107, according to 2017 numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Watch now: Vancouver introduces new rules to protect renters
The term “renoviction” stems from a battle fought back in 2008 between a former Vancouver renter, Christine Ackermann, and her landlord who wanted to evict 20 suites in her building for allegedly to renovate the property.
“Corporate landlord companies were evicting, en masse, tenants in order to do what they called renovations but what were actually very basic cosmetic renovations. And then they were jacking up the price of the rent, in some cases to double,” Ackerman told Global News in a previous interview.
For now, Baumann continues to live in her West End home but Blair says that a request to hike rents in 2018 could result in a $1,000 increase.
-With files from Patricia Kozicka